A new generation of winged beauties takes to the runway.
Here's a strange feeling: You're sitting in a crowded auditorium, "Hang On Sloopy" comes on, and not a single person bursts into "O-H!" "I-O!" Yep, we certainly weren't in Columbus anymore.
Alive photo editor Will Shilling and I were in New York City, in fact, at the taping of this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, a sparkly spectacle starring pop stars Katy Perry and Akon.
the scenes Heavenly
"Sloopy" played during an elaborate sports-themed portion of the show, during which models strutted down a glittering golden runway clad in see-through baseball uniforms, boxing robes and knee-high athletic socks - all overtop the bras and panties that make up the backbone of the Columbus-based Victoria's Secret empire.
The emphasis on sports is especially appropriate during what is a rebuilding year of sorts for the brand. Victoria's Secret's best-known angel, supermodel/TV host/supermom Heidi Klum, severed ties with the company earlier this year. Marisa Miller retired her wings soon after. And two other A-list angels, Doutzen Kroes and Miranda Kerr, sat out this year's runway show because they're pregnant.
This convergence of events meant a new generation of winged beauties got to take center stage at this year's show, held for the second time in a row at the stately Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan. (Tune in at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, to get all revved up for buying gorgeous underwear this holiday season.)
Klum, Tyra Banks, Helena Christensen and Gisele Bundchen have all donned Victoria's Secret angel wings. So who among this new group of models will be the next big thing?
Leading the pack is Adriana Lima, a Brazilian bombshell who appropriately rocked this year's Bombshell Fantasy Bra - a lovely art-deco-inspired diamond-and-white-gold creation, valued at $2 million and designed by Italian jewelry company Damiani - just one year after giving birth to her daughter, Valentina.
Lima was this year's media darling, for sure, as evidenced by the constant swarm of TV news cameras and microphones that kept me from getting closer than 10 feet from her.
Then there's Alessandra Ambrosio, a Brazilian brunette who says her life's a lot like Liv Tyler's in "Stealing Beauty," Bernardo Bertolucci's depiction of an American teenager who travels to Italy to find her father and lose her virginity.
While she and Lima can most certainly claim top-tier status, Ambrosio politely refused to take my bait and speculate as to whether she's destined to be the next Heidi Klum.
"Every girl this year is gorgeous, and they deserve to be here - you're talking about the most beautiful and sexy girls in the world," Ambrosio said.
Victoria's Secret CEO Sharen Turney gushed about the newest additions to the angel family, a crop of young up-and-comers including Chanel Iman, Lindsay Ellingson and Candice Swanepoel.
"We're very excited about all of our new angels," she said.
Of the three, Iman's part-Korean heritage gives her the most distinctive look. And, let's be honest, she has the most memorable name. (You're pretty much destined to be a model when your name's a combination of an iconic designer - her mom's fave - and a model/David Bowie's wife.)
Don't count out mommas-to-be Kroes and Kerr, though. Victoria's Secret has a long history of welcoming quickly-slimmed-down mom/models back into the family.
Just ask Karolina Kurkova, a runway veteran who's been with Victoria's Secret for a decade and returned to the runway this year after taking a year off to have her son, Tobin.
"I love being here. This is part of my life - I grew up with them, and they grew up with me," Kurkova said of her fellow models. "But it's different for me this year. I'm a mom, not like a young girl showing up."
Babies are a natural part of the package for a company who relies on beautiful young women to push their products.
"Victoria's Secret is a brand for women run by women," Turney said. "I can speak for myself, having a son. We want these girls to be healthy, to be happy, to have a family. That's really part of our values."
"They have no choice! A lot of the models are having babies," Kurkova said. "The real women who wear Victoria's Secret, they are married or have children. It's good for the brand. We are beautiful young girls, but we also have lives and have families. It's evolution. It's the next step."
Klum certainly proved that popping out a few kids doesn't have to mean an end to a modeling career. She and her husband, Seal, are parents to four. But to get where she's gotten, she also had to diversify her portfolio beyond modeling to include TV host, actress and clothing designer.
And if you're looking for someone with ambitions beyond modeling and plenty of raw charisma, my money's on Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, a British model who's stepping into Megan Fox's shoes as the lead in the upcoming film "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
The ground rules for my five-minute chat with Huntington in hair and makeup were "no questions about 'Transformers' and nothing about her personal life." Consider my curiosity officially piqued.
I followed the rules and asked her about lingerie, and she very nearly talked me into heading right out to the nearest Victoria's Secret and buying myself a Miraculous Push-up Bra.
"Every girl must have a Miraculous bra," she insisted. "It makes miracles come true. It increases your bust by two sizes, gives you a lift, gives you a gorgeous hourglass figure. It's a bra that you can wear every day, or you can wear on special occasions - really every woman needs it."