SHANGHAI: Victoria's Secret brings its racy annual fashion show to Shanghai on Monday night, making its debut in China's growing lingerie market in typically brazen style but with added Chinese flair.
English heart-throb Harry Styles headlines the musical acts who will perform as the world's top models strut in skimpy bras and underwear in Shanghai's Mercedes Benz Arena, in what the US lingerie brand dubs the sexiest show on earth.
The show, now in its 23rd year, has faced past criticism for leaning heavily towards western models, but this year it will feature a record 55 women from 20 countries. They will include eight from China -- also a new high -- led by the country's top model Liu Wen, the first Asian on Forbes' annual list of the world's highest-paid fashion divas. She revelled in the excitement of "walking" in her homeland.
"The VS show is different each year, but this time it is even more special because it is in China and in Shanghai," Liu, 29, told AFP during make-up on Monday afternoon ahead of the show. "We can be thankful that China is such a big market, so there could be so many Chinese faces appearing. So personally I feel proud of my own country."
Victoria's Secret is hoping to win a slice of that market, with Monday's glitzy gala following the opening of its first two super-stores in China this year, in Shanghai and Chengdu. The company's sales in its home US market have sagged this year, with analysts blaming its slow-footed response to a trend away from constructed bras towards more comfortable intimate wear.
Victoria's Secret is banking on its name recognition and top models like Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio and their Chinese counterparts to win over women in China who are increasingly interested in expressing their sexuality, say social and fashion analysts.