Chinese model who slipped on stage becomes social media sensation

The fashion show of lingerie brand Victoria's Secret racks up more than 1.7 billion hits on Weibo with half a million discussion on the event. 
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Chinese model Xi Mengyao, or Ming Xi

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Xi falls on the stage.

Five minutes after Chinese model Xi Mengyao, better known overseas as Ming Xi, slipped and fell on the Victoria’s Secret stage in Shanghai last night, pictures and videos of the fall went viral on the Chinese social media. The annual show, held in Asia for the first time, became an instant hit since then.

The handler “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show” garnered more than 1.7 billion page views on Weibo with half a million discussions — big considering it was a relatively low-profile event this year.

“I was so excited to learn that what used to look so high-end and far away is now at my doorstep,” said Lana Yu, an e-celebrity and online lingerie retailer.

“It was fantastic to see the show with my own eyes, to see all the supermodels at arm’s length, but also a little more down to the earth than I expected. It feels like the myth is gone.”

The show has always been a headliner wherever it was held. In China, it made news about the visa rows to Katy Perry and some models, as well as the invite-only tickets that were selling at 90,000 yuan up on e-commerce site Taobao.

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British singer/musician Harry Styles

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US singer Miguel

The show, which was held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Pudong, had specifically shot a reality competition show “Road to the Runway” to select a young Chinese VS angel, broadcast weekly over three months on Tencent and iQiyi, two biggest Chinese streaming sites. 

Average viewing of each episode was around 30 million, while the last one announcing the champion was less than 20 million, not high enough as hot Chinese shows often generate more than 100 million viewings.

Many e-celebrities and young actors and actresses with a lot of followers online were invited to the show last night. They went through security check, during which the machine was said to have broken down. The last few audiences were rushed into the venue without assigned seat numbers.

“It was chaotic,” said an anonymous guest who stood for the first half of the show. “Nobody knew what was going on.”

The lingerie brand has been popular in China, thanks to the previous VS shows that were viewed millions of times in China over the years. Some 20 concept stores were open in the country, selling only perfume and shampoo.

The first lingerie flagship store, occupying four floors at prime space in Shanghai, was open earlier this year, shortly after its parent company L Brands reported plummeting revenue from 2016. 

Many suspect it may have come a bit late to the Chinese lingerie market that had been growing at two digits annually. The market is expected to be worth more than US$30 billion quickly, according to different market surveys.

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