The Victoria’s Secret Show Heads to Paris for the First Time

On November 30th the Victoria’s Secret (VS) taping was held in Paris’s Grand Palais for the first time in its 21-year history. It is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS December 5th at 10 PM – making sure the kiddies don’t have access to it. This year, “it girls”, Gigi and Bella Hadid, along with Kendall Jenner and 49 others made their way to The City of Light on their specially chartered VS plane. Gigi and Kendall have been on every cover and runway this past year so it was no surprise they would walk the show again. Last year Gigi’s mom, Yolanda, revealed that her daughter had been turned down for the show two times prior.

For many years Randy Brooke photographed the Victoria’s Secret fashion show for Click here for runway photo highlights of many of the shows going back to the year 2000. Some of the images are rather small because in those earlier days screens were smaller and computers ran slower! Still, the images are really amazing and they were constantly being stolen by other sites without our permission.

While VS held their show in New York last year, this year it was moved to a foreign locale to maintain excitement and interest. The show which debuted in 1995, started off as a modest enterprise without being televised. It was held at the Plaza hotel and contained bodacious beauties Frederique Van Der Wal, Stephanie Seymour and Beverly Peele. Heidi Klum and Gisele Bundchen made their superstar debut in 1999 and the show wasn’t broadcast until 2001.

Gisele Bündchen at the 2000 Victoria’s Secret show held in Cannes, France
Photo: Randy Brooke exclusive for

In the early days the budget for the entire show was $120,000, a fraction of what some of their bras cost today. There were cardigans instead of wings in the inaugural VS runway show accompanied by robes, knee-high boots and gloves. Claudia Schiffer was the first model to wear the million dollar fantasy bra in 1996 with the shows occurring around Valentine’s Day. In 2004 the show was cancelled because of a crackdown on indecency in the wake of the Janet Jackson Superbowl scandal.

2009 Victoria’s Secret show
Photo: Randy Brooke

The girls during this period, such as Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, were superstars with personas, attitudes and opinions. The current 2016 crop are more monolithic and unidentifiable-with long hair extensions or wigs and tanned emaciated bodies. This year regulars Behati Prinsloo, Karlie Kloss and Candice Swanepoel were a no-show. The event is currently viewed by over 500 million people and is largely a commercial enterprise featuring entertainers Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd. This year contained the most girls with 52 models taking to the catwalk -18 for the first time. Much ado was made last year about black model Mario Borges making VS history by being the first black girl allowed to wear her natural curls whereas, this year the cast of models and their hair choices were much more diverse.

Victoria Secret 2013 show
Photo: People Magazine

However, there remain a couple of categories of girls who dominate the landscape. The first being the blondes: including Martha Hunt, Elsa Hosk, Lily Donaldson, Romee Strjid, Devon Windsor, Rachel Hilbert, Josephine Skriver, Stella Maxwell, Constance Jablonski etc. These girls are beautiful, boring and nearly indistinguishable from each other. The next group are the brunettes and they are mostly from Brazil. There are old timers Izabel Goulart and Alessandra Ambrosio who look like identical twins, along with Adriana Lima who is walking in the show for her 16th time and Lais Ribeiro a second time Angel.

Maria Borges doing lunges in heels

Relative newcomers, Sara Sampaio and Taylor Hill who possess the same blue eyed, and brown hair combination also join the cast for the second year in a row. Taylor Hill is the youngest of the group as she is only 20. Thirdly, we have the African American group which includes Jasmine Tookes, Maria Borges and newcomers Harieth Paul, Jourdana Phillips, Lameka Fox and Zuri Tibby. Jasmine Tookes will be wearing the $3 million fantasy bra.

Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio at 2016
Victoria’s Secret show

Kudos to VS for expanding the diversity of the current crop and including women with short curly hair and exotic features. However, these ladies are svelte and flat chested-no Blac Chyna’s in the group. What happened to the Tyra Banks’ of the show? I thought booty and boobs were in. Next we have the beautiful Asians including Liu Wen, Sui He, Ming Xi with new addition Xiao Wen. Xiao Wen is the first Asian girl who actually looks Asian, without the surgically altered eyes and nose. As you view the colorful show it is readily apparent the girls are made to look like cheerleaders with high socks, platform shoes and sparkly clothing. There are no voluptuous, old or plus size models in the group-they are all stick thin mannequins.

Bella Hadid Walks Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2016
Photo: People Magazine

If you want an accurate cross section of America head to Target-forget the VS show. After perusing the show online, it was revealed that Kendall, Gigi and Bella all had the honor of wearing wings, something that had the Twitter universe up in arms as this is mostly reserved for VS veterans. Furthermore, Gigi and Bella had the privilege of modeling two looks. While, I know this is Bella’s first year she appeared stiff and dour during her strut, hardly the proper demeanor for a winged Angel. By featuring these Instagram stars so prominently, it is clear VS is more concerned with bottom line sales when they pick their “chosen bottoms.”

Once again there were few celebrities in the audience; attending the show is the death knell to a serious acting career. You may spot DiCaprio at an afterparty but he’s not coming to the main event. However, you will see a lot of nightclub owners such as Mark Birnbaum, Mark Baker and Richie Akiva.
The show’s length which clocks in at one hour is nothing compared to the footage and video that will be produced.

Models working out in the gym

The three day affair is documented by dozens of photographers starting with the wait on the tarmac and culminating with the VS show. These girls have been training for months to ensure that every muscle on their body is taut and tight with a diet and exercise regime that has some comparing them to Olympians. I will be ambivalently watching the show as I find it slightly demoralizing; I am hoping that next year it will head back to New York so that the city that never sleeps can have some Angels keeping it company.

– Lieba Nesis

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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