This story first appeared in the summer issue of Digiday magazine, available exclusively to Digiday Plus members. Join the community and receive the full magazine here.
The annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion show can be enough to catapult a model’s career — just look at the resumes of veterans Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio. Brazilian model Daniela Braga, who walked her fourth Victoria’s Secret show in Shanghai in November, kept a record of show day, from her morning workout to the backstage hoopla to the after-party.
6:30 a.m.: I wake up with excitement and anticipation, ready for the day ahead. I immediately get dressed and head to the gym for a quick workout. I like to run, as it clears my mind, and I stretch to align my body. I also like to do exercises that use my own bodyweight for resistance. I can do them anywhere at any time, which works well, considering the nature of my job. I usually mix that routine with HIIT workouts and the occasional spin class to keep my body in athletic shape. After about 45 minutes, I’m ready for breakfast.
7:25 a.m.: I’m back in my room at the hotel. I order room service and put on some music to get me in the right mood for the day. I’m loving Dua Lipa at the moment; her music’s empowering and upbeat.
7:55: My breakfast arrives: a big bowl of berries and a bowl of oatmeal, which should keep me going through the day. I know the rest of the day is going to be busy, so I take these last few moments for myself.
8:45 a.m.: Shower time. I apply a 10-minute face mask I’ve used for years. It makes my skin look radiant and fresh, and I want to be sure to look my best. Everything else is quick; I’ll have help getting ready at the show space.
10 a.m.: I meet the other models and the amazing team from Victoria’s Secret downstairs so we can travel to the arena together. The atmosphere is electric, and it’s so great to be surrounded by a group of girls who empower and encourage each other. I realize how blessed I am to have this opportunity.
10:20 p.m.: In the bus! I make sure to get a few more glimpses of beautiful China, as I will be returning to New York in the morning.
11:30 a.m.: We arrive at the arena. It takes my breath away with its sheer size, and seeing the Victoria’s Secret logo in front gets me excited. There are a lot of people outside the arena who are waiting to wave to us as we get off the bus, which only increases my anticipation.
12 p.m.: We are finally inside the venue, and it’s time for hair and makeup. The prep area inside the arena is huge. There are rows and rows of black tables and mirrors set out on bright pink carpet. All of the girls — an incredible cast of beautiful, diverse models — are seated, and chatting with their assigned hair and makeup teams as they get to work.
1:45 p.m.: Still in the makeup chair. There is a lot of activity: Social media takeovers are happening, a few specially selected journalists are backstage asking questions and taking pictures, and my agents from Next Models come and say good luck. There are regular updates from the show producers, counting us down to our rehearsal.
3 p.m.: We head out front for a final rehearsal. We have practiced many times prior, but it’s always good to have one last practice. The stage seems bigger than ever, plus it’s all lit up now and the music is pumping. My adrenaline is at a high. I will be appearing in two sections of the show, so I get to practice my walk twice. I’m excited to hit the stage with this year’s performers: Harry Styles, Miguel, Jane Zhang and Leslie Odom Jr.
4 p.m.: Final hair and makeup preparations take place, and we are given a pep talk by the Victoria’s Secret team. I’m feeling confident and ready to go. We move to wardrobe where we put on our first looks. We have had several fittings leading up to now, and it’s awesome to finally have the final pieces on.
5 p.m.: The show is still an hour away, but we can already hear the crowds taking their seats. All of my friends are dressed, and we are ready to go. Little-known fact: We actually do two shows! That way, it’s perfect when it airs on TV. My agents at Next are in the audience ready to cheer me on.
6 p.m.: It’s the time we’ve all been waiting for! I prepare for my first appearance on the catwalk — it seems everything goes silent in the minutes before I take to the runway. I’m waiting for my cue to walk, and I’m in a zone. The experience always winds up a blur, and it’s over in a flash. I walk in my first look — smooth sailing — then I run backstage to change to my second outfit.
6:35 p.m.: I am walking with fellow Next model Aiden Curtiss this time around, which is so fun. We get each other pumped, then head to the runway for a second round. The arena seems as big inside as it did from outside, and it’s exhilarating to walk to the music and seeing the crowd cheering me on. It’s decidedly the best I’ve ever felt.
7 p.m.: The second show is on, and I start to get sad, knowing the experience is almost over. What an experience! From walking the show to seeing the sights of Shanghai to spending time with my fellow models, it’s been amazing. Just as quickly as the first show, the second show comes and goes. Wow! The best feeling.
8 p.m.: The shows are over, but we don’t get to rest and relax. We get set to head to the after-party, also hosted at the arena. We have final hair and makeup touch-ups and we change. I put on a short Balmain dress, kindly loaned to me by designer Olivier Rousteing. I’ve walked for the brand at Paris Fashion Week, and I got to be a part of the Balmain section of the show tonight. (The brand has a new collab with Victoria’s Secret.)
9 p.m.: We start to dance the night away! The music and atmosphere are incomparable. It’s hard to believe that in under 24 hours, I will be back to my day-to-day in New York.
11 p.m.: I arrive back at the hotel, take off my makeup and get ready for bed. I keep replaying the experience over and over in my mind, so it’s hard to wind down. I can only hope that I get the opportunity to take part again next year. With that, I close my eyes and prepare to keep dreaming.