updated 24 Dec 2010, 03:21
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Mon, Nov 15, 2010
China Daily/ANN
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Casting for angels in stripper heels
by Guy Trebay

This is how an angel earns her wings. First, she is born, in someplace like Belarus or Florianópolis, Brazil, and grows up pretty. Then, she is discovered, most likely in a mall. Next comes time and training and support and miracles.

Untold numbers of young women hope to be discovered at a Victoria's Secret open call some day, but the truth is that Victoria's Secret angels are not drawn from the general population.

Edward Razek, the chief marketing officer for the Limited Brand, the parent company of the lingerie powerhouse, said before a casting session for this year's Victoria's Secret show: "We cast 30 models, but 10 times that many are sent to us by the agencies to be considered. And 100 times that many would want to."

To be televised on November 30 to 11 million people in 185 countries, the show will be taped earlier before a more modest crowd in New York.

One fall morning, in an office building in Manhattan, Mr. Razek and other beauty industry figures sat at a folding table about 10 long strides away from a makeshift privacy screen created from a rack of Victoria's Secret panties and bras.

Behind that screen, some of the most beautiful beings on the planet stripped out of their street wear and changed into a satin finish bra, a pair of lace bikini panties and champagne-colored stripper heels.

"What people don't realize is that they're rarer by far than superstar athletes," Mr. Razek said of women who are physically fit to be a Victoria's Secret angel. "The numbers of people who can do this are probably under 100 in the world. And in the show it's only 30 girls."

Among those chosen at the casting call was Carolyn Winberg, a tomboyish Swedish model with a board-flat belly and well-toned buttocks and blond hair that had been frazzled by styling.

"Never mind the hair," the show's executive producer, Monica Mitro, said after Ms. Winberg had changed, walked, smiled, laughed, turned, laughed and changed again. Each model was given two minutes to present herself to a panel. But seconds was all it took for Maryna Linchuk, a young woman from Belarus, to win approval. The model Angela Lindvall at a certain point compared her line of work with that of a boxer. "You have to make weight," she said.

A model auditioning for Victoria's Secret typically requires 12 weeks to get in shape, said Justin Gelband, a fitness trainer known as the Model Whisperer.

Few make the cut. Even fewer are chosen to wear a Victoria's Secret angel's strap-on wings.

"The girls actually dream about it," said Ms. Mitro. Opening a scrapbook, she pointed to a photo of a teary model in winged costume.

"These," she said, "are the wings that made her cry."

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