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The Victoria's Secret Show Analysis

Show closing
Show closing
Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Swarovski

In the ultimate celebration of all-American glamour, each year the Victoria’s Secret show brings together an ode to the feminine beauty, with a line-up of some of the most beautiful girls in the world. It's a show that pushes sexy to the max, with a spectacular set that took the audience this year from the Swinging London of the 1960s, to the American Wild west.

Lets try to go a little deeper into the “Secrets of Victoria’s show”.

The story of the company is as interesting as it is obscured. In the mid-1970s, a Stanford MBA named Roy Raymond walked into a department store to buy his wife lingerie, only to find ugly floral-print nightgowns – made even uglier under harsh fluorescent lights – and saleswomen who made him feel like a deviant just for being there. Tired of the humiliation involved in trying to buy lingerie, Roy Raymund created Victoria’s Secret in 1977 by putting the first store at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California. Raymond imagined a Victorian boudoir, replete with dark wood, oriental rugs and silk drapery. After opening a few other stores and launching the mail-order catalog, Raymond sold the company to Limited Brands in 1982 for a sizable paycheck.

By 1993, Limited made Victoria’s Secret a nationally recognized brand, while Raymond’s most recent business venture had ended in bankruptcy. He was last seen alive walking toward the Golden Gate Bridge, and shortly thereafter his body washed up on the shores of Marin County. Investigators concluded he’d committed suicide by leaping off the bridge.

So who exactly is Victoria? The stories vary, but it is said that since the first stores were designed to resemble Victorian boudoirs, the company’s namesake is England’s long-reigning 19th-century monarch, Queen Victoria. She and husband Prince Albert played “hide the scepter” enough times to produce nine children before his unexpected death in 1861 threw her into a state of profound mourning that lasted until her own death 40 years later. Despite this climate, fashions of the day included the corset, a sexually charged garment that embellished a woman’s curves above and below the waist. He chose the name "Victoria" to evoke the propriety and respectability associated with the Victorian era; outwardly refined, Victoria's "secrets" were hidden beneath.

What does it take to be an Angel? Women make up the majority of the company’s executives — they represent two-thirds of those tuning in to their fashion shows, and they account for a whopping 98% of the company’s customer base. This is their audience, plain and simple. It’s no coincidence that two of the most high-profile Angels in its short history are women other women don’t, as a rule, dislike: Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum. Both are charming and down-to-earth models who aren’t bitchy about their beauty.

Men aren’t entirely disregarded, but according to Ed Razek, the company’s chief marketing officer who was recently quoted in a Forbes article. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t “do salacious shots that women would not like.” They also constantly denie numerous requests from high-profile female celebrities desperate to be an honorary Angel.

The Angels are not a desperate bunch, however. In fact, they are products of an intense and extensive program designed to make each of them media-savvy celebrities. But that isn’t the only reason this commercial icon with a fresh star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame does not take requests. Another reason is Modeling 101: While the seraphic beauties in Angel garb typically stand around 5’ 9” or so, most Hollywood celebs fall more than a couple inches short, even if standing in a pair of Miss Sixty Side Button boots.

Now the televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show enjoys a devoted fan base, but its most dutiful viewers can probably be found among a loose confederacy of conservatives. Operating under such vague catch-all names as the American Family Association, these groups annually flood the FCC with complaints about how the show is indecent or obscene.

In determining what is obscene, the FCC juggles three statutes: Title 18 of the U.S . Code (Section 1464, concerning what goes over the air-waves), obscenity as defined by the US Supreme Court (written to cover hardcore pornography) and basic First Amendment rights. As a result, it places more restrictive standards on TV shows that run between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

This year’s fashion show will be broadcast at 10 p.m. via CBS on both coasts, but at 9 p.m. in the central and mountain time zones. You can expect to see an amazonian Toni Garrn, Karlie Kloss as a psychedelic butterfly and Kasia Struss as a British military officer were all amongst the Vogue Paris girls earning their angel wings this year, walking the runway to performances from Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy and Neon Jungle. After The Parents Television Council (PTC) reacted strongly, saying that families in these times zones “had to scramble to find their remote to keep their children from accidentally stumbling across this televised peep show.”

This year’s “Royal Fantasy Bra” the most recent incarnation of the retailer’s annual tradition of highest-end was worn by Model Candice Swanepoel. The beauty who has also modeled for designers such as Oscar De La Renta strutted down the runway wearing The $10 million “Royal Fantasy Bra,” The bra—$2 million belt included—comprises 4,200 gems, with a 52-karat ruby.

Overall, all men see Victoria’s Secret and think of having sex. Women see it and think of feeling sexy. There may be some common ground here. After all, it is too difficult to click through the online store and not reach one overwhelming conclusion: So much of the apparel sold at Victoria’s Secret looks as good on a woman’s curves as it does in a ball on the bedroom floor.

So, provided men and women find one another attractive — and it isn’t the apocalypse — the public will always be somewhat interested.
I say bring it on girls…


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