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Big Hair and Bronzer: Victoria’s Secret Backstage

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Photo by Elizabeth Lippman for Vogue.com ©11-07-12 Backstage at the Victoria's Secret fashion show.

Sparkle frenzy! Half-naked women languishing on chaise lounges! Clouds of spray tan! Rows of hot girls lip-synching to Taylor Swift! Giant pink heart-shaped lights! Yeah, none of those things actually happened backstage yesterday at New York's Lexington Avenue Armory — except for the heart-shaped lights. The whole extravagant spectacle that happens up front, and the show that Victoria's Secret airs on CBS a few weeks from now, was nowhere to be found.

For all the glitz and star power behind the Victoria's Secret "fashion show," the backstage scene was one of complete control. The entire enterprise had already been hard at work getting prepped for the press for hours before we arrived. Hair had been extended, abs painted on, eyelashes glued into place. Spray-tanned models in hot-pink, satin, and rhinestoned-encrusted robes sat with hairstylists and makeup artists on white couches, chatting away. This is a kind of beauty that leaves nothing to chance.

With an hour to go until the first show — the brand films two performances to make sure no nip slips or runway spills make their way on-camera —  editorial manicurist Yuna Park and her team were just about done polishing models' nails in one of two new Victoria's Secret Polishes: Bitten, a sheer, nude pink polish, was chosen for 29 Angels; and Peep Show, a bolder, more glittery pink, for the ten Pink brand models. A small army of at least 25 makeup artists, led by the soothing force of editorial makeup maestro Tom Pecheux, took care of Miranda Kerr, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Donaldson, and new comers like Jourdan Dunn and Hilary Rhoda. When we asked about their elaborate sailor tattoos, we got smiles. No one would hint to how they played into the show's perfectly controlled theme.

Cara Delevigne, one of our favorite runway models and a VS-show newbie, sat quietly in a chair as her hair was primped and curled to epic proportions. "I feel like my stomach is about to shoot up into my throat," she said. "I'm just trying to think happy thoughts of the beach: Ipanema, Rio, boys, bikinis, but I have the worst headache," she told us.

Click through to see pink-robe-clad models, the tats, big hair, bigger hair, and more teased-out, made-up moments that led Delevigne on her asiprin hunt.   

Photo: Elizabeth Lippman

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