Victoria Beckham: From raw spice to really quite nice
Her decade-anniversary show proved that her style has matured since that ambitious first collection
Ten years ago, to a certain degree of scepticism, Victoria Beckham debuted her first collection in a suite at the Waldorf Hotel in New York. In 2008, “celebrity” ranges were ten a penny and no one expected anything beyond the usual cashing-in.
But from the start Beckham took a different approach. Instead of cynical tat, hers was always an ambitious, high-end endeavour. She had consulted with Roland Mouret (a fellow stablemate at 19, the Simon Fuller-run management company that had backed the Spice Girls, and was backing her assault on the fashion world). It was clear from that Waldorf presentation that Beckham had done her homework and that she even understood her girl-band celebrity would not necessarily be considered a plus in the higher echelons of fashion. (She was right. Certain key department stores declared that pricey clothes designed by a Spice Girl wouldn’t sell).
It hasn’t always been easy. Mass coverage doesn’t automatically guarantee sell-outs of R20,000 dresses. Yet she has managed to establish a solid company, fuelled by sales of sunglasses, her second line, Victoria Victoria Beckham, and judicious limited edition collaborations with Estée Lauder and Target, the mass market US chain.
But her flag waver is the Victoria Beckham collection, which, for this 10th anniversary, left New York fashion week for London’s, taking place in the Thaddaeus Ropac art gallery, a grand Georgian Mayfair mansion next door to her store (where Beckham later worked the tills following the show) and the distinction of being a meeting place for the suffragettes.
It’s not stretching things too far to suggest there was a synergy between the aspirations of those Edwardian women and the collection, which was replete with breezy, elegant clothes (a long way from those early body-con dresses).
Fluid trouser suits were further softened with floaty lingerie-inspired camisoles. Layering was key: strappy slip dresses worn over tank tops and extra-long skinny trousers with ankle slits partnered with matching shirts or, for a smarter take, with some sparkling maxi-length co-ords.
“I’m making this very customer-focused. They’ve come to the show from all over the world and they’ll be able to pre-order straight from the show,” Beckham, dressed in a camel-coloured jacket and those ankle-slit black drainpipes, said before the show.
“There’s long, short, narrow silhouettes and wide. It’s about freedom and choices, ” she added. The shoes were mainly flat metallic slippers.
The casting was more important than ever, she explained, gesturing to 47-year-old British model Stella Tennant who opened the show. “I wanted a mixture of ages. This isn’t a retrospective, but looking back, I realised I had developed certain codes over the years which I wanted to show.”
The ease and assuredness are testament to Beckham’s savvy insistence on working with the best stylists and photographers. “She has always been a fast learner,” someone who’d been with her from the beginning, told me backstage.
This was on the money: commercially and in its optimistic but realistic mood. Was she nervous about showing in London (where the competition is tougher than in New York)? “I’m always going to be judged whatever I do, “ she said, “Not least by myself – and that challenges me.”
- © The Daily Telegraph