‘I’ve been doing fashion longer than I did music:’ Victoria Beckham on finding her stride as a designer
Nick Remsen, CNN
With her second runway show at Paris Fashion Week behind her, Victoria Beckham appears to be ushering in an exciting new era for her eponymous label, nearly 15 years since it launched.
“I’ve been doing fashion longer than I did music,” Beckham said, introspectively, over a phone call from London just days after her Fall-Winter 2023 show in the French capital.
Still known by many beyond the fashion world as “Posh Spice,” her nickname as one-fifth of the Spice Girls, she is a celebrity gossip site mainstay, with a famous husband, David Beckham, and increasingly well-known children: Brooklyn, who married actor Nicola Peltz in a high-profile wedding last year, Romeo, Cruz and Harper.
Yet, Beckham’s brand, launched in 2008, has been warmly supported by the upper echelons of the fashion industry (Anna Wintour is a regular guest at her shows).
Having shown regularly during New York and London fashion weeks before making her Paris Fashion Week debut last September, she is certainly no fashion novice and her label has long been synonymous with a sexy and streamlined aesthetic — not a far cry from the sharp minis and sleek silhouettes that were so integral to Posh Spice’s look, although now rendered in an undoubtedly more grown-up, glamorous way.
The fact that her fashion line has existed for so long is notable. While Beckham has received critical praise in her tenure, it’s rare for celebrities without formal design training to find success. Even Rihanna’s ready-to-wear line, Fenty, backed by the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy, was shuttered after two years (though, it should be noted, Rihanna’s beauty brand of the same name is thriving).
Despite her longevity, the commercial viability of Beckham’s operation has often been questioned — though it appears business may finally be on the up. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Victoria Beckham Holdings Limited, which is the centralized entity between Beckham’s fashion and beauty ventures, reported profitability for the first time for the 2022 fiscal year. In January, the brand’s CEO Marie LeBlanc also told the Business of Fashion that sales have grown by double digits over the last four seasons.
“I think that now I can really, truly start building,” said Beckham while reflecting on these milestones.
Beckham’s company recently underwent a complete restructuring on both the business and creative sides — from improved IT and digital planning systems along the back end to the lowering of prices (slightly) to a “new design team, new atelier and new members across every department, if you like,” she said.
While she’s made many changes, Beckham’s commitment to quality control has long been unwavering: “I never want to rush anything. I think, ultimately, it’s got to be right. I never want to compromise,” she explained.
Her oeuvre doesn’t appear to court trends, and she doesn’t operate with flash nor ephemerality (perhaps belying expectations set by her Spice Girls persona). Her clothes mix fantasy with a distinct matter-of-factness: a Fall-Winter 2023 look, for example, featured a layered chiffon and feather-accented dress styled with a practical khaki trench. And, significantly, there isn’t really a Victoria Beckham logo or mark, save for her typeface.
This isn’t to say her brand is without signature pieces. Beckham’s “watch chain” accessories, which feature a bold, reflective accent reminiscent of a timepiece’s wristband, are proving popular. “It was inspired by a strap detail on a watch that my husband bought me,” said Beckham. “A vintage Patek Philippe.”
The metalwork is seen, front-and-center, on nano to jumbo sized handbags, along with select shoes and jewelry. The carriers have caught on. From the newest collection, the extra large sizes have already sold out in pre-orders. And Beckham seems to have found a fan from, perhaps, an unanticipated market indicator: her son, Cruz, who wore a chain-accented crossbody “Eva” bag and custom Victoria Beckham monogrammed denim to his mother’s presentation.
“It’s funny because Cruz called me on the way to the show and he was like, ‘Mom, can I borrow your glasses?’ And I was like, ‘yeah, of course you can borrow my glasses.’ And then he said, ‘Yeah, and I’ve just found this bag in your wardrobe,'” Beckham said, laughing. “It was interesting that an 18-year-old boy would be attracted to that and say, ‘I want to wear it.'”
Might this mean menswear is on the horizon? “That would be a dream. Not quite yet. But I’m always inspired by menswear — you see that in the tailoring,” Beckham said.
While menswear may not be coming soon, she did introduce a dedicated makeup and skincare brand, Victoria Beckham Beauty, in 2019. And more recently, she launched VB Body, a “permanent capsule collection” of knitted shapewear-inspired separates, skirts and form-slimming dresses. These pieces are part of the overall Victoria Beckham line, but are sold at a lower price point.
“VB Body was an idea that I had when I was actually spending a lot of time in Miami,” said Beckham. She and her husband maintain a home in the Florida city; David is a partner in Inter Miami, the American soccer club. “I find the way that women dress there quite liberating in how they like to show off their bodies and celebrate who they are. I think there’s a real confidence in that.”
Since relocating her runway show to Paris last year, Beckham has noticed an uptick in editorial and red carpet attention. For Fall-Winter 2023, she recruited Drew Barrymore for social media teasers around the collection as a nod to the lore of the documentary and film “Grey Gardens” (Barrymore starred in the latter). “The story doesn’t inspire me in a literal sense, necessarily,” says Beckham. “It’s more so in the sense of how we can have fun with clothes.”
That kind of energy feels fresh. There’s a newfound wind in Beckham’s sails. She herself seems more optimistic and this is being reflected in her own styling. “I always used to wear black,” she said. “And then, I don’t know exactly what changed or what happened, but I rarely wear black nowadays. I love wearing color and I love wearing unexpected colors together.” (Unique color use and pairings are another feature in Beckham’s brand codes.)
What tenets, outside of the Victoria Beckham aesthetic, have helped her stay the course? “Years and years ago,” Beckham shares, “(fashion designer) Roland Mouret, who was a mentor to me in the beginning, said ‘no matter what anybody says or what anybody tells you is the right thing to do, ultimately, you’ve got to go with what you think is right.’
“I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.” And, with that, she adds: “There is so much that I want to do with my brand, across fashion and beauty. And, like I said, now, I really believe that I can start building. It was about getting the business back on track, which we have done. And we have a fantastic design team. We have quite a well-oiled machine.”
“Everything I do is rooted in reality,” she concluded. “But, it hasn’t been at the compromise of the dream.”
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