Swanning around in — what else? — matching baby pink satin robes, the Victoria’s Secret Angels spent the early part of Tuesday afternoon having their hair and makeup prepped for two runway extravaganzas set to take place at Earl’s Court in London later today. The shows are a first for Victoria’s Secret — and for London — and the excitement backstage was palpable.
Makeup artist Dick Page said his team was doing very little to change the girls’ natural look. “You don’t book a whole set of gorgeous girls and then change them,” he said, likening the 47 models — including Karlie Kloss, Behati Prinsloo, Candice Swanepoel, Adriana Lima and Doutzen Kroes — to “a genetically gifted group of children.”
That said, nobody’s perfect.
“They’re teenagers some of them,” Page added. “So they do have the occasional breakout. We’re lucky in the sense that we’re not stuck in the middle of a whole batch of other shows, so they don’t have the stress of coming late from fittings or other shows, or running through London, and having their make-up taken on and off ten times a day. That’s what really breaks the skin down. They’re a bit more rested — apart from the fact that they all got flown in on the plane yesterday as a special delivery.”
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The 30 makeup artists prepped models’ skin with moisturizer, then worked red pigment by the German professional brand Kryolan on their cheeks. “If you put it on first, it makes you immediately look better, more healthy and alive, and then you just do a selective bit of foundation if you need to,” said Page.
Eyes were defined using Shiseido shimmering eye creams: Makeup artists used sable as the base, layering on a mix of black and very dark brown. They also used a little eyeliner and mascara. False eyelashes did not enter into the equation. “Not if I can help it,” said Page. “I’m sure there are going to be some girls who sneak off and do things, but I can’t catch everyone.”
Hair extensions were another matter.
They were applied liberally to most heads. Lead hair stylist Aki said they were there to give “body and sexiness.” He used Victoria’s Secret Mega-Lift mousse on hair before drying and curling it with wands. Curls were pinned up, and allowed to set before being loosened with fingers. Serum was applied at the ends for shine.
“Aki, how many? I’m scared,” joked Kloss as yet another strip of hair was glued into her own.
Sophia Neophitou, the London magazine editor, stylist, and the collection’s creative director, said this year’s show has lots of British touches, including shoes by Sophia Webster and jewelry from Shaun Leane.
Nicholas Kirkwood has also created shoes for the event. Two intricate, hand-embroidered styles will launch post-show exclusively at his London flagship on Mount Street and at nicholaskirkwood.com.
The Pink line was designed by Nasir Mazhar, a British designer known for his urban take on sportswear. “He has created a tracksuit in organza,” said Neophitou. “So it looks really sporty, but it’s actually really glamorous.”
Dancers in the show are wearing silver looks from Mazhar, while Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Hozier are all set to perform.
Backstage, a long buffet table was laden with model food, including salads of all description, poached salmon and fresh fruit, but also baskets of bread rolls and a tin of Quality Street chocolates – a British holiday tradition. Fridges were filled with organic, cold-pressed juice by Suja and, yes, models were consuming.
Dressed in their gowns, models happily posed for photographers — and for numerous selfies. At one point Swanepoel mounted a table and enthusiastically posed for the dozens of backstage photographers who were gathered at her feet.
In contrast to all the tomfoolery, and outside the pink backstage cocoon, the atmosphere was similar to that of a G20 summit venue before world leaders stride in: Efficient, official, stern, po-faced and with impressive levels of security.
Members of the press were escorted from post to post in groups, as sniffer dogs and their handlers — watchful of bombs — kept up a vigilant patrol. The show will be broadcast in the US on December 9 on CBS.