Victoria’s Secret Show at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Usher and Seltia Ebanks
Usher and Seltia Ebanks

After a billion dollar renovation, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach is back in business. And as if the revival wasn’t enough to garner global media attention, the hotel kicked off its opening weekend with the biggest fashion event of the year: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show featuring some of the world’s most beautiful women.

Not since it’s mid-century heyday has the Fontainebleau seen such a star-studded celebration. The hotel’s grand re-opening dominated the social calendar of Miami Beach socialites as well as A-list celebrities such as Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow—not to mention 35 gorgeous supermodels, including Heidi Klum and Marisa Miller sporting the latest in lingerie fashion.

On a sultry Saturday night in November, the crowd gathered amid the dramatic oceanfront Fontainebleau to tape the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show which will be broadcast December 3 on CBS.

As show time nears, celebs such as photographer Bruce Weber and Blondie’s Debbie Harry lounge on couches atop a circular, glowing floor, sipping champagne and experiencing a new kind of Miami Modern.

Architect Morris Lapidus unveiled his curvy masterpiece hotel in 1954 and soon celebs such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Betty Grable and Judy Garland passed through its lobby. The hotel was the oceanfront destination for everyone from JFK and Marilyn Monroe to Elvis, and with the Rat Pack entertaining in the La Ronde Room the Fontainebleau was the crown jewel of Miami Beach.

Tonight the Fontainebleau is the perfect backdrop for guests like Project Runway’s Christian Siriano in a silky green shirt and his signature hairdo, Sex & the City’s Kyle McLaughlin and Terrance Howard in a throwback fedora.

The hotel’s restaurants Fresh, Solo, Vida and Scarpetta offer samplings in the Sparkle Ballroom while the red carpet stays busy with everything from feathers to latex. Proenza Schouler-esque skin-tight dresses are on everyone from models to model types, including racecar driver Jeff Gordon’s wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, who sports the trend.

But the real fashion show is about to begin, as a British accent takes the PA and instructs everyone in attendance to head poolside into the four-story for the main event.

Once outside, guests see Mario Lopez and John Stamos and Tico Torres discussing Bon Jovi’s latest tour, spilling out onto the pool deck. Alonzo and Tracey Mourning yuck it up with Lenny Kavitz and his closely coiffed new ‘do.

As show-time approaches, the crowd moves slowly passed the hotel’s massive infinity pool. Inside, Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard poses for a pic, as does Kim Kardashian (in a skin-tight mini, of course). A Yankee’s-capped Russell Simmons finds his seat just as Martha Stewart gets chatty with George Hamilton and snaps a quick pic.

Depeche Mode blasts from the speakers, while Robert Duvall and James Caan shuffle past Diddy to their seats. Moments later the lights go down, the band takes its place and Barack Obama’s recorded acceptance speech mixes with poppy music to make for an interesting opening track.

As the lights go down, the announcer says, “The glamour is back at the Fontainebleau.” It’s a theme that fits all too perfectly against the neon lights, crystal-adorned palm trees and sparkling silver-sand catwalk. The anticipation of something magical, something iconic, something to be talked about for decades to come fills the room and the show begins.

Usher takes center stage and croons as the models strut down the catwalk in bits of black and silver pieces. Adriana Lima is the first model down the runway with Alessandra Ambrosio and her post-baby body (not bad, not bad at all) following closely behind in sky-high wings shimmering big, bold and gold. The looks are lacy, racy and just a tad motorcycle chic.

Least they forget they’re in Miami Beach, the show takes a cultural turn and plays up the Latin theme with Latin beats, bongo drums and a crooner with a thick accent. The lingerie’s bold colors fit the theme well, and Seltia Ebanks salsas her way down the runway to further remind us Cuba isn’t that faraway.

But there’s more to Miami than just the Latin culture. There’s a history of art and architecture that put this place on the map. And the show reflects that with its Esther Williams-esque

Dancers in the background move like synchronized swimmers from an Esther Williams movie and don flamboyant bathing suits reminiscent of the hotel’s past bathing beauties. In the foreground, models don pop-art inspired pieces with bold shapes and colors and lots and lots of fringe.

The next round of looks come from the line’s young and flirty Pink collection and feature everything from tutus to college co-ed pieces. While the audience focuses on the present, Usher takes the stage again with a new song that leaves him dancing in the silver-colored sand.

From garden-inspired lingerie that has Miranda Kerr sporting human-sized butterfly wings to rose petal confetti, the show brings a bit of summer to the land of eternal summer.

The makeshift summer day turns to night, replacing the butterfly wings with crystal chandeliers that drop from the ceiling. The stage embraces an elegant vibe and models don tuxedo-inspired lingerie, boas and nightgowns that would rival even the most decadent ball gowns.

And the standout for the night was Lima donning the company’s $5 million Black Diamond Fantasy Miracle Bra designed by jeweler Martin Katz and featuring both black and white diamonds and rubies. The piece marks the first time Victoria’s Secret ever designed a black-diamond bra.

Bringing the show to a close, Heidi Klum makes her way down the runway with a gigantic bow attached to her back, while dazzling fireworks light up the night over water ocean. The glamour truly is back at the Fontainebleau.