How the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show's Angel wings are made

Noam Galai /GettyImagesSara Sampaio walked the runway in red wings during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
  • The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show will air on December 2.
  • The brand recognises top models by giving them their “wings” as VSFS Angels.
  • These wings take hundreds of hours of labour and meticulous work by designers.

Each year, the world’s top models take to the Victoria’s Secret runway for the legendary Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Alongside popular musical acts, the models work the runway sporting the brand’s iconic Angel wings. These wings are considered a rite of passage for many models, representing the ultimate runway fantasy that the brand creates year after year.

Victoria's secretMatt Winkelmeyer/GettyImagesMaria Borges walks the runway during the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show In Shanghai.

The wings that we end up seeing on the runway take hours of labour from teams of dedicated artisans. One of these artisans, is longtime costume designer, Marian Hose, aka “Killer.” Although Killer has been working with Victoria’s Secret for years, her portfolio also boasts projects for Disney, CBS, and various Broadway shows – including the Radio City Rockettes.

Killer showed off her studio to WhoWhatWear ahead of the 2017 VSFS in Shanghai. She explained how the wings are conceptualized, and later built by teams of people. Each pair of wings can take anywhere from 30 to 400 hours of labour, depending on the amount of detail work required.

In conversation with HuffPost, Killer discussed exactly how the wings come to life. They start as a sketch, designed by artists hired by Victoria’s Secret. The sketches are then sent to Killer and her team, where they are really brought to life. Killer conceptualizes how they might be built and later approves the designs.

Once the designs are approved by Killer, they are projected and scaled to size on a fit model. This fit model is key to the production process, as she knows how each model poses and walks, and stands in for the real Angels during the multi-step process.

Victoria's SecretTristan Fewings/GettyImagesModel Izabel Goulart wears Hand Painted Silk Wings with Swarovski crystals during the runway at the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Runway Show.

Killer builds a backpack-like structure to place the wings on the model, and this frame alone can sometimes take more than a week to get *just* right. Once the frame is built, artisans bring the sketch to life using a variety of different materials. Previous wings have included intricate beading, lace, leather, wire, safety pins, Swarovski crystals (duh!), and feathers. The wings can range in size, with the smallest clocking in around two pounds, and the largest pushing 20!

Because the wings aren’t assigned to models until just before the show, the real Angels don’t come into play until it’s crunch time. They get one or two fittings with the wings to perfect them before hitting the runway. Killer makes sure to leave some room for adjustment, depending on the model’s measurements and needs.

Adriana limaDimitrios Kambouris /GettyImagesModel Adriana Lima walks the runway at the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2013 in New York City.

There have been so many iconic wings in VSFS history, it’s hard to believe that they keep getting better each year.

The 12 Angels that will be strutting the runway in these incredible pieces of art are Adriana Lima, Elsa Hosk, Jasmine Tookes, Josephine Skriver, Lais Ribeiro, Martha Hunt, Sara Sampaio, Romee Strijd, Stella Maxwell, Taylor Hill, Behati Prinsloo, and Candice Swanepoel.

This year’s show has already been taped and will air on December 2.

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