Last week, I spent probably a solid 24-hour period in a Getty Images k-hole. I was deep in research for all things Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, from the backstage beauty ops to the after-party red carpet, ostensibly to put galleries up on Fashionista. But the honest-to-god truth is that I probably would have invested that same time and effort even if I wasn't being paid to do so.
Hi, I'm Tyler, and I'm a Victoria's Secret fangirl.
I'm amongst the pack of people smashing that "Like" button every time a VS model posts a selfie. I play favorites with the Angels (Elsa Hosk and Martha Hunt, in case you were wondering, because they've always been so lovely and funny in interviews). Even after hours at work doing #VSFS research, I go home and dig through Instagram for more details about the show. It's not something that's going to gain me a lot of "cool" points in the fashion industry, but it's true: I just really love the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
As a woman in her 30s, I'm probably outside the demographic for this kind of VS fandom. I'm fully aware that the Angels are media trained within an inch of their lives, and that the fashion show is a glorified, hour-long commercial. But I still teared up when I watched Grace Elizabeth's Instagram announcing she'd made the show, and again when Jasmine Tookes cried after getting the $3 million Bright Night bra. There's a wish-fulfillment quality to the proceedings — which girl gets the Fantasy Bra, which girls get to open and close segments, which girls get to wear wings for the first time — that feels genuine and heart-warming.
I think it's because, after working in the industry for a few years, I've learned that the modeling industry can be a very lonely and very isolating one. There's so much solo travel, so much pressure to look good and to stay on top, that it's no wonder many girls burn out before they even turn 20. For all the media training, though, I truly believe the Angels when they say that Victoria's Secret is like a family; for all its flaws, I believe the brand really looks after its girls. They get to travel together to shoots, they work out together and they even spend time with one another off-duty. When the media claimed Cara Delevingne hadn't been invited back in 2014 because she was too "bloated," Victoria's Secret CMO Ed Razek wrote an open letter inviting her back and putting those rumors to rest. There aren't many designers in the industry who would stand up for models in the same way.
And really, at this point, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is less about the bras and more about the girls who get cast. It's no wonder so many of the newbies said they wanted to land the gig for the chance to let their own voices shine; according to The New York Times, just appearing in the show has boosted girls' individual Instagram followings by as much as 250,000 overnight. Victoria's Secret has dedicated plenty of its social media to showcasing its models' personalities, and will surely give segments of the show over to let individual girls have a moment in the spotlight. Marketing scheme or not, I've watched them put in the work all year; whenever I see an Angel doing some crazy fitness move on Instagram, I think, "Damn! I wish I could do that!" (And, okay, "Damn! I wish I looked like that!") I love seeing any opportunity where models — so often overlooked as being just pretty faces — get to be the real stars.
Don't get me wrong, I fully see the blemishes on the glossy surface. I, too, would love to see a plus-sized girl — hell, even just a curvy size 8 or 10! — walk down that runway. I think it's shockingly behind-the-times that the company hasn't made that happen yet. I know that young girls, susceptible to the power of media, might fall victim to the belief that they have to look just like these glamazon babes. I know that it's just corporate marketing gussied up in pink bows and spray tans. (And — surprise! — it totally works on me: The day after the show, you bet I bought that bra-and-panty set every model was wearing backstage.)
Still, so much about the fashion industry is feigning boredom, acting jaded no matter how cool the party or how amazing the clothes. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is pretty much the exact opposite: it's one solid hour of glittery explosions and megawatt smiles that basically dares you not to have even a little bit of fun.
I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a trash fire. Monday night, you'll find me glued to my television, taking a one-hour dose of sparkling respite from all the bad news dominating the past few months. You don't have to join me — just please don't try and bring me down. The world looks pretty great from a pair of Swarovski-crusted Angel Wings.
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images