Secret's Angels - Celestial mascots for Victoria Secret's
sheer, seamless lingerie with a heavenly fit. As the tagline for the
product explained "Good angels go to heaven, Victoria's Secret
angels go everywhere." Among the "Angels" used in the original
promotion were Argentine model Maria Ines Rivero, Brazilian beauty
Adriana Lima, German enchantress Heidi Klum (pronounced "Kloom"),
feisty American Rebecca Romijn, and the luscious Tyra Banks (the
first black model to make the cover of Sports Illustrated's
The Angels campaign was fairly straight forward. Barely dress-up
a bunch of hot supermodels with fanciful angel wings and have them
cavort down a catwalk clad in seductively-styled lingerie.
According to supermodel Stephanie Seymour, "The angels are
basically a concept that came from a line of bras that were very
pure, very seamless, very...sort of transparent."
The Angels debuted on a live 15-minute Valentine's day "webcast" of
the 4th annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show that broadcast from
the expensive Cipriani Wall Street restaurant on Wednesday at 7:00
pm EST, February 3rd, 1999.
The program promised "An Evening of
Fantasy and Myth," the music of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" from Carmina
Burana, and a bevy of lovely supermodels who walked through a
mythical landscape wearing angelic wings. The show ended
with a spectacle of flying angels (Wings by Martin Izquierdo).
models on this webcast included Adriana Lima, Anna Claudia, Carmen
Kass, Daniela Pestova, Elsa Benitez, Eugenia Silva, Eva Herzigova,
Frankie Rayder, Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Hollyanne Leonard, Ines
Rivero, Karen Mulder, Kiara Kabakuru, Kirsty Hume, Laetitia Casta,
Leilani Bishop, Natane Adcock, Trish Goff and Tyra Banks.
This cybercast (believed to be the largest streaming video broadcast
up to that time) was the world's first virtual fashion show and it
nearly brought internet servers to a crashing halt as over 1 and
half million people logged on to watch the glamorous event that was
configured to handle only 500,000 visitors.
The overwhelming demand
to see the Victoria Secret supermodels taught event handlers some
valuable lessons and they were better prepared to accommodate the
two million-plus computers that logged into Victoria's Secret May
2000 Fashion Show broadcast live over the internet from Cannes,
France on May 18, 2000 at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
The event showcased the
latest lingerie designs from the Victoria's Secret 2000 collection
worn by such supermodels as Tyra Banks, Stephanie Seymour and Heidi
In 2001, Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moved from its traditional
Valentines day slot to the pre-Christmas holiday slot on November
15th on ABC TV. Taped live (on November 13) in a large tent in
Bryant Park in the heart of the fashion district in New York City,
the Angels flew over the crowd while a gospel group wailed out
The first-ever network broadcast of this annual event -
hyped as the "sexiest night on television" - featured a performance
by blind Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and appearances by such
fashion luminaries as Tyra Banks, Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Rhea
Durham, Bridget Hall and Daniela Pestova.
To hype the event, Victoria's Secret models were seen on Episode No.
132 "The Wedding Scammer" of the sitcom SPIN CITY where Paul's
childhood friend-turned-Victoria's Secret model, Rhea Durham,
invites Paul and a guest backstage at the Victoria Secret Fashion
According to Washington Post television columnist Lisa de Moraes,
the show was a ratings winner with 12.4 million viewers, (slightly
more than half of them female). More men watched the program than
watched the "WWF Smackdown!"
But not everyone was a fan of the
Victoria's Secret Angels. One source called the event a "one-hour
glorified infomercial for the underwear trafficker."
Pat Center, of
the morality watch group American Family Association (AFA), reviewed
the Victoria's Secret special and reported the show was promoted as
the "sultry super bowl of underwear." And that the event was filled
with "soft-core porn, and models posed sensuously and seductively
throughout the hour," as well as "scantily-clad models wearing
angels' wings while background music sang, "Hallelujah, Hallelujah!"
In addition, the National Organization for Women staged a protest at
the 34th Street Victoria's Secret during the broadcast. Sonia
Ossorio, the vice-president for public information for NOW in New
York, said that "she has a drawer full of Victoria's Secret
lingerie, but that she chose to protest what she sees as an emerging
status quo of hyper-sexualized images of women." The Parents
Television Council complained to the Federal Communications
Commission saying the event violated decency standards.
In March 2002, US federal regulators ruled that a racy Victoria's
Secret fashion special that featured supermodels strutting around in
underwear did not violate indecency regulations.
Charles W. Kelley, head of the FCC's investigations and hearings
division concluded "Based on the information you and others provided
to us, you have not demonstrated that the sexual aspect of the
material was, in context, so graphic or explicit as to be patently
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