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Is Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Really a Fashion Show?

The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is an interesting phenomenon. For ten years the lingerie brand has televised "angels" (as the models are called) strutting the runway in their underwear -- plus angel wings! -- on prime-time television, giving straight men and straitlaced parents everywhere something to salivate over. This year's show aired on Tuesday, December 4, and featured the famous faces and bodies of models such as Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, Miranda Kerr and Adriana Lima, among others.

The culmination of each show is usually a "Fantasy Bra" worth millions of dollars: 2000's Red Hot Fantasy Bra was the most expensive, coming in at $15 million, set with diamonds and Thai rubies. This year's Floral Fantasy Bra was a paltry $2.5 million.

So why is Victoria's Secret Fashion show an annual prime-time hit and other fashion shows -- fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris that feature design houses like Dior, Chanel and Gucci -- niche events for fashion nerds and couture snobs? Is Victoria's Secret Fashion Show -- dare we ask -- even a fashion show at all?

Argument: Yes, of course the VS show is a "real" fashion show!

Obviously Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is a *real* fashion show. It has: • Models wearing items of clothing • A runway, down which the models walk, wearing said items of clothing, accompanied by music • Each look has a theme, just like other fashion shows incorporate themes and inspirations for each look and collection

Undergarments are certainly subject to changing trends -- is anyone still wearing a corset or a pair of bloomers on a daily basis? So they definitely count as clothing, which is probably the strongest argument in favor of the VS show being an "actual" fashion show. Unless you are wearing religiously prescribed undergarments, you probably choose yours based on a combination of factors including comfort and appearance; not to be sexist, but this is probably truer of the ladies than the men. That's not to say that ladies are inherently more interested in fashion, but women do have to consider things like color (nude bras under white tops to minimize peek-through), pattern (embroidery and embellishment are visible under certain fabrics), as well as the delicate balance between form and function. Sorry, guys, but boxers vs. briefs is not the same as "underwire vs. soft cup," nor is it the same as "thong" vs. "boy short" vs. "hip-huggers" vs. "cheekies" vs. "bikinis" ... CAN WE JUST GET A PAIR OF UNDERPANTS, PLEASE!

We wear clothes that make us feel good, whether that means literally feel (against our skin) and feel in terms of the image we want to project. Underpants count.

Argument: No, the VS show is pseudo porn and does not count as a "real" fashion show

Obviously Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is not a "real" fashion show. It has:

• A far larger male viewership than female • Mostly-naked women walking a runway in pretty much the same thing, one after the other, year after year • Each look has a theme, but it's more like "fetish porn" than "Hey, this collection was inspired by the ocean and its creatures"

This thing is just an excuse to send a lot of hot female bodies down a runway set to music; throw in a few (hot) celebrities -- Justin Bieber, Rhianna, Bruno Mars -- and call it a fashion show. How is dressing women up in sexy lingerie, then throwing in a few pieces to make it a sexy costume -- the yellow rain-slicker cape with matching rain hat and thigh-high boots is a good one -- "fashion"? Are we to assume that a woman is going to think, "Hey, wow, I love that whole outfit! What a great way to brighten up a rainy day!" If they were only sending down the lingerie itself, and selling us the outfits to make us feel sexy under our real clothes, and would actually address undergarments as part of the fashion story. As it is, the whole thing looks like a contest for sexiest Halloween costume, not a fashion show.

The Verdict

In the immortal words of Abe Simpson: "A little from column A, a little from column B." A lot of people would argue that the wack-a-doo stuff that goes down the runways at major designers' shows doesn't count as fashion, either. So whether you are watching because you want to know what's happening in major brassiere trends, or just to peek at a little eye candy, it's all the same in the end: a line of hot girls, an array of giant wings and a jewel-encrusted bra at the end of it all.

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