Broadway Meets Runway at Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Backstage at the New York Armory (search), supermodels are vigorously tended to by hair, makeup and nail technicians.
• Video: Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
It's less than an hour before show time, and members of the press mill about, cameras pointed at the ready, waiting for their 15 minutes -- not of fame -- but for their allotted access time to what would normally be a very private session of primping, fitting and female bonding.
But this is no "beauty school dropout" slumber party. It's the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, (search) where the world's most recognizable models step from the pages of the popular mail order catalogue as if to say, "Yes, we really do exist, and we really are this beautiful."
"We have 26 of the most beautiful women on the planet having fun one night," says Jack Sussman, Senior VP of Specials for CBS, the network that will air the show November 19th at 10 p.m. EST.
The Tiffany Network is airing the show an hour later this year to keep it out of family prime-time viewing hours, hoping the move will gain a larger audience than last year (it came in third behind ABC's "The Bachelor" and NBC's "The West Wing.")
"We'll take Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum (search) and Gisele over "The Bachelor" any day of the week," said Sussman.
But changing the time slot isn't all the producers have done to help spice up this event -- as if it needs any more spice.
Sting opened the show singing his hit "Englishman In New York" as Klum descended from the rafters with the familiar outstretched Angel's wings Victoria's Secret has used in every fashion show since the first one crashed the Internet a few years ago.
"It's the most phenomenal marketing machine I could ever imagine," said Robin Burns, president and CEO of Intimate Beauty Corporation, which runs the Victoria's Secret brand for parent company Limited Brands (search).
"We're going to have one spot during the show -- it's going to be seen by millions -- and it's going to feature the top five shades of lipsticks worn on the supermodels in the show, and it will be available free while supplies last with any purchase of $35 or more at any Victoria's Secret store," Burns added.
Besides the commercial within the commercial, the show does a good job of combining lingerie fashion modeling with even more show-stopping elements, including a set of dancers donned in French maid costumes -- complete with stockings and garter -- doing a dance routine reminiscent of Bob Fosse's Broadway hit "Chicago" (search).
Later, they come back in a scene right out of "42nd Street."
"This year the theme is Broadway inspired," said Grace Nichols, CEO of Victoria's Secret Stores. "We kicked up the collaboration of lingerie and entertainment value and we have really great guests," she said.
Among those included on the ultra-exclusive guest list: Mary J. Blige, who also performs on the show with Sting and Eve (search); Academy-Award winner Denzel Washington (search); basketball great Kareem Abdul Jabar and of course, P. Diddy and Donald Trump, (search) who were all seated conveniently next to the runway.
But the big names didn't faze the supermodels one bit.
"This is just another job for me," said Brazilian bombshell Gisele Bundchen, and Tyra Banks said she hasn't been nervous in front of crowds for quite some time. "Not since the fourth grade," she said.
Meanwhile, other models were feeling a little shy leading up to the big show.
"No G-String for me," said model Deanna Miller. "If you're American, your family is watching, so you don't want your butt sticking out," she said.
"The things in the show are more like fantasy," said Brazilian stunner Allessandra Ambrosio. "But the bras are beautiful."
"It is so sexy, so sophisticated," said Sharen Jester-Turney, president and CEO of Victoria's Secret Direct. "We are a brand that celebrates women, and the great thing about us is we are a company that's run by women," she said.