By and  on November 19, 2007

HOLLYWOOD — The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show at the Kodak Theater here had a little bit of everything.

The event, taped Thursday night and set to air as a one-hour special Dec. 4 on CBS, showcased creative styling, and, of course, top models. And if the show didn't quite reach the frenzy of last year's Hollywood debut, it wasn't for lack of trying.

For entertainment, the company tapped the Spice Girls, performing onstage for the first time in 10 years, as well as Seal and Will.i.am, opening in place of Kanye West, who withdrew after his mother's death. Though the somewhat random celebrity crowd, from rocker Slash to Alexandra von Furstenberg, seemed curious about the Brit pop stars' carefully choreographed numbers, they weren't shimmying in their seats as they were last year with Justin Timberlake.

"Every year, it's got to be bigger and better," said Victoria's Secret executive producer Ed Razek. "You don't want to turn it into a variety show, but we have an obligation to make it an interesting television special and interesting for the VIP crowd in the theater."

The 27 models tried their best to get the crowd involved, though most of the men in the audience, including Jeremy Piven, Michael Vartan, Stavros Niarchos, Steven Bing, Dean Cain and Gerard Butler, remained silent in rapture. A duet by Seal and his wife, Heidi Klum, and a lip-synching gospel choir got more people clapping along.

The women in the crowd were more vocal, including Hayden Panettiere, who screamed so loudly when she saw Posh Spice that "she [Posh] looked at us like we were stalkers," said her seatmate, Gabrielle Union.

Stacy Keibler said she attended because she's a Klum fan. "I look at her stomach after having kids and it just gives me hope as a woman," she said.

While the statuesque actress already has a natural advantage, most Victoria's Secret customers can only dream of looking like Klum and fellow models such as Karolina Kurkova, Adriana Lima and Jessica Stam, so naturally, the show emphasized fantasy on all levels.

The six segments — Animal Attraction, Age of Elegance, Pink, Rome Antique, Surreally Sexy and Deck the Halls — featured over-the-top accessories from Jenny Manik Mercian, LeSage Paris, de Grisogono, Mouawad and Christian Louboutin, most of which outshone the actual undergarments.Victoria's Secret chief executive officer Sharen Turney said the glitz enhances the show's purpose of serving as a kickoff for holiday sales and a brand-awareness builder.

"Putting together fashion, entertainment and supermodels creates emotion with customers, and that's one of the most important things you can do," Turney said. "And, based upon the economic situation we're in right now, I think everyone needs a little boost."

She added she was bullish about holiday business, which she said receives a lift from the televised show, despite overall concerns about a slowing economy. She went on to cite cozy and romantic sleepwear and beauty gift sets as the main drivers for gift sales. For customers wishing to own a piece of the actual show, the animal-print styles and shapewear are retailing now, and the mesh Angel wings will be available as limited edition "Sexy Little Things" items.

As for beauty, the theme of smoky gray eyes and light lips came courtesy of Victoria's Secret Beauty's Smitten eye shadow palette.

CBS broadcast the show to eight million U.S. viewers last year, with 90 foreign countries adding another 20 million viewers, and this year's broadcast again sold out advertising. Razek said it's too early to tell whether the show will return to Hollywood next year.

"Every major city in the world wants it," he said. "Dubai would love to do it, Las Vegas has been asking for years and Miami has a new venue that's twice the size of the Kodak Theater. We love L.A., but I'm not willing to say at this moment whether we will be back."

Turney said the company has no plans to franchise the show.

"Right now, it's going to remain a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind event," she said. "We don't want to dilute its allure and we're excited about other marketing opportunities like our partnership with Virgin Atlantic airlines."

Through that deal, a plane in Virgin's Los Angeles to New York fleet now bears the name Runway Angel, and Victoria's Secret pajamas will be available on overnight flights.

And the brand has literally cemented its place in Hollywood — the Angels received a star on the Walk of Fame Wednesday.

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