I’M GLAD TO BE A SCHOOL RUN MUM
Victoria Beckham jokes that she was far too young when she started wearing make-up. The Spice Girl turned fashion designer, turned cosmetics queen, remembers how, when she was on her way to school, her mother would sometimes say, “You look a little peaky”, get out her lipstick, and rub it on to Victoria’s cheeks.
When recalling her very first piece of make-up, Victoria laughs and says, “Oh my goodness, it would have been a lipstick called Twilight Teaser.
“It sounds as awful as it was,” she adds, “but I was young, and I thought it was the best thing ever. Oh, and there was a blue mascara, but everyone had one of those, right?”
When I get home from interviewing Victoria Beckham, during her recent visit to Dublin to launch the second collection of her cosmetics line in Brown Thomas, I google Twilight Teaser. It was a pinky-purple shade, with a hefty dose of lilac frosting; the kind of colour that really suits no one and has a wonderfully yellowing effect on the teeth. It’s a classic early Eighties piece of kit, from a time when our expectations were rather lower and even Victoria Beckham made missteps.
Obviously, there’s something charming about imagining Victoria getting it wrong — even for those of us who remember the early days of the Spice Girls and, later, her double double-leather look with David, or, worse, their double double-denim outing. Latterly, though, she’s the woman who hasn’t put a fashion foot wrong for at least a decade, who never looks bad, even in a post-gym paparazzi shot.
“Everything is good at the time,” Victoria says with a smile. “Do I look back and cringe? Of course I do. Most people do. But I look back, and I don’t so much cringe as it makes me smile, because it’s what’s made me who I am now. I look back at the Spice Girl days and some of the make-up I used to wear, and I think, my goodness, that was a bold choice, shall we say?
“But it was fun. It was the Nineties. I was in a pop group, and that’s what you do when you’re a pop star. And you learn along the way, and you find what works, and you experiment, and you shouldn’t be afraid to. Then, hopefully, by the time you get to 43, you’ve figured out what works and doesn’t. You become more accepting of yourself and what looks good, and how to look after yourself.”
Today, Victoria is talking about her makeup range, Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder, with an enthusiasm to match a mother with her firstborn. She is introducing her second launch of cosmetics in collaboration with Estee Lauder, the first having been a massive bestseller.
The 18 new pieces work as standalones, but are also grouped into city looks — London, Paris, Miami, New York, and Victoria’s second home, LA. She adds to her lip offering with a very wearable Burnished Rose (Miami), while adding, among other things, a luxurious Highlighter and a Smudgy Matte Eyeliner that is a halfway house between liquid and pencil, with its fabulous spongetip applicator.
“Anything I do, I give 100%; otherwise, what’s the point?” she says. “And this has been a real passion project for me. I mean, I went to the factory, I put on the lab coat, I mixed up the lip gloss. I met with the factory owner, I created the mood boards and colour palettes and the range plan. I worked very closely with Sarah Creal from Estee Lauder, but this is a very honest collection that I have been all over, every single thing.” Victoria believes the success of her make-up is proof that she’s got it right, that she has hit on what women want. If ‘perfect’ is the word she applies to the product, however, it’s not something she thinks that women should demand of themselves.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on women, which is why I think women should support each other and be kind to themselves and make the most of what they have. So there’s nothing wrong with going for a facial, going to the gym, having a massage. Don’t feel guilty about that — which is easier said than done, because working mums do feel guilty when they do anything that’s not for work or their children. Of course the children should be the priority, but it’s a lot of pressure. And I think there’s a lot of imagery these days that we all look at on social media,” she adds of the pressure on women, “that is not always true images, and nothing is ever as perfect as it looks, should we say?”
I wonder if Victoria Beckham feels this pressure herself ? Does she ever feel she can leave the house without any make-up?
“Yeah,” she says, “there are mornings that I do that. My priority is my children, and every day I do the school run. Every morning I work out and I’m back in the kitchen by 7.15am, ready to get the breakfast going, and then we rush out the door to school.
“So there’s not much you can manage if you’re running around after three children — because that’s what it is now because Brooklyn’s gone to New York (to university), but we won’t talk about that, because I’ll get upset.
“Luckily, the LA look is very natural. It’s bronzed, sun-kissed, glossy, and a more youthful, fresh, non-make-up look. And that’s really all I have time for in the morning.”
I ask if David Beckham likes her without make-up, with a natural make-up look, or wearing the full red-carpet make-up.
“Don’t most men prefer a more natural look?” she laughs. “But do they mean it or are they just saying it? I think, you know, David sees me at home, no make-up, normally in workout clothes, hair up in a knot and running around after the kids, and that’s real life.”
When she was the mother of only boys — Brooklyn (18), Romeo (15) and Cruz (12) — Victoria Beckham was strict, she says, but it’s a slightly different story now Harper (six) has come along. She allows her to play with the make-up, but it’s not a repeat of Victoria’s childhood, as Harper only wears it in the house.
“Harper can be a little tomboy,” Victoria says. “She likes to play football. She dresses comfortably, and that’s what’s important to me, that the kids are happy. And that she can run around and play, and that she’s not in fancy clothes that she can’t play in. But we play with make-up at home and she enjoys that. She’s six. But it is nice bonding thing to do with your daughter.”
In the past, Victoria spoke about make-up as armour, and, if you look way back at the Spice Girl who sometimes seemed shy and a bit uncertain, you can see what she might have meant. Now, older, wiser, arguably more beautiful, and even more successful, she doesn’t need a shield. She wears her cosmetics lightly, as she wears her fashion, as she wears her celebrity. “Make-up makes me feel empowered and confident, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying that,” Victoria says. “It brings out the confidence; it makes me feel like the best version of myself. It’s how I celebrate being a woman.”
And that woman has come a long way from the girl in the Twilight Teaser.
STYLE ICON: Victoria Beckham, in the Spice Girls (above) and (below) with husband David