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Victoria's Secret show: A look back at the phenomenon's heavenly 17-year history

7 November 2012
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Victoria’s Secret fans rejoice – it’s that time of year again. The heavenly Angels are preparing to descend on New York, where they will showcase their perfect bodies in skimpy lingerie for the high street retailer’s annual catwalk show. The worldwide phenomenon, which brings an annual dose of glitz, glamour and magical themes to the city, has become one of the most watched spectacles on TV, drawing in almost 1.5 million viewers. But last year’s $12 million fashion extravaganza was in stark contrast to the first show in 1995 with its budget of $120,000.

 Featuring an undecorated catwalk, simple lighting and plain underwear, the low-key affair is almost unrecognisable as a Victoria’s Secret show. But as its popularity grew, so did the glitz and glam. In 1998, the runway was already sparkling and shimmering with diamonds and glitter. And in 1999, the brand’s creative directors came up with a concept that would fascinate the world over for decades to come – the Angels. With a handful of supermodels bringing their confidence, charisma and incredible curves to the runway dressed in barely-there underwear and enormous angel wings, the campaign was destined for success. The starting line-up included Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks and Stephanie Seymour, all of whom have gone on to become some of the biggest names in the fashion and entertainment industry. German-born Heidi was the first to model another of the show’s now-iconic features – the ‘Fantasy bra’. The dazzling, multi-million dollar piece that is adorned with diamonds, sapphires and hundreds of other precious gems made its runway debut on Heidi in 2001. Tyra, Karolina Kurkova and Gisele Bundchen went on to be given the honour of modelling the coveted piece.

Most of the veteran angels have now hung up their wings and moved onto other projects. But the brand’s new set of celestial mascots, which include Miranda Kerr, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Candice Swanepoel and Erin Heatherton, are just as popular and are said to be some of the best paid models in the fashion industry. Miranda, who is married to movie star Orlando Bloom, wowed the world as an ice peacock last year in last year’s show, flaunting her incredible body in the ‘Fantasy bra’ just five months after giving birth. This year, it is new mum Alessandra’s turn to show off the diamond-encrusted creation. The Brazilian beauty, sported the heaviest ever set of angel wings in the 2011 spectacle as she was secretly two months pregnant, was bestowed the honour after 11 years as an angel. British beauties Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn are also set to make their debut for the brand on Wednesday.

But it isn’t only the all-star cast who will have tongues wagging on Thursday. Heart-throb Justin Bieber, megastar Rihanna and Bruno Mars are set to give performances during the event. Although he's hardly an average 18-year-old, Justin must still be thrilled he’s scheduled to perform with the gorgeous supermodels. The show will take place in New York on November 7, but will air on CBS on December 4. Last year's event was watched by over 11.5 million viewers when it was screened on US TV. There were performances by Nicki Minaj, Maroon 5 and Jay-Z and Kanye West.

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