VIC­TO­RIA’S SE­CRET

How a dash of posh, a touch of spice, and a lot of drive made Vic­to­ria the Queen B of fash­ion. Styled by Ken­neth Goh. Pho­tographed by Ellen von Un­werth.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

The fash­ion mogul on fe­male em­pow­er­ment, build­ing brand Beck­ham, and fam­ily mat­ters

Silk bra, What Katie Did. Printed silk skirt, Peter Pilotto. Satin pumps, Nicholas Kirk­wood. OP­PO­SITE PAGE: Silk and wool tuxedo cape, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. Stretch lace and silk body­suit, Dolce& Gab­bana. (On right hand) Ring in pink gold with hematite, amethyst, smokey quartz, pink opal, and di­a­mond, Cartier. (On left hand) Ring (worn through­out), Vic­to­ria’s own.

For many, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham ap­pears to be liv­ing a child­hood fan­tasy. Af­ter all, which lit­tle girl wouldn’t want to grow up to be a tro­phy wife and gor­geous mother who helms her very own fash­ion em­pire? Strangely enough, not her. “When I was younger, I wasn’t one of th­ese young girls that dreamt of get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing chil­dren at all. I was al­ways very am­bi­tious, and I knew that I wanted a ca­reer. It wasn’t un­til I met David [Beck­ham] that it even oc­curred to me to get mar­ried,” she con­fesses. Not that the mar­riage veered her off course. True, Vic­to­ria did un­in­ten­tion­ally pop­u­larise the glamorous look and life­style of a foot­baller’s wife, as did fel­low WAGs Coleen Rooney and Carly Cole (née Zucker). But af­ter 14 years and count­ing of wed­ded bliss – save for an al­leged scan­dal that only served to strengthen their bond – her epony­mous ready-to-wear line con­tin­ues to ex­pand rapidly, com­ple­mented by denim, ac­ces­sories as well as eyewear, and has more re­cently wel­comed a sis­ter: Vic­to­ria, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. All this while rais­ing four chil­dren, keep­ing the flame alive, and re­ally just grow­ing as a per­son.

There’s no deny­ing Vic­to­ria has come a long way from her days as Posh of Spice Girls no­to­ri­ety. She has since evolved to epit­o­mise the mod­ern woman who builds her busi­ness em­pire block-by-block, even as she does the school run in sky-high Louboutins. Yet de­spite be­ing one of the most fre­quently pho­tographed celebri­ties – th­ese days with daugh­ter Harper bounc­ing happily on her hip – Vic­to­ria hardly em­pha­sises her phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance. “I just think the older you get, the more ac­cept­ing you be­come of your­self and your body, and ev­ery­thing about you,” says the de­signer.

Per­haps this re­fresh­ing new ac­cep­tance was what in­spired the lat­est in­car­na­tion of Vic­to­ria’s so­phis­ti­cated style: A chic, pol­ished Cé­line-es­que min­i­mal­ism, which hangs el­e­gantly off her pe­tite frame. Sim­i­larly, the white palette of her of­fice beau­ti­fully re­flects the clean cuts she now favours in her own wardrobe. “It’s great that I can de­sign clothes that I ac­tu­ally want to wear.”

It’s re­as­sur­ing to see Vic­to­ria stay true to her­self and her dreams, de­spite al­ways hav­ing to put oth­ers first. When David Beck­ham was signed to the Los An­ge­les Galaxy to boost the pro­file of football in the US, the whole fam­ily made the move state­side in 2007. She speaks fondly of her life in LA. “It was the best six years of my life. I was so happy. The kids were happy. David was happy.”

That hap­pi­ness would not have lasted so long had Vic­to­ria not been smart enough to make the most of the sit­u­a­tion. In­stead of ru­ing the fact that the fam­ily was now miles away from their beloved Beck­ing­ham Palace (Rowney­bury House in Hert­ford­shire), she quickly es­tab­lished friend­ships with Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ters, con­nec­tions that would up­scale her ad­vance­ment in the fash­ion in­dus­try. Case in point: Her stint as guest fash­ion edi­tor when she styled BFF Katie Holmes for a March 2006 spread in the US edi­tion of Harper’s BAZAAR.

Then came the fa­mous shot by Juer­gen Teller for the Marc Jacobs Spring/Sum­mer 2008 cam­paign, in which she seems to have col­lapsed into a large shop­ping bag with her tanned, toned legs hang­ing out. The iconic im­age was a tongue-in-chic satire of fash­ion and celebrity as prod­ucts, and Vic­to­ria re­ally un­der­stood this. In a sense, that pho­to­graph was a bench­mark of her style cred. Not only was it Teller and Marc Jacobs, it was an ex­ten­sion of her per­sonal ob­ses­sion.

“Fash­ion was al­ways my pas­sion,” she muses. “It’s al­ways what I had to do, what I wanted to do, what my tummy was telling me I was des­tined to do.” She says of her pre­vi­ous col­lab­o­ra­tions, “It was great that I had the op­por­tu­nity to do that be­cause I learned a lot. And then as soon as I was in a po­si­tion to be able to bring ev­ery­thing in-house I jumped at the chance.” With the help of her man­ager, men­tor, and best friend, Si­mon Fuller, in 2009 she launched her ready-to-wear line, which de­buted at New York Fash­ion Week that same year.

Con­trary to the be­liefs of some, Vic­to­ria un­der­stands both the aes­thetic and busi­ness of fash­ion. Her ex­quis­ite dresses, so well crafted down to the seam­ing and corsetry, soon won over even the most hard­core of crit­ics and she en­tered into re­tail part­ner­ships with some of the big­gest names: Lane Craw­ford, Sel­fridges, Harvey Nichols, and Neiman Mar­cus. “I’ve had lots of in­cred­i­ble re­tail part­ners that have been with me right from the be­gin­ning, as well as fash­ion jour­nal­ists. I hadn’t done this on my own, and it’s im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge the help one’s had.

“When I did my first pre­sen­ta­tion, I didn’t have ex­pen­sive hair and make-up, not even a stylist. It was me and my friend, my PR at the time, hold­ing up dresses the night be­fore the pre­sen­ta­tion. It’s very dif­fer­ent to what it is now. But I wanted to do this the right way, and it seems to have worked.”

What worked for her lat­est Vic­to­ria, Vic­to­ria Beck­ham col­lec­tion was the re­vamped aes­thetic. De­signed for the “en­gaged in­tel­lec­tual with a sense of hu­mour”, the sim­ple wool frocks and man­nish sleeve­less coats were what she de­scribed as “sub­ver­sively sexy with­out try­ing.”

De­sign-wise, Vic­to­ria is very hands-on with her lines, her pri­mary goal be­ing to em­power. “I want to make women feel good about them­selves, to feel con­fi­dent and sexy. That’s why I do what I do,” en­thuses the ’90s “girl power” ad­vo­cate.

“I think as a brand what we’ve done so well in such a short space of time is cre­ate a very strong sig­na­ture. But I’m con­stantly try­ing to evolve and bet­ter my­self. I’m never go­ing to sit back and re­lax.” A nat­u­ral en­tre­pre­neur, Vic­to­ria has also launched her brand’s e-com­merce both in the US and UK, with plans to branch out into the global mar­ket. “Asia is very im­por­tant to me,” says the driven mogul. “Women in Asia re­ally un­der­stand fash­ion and they’re not afraid to ex­press them­selves. I love that!”

Now that David has re­tired, Vic­to­ria can look for­ward to en­joy­ing the things that mat­ter. “Ev­ery­thing I do re­volves around the chil­dren,” she shares. “Time, when it’s just us as a fam­ily; that’s my idea of lux­ury. I woke up this morn­ing, and just wak­ing up and hav­ing David there, be­cause he trav­els a lot and he’s away a lot, was pure lux­ury.”

The dy­nam­ics of their re­la­tion­ship may change but it’s no se­cret what Vic­to­ria re­ally wants: a love that lasts. A re­cent tweet of hers about her folks says it all: “Happy An­niver­sary! My mum and dad mar­ried for 43 years to­day! We love you so much!! X vb”

“I was al­ways very am­bi­tious, and I knew that I wanted a ca­reer. It wasn’t un­til I met David that it even oc­cured to me to get mar­ried.” – Vic­to­ria Beck­ham

Knit body­suit, Louis Vuit­ton. Lace bra, Kiki de Mont­par­nasse. Leather pumps, Nicholas Kirk­wood. (On right hand) Ring in yel­low gold with lapis lazuli, chryso­prase, and di­a­mond, Cartier.

Wool jacket, Rochas. Silk bra, What Katie Did. Silk shorts, Vivis. Suede BB pumps, Manolo Blah­nik. (On right hand) Ring in pink gold with hematite, amethyst, smokey quartz, pink opal, and di­a­mond, Cartier. ON TA­BLE: ( From left) Cuff in pink gold with fresh­wa­ter pearl and di­a­mond; bangle in pink gold with hematite, amethyst, smokey quartz, pink opal, and di­a­mond; ring in pink gold with pink sap­phire and di­a­mond; three-wave bangle in white gold with black lac­quer and di­a­mond; necklace in pink gold with hematite, amethyst, smokey quartz, pink opal, and di­a­mond; five-wave ring in white gold with black lac­quer and di­a­mond; bangle in yel­low gold with lapis lazuli, chryso­prase, and di­a­mond; ring in yel­low gold with lapis lazuli, chryso­prase and di­a­mond; and ear­rings in yel­low gold with lapis lazuli, chryso­prase, and di­a­mond, all from Cartier.

Se­quin and silk jacket, Marc Jacobs. La­tex bra, At­suko Kudo. Silk pumps, Nicholas Kirk­wood. Bangle in pink gold with hematite, amethyst, smokey quartz, pink opal, and di­a­mond, Cartier. OP­PO­SITE PAGE: Wool jacket, Rochas. Silk bra, What Katie Did. Silk shorts, Vivis. (On right hand) Ring in pink gold with hematite, amethyst, smokey quartz, pink opal, and di­a­mond, Cartier. All Cartier jewellery worn through­out is from the Paris Nou­velle Vague col­lec­tion. In­ter­view: Dana Poblete Hair: Tina Outen/ Streeters us­ing Kérastase Make-up: Lot­ten Holmqvist/ Ju­lian Wat­son Agency us­ing Dior Man­i­cure: Liza Smith Seam­stress: Jac­que­line Lyall Pho­tog­ra­pher’s first as­sis­tant: Stan Rey- Grange Pho­tog­ra­pher’s sec­ond as­sis­tant: Daniel Ci­ufo Dig­i­tal op­er­a­tor: Jerome Vivet Dig­i­tal imag­ing: Pro­ces­sus/ Stu­dio Ellen von Un­werth Pro­duc­ers: Dana Poblete; Cezar Greif/ Cool Hunt As­sis­tant stylist: Windy Au­lia Styling as­sis­tants: Emily At­trill; Tarra Chong Shot on lo­ca­tion at The Corinthia Ho­tel Lon­don Pent­house Suite.

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