Secret Angels - Celestial mascots for Victoria's Secret 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 swimsuit issue).
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).
The 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's 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
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 Klum.
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 "Hallelujah" 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
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 Show.
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,
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.
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