An emotional Adriana Lima, 37, bowed her head in thanks and crossed her hands over her heart as she made her 18th and final runway walk in the annual holiday Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, her long white feather “angel wings” gently blowing as the crowd cheered.
A tribute video played on Thursday during taping of the extravaganza, declaring Lima “the greatest angel of all time” while Fatboy Slim’s Praise You played.
The show will be broadcast 2 December on ABC and in 190 countries around the world.
The Strokes, Shawn Mendes, The Chainsmokers, Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha, Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey performed on the runway at a downtown Manhattan venue as 60 models strutted, including sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Winnie Harlow.
Ora briefly walked hand-in-hand with one of the angels during her performance and a stage hand later fetched a piece of her gold jewellery that fell to the runway.
Mendes was dressed in black and slung his acoustic guitar on his back as he sang while Gigi Hadid managed a huge parachute-like set of floral wings that caught the air like a massive windsock. He sang Lost in Japan.
Jenner took to the runway in a black and silver bikini look and a set of stiff black feathers adorned with glitzy stars. For another round on the catwalk, she donned a tiny plaid kilt skirt with a mismatched plaid train and bra as she smiled.
Harlow, a newcomer to the show, walked in a sparkly silver with pink feather adornment as well as a floral ensemble.
Backstage before the show, the 37-year-old Lima, a mother-of-two, and other models lounged in short black robes bedazzled with gold stars. They spoke to journalists while sitting at makeup stations and lounging on couches.
“I thought over the years I would get more relaxed,” the blue-eyed Brazilian beauty told The Associated Press as stylists worked on her long dark hair. “No, I still get nervous, just like at my first Victoria’s Secret show.”
Another angel mom, 30-year-old Namibian blonde Behati Prinsloo, smiled wide as she primped backstage. Prinsloo, who is married to Adam Levine, has been an angel since 2009 but this was her return to the show after two years off, just eight months after the birth of their second daughter.
“It’s such an honour to just be part of it yet again after having kids,” she said.
Giving birth gave her extra confidence, Prinsloo said.
“It made me work a little harder,” she said. “It made me appreciate my body so much, what it can do, create life and then, honestly, get back and do this.”