LONDON - Gold wings, jewel-encrusted bras and a bewildering array of lacy numbers took to the catwalk in London on Tuesday as US lingerie brand Victoria's Secret held its first annual show in the British capital.
The event was being billed as the company's most expensive ever with a price tag of US$20 million (S$26 million) and featured some of the world's best-paid models including Brazil's Adriana Lima.
She was joined by fellow Brazilian Alessandra Ambrosio - both in colourful US$2 million bras studded with 16,000 rubies, sapphires and diamonds.
Among the 47 "Angels" of the brand were Candice Swanepoel, Behati Prinsloo, Doutzen Kroes and Karlie Kloss - the latter wearing 18-carat gold wings.
US country-pop singer Taylor Swift performed at the show in the Earls Court exhibition centre.
Marketing director Ed Razek said that London was chosen over Paris as a location because of its "convergence" between fashion and music.
"The show is seen in 192 countries, the show is seen by 500 million people. That is completely unique in the industry. No one does what we do," he said.
He said the models were "healthy" and "confident".
"The image of a vacuous supermodel who never eats and only worries about what she looks like is certainly not the image of our girls," he said.
"These are genuinely nice women," he said.
Swedish model Elsa Hosk said she had prepared for the show, which has helped launch the career of several famous supermodels, with "a lot of different workouts" including a mix of ballet and boxing.
"It's one of the biggest shows that you can walk in as a model," she told AFP ahead of the event.
"It's such an honour for a model to walk in this show, just because it's huge publicity for us."
Dutch model Kroes said: "It feels really special."
This is only the second time since 1995 that a Victoria's Secret show is being held outside of the United States after an edition in Cannes in 2000.
Created in 1977 and with 1,000 stores in the United States, Victoria's Secret is the market leader there and made US$6.68 billion from sales last year.
It has been on the British market since 2005 and has a flagship store on London's New Bond Street, one of 15 outlets in the country.
The flashy brand is not to everyone's taste, however.
Three British students led a successful social media campaign that forced the company earlier this month to change its adverts featuring models wearing its new "Body" bras under the slogan: "The Perfect 'Body'".
The ad now reads: "A Body for Every Body".
But Razek dismissed the controversy as "absurd".
"When you are a big company you are a big target," he said.
"Does anyone really think that we were holding 'Body' up as an example of the one and only perfect body in the world? Of course not, of course not."