Beautiful models, all legs and hair, are strutting down the runway with gigantic angel wings and gorgeous underwear. It is of course Victoria’s Secret models. The largest lingerie retailer in the world with their catalogues and fashion shows which play a very special part in the modeling world. Why? They can make you into a supermodel.
And when you become a supermodel, you have all sorts of things happening to you. Celebrities as different as actress Geena Davis, talk show host Tyra Banks, Danish fashion icon Helena Christensen, X-Men’s Rebecca Romijn, “Las Vegas” Molly Sims, Estella Warren, Josie Maran and all time supermodel Claudia Schiffer have all started out as Victoria’s Secret Models. Not to mention recent drop-out Gisele Bündchen…
Succeeded by some of the best known celebrities of our time: Doutzen Kroes, Adriana Lima, Karolina Kurkova, Marisa Miller, Miranda Kerr and Bar Refaeli; the trend continues. These supermodels can be seen on TV (although Karolina Kurkova’s performance in “G.I Joe” can be missed…), in fashion magazines, as authors of books or read about daily in your usual gossip magazine.
Even though the catalogues and adverts had been running since the 1980’s, in the early 1990’s Victoria’s Secret started using famous models in their advertising campaigns and fashion shows. These subsequently gained notoriety. In 1999 the company introduced the “Victoria’s Secret Angels” in their fourth annual high-profile fashion show. Now the Angels status is almost a guarantee to being amongst the best paid models in the world.
Victoria’s Secret are cautious with who they choose as an Angel. These models will not only be the center of the hyped fashion show, be featured in the catalogue and website, in adverts and be the face of certain Victoria’s Secret products; but will also be a Victoria’s Secret Angel. This means representing the brand at all times and speaking on behalf of the company. If they do well, Victoria’s Secret will do well.
This is also why very few models are made Angels. The Angels have had to prove themselves as Victoria’s Secret models before they are given the honour. Normally there will be around six Victoria’s Secret Angels at any time. When an Angel leaves, the company appoints a new one.
After having been made an Angel, you have truly made it. It is a great spring board for moving on to whatever you want to do in modeling or show business. So how do you become an Angel and how exactly do you go from sex object to power wheeler? Let us look at two examples.
Heidi Klum, queen bee at the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, was discovered in Germany in 1992 through a local modeling competition. She started working for Victoria’s Secret in 1997 and was contracted as one of the first Angels in 1999. Prior to being an Angel, Heidi had been known for being on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. Quite a few Angels, including Tyra Banks, made the successful cross-over from swimsuit to lingerie model.
Klum, now 36 years old, is hosting and producing “Project Runway” which has become an immense success. She is also designing jewelry and clothes, acting in series and films and has perfume and make-up collections named after her. If that was not enough she is also featured in numerous video and online games and is recognized as a talented painter. She has been the spokesperson for companies from McDonalds to Volkswagen.
Her writing and singing that she has dedicated herself to lately have even been respected by the public and gotten decent reviews.
Classic beauty Adriana Lima, now 28 years old, started working for Victoria’s Secret in 1998 and was made an Angel the year after Klum in 2000. She was born poor but is now just like Klum on Forbes list of the World’s 15 Top-Earning Supermodels. Yet another Brazilian model who has made it to the top, just like Gisele Bündchen, Izabel Goulart and Alessandra Ambrosio. She rose to fame after winning Ford’s Supermodel of Brazil competition, much like the other Brazilian Angels.
Unlike Klum, Lima was more than just a swim suit model when Victoria’s Secret contracted her. She had vast experience as a runway model, having walked for designers like Emanuel Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Fendi and Vera Wang. She had also been featured in magazines such as Marie Claire and Vouge. After starting as a Victoria’s Secret model she did print work for Maybelline (stunningly resembling of Doutzen Kroes’ work for L’Oréal!) and Guess and then became spokesperson for both.
When she was made an Angel, more doors opened up for Lima. She starred in Victoria’s Secret legendary Super Bowl commercial. And she started working for renowned fashion brands like Bulgari, Versace and De Beers; earning far more than before. From doing spreads she was now on covers and featured in editorials for GQ, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Esquire. But not only high fashion she did a campaign for all-American “Keds”- basically she was now known and liked by everyone. She had even become so mainstream she was selected the face of Italy’s largest cell phone company “Telecom Italia Mobile”.
As can be seen from her modeling portfolio, Lima is more a core high fashion model than Klum. Which is why it is even more extraordinary that she is now a supermodel known by everybody. Lately she has returned to the runway, walking for select houses such as Givenchy. Like Klum married famous singer Seal, Lima has married NBA basket ball player Marko Jarić and is like Klum starting a family.
Winning multimillion dollar cosmetic deals and huge fashion campaigns pays off. Since their rise to fame, the Angels have all been on some of the most prestigious lists in the world, including People Magazine’s list of the 100 most beautiful people in the world, Maxim Magazine’s “Hot 100 List”, and FHM’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World”. They have also received a shared star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame”, and have appeared in hit series such as “How I met your mother” and “Ugly Betty”.
What Victoria’s Secret do is they turn the mostly Dutch, Brazilian and Czech models into household names and a trademark in their own right. With their reliable image for slightly conservative, fashion conscious American middle class, they achieve this through the direct channels into these peoples’ homes they have established. Most notably the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion show now on its 13th year is a spectacular event with any measures. Women out of this world in stilettos and Angel wings, fireworks and exclusive underwear such as the 10 million dollar “Fantasy Bra” that a selected Angel gets to wear every year; what a show!
Famous singers and performers such as Justin Timberlake, The Spice Girls and Usher fight over being a part of it all. Of course it is who you know that counts. Seal who is married to Heidi Klum has been hosting the show and actors and sportsmen dating an Angel have a given seat at front row.
But it is not all satin and lace for the models. Behind the scenes a war of representation is going on. Several of the Victoria Secret’s models including the two Angels Gisele Bündchen and Heidi Klum were originally with “Elite Modeling Agency” and then transferred to “IMG Model Management” when advancing as Angels.
Head of “Elite” John Casablancas has both filed lawsuits against the models and spoken badly about them in the press. There have also been rumors of mismanagement and sexual harassments. Clear however is that “Elite” has lost out big time when they were switched for “IMG” in the transformation from model to supermodel. As anyone living in this century can assure, now the models are everybody’s Angels.