VIC­TO­RIA BECK­HAM

Her epony­mous la­bel is loved from Lon­don to Los An­ge­les, and she has just opened a stand-alone store in Hong Kong, her first out­side Lon­don. Vic­to­ria Beck­ham talks to Gemma Soames about the chal­lenges of jug­gling fam­ily with a fash­ion em­pire

Hong Kong Tatler - - Front Page - BY WING SHYA

HER HONG KONG MUSES BAO BAO WAN GIGI CHAO GUO JINGJING

Her epony­mous la­bel is loved from Lon­don to Los An­ge­les, and she has just opened a stand-alone store in Hong Kong, her first out­side Lon­don. Vic­to­ria Beck­ham dis­cusses the chal­lenges of jug­gling fam­ily with a fash­ion em­pire

“I’VE AL­WAYS LOVED FASH­ION. IT’S HOW I EX­PRESS MY­SELF CRE­ATIVELY. WOMEN CAN RE­LATE TO ME. I’M BE­ING VERY HON­EST, AND I KNOW WHAT WOMEN WANT”

When it comes to de­sign­ing clothes, there is one woman Vic­to­ria Beck­ham holds firmly in mind. “You know, it’s me,” she says, mat­ter-of-factly. “It’s some­one that trav­els a lot, some­one that likes and ap­pre­ci­ates lux­ury, some­one that wants to look like the best ver­sion of her­self. I would say that is me.”

Sim­ple it may sound, but it’s clearly a for­mula that works. Hav­ing launched her own la­bel eight years ago, Beck­ham now sits at the helm of a global fash­ion brand, one that reaches from Lon­don to Los An­ge­les, and she has just opened her first store out­side Lon­don right here in Hong Kong’s Land­mark in part­ner­ship with Joyce Group. In­stantly recog­nis­able as her own best ad­vert for her line in sharply cut dresses and lux­u­ri­ous, sleek shapes, she ex­ists to­day as the em­bod­i­ment of that brand, whether she’s be­ing seen on the red car­pet, the school run or head­ing through yet an­other in­ter­na­tional air­port, chil­dren in tow, as she criss-crosses con­ti­nents with world dom­i­na­tion in sight. A globe-trot­ting, en­tre­pre­neur­ial 42-year-old mother of four, she is the VB woman. For Beck­ham, this is an en­deav­our that is deeply, deeply per­sonal.

It has al­ways been that way. “I’ve al­ways loved fash­ion,” she ex­plains over the phone from her Lon­don stu­dio, just back from a whirl­wind trip that took in her launch in Hong Kong, ap­pear­ances in LA and some fam­ily time there over her birth­day—all com­mu­ni­cated to her 10 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, 30 mil­lion across all so­cial media chan­nels. “It’s how I ex­press my­self cre­atively. Women can re­late to me. I’m be­ing very hon­est, and I know what women want. I al­ways dreamed of hav­ing a store. I al­ways wanted to be an in­ter­na­tional brand that reached out to women all around the world.”

Those dreams have more than come true, as have many oth­ers for Beck­ham, whose story is the stuff of show­biz leg­end. As one of a troupe of or­di­nary girls who formed a band in Bri­tain in the 1990s, in­tro­duced the world to the con­cept of Girl Power, sold some 55 mil­lion al­bums and then moved on to new pas­tures, all by their late 20s, her tale is en­twined with a par­tic­u­larly starry brand of fe­male suc­cess.

Mar­ry­ing the world’s most fa­mous foot­baller and pro­duc­ing four chil­dren along the way, she has, in the decades since, repo­si­tioned her­self from pop star to brand and busi­ness­woman, gain­ing plau­dits from a once scep­ti­cal fash­ion in­dus­try and a global fol­low­ing. She and hus­band David have earned a for­tune that makes them richer than their own queen and yet her work ethic is leg­endary—as is the ded­i­cated fit­ness regime that’s key to main­tain­ing the VB look. It’s all part of a path that’s led her here, her sta­tus as a cham­pion of fash­ion­able work­ing women and a mod­ern style icon ce­mented.

“WHEN YOU LOOK AT PIC­TURES, YOU CAN SEE IT’S QUITE OB­VI­OUS HOW MY PER­SONAL STYLE HAS EVOLVED. I’M OLDER. I SUP­POSE I’VE GROWN IN CON­FI­DENCE THROUGH BE­ING OLDER”

And, as much as she ex­ists as the pin­na­cle of both, her brand ap­peals to a sim­i­lar type.

As such, it tends to not be just any old fash­ion fol­lower that Beck­ham speaks to as she de­signs each sea­son, de­liv­er­ing mul­ti­ple col­lec­tions across a main line, sis­ter line, sun­glasses, denim, ac­ces­sories and just an­nounced make-up line with Estée Lauder to cus­tomers who pounce on them from Cal­i­for­nia to China. She quickly es­tab­lished her­self as the go-to brand for a slice of pro­fes­sional chic. As she puts it, “I’m a busy work­ing mother, and I think my cus­tomers are all of the above.” When it came to choos­ing who to fea­ture with her in this photo shoot, she was clear about what she wanted: mod­ern women who re­flect what brand VB stands for. Add mul­ti­task­ing, high-achiev­ing and stylish to the mix, and you have the for­mula that led to this, our ex­clu­sive shoot fea­tur­ing Vic­to­ria with Gigi Chao, Bao Bao Wan and Guo Jingjing, three women who could not be more apt as muses for her vi­sion.

“I think she has be­come a role model and many high-achiev­ing women share her same val­ues and am­bi­tion,” says Jingjing, the for­mer Olympic diver turned stylish Hong Kong mother, a woman who knows a thing or two about reach­ing the top of your game. For busi­ness­woman Gigi, an­other high-flier with a house­hold name, her ap­peal is even more per­sonal. “I think I am in­spired by Vic­to­ria in the sense that I know what it’s like to want to de­mand some­thing more of one’s life and one’s achieve­ments,” she ex­plains. “Go­ing from be­ing a Spice Girl to be­ing Mrs Beck­ham and part of a su­per high-pow­ered cou­ple, and now, be­yond all the head­lines and the press and pub­lic­ity, to want some­thing more from life and to strive to cre­ate some­thing be­yond just your name is really im­pres­sive. And I think she’s really done it.” Jew­ellery de­signer Bao Bao, a fan since the start, agrees. “I’ve col­lected her dresses from the be­gin­ning, and while her style has def­i­nitely evolved, the spirit stays the same. You have to be a self-dis­ci­plined woman to wear Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. It takes a cer­tain ges­ture of el­e­gance to carry her dresses off; she al­most asks of her clients to be how she is in her life, to re­main grace­ful and el­e­gant.”

For Gigi, in fact, Beck­ham’s name isn’t even the main draw when it comes to her fash­ion. “I think it’s really just a be­gin­ning in terms of invit­ing women to en­gage with her fash­ion. The cloth­ing she’s cre­at­ing is really quite an ex­pe­ri­ence in it­self in terms of its colour, fit and de­tail, and the evening­wear is out­stand­ing. Women really should visit the store and en­gage with the clothes them­selves.” What those women can ex­pect to find is some­thing so­phis­ti­cated, un­der­stated, el­e­gant and un­de­ni­ably mod­ern—and the best pro­po­nent of the look is Beck­ham her­self. Gone are the days of the tight dresses and YSL Trib­utes, as Beck­ham’s own look has changed over her time as a de­signer. “When you look at pic­tures, you can see it’s quite ob­vi­ous how my per­sonal style has evolved,” she says. “I’m older. I

sup­pose I’ve grown in con­fi­dence through be­ing older, and while when I first started we de­signed just 10 dresses, now we have sep­a­rates, knits, tai­lor­ing, pants.”

Th­ese days, with Beck­ham as likely to be seen in one of her own chunky knits, some slouchy trousers and an (al­beit im­mac­u­late) pair of train­ers as in one of her sig­na­ture dresses, the VB vibe is rather more re­laxed than it used to be. See her here in Hong Kong at the in­ti­mate din­ner held at Dud­dell’s to cel­e­brate the open­ing of her store in a sim­ple black tux, or meet­ing her cus­tomers in Land­mark in a turtle­neck, midi skirt and black pumps, and the de­par­ture is clear. Her con­sid­er­a­tions to­day are as prac­ti­cal as they are aes­thetic—and her brand read­ily re­flects that. “Fash­ion should make peo­ple feel good and con­fi­dent. It’s just about be­ing your­self, not try­ing to be any­body else, not be­ing too hard on your­self. It’s cel­e­brat­ing who you are. I’m de­sign­ing what I need. I’m a busy work­ing mother and I travel a lot, and I can def­i­nitely pull from that.”

Her life as a mother in­forms Beck­ham’s ap­proach in many more ways than one. “I’m in­spired by my fam­ily,” she says, speak­ing warmly of life at the heart of a troupe of six, all of whom can be seen each sea­son at her shows, cheer­ing her on from the front row. It’s an­other rea­son women re­spond to her so well, seek­ing her out as an ex­am­ple of some­one who ac­tu­ally is hav­ing it all. “Start­ing a fash­ion busi­ness is hard enough but, for me, I think her great­est as­pect is how she man­ages to balance a ca­reer in the fast lane while still be­ing a fam­ily-ori­en­tated mother of four,” says Jingjing. “It’s like a mir­a­cle,” laughs Bao Bao. “It’s just in­cred­i­ble how she’s main­tained such a big ca­reer and man­aged a fam­ily, and made it so lov­ing and to­gether. If you look at the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try or at en­trepreneurs, you don’t see many oth­ers do­ing that.”

“The chil­dren will al­ways be the pri­or­ity and they al­ways come first,” Beck­ham ex­plains of how she keeps the show on the road. “I have some­body who helps me with my sched­ule, and I don’t ac­tu­ally travel that much, to be hon­est, be­cause that’s time away from the chil­dren and it’s also time out of the stu­dio. But my sched­ule is planned a long time in ad­vance so I can af­ford to take that time out when I need to. And then, if I’m in New York do­ing the shows, my team is nor­mally with me any­way, as are David and the chil­dren.” David is in­deed right there with her, the other key in­gre­di­ent in the power of brand Beck­ham. “We’re very equal, not just with our work, but with every­thing we do with the chil­dren. I think it’s great they know that Mummy goes to work and Daddy goes to work as well. We’re part­ners in busi­ness and in life, and I think we have a good balance.”

It’s a set of rules that work, al­low­ing her to build a global busi­ness while si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­ist­ing as one of the world’s most vis­i­ble role mod­els for work­ing moth­er­hood, and for all her talk of “learn­ing along the way” and “or­ganic growth,” it’s clear Vic­to­ria Beck­ham is in pos­ses­sion of some se­ri­ous met­tle. “I think it’s about be­ing hon­est, be­ing fo­cused, work­ing hard and dream­ing big,” she says of the se­cret to her suc­cess. Given what she has achieved, they’re words worth lis­ten­ing to.

“WE’RE VERY EQUAL, NOT JUST WITH OUR WORK, BUT WITH EVERY­THING WE DO WITH THE CHIL­DREN. I THINK IT’S GREAT THEY KNOW THAT MUMMY GOES TO WORK AND DADDY GOES TO WORK AS WELL”

June 2016

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