[By Alexandria Horvat-Becevello]

Back in 1995, the fashion industry made history while shifting its focus from high fashion to debuting lingerie on the runway, introducing Victoria’s Secret not just as a brand but a lifestyle.

After a night filled with hairspray and air kisses, Victoria’s Secret has aired their 21st show on Dec. 5, coming a long way from its humble beginnings. The first Victoria’s Secret fashion show consisted of a subtler approach than what is shown today, with models wearing lingerie from the brand’s catalog. Being a lingerie company, debuting a fashion show alongside luxury brands was a difficult task but nonetheless intriguing.

In 1996, the first “fantasy bra” was worn by Claudia Schiffer. Wearing the ‘million-dollar bra’ has been a tradition and honor throughout the years for the Victoria’s Secret models. It was in 1998 when everything changed for the brand – they had debuted the iconic and unforgettable ‘angel wings’. Victoria’s Secret was not just a lingerie brand anymore, but rather a lifestyle. Featuring top musical artists, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show became the ‘Super Bowl’ of fashion. Bridget Weishaar, senior apparel analyst at Morningstar says:

“What you’ve got to sell is that this will give you access to a different lifestyle — it makes a basic product very sexy and fun.”

Airing their first televised show in 2001, the lingerie brand makes a mark in history by being one of the most watched programs of the year, growing to be more extravagant as it continues its production. After introducing their sister line ‘PINK’ into their stores, Victoria’s Secret then made a place for the line on the runway, capturing the more playful, colorful and sporty side to the brand.

In the days approaching the annual fashion show, the Victoria’s Secret social media accounts are flooded with photos of the models preparing for the big day, boarding their private ‘angel’ jet and getting glammed in preparation for the show.  In addition to the wide range of lingerie and high profile models, Victoria’s Secret features many of their popular #TrainLikeAnAngel videos on their website and social media accounts, introducing workout tips and gear from the Victoria’s Secret athletic line.

Understanding their target audience is what makes Victoria’s Secret so successful. Despite being referred to as ‘angels’, the company, in addition to many others, struggle to create a more down to earth and relatable perception of beauty. Aside from the industry’s challenge to display a more realistic approach to beauty and body image, Victoria’s Secret continues to be one of the most successful lingerie brands, displaying a more current approach to fashion and artistic talent that many of their competitors fail to accomplish.

(Photo by gem_106 via Flickr)