Heidi Klum and her post-baby body led the parade at the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show, which returned to New York with some fresh faces after four years on the road.
The lingerie retailer inducted five more women into its "Angel" ranks _ a designation reserved for top models _ in front of a packed house Thursday night at the Lexington Avenue Armory. They are Emanuela de Paula, Chanel Iman, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Lindsay Ellingson and Candice Swanepoel.
But Klum, who gave birth to a daughter five weeks ago, was the audience favorite in her purple corset covered with a half gown with poufs of tulle. She emerged from the huge, castlelike set to applause.
Musical guest The Black Eyed Peas _ especially Fergie, its only female member, who wore a black, jeweled bodysuit _ was another crowd-pleaser. She came out later in a green corset gown.
Of course, fashion really is secondary here. Victoria's Secret always puts on an elaborate production (this time with a choir, acrobatic dancers and a giant polka-dot dog balloon) and fuels hype about its models. An online model search started earlier this month and is now down to two contestants, one of whom will be chosen by the public to appear in the televised version of the fashion show that CBS will air Dec. 1.
"I could watch this online, but it's a fun scene," said Russell Simmons from his front row seat. "This show is always fun and a great production."
"It's always a spectacular," agreed costume designer Patricia Field. "Victoria's Secret does that extra thing I like."
Klum, who normally wears the most elaborate outfits, only appeared once so it was former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl Marissa Miller who had the honor of wearing a $3 million, diamond-encrusted bra.
Splashy jewels, it seemed, were one of the themes of the show with many models dripping in diamonds, crystals and other bling _ while others wore faux fur stoles over their bras and panties. Thigh-high boots were the other must-have accessory.
Outfits fell into one of four themes: Star Trooper with breast plates and body armor; Pink Planet, which had a hippie vibe; the ethereal Enchanted Forest; and Romantic Journey that featured a lot of lace.
Compared to previous years, the overall collection didn't seem as skimpy, although Miranda Kerr wore an itsy-bitsy black thong get-up that might have to be edited out of the TV show.