VS Pink Spokesmodels Zuri Tibby and Grace Elizabeth Share Their Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Prep

Plus, they tell us what the Angels really do backstage before the show.
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Plus, they tell us what the Angels really do backstage before the show.
Grace Elizabeth trying to blend in at the Pink Nation University. Photo: Courtesy

Grace Elizabeth trying to blend in at the Pink Nation University. Photo: Courtesy

The 2017 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is just less than one month out, and that means it's go time for the cast of models, be they veterans, newbies or, in the case of Zuri Tibby and Grace Elizabeth, sophomores. The two VS Pink spokesmodels took time out of their duties hosting "Pink Nation University," a three-day blowout at West Virginia University, to update Fashionista on how they're preparing for the much-anticipated annual event.

Of course, intense workouts are an integral part of the models' lead up to the Nov. 28 runway extravaganza. "I train year-round. I was always in sports in school, so for me, this is now my sport. I box a lot and I do Pilates. So, I've got my ying and my yang, "explains Elizabeth, in her smooth, easy North Florida drawl, while also giving us a playful workout idea. "I recently just bought a Rebounder, one of those mini trampolines, and I jump on it 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. It's so much fun."

Zuri Tibby modeling a VS Pink Date Bra at Pink Nation University. Photo: Courtesy

Zuri Tibby modeling a VS Pink Date Bra at Pink Nation University. Photo: Courtesy

Tibby, like her fellow models and fashion insiders, has been hitting the Soho-based personal training gym, Dogpound, an impressive six days a week. "I'm working out really hard," she says. For muscle recovery and inflammation reduction, she's also making frequent visits to Cryofuel, the cryotherapy ice bath-like treatment (also seen on the Nashville episode of CNN's "Parts Unknown," when Anthony Bourdain froze himself after a night of eating hot chicken — and had lots to say about it).

The 2017 show's far-flung location of Shanghai adds an extra level of travel preparedness, too, if not for the brutal time-difference alone. "I'm trying to make sure I have my schedule on point, because jet lag can be terrible," says Tibby, who earlier apologized for being on the verge of losing her voice. (So sorry we made you talk!) She's already profusely hydrating and clocking at least eight hours of sleep per night. Goals, right? Although, Elizabeth has no issues with the latter goal. "I have a special power being able to sleep wherever, whenever, so...," she laughs.

Although, neither model will have much time to sleep on their halfway-around-the-world flight, which, this year, will be individual bookings on various airlines, since Victoria's Secret won't be chartering a private branded plane — nor will they be printing Angel-themed boarding passes — this time around. Both models are making their work trip a family one, too. Elizabeth is bringing her parents, who also traveled to Paris for her debut walk last year. "It's a tradition," she says. 

Tibby is really making her second Victoria's Secret walk an experience by traveling with her extended family. "My grandma, my grandpa, my mom, my aunt, my best friend and my cousins," she says excitedly. "I'm looking forward to trying some new food and maybe doing some touristy things with family." Neither has been to China before, so they're understandably enthusiastic to partake in local cuisine, with Tibby willing to try anything "authentic" and Elizabeth focused on a signature Shanghai dish. "Dumplings," she confirms. 

Elizabeth walks the 2016 Victoria's Secret Runway Show in Paris. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Elizabeth walks the 2016 Victoria's Secret Runway Show in Paris. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Obviously, they're both packing their Pink Date Bras, as well as after-party looks they've pre-selected with their stylists, plus outfits for various events taking place over their four-day Shanghai visit. "I'm also going to bring my Gucci winter coat, because I assume it's probably going to be quite cold there," says Elizabeth. Tibby, however, is thinking ahead. "I might leave my suitcase a little bit empty because I want to shop there," she says.

The annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show has ventured outside of New York City and the U.S. to Cannes, London and Paris in the past, but the 2017 runway blow-out is the first in Asia, let alone China, where the brand has ambitious market aspirations. The models are also excited for the new opportunity a Shanghai location will bring to the actual event. "[A show in Shanghai] gives you a different kind of energy and that will [radiate] on us, so I'm really excited to see how it all goes," says Elizabeth. "It's a different vibe. A different culture and this setting ... It's a big city, but it looks so fairytale, in a way — the buildings and everything — the whole energy of the country will be quite different."

Tibby walks the 2016 Victoria's Secret Runway Show in Paris. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

Tibby walks the 2016 Victoria's Secret Runway Show in Paris. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret

The 2017 runway show lineup is also the most diverse it's ever been, with nearly 50 percent of the models POC. "It's really exciting to see the fashion industry, as a whole, come together to include everybody. Especially this year, it's a lot of my friends doing it, too," says Tibby, who became the first black spokesmodel for Pink in 2016. "Especially young women that look up to the Angels and watch the show — it must feel good, you know?"

The Shanghai show also includes a record eight East Asian — and more specifically Chinese — models, with a few veterans, including Liu Wen, Ming Xi, Ju Xiaowen and He Sui, and four newbies. The freshman quartet will also include the winner of the "Road to the Runway," the Chinese "America's Next Top Model"-esque competition. Although, how the to-be-announced model will be incorporated in the set remains a mystery. "I'm not sure what segment [she's] walking in and — I don't know if I can say that — but it'll be something super-different," says Tibby.

Because there's always a surprise, both Pink models have found that the second time on the coveted sparkly runway can be just as exciting — and nerves-inducing — as the first. Last year, veteran angel Lily Aldridge gave Tibby a valuable piece of advice that the sophomore runway star will use this year, too. "She said to just take deep breaths, go out there, enjoy the moment," she says. "It happens so fast, so just really take all of it in."

"Because [considering] the hours that you prep for [the show], you only end up with about 60 seconds out there," agrees Elizabeth. "It goes by so fast, you just have to live in it." She also has comparison points from her time as a fashion week runway vet. Most recently, for Spring 2018, she walked in Missoni, Bottega Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo and Chanel, where she adorably lost her hat. "I was like, 'Oh no, I can't turn around," she laughs. 

But maybe her experience walking the lively, energetic and sometimes unexpected Victoria's Secret Fashion Show helps her hone that almost improv-like reflex to just pick up after an unexpected moment, without missing a beat. "You're kind of giving a performance, as well," explains Elizabeth, about the experience. "With the fashion shows, it's a completely different, [sterner] type of vibe. But with the VS show, you're able to blow kisses and get involved with the crowd, which makes it a lot more exciting."

Of course, the backstage antics with their Victoria's Secret Fashion Show colleagues is also just as much of an event as what happens on the runway — if their Instagrams have anything to say about it, anyway. "I'll pop out and I'll scare Grace or something," says Tibby, about relaxed moments behind the scenes, before the show. "Or models get on tables and they dance. People take funny selfies or photobomb in the back of pictures." (Too bad notorious backstage prankster Joan Smalls isn't part of this year's lineup.)

"Last year, I think just to get out the nerves, we all ended up in a plank challenge before the show actually started," says Elizabeth. "Kelly Gale actually won. She had an eight-minute plank. Congrats to her. It's insane. She beat us all, but we all tried." No word on Gale's planking form, though.

Homepage photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret Pink

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