The annual Victoria's Secret runway show aired Tuesday night, and it was the typical procession of lingerie'd models, impossibly tall and lean, marching like pegasus-gazelles, emboldened by gold-encrusted wings. Fly, fly away, beautiful models. Be free.
Taylor Swift performed, as did Ariana Grande; Ed Sheeran and Hozier were the token boys, sensitive and perhaps a little frightened in the context. Though Swift is best friends with every top-tier model and high-fived many of them homoerotically through her set, it was Grande who seemed the most comfortable among the models and, perhaps, with displays of sexuality overall.
But in my mind, what CBS viewers saw was only half the story. Watching all of these gorgeously tanned, perfectly taut humans waltz down the runway in their underwear as though it were the most natural, happy thing on earth—these humans who, in Western culture, are essentially lifted up as the ideal of ideals—I tried to imagine the grossest, gauchest thing they would ever do, the thing that makes them just like everyone else. Just like me, in fact, sitting there in sweatpants, a grey lump on my couch. What would make these women at all similar to all the super-cool but comparatively regular-ass women that I know? Shitting was the obvious choice but, not one to be entertained by scatological humor (everyone makes caca!), I went for the most verboten of indulgences.
I imagined that, backstage, the models were squirreling away candy. Hoarding little bits of crunchy toffee and suckers until every last bit was hidden. Shoveling the likes of Bassetts Allsorts and Maynard's Wine Gums into their faces at every chance, rushing backstage as soon as they retreated from the runway to just have one more taste. The smile, kiss, or wink each model gave at the end of the runway was on paper meant to convey personality and titillate viewers. But to the models, it was the halfway mark: halfway before they were back in the dressing rooms, where they could eat candy once more while changing into their next looks.
This is my model-candy fanfic.
Nor the show nor the candy eating began with Behati Prinsloo, but she was certainly one of the vessels through which the candy was made possible. A known candy aficionado and daughter of the legendary Prinsloo clan, South Africa's first family of confectioners, it was Prinsloo who had the access to the candy, unhindered by meddling managers or personal trainers who desire for her to maintain a certain level of waistline. As a descendent of candy heirs, her metabolism has evolved with the food her ancestors ate, making all levels of candy edible to her. Because it is known that she eats candy almost entirely, except for two times a year on Easter and Christmas, none of Victoria's Secret security stopped her from bringing in bags of sweets—sour tarts, chocolate covered cherries, bars of nougat. Prinsloo was ground zero of the candy hoarding of the Victoria's Secret 2014 show. Sometimes, back at home, her husband Adam Lambert refers to her as Candy as a term of endearment, though never in mixed company.
Jourdan Dunn was one of the first to imbibe the candy, choosing a few packages of Haribo from Behati's pile, dipping beneath the makeup table as Roberto was doing her face and popping a few into her mouth when he reached for a new brush or eyelash curler. She was juiced off that gummy, and before taking the runway for the first time that night, had sent a flurry of text messages to friends and former boyfriends describing to them the immense privilege she felt to be able to walk this hallowed runway, to be bestowed with the glamorous wings that finally transformed her from a mortal being to a transcendent creature walking among men. One of them was a wrong number.
Maria Borges is really into halva, which was great for her because it was the least popular candy among the Angels. (Behati didn't even mean to bring it; it was wedged at the bottom of a plastic baggie between a movie theater-size package of Red Hots and some applicator-free tampons.) She finds halva to be soothing while simultaneously giving her the slight sugar rush she so craves. Shy for a model, halva loosens her up in a way that, to her, seems preternatural. She does not even enjoy the music of Taylor Swift, but that night, she seemed to know all the words, lip-syncing as she took the catwalk—lip-syncing just as surely as the rest of her peers.
Taylor Swift does not eat candy.
Joan Smalls does not eat candy, and thinks what was going on backstage is despicable. She's just here to do her job and maintain her glucose at a respectable level.
Lily Aldridge quit candy for a brief period in the mid-2000s but soon realized she was contributing to a culture of deprivation, and realized by doing so she was being anti-woman, and therefore anti-herself. A deeply spiritual person, she began consuming candy as part of a daily meditation ritual, and it disturbs her when others consume candy in excess at non-regimented time intervals. Because she must also time her ritual to the rigors of her daily schedule as a supermodel, she often works the candy meditation into her work. The Victoria's Secret designers agreed that she would walk better and more determinedly if she did so in a lucid state of mediation and candy consumption, and so they fashioned for her a shrug comprised entirely of spun sugar. It was the best runway walk of Lily Aldridge's life.
Ed Westwick was responsible for sneaking in 23 percent of the total candy haul. He hid it in enormous pockets, pockets he requested be made "roomy," but which Ed's bespoke tailor
Alistair knew as code. He created the pockets so that they flowed the length of his pants leg, into his sock where a body-hugging auxiliary pocket existed unnoticed. It was in this pocket that Ed Westwick stored more of the candy.
In mid-November, anticipating the candy, Karlie Kloss fashioned herself a small pouch that could be attached to the inside of her brastrap, just beneath her golden wings. She knitted it herself. It had the capacity to store a total of four Mike & Ikes, or two small generic jawbreakers, just enough to power her through the end of the runway, before she could scurry backstage and score some more. In this photograph, she is contorting her right arm behind her back and reaching into the pouch, at which point she will seize the candy and pop it surreptitiously into her mouth as she blows the camera a kiss. The cringe upon her face is due to the contortion. It is slight, however, because she is a ballerina, a sport which allows her to express every bit of her creativity, like modeling. Squirreling candy is just a hobby.
Constance Jablonski is 100% high on grade-A English sucrose. She is thinking about the Cadbury's Dairy Milk she has stuffed at the bottom of her Victorias Secret PINK duffel bag, given to her as a complimentary gift on the airplane. She is thankful that, because the Angels are famous fashion models, they do not have to proceed through regular TSA.
Candace Swanepoel is wavy as fuck.
Adriana Lima is disappointed by Ed Sheeran's inability to pass her candy as she walks down the runway. Even though later he will blame it on his guitar, Lima knows that the Brits have never been famous for their hand-to-hands. Luckily, she and Alessandra Ambrosio have a secret that no one else knows: this year, the fantasy bras are made of both diamonds and candy buttons. The candy has been polished to a sheen, so that it's difficult to discern which bits of the bra are edible, but it doesn't much matter because Ambrosio and Lima are used to eating both.
A good time was had by all.
Images via Getty.