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.
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.