The runway trend of the past few seasons has been the storming of the high-fashion catwalk by more commercial-skewing girls: Miranda Kerr and Gisele Bündchen at Balenciaga, Alessandra Ambrosio and Doutzen Kroes at Prada, and so on. But the tide, it turns out, goes both ways—the commercial holy grail, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, tapes in New York City tomorrow night, and plenty of higher-than-high fashion models are set to strut.
“It’s such an editorial level,” said Sophia Neophitou, the 10 and Harper’s Bazaar U.K. editrix who’s taken over styling duties for Charlotte Stockdale this season. “It’s not just a predictable approach to it at all, which is something I wasn’t totally aware of before I got here, you know. We looked at girls we love to shoot editorially; that’s what great. I think there’s a perception before you get here of what will work. But the reality is, it’s about the girl, it’s about the woman, what she brings as a human being to it, rather than has she got a size 34C cup. No, it’s not about that at all.” She laughs: “That’s what they’ve got the miracle bras for.”
The girl Neophitou was surveying was Anja Rubik, the doe-eyed Polish model who’s a favorite of Karl Lagerfeld’s, as she spun in a draped kimono, hand-painted with Sailor Jerry-style tattoos, a studded bra and panty set, and knee-high, back-buckled Giuseppe Zanotti Design boots. The kimono, along with several other painted pieces, is the handiwork of Jeff Fender (below, with Rubik), a Broadway costume designer who also worked on Tom Ford’s top-secret new women’s collection. (Fender estimated that the kimono alone took 300-plus man hours.) It’s one of Rubik’s two looks in the show—the other being an enormous, marabou-trailing pair of wings. (“Giving the girls wings, I feel like Father Christmas,” Neophitou said. “They cry, they actually cry.”)
De-winged and back in her street clothes—Balenciaga dress, Rick Owens jacket, Chanel bag, and Eternamé ring—Rubik, who has just returned from shooting an i-D cover in London, ran down the appeal of appearing in the VS show. “It took me a while to convince myself to do it,” she admitted. “I don’t really do lingerie shows. I thought, it’s a little too much for me; I thought, I don’t want to go there. But Charlotte [Stockdale] is a good friend of mine…she convinced me. I did it last year; it’s so much fun. It’s more fun than any other show.”