They call it the City of Light, and on Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Paris shone brighter than at any other moment in its brilliantly chic history. The uniquely spectacular concentration of two million-plus sparkling Swarovski crystals, stellar names from the music industry’s glittering firmament, myriad camera flashes and a beaming host of the world’s übermodels could mean only one thing: the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
When word got out that the legendary lingerie label would be flying its famously, dazzlingly Angel-adorned runway in to Paris, the response was universal: Where else! And the hotly anticipated, lavish spectacle, staged at the historic and ornate Beaux-Arts style Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées, didn’t disappoint. If you were expecting a ravishing flight of fantasy then you came to the right palace.
Much of the pre-show talk is always about who has ‘earned her wings’. Every model that walks for Victoria’s Secret aspires to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel and 2016 saw Danish 23-year old Josephine Skriver elevated to their glittering ranks, joining the likes of Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, Jasmine Tookes, Elsa Hosk, Lais Ribeiro, Martha Hunt, Romee Strijd, Sara Sampaio, Stella Maxwell and Taylor Hill. As the celebrity ambassador for the Family Equality Council and its Outspoken Generation Program, Ms Skriver can now be clearly seen to be lighting the way for a new generation of socially conscious fashionistas.
Once the girls had blazed onto the runway—all fifty-one of them—there was no doubting that the Victoria’s Secret casting team had made a brilliant choice. The themes this year were The Road Ahead, Mountain Romance, Secret Angel, Dark Angel, the athleisure-styled PINK Nation and the party girl-inspired finale Bright Night Angel, covering a total of eighty-two looks, all of them radiant with feminine opulence. But it was the latter theme that shone out when Ms Skriver stepped out in the dazzling Swarovski look. It wasn’t simply due to the total number of crystals used (over 450,000); the Victoria’s Secret’s Fashion Show team had created something exceptional in this showpiece outfit featuring bespoke boots by Brian Atwood, and chosen one of our most enlightened models to wear it.
Its beautifully fluid and shimmering crystal fringe was the standout feature. Spanning fingertip to fingertip, it took the angel wing concept out of the realms of the dressing-up box; a promotion to elegant new levels of dramatic glamour. 3,000 strands, each threaded with 150 crystals, were what it took to achieve the mesmerizing effect. Then there was the lingerie: blitzed with over 450,000 crystal baguettes, beads, chatons, fancy stones, Flat Backs, pendants and sew-ons, including stunning outsize stones. And then there were the nude-effect thigh-boots, adding another 1,630.
Finally, who could forget those performances by Bruno Mars, The Weeknd and Lady Gaga. Especially Gaga’s bespoke crystallized hat created by Gladys Tamez Millinery, and so aptly brought out to set off a dramatic on-stage costume change. Rocking what can only be described as a gothic cowgirl look, while balancing on impossible platforms, Gaga pouted, posed and peekaboo-ed in style from under its sparkling midnight-black and theatrical full-length fringe.
And it’s not over yet. Those of us not fortunate enough to have bagged a ticket to the live show can go ‘frow’ when it is broadcast to more than 190 countries on the CBS Television Network at 10pm EST on December 5. Put it in your diary now.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIAN HEKIMIAN/GETTYIMAGES.COM