Lovers of winged lingerie, your time has nearly come. Backstage at the Grand Palais, lead makeup artist Tom Pecheux and his team are applying black eyeliner to shiny lids. The ladies have donned their usual lacy pink lingerie, flip flops and silky robes. The smartphone cameras are out and working overtime. Victoria’s Secret’s 2016 runway show is nearly underway.
Some traditions — kissy-faced photos, over-the-top branding — are old. Others — Bella Hadid’s presence, the lack of hair extensions — are fairly new. “We want to embrace everyone’s natural beauty,” Sarah Potempa, lead VS fashion show hairstylist, said in a recent interview with Refinery29. “We’re giving a carefree approach to the length and type of curl. Some women with shorter hair, maybe a lob, will walk with that hair. We’re not gonna add extensions to make it super-long. And if someone has short hair on the side or a tight haircut, we’re not gonna put a wig on or put extensions on their head. We’re gonna embrace it. There are 51 women, and we’re gonna make them feel their most beautiful.”
Last year, 24-year-old Angolan model Maria Borges eschewed the brand’s typical glossy, flowing curls in favor of her natural hair. She was the first to do so. “I told my agent I wanted to walk in the Victoria’s Secret show with my natural hair,” Borges told entertainment news reporter B. Scott, “I was nervous, but I had to do it. When they said ‘yes’ I didn’t expect it, but I was so happy!” Fans were elated by the brand’s (small) step towards inclusion. Their cries of approval did not fall on deaf ears. The Victoria’s Secret PR machine is always listening.
Click through the slideshow above for a peek at all the backstage hair, makeup and selfie action. Spoiler Alert: Gigi Hadid wins the award for most relatable snap ever.