Amelia Hamlin and Adriana Lima on the Sexy and Inclusive Victoria’s Secret Revamp
After five long years without angels, the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is back, and it’s not the winged thongfest of its early-aughts peak. The Victoria’s Secret World Tour premieres on Prime Video today following a month of curated international events featuring legacy supermodels and their Gen-Z counterparts. Before the premiere, record-holding angel Adriana Lima joined 22-year-old rising star Amelia Gray, who grew up admiring Lima on television, to discuss walking with wings, channeling the sirens of Old Hollywood, and the brand’s heavenly reinvention.
ADRIANA LIMA: It’s very nice to meet you, Amelia. I’ve been following your Instagram for some time.
AMELIA GRAY: I know. We’ve met a couple times backstage, but we haven’t actually had a moment, so this means so much to me.
LIMA: I’m a big fan of your mom too. I think she’s amazing. Please tell her hi from me.
GRAY: She’s gonna die. She’s obsessed with you too. It’s interesting that they’re having us do this together because you’re my first memory of Victoria’s Secret. My mom was always like, “Pick someone that inspires you,” and I was always like, “Adriana.” You’re just her.
LIMA: It’s really exciting to talk to you too. How did you feel about being part of Victoria’s Secret? Were you nervous?
GRAY: I never really thought that I would be part of Victoria’s Secret. So when I got the call, I genuinely dropped to the floor and was like, “Wait, what? Are you sure you’re calling the right girl?” It was crazy for my inner child that used to sit on the couch and watch the shows at a young age. And it was one of my favorite sets that I’ve been on so far. It was so empowering. I’d never really done anything sexy and in lingerie.
LIMA: I mean, every post on your Instagram is sexy. [Laughs] I felt the same when they called me for the first time. The first time that I worked with them was in 1998 for the catalog. You know, back in the days, we used to have a catalog. [Laughs] And the first fashion show was in 1999. I never thought that I was gonna be part of that either. And after so many years, when I thought it was over, I received a call again and I couldn’t believe it. It was really exciting for me.
GRAY: When I think of Victoria’s Secret the first person I think of is you, and then I think of Candace [Swanepoel]. How is it being part of Victoria’s Secret for all these years?
LIMA: I’ve been with Victoria’s Secret for over 20 years, and I’ve watched the brand evolve. I started working with them before social media. I saw the fashion show go from being just a regular runway with no entertainment at all, just models and campaigns shot with film cameras, to going digital and having musicians or athletes on the stage.
GRAY: That’s insane.
LIMA: It’s exciting because it’s always different. This year we’re showcasing cultures and offering a platform to upcoming musicians and fashion designers from all over the world. I was representing the fashion designer Melissa Valdés Duque from Bogota.
GRAY: I was in Japan. It was incredible. It’s so important to allow designers from all over the world to create their own idea of what it means to be a woman, or to be sexy, or to be empowered. At the end of the day, there’s not just one definition of that. We interpret it so differently.
LIMA: Can you describe your look?
GRAY: It was this deconstructed black dress. It was so perfect for me, I literally died when I saw it. It’s all these bras and underwear that the designer took and turned into a dress. But the thing that was most interesting is that she took a 3D print of her body—literally molded her whole body—and turned it into dresses that half of the girls were wearing in my group.
LIMA: Very artistic.
GRAY: What was yours?
LIMA: It was very modern, yet traditional. It was a crochet dress made out of beads. I’d never seen something like that. It was a golden color, but the way she designed it, it almost looks like liquid. Golden liquid crochet. It’s truly incredible, and she’s so young.
GRAY: I feel like they’re all so young.
LIMA: She’s 23 years old with the mind and creativity of a genius. She started doing crochet when she was seven. It’s exciting to see so many talented people in this forum.
GRAY: I know, I’m really, really, excited for everyone to see it. I’m curious on how everyone’s gonna perceive it. Nobody really knows what’s coming, you know?
LIMA: Yeah, it’s gonna be a hit. My children are so excited to watch. My youngest, Cyan, it’s his birthday tomorrow. He’s gonna be one.
GRAY: Happy birthday, Cyan. I remember the last time I saw you, you were pregnant at the Alexander Wang show. It was so major. But wait, I do have to ask you a question about the wings, because we all got to wear them for the main shoot. Oh my god, those wings are so heavy.
LIMA: Which one did you choose?
GRAY: I chose the smallest ones. I don’t even remember which ones because I was really present on set. But when I put them on, I was like, “This is insane.” Mind you, there were some that were 10 times bigger. So how did you walk down the runway for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show with those wings?
LIMA: Personally, it does not matter if I’m wearing wings or not, I’m always nervous. I get so freaking nervous until I walk out in the show. But there were a few times that I almost got kicked off the runway because they’re so wide open and I barely had space to walk.
GRAY: And there are so many people watching.
LIMA: It’s nerve-wracking, but I love that sensation. I like the adrenaline.
GRAY: Me too.
LIMA: I think the biggest wings I had were maybe six feet tall. And it wasn’t that heavy, but because it’s so spread out, you kind of lose your balance a little bit and it’s hard to walk.
GRAY: Oh my god. And you’re walking on the runway with such strength and you’re being so sexy and calm.
LIMA: I was nervous, but luckily nothing happened.
GRAY: I really respect you for walking in those wings all those years and never having a moment.
LIMA: It has happened, but it wasn’t aired. Nobody saw, but there were a few things that happened backstage.
GRAY: Nobody needs to know about those things. Also, I don’t know if you remember, but before I was a model, and was very much your biggest fan—I’m still your biggest fan—but when I was like 12, you wished me a happy birthday. That was the nicest thing ever. Your birthday’s the day before mine, so we’re both Geminis.
LIMA: You’re a Gemini! I love it. I’ve been following your mom for some time and I love her energy, and I sense the same vibe with you. But let’s talk about music. What do you listen to to get pumped up for the show? I’m so out of the loop. When we were on the shoot, they asked me to choose a song, but all I listen to is baby music.
GRAY: [Laughs] What is baby music? But music for me actually makes it easier to portray my character. Music on set is very important for me. So for this particular shoot, like I said before, I’m not that sexual of a person in real life. On my Instagram I am, but that’s the character I play. So when I was doing Victoria’s Secret and they asked me what to play, immediately I was like, “’Sex with Me’ by Rihanna.” Without that song, I wouldn’t have been able to do it as well as I hope I did. But before the runway, when I’m really nervous, I listen to Azealia Banks. I only listen to one song, it’s called “212.” It’s kind of a lot on the ears, but if you put your AirPods in and just tune out and listen, it’s like you’re now the baddest. Rap also brings me to that space.
LIMA: Is that like hardcore rap? I like that.
GRAY: Whatever can take me out of being me as a person. I’m more of a Sade type vibe. I’m really chill. I like jazz, I like Kenny G.
LIMA: Oh, Kenny!
GRAY: Is music important to you like that too, or can you just turn on the character?
LIMA: Music is a big part of my life and it’s a big part of finding inspiration. I used to do playlists. Like, for a workout, for the Victoria Secret commercials that I would shoot, for shows. And it was a combination of music and movies. I would watch old-school Hollywood.
GRAY: I’m doing that right now.
LIMA: One of the greatest classic movies to me is La Dolce Vita.
GRAY: I need to watch it again.
LIMA: And all the Marilyn Monroe movies. I’m obsessed with Sophia Loren, too. There are many movies that I try to capture. I watch how they move and I get certain things from each character.
GRAY: I love that. I’m finally getting into movies in my twenties.
LIMA: You know what I miss? Back in the days when VH1 and MTV played real music videos. There are a lot of music videos that were super inspiring for fashion.
GRAY: Usually I study the old ’90s fashion shows for every brand that I work for. I’ve seen this one Versace show a billion times. But I’ve been needing an extra push of inspiration, so I think I’m gonna do the music video and movie thing.
LIMA: Usually I go eighties. I love the ’80s. I’m obsessed with Billy Idol. There’s a lot of inspiration there for me.
GRAY: I better do my research.
LIMA: I will send more to your Instagram for you to check out.
GRAY: Please do.
LIMA: Where are you now?
GRAY: I’m in L.A. at my gym right now. I just did Pilates.
LIMA: Tell me where you go for Pilates. I moved to L.A. I used to live in Miami.
GRAY: Amazing. And you’re Brazilian, right? My boyfriend’s Brazilian and I’m pretty sure he is going to be my husband one day and I need to learn how to make all the food and speak Portuguese, quickly.
LIMA: Oh my god. Have you been to Brazil yet?
GRAY: No. We were supposed to go. I need to go. He’s from both Rio and São Paulo.
LIMA: You’d love Rio. São Paulo has a kind of New York vibe.
GRAY: We need to hang out, please.
LIMA: You’re going to be in New York?
LIMA: I’m looking forward to seeing you.