The Glamour is Back

Just before the close of the show, behind red confetti rain, exploding fireworks and supermodels perched along the runway in their brightest outfits, the curved, broad face of the Fontainebleau emerges in the background.

The hotel was built for nighttime. It's silent, stoic and grand, standing as its own skyline with windows dark, white walls beaming.

Fashion show producers moved back both tapings for an evening experience, asked hotel guests to draw their blackout drapes and hung clear plastic down the far side of the temporary stage complex to showcase the building.

The contract negotiated in February between the brand and host worked brilliantly: In exchange for a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the world-famous Angels, Victoria's Secret got the most luxurious hotel in Miami Beach for free.

Now, about 1,000 VIP guests seated along the runway gaze past the smiling, waving models, past the live symphony rousing a furious crescendo to a beacon of wealth framed in spotlights.

Los Angeles is where stars make movies; the Fontainebleau is where the glamorous ones of legend kicked back. The simple message of the show is proclaimed via loudspeaker by a woman in a British accent, then echoed by a building: The glamour is back.

"We started out to do the most significant event of its kind in the world," says Razek, who's also an executive producer of the show. "We also understood we had the obligation to do something that's not your traditional fashion show."

Last year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show revolved around presents, holidays and consumerism. This year's event evokes class, vintage themes and timeless elegance. In 2007, models appeared around a Christmas tree, wrapped in Mylar and standing on a reflective staircase. This time, they take the stage in traditional black corsets, muted tones and feathered headdresses.

Even in high heels and skimpy underwear, they wear white gloves.

"I really wanted to come to Miami," says Mitro, the executive producer. "The Fontainebleau is going through the same sort of thing that we are. They want this hotel to be glamorous and sophisticated and sexy."

If under attack, America imagines itself powerful and sovereign, faced with poverty, we might clamor to feel sexy, attractive and glamorous. So, on a poolside stage in Miami Beach, Victoria's Secret returns to the glory days of prosperity, and its Angels become goodwill ambassadors - saviors of a lifestyle threatening to erode in the tides.

Nearly one billion viewers in more than 100 countries will see a steadfast, unwavering return to elegance: a night of fantasy, magic and escape.

"People want fashion," says Turney, the company CEO, dressed handsomely and seated in an armchair backstage. "People want a little bit of luxury that makes them feel good, that makes them feel confident ... and that won't change whether it's a down economy or a good economy."

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