On Wednesday November 13, 2013, for the first time ever, I was invited to go backstage as models prepped for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. It was sort of like the Big Apple Circus meets Vogue magazine. It was nuts! At 10:30 a.m. I was whisked to the 4th floor of NYC's Lexington Avenue Armory, where behind a pink curtain, I saw 40 supermodels clad in short pink satin robes milling around a pink carpeted, pink-satin walled room. There were 40 individual mirrored vanities where the "girls" sat, while getting buffed, polished, manicured and blown out by a team of hair and makeup people, led by Orlando Pita and Dick Page, respectively. I only had 20 minutes to witness the madness, but I sure made the most of it. Here’s the scoop:
1. Most popular Angel award goes to Karlie Kloss: Although Candice Swanepoel wore the 10 million-dollar bra, it was Kloss who had the press eating out of her hands. With her face adorned on the event’s backstage passes and press materials, Kloss had the longest line of people waiting to talk to her. And for good reason: She’s awesome, nice, smart and very down to earth, even amidst all the craziness.
2. Their sunny glow comes from using lipstick as a bronzer: Dick Page rubbed the VS Makeup Color Drama lipstick in Taken — a warm, pinky-coral color —onto models' lips, cheeks and a little on their noses before applying foundation. “So it kind of looks like you have a little bit of a sunburn,” says Kloss.
3. There are only 8 official Angels: Karlie Kloss, Alessandra Ambrosio, Doutzen Kroes, Candice Swanepoel, Lily Aldridge, Lindsay Ellingson, Behati Prinsloo and Adriana Lima are the show’s queen bees. And alongside them are 32 other top models ranging from Vogue cover girls like Joan Smalls and Cara Delevingne to relative unknowns like Ming Xi and Kelly Gale.
4. The backstage scene is a lot like high school: There were 40 models crammed into one room, and the energy was all over the place. Some of the newer, relatively unknown girls looked downright terrified in their little robes, waiting for hair and makeup. I smiled at one blond who was stunningly beautiful but she looked back at me like a deer in the headlights about to cry. The well-known beauties tossed their hair and giggled up a storm with the surrounding coterie of press, PR and makeup & hair teams. At one point Candice Swanepoel (left) even got up on a table and started dancing.
5. Unlike high school, Lily Aldridge is maybe the nicest, most calm, low-key Angel ever: Considering she’s married to a wild rock star (Caleb Followill, lead singer of Kings of Leon), mother of an 18-month-old daughter, and about to storm down the runway in lingerie, the 27-year-old lounged calmly in her director’s chair, looking like she was on vacation rather than in the eye of a storm.
6. Like the rest of us, Karlie Kloss is obsessed with former Angel Gisele Bundchen: “She’s my favorite Angel of all time, I am obsessed with her. I could watch videos of her walking the runway for hours.”
7. The difference between being a Victoria’s Secret model and a regular model:
Joan Smalls summed this up best: “You need to have an oomph, you know? Personality. A little extra power and confidence that shows through the camera.”
8. The bouncy sexy hair comes from a 1-¼ barrel curling iron: “The size is perfect to create that beachy wave,” Lily Aldridge (left) told me, as a stylist twirled her hair around the tool inch by inch, holding for ten seconds at a time.
9. That famous runway strut depends on what song is playing at the time: Several models admitted that they walk-their-walks to match the beat of the music blasting on the catwalk. If a song switches mid-stride, they will slow down or speed up to stay in sync and set the mood.