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November 12, 2012

Runway show the key to Victoria's Secret success

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Victoria's Secret's models, known as "Angels," are a major part of the brand's image, appearing in the fashion show, catalogs, stores and advertisements. Under Wexner's direction, the brand sought to create celebrities rather than use them as spokespeople, said Marcie Merriman, director of brand strategy and planning for Victoria's Secret from 2001 to 2003.

"They would never pick known models or ones that are already out there, because the brand is stronger than that," she said in a telephone interview. "The models chosen are very specifically ones that women can relate to or feel comfortable around and have personalities," such as Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks.

One model wears a multi-million dollar bra gift set in the show each year, an illustration of the event's opulence and the brand's aspirational nature. This year's set, valued at $2.5 million, was made with more than 5,200 precious gems, including sapphires, rubies and diamonds, in 18-karat rose and yellow gold. But Merriman said prices generally are "reachable for the average upper-middle class woman." Merchandise online includes $62 lace push-up bras and $70 satin pajama sets.

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