Wearing a pair of wings at a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show means you’ve made it: You’re an Angel, part of a very rarified group of models. Victoria’s Secret Angels are extremely well-paid and among the most recognisable models in the world, but there’s one other perk they get that no one else does, and that’s getting to wear the wings. Courtney Wells, a motion graphics designer at Cosmopolitan.com and once a wearable tech intern who helped create some of the wings for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, shared what it’s really like to help make those super-special structures.
1. It takes a small village to make the wings. The pieces are made both in-house by Victoria’s Secret designers, and by third-party companies like Courtney’s former employer Final Frontier Design, which also makes spacesuits for NASA. Victoria’s Secret outsources the wing-making when they need the wings to do crazy things like light up or spin.
2. The wings are lightweight — for what they are. They are elaborate creations that can be wider than 6 feet and weigh up to 20 pounds (or a little over). Those twice-daily workouts probably include strength training when you’re an Angel.
3. The wings need to be protected from the models’ walking. The models have to walk with massive swings in their steps, and if not secured properly on the body, the fragile wings will break. During multiple fittings (with a fit model, not the actual model who wears them in the show), the designers figure out how to best secure the wings so they don’t run into problems.
4. The process of making the wings is not glamorous at all. Final Frontier Design’s workspace is in a warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and a lot of the work involves what looks like construction: hammering, drilling, etc.
5. The wings break a lot during the rehearsal and show. Backstage, things get hairy, and with so many people working in tight quarters, models are bound to bump their wings around. Which means broken light bulbs, torn harness straps, and more. When Courtney worked on Alessandra Ambrosio’s orchid wings, she was sewing orchids back on until the last minute.
6. The stagehands aren’t allowed to look at the models. Most of the non-models working the show are men who have to carry around heavy equipment, and they’re told by their employers that they shouldn’t make eye contact with the models. “The models are like the goddesses of this world,” Courtney says. “It’s a funny world.”
7. The models are actually the calmest of everyone working on the show. When wings are breaking and things are getting really chaotic backstage, the models keep the mood upbeat. “We’re supposed to think that they’re elitist and perfect,” says Courtney, “but they’re the ones that are saying everything will be OK.”
8. The materials get reused the next year. The wings get pretty beat up, but what’s left of them gets stripped and repurposed in future shows.
From: Cosmopolitan US