The 19th annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show on Dec. 2 will debut some big changes.
For one thing, the annual invitation-only event is moving to London for the first time, to the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The show will feature more outfits (79, compared with last year’s 69) and more models (47, versus last year’s 40) than ever before. This year, not one but two Dream Angels Fantasy Bras will sparkle down the runway — featuring a mix of rubies, diamonds, sapphires and 18-karat gold — modeled by veteran Victoria’s Secret Angels Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima and worth a cool $2 million each. And finally, Victoria’s Secret is calling for a black-tie dress code this year for all guests, apropos of the show’s theme, which is loosely (very loosely) based on Truman Capote’s famous Black and White Ball in Manhattan in 1966.
The show will air on CBS on Dec. 9.
Last week, Ambrosio, Candice Swanepoel and Lily Donaldson were seen working the cameras at Victoria’s Secret’s Manhattan headquarters, on hand for fittings and behind-the-scenes footage. WWD got an exclusive preview of one of Donaldson’s outfits during a preliminary fitting — a Swarovski-encrusted purple-winged fairy, comprised of 150,000 Swarovski crystals — which its Parisian designer, Serkan Cura, estimated weighs about 40 pounds. Though Swarovski crystals will adorn 29 total runway looks, Donaldson’s is the main Swarovski spectacle.
This year marks Cura’s second time designing looks for the show. He said the design process for the Victoria’s Secret show allows him a sense of freedom that his line of couture, which he’s showed on the Paris schedule since spring 2012, does not. “In my couture shows, you can do some things, but you have rules,” he said, as he adjusted Donaldson’s corset. “But here, you say, ‘Can we make this?’ And [Victoria’s Secret] says, ‘Sure, what do you want?’ It’s all about your vision.”
He held up a small, bedazzled fragment of the wing, which he said took five hours to make. “We are here to dream, to see something completely different. It’s 60 minutes of showtime, but you go somewhere.…You’re transported. Voilà.”
As she practiced her walk, Donaldson was cheered on by Sophia Neophitou, the collection’s creative director, and Monica Mitro, the show’s executive producer. The runway will be divided into six different style categories — Gilded Angels, Exotic Traveler, Dream Girl, Fairy Tale, University of Pink and Angel Ball — with Donaldson’s Swarovski look appearing in the Fairy Tale portion.
It’s her fifth time walking the show, but Donaldson, repped by IMG, said she still gets nervous. Her greatest fear? “Falling over,” she said. “But I don’t want to say that out loud — I don’t want to tempt fate.”
The 27-year-old British model, who will wear two different looks on the runway, said she’s excited about the event’s new location in her hometown. “It always felt so detached from England — you don’t really have things like this in England,” she said. “But I think [London’s] going to really embrace it. I think it’s going to be a kind of crazy thing over there.”
Each year, the bar is set competitively high for both veteran Victoria’s Secret Angels and newer faces, who must endure a rigorous casting process. “All of the girls are like, athletes — it’s pretty crazy,” Donaldson said, adding that Pilates is her workout of choice. “I definitely eat healthier. It’s a good incentive. You almost want to have the show twice a year, so that you have this goal to be as fit as you possibly can. It’s a good goal to have.”
Donaldson, who recently appeared on the covers of Vogue Korea and Harper’s Bazaar Korea and walked a select few shows this past spring season, said she enjoys playing the part of the Victoria’s Secret Angel.
“It’s all about being sexy and embracing your femininity and being a woman — being this Amazonian woman,” she said. “It’s quite strong for women, I think.”