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STYLE & SUBSTANCE

Victoria Beckham

As the UK’s press clamoured to claim the exclusive scoop on the eagerly anticipated opening of her London boutique in late September, Victoria Beckham was 3,500 miles away in New York. Far from a snub to the queue that had formed in the early hours outside the designer’s new Dover Street store, one half of the world’s most powerful couples was using her celebrity status for good, delivering an impassioned speech on children and mothers suffering from HIV and AIDS as part of her role as a newly appointed UN Goodwill Ambassador.


Nov 1st 2014
Fashion

It’s a world away from the image of the Spice Girl that a whole generation grew up with. Indeed, when Posh Spice pointed and pouted her way through hit single Wannabe with bandmates Baby, Scary, Sporty and Ginger in 1996, a career as a respected fashion designer and UN Goodwill Ambassador seemed a distant dream. After all, here was a woman who, alongside her husband David, donned matching leather Versace outfits for a red-carpet appearance in 1999 and later chose to wear a clip-on lip ring for a solo performance in 2001, a moment that recently topped a poll as the worst fashion disaster of the century. But then, Victoria Beckham has never claimed to be perfect.

LIVING IN THE SPOTLIGHT
When she auctioned around 600 items from her wardrobe for charity last summer, Beckham took to Twitter to comment on her own fashion journey. Remarks such as ‘Ready for a blast from the past? Brace yourselves!’ reveal that, just like the rest of us, she looks back at her past fashion choices and is prepared to ask ‘What was I thinking?’ And let’s not forget that Mrs Beckham has had to live out her fashion faux pas under the glare of the media spotlight – much of her adult life becoming fodder for the British tabloids. Once pilloried in the press for a seemingly endless list of supposed faults – for excessive use of fake tan, for being too thin, for only wearing high heels, for not smiling in photos – Beckham has had to live with a persona that, if her Twitter feed is anything to go by, isn’t representative of the woman we revere today. Far from having the humour-bypass the pouting Posh Spice had us believe, Victoria Beckham regularly pokes fun at herself. Take the photos by Juergen Teller that pictured Beckham with her legs popping out of an oversized Marc Jacobs’ bag. “People are probably surprised that I have a sense of humour. I like to take the mickey out of myself,” she recently told Elle Singapore. The Teller photos also say a great deal about how accepted a part of the fashion glitterati Beckham has become. In fact, she rarely puts a vertiginous-heeled foot wrong in the style stakes these days and her metamorphosis from pop star
to football WAG to fashion entrepreneur has been nothing short of extraordinary.

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THE REINVENTION BEGINS
When Beckham announced the launch of her eponymous fashion label in 2008, such was the cynicism of the fashion press that many sat poised to write-off the experience as nothing more than the latest celebrity clotheshorse launching a line that wouldn’t last beyond one season. But, against all the odds and despite the looming global financial meltdown, Victoria Beckham proved her doubters wrong. The initial prêt-à-porter collection of 10 beautifully constructed styles that referenced corsetry from the 1940s and ’50s proved a revelation: the critics were impressed, department stores scrambled to place orders and, at Selfridges, customers snapped up the 58 dresses stocked in a matter of hours. “I was very aware that people were expecting very short clothes, probably quite revealing, and I really went against that and showed the other side of me,” Beckham told Harper’s Bazaar of the launch. “For a long time there, I was a bit of a laughing stock,” she’s also said in an interview with website Business of Fashion. “And while everybody was busy laughing, what was I doing? I was laying the foundation to what I have in place now.” Indeed, who better to understand the fickle world of fashion than someone who has spent their career posing for the cameras in designer frocks? As her friend and mentor Roland Mouret has said, “She is not a designer like me, but she has something I don’t have: that unique sense of wearing what she is doing.”

As a perfectionist and self-confessed control freak, it is also the total dedication with which she has immersed herself in the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a great designer that has undoubtedly contributed to the admiration and respect Victoria Beckham now commands. Having taken the coveted title of Designer Brand of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards, Beckham has surrounded herself with a team that helps her achieve a simple vision – designing clothes that women want to wear. She may not cut patterns, but she knows in intimate detail how to construct a design to flatter a woman’s body. Her fabric choice is always exemplary and the finishing is immaculate. So much so, that her designs are regularly chosen for red-carpet appearances by a growing list of celebrity patrons and she has also garnered support from the most difficult woman to please in fashion – Anna Wintour. Beckham, it would appear, has become something of a tastemaker.


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WELCOME TO DOVER STREET
Proof, if any were required, lies in her stunning new Dover Street boutique. “I’ve always loved Dover Street,” Beckham says of the opening. “When you come into the store it’s a real gem with a very special energy about it,” she adds. Doing away with the usual chintzy window displays in favour of a minimalist frontage, a huge concrete entrance door slides open to reveal an assault on the senses. You first become aware of the subtle aroma from the Diptyque Feu de Bois candles; your eye then hovers over the towering column of sunglasses that flanks the polished concrete staircase before being drawn to the projection of the video of Beckham’s AW14 catwalk show at the staircase’s top. This is all before you’ve had time to digest the mirrored glass ceiling that reflects the edit of pieces from the more affordable Victoria Victoria Beckham label on this floor.

On the first floor, the beautiful AW14 ready-to-wear collection, offering a more relaxed, fluid silhouette than past seasons, is suspended from gold chains that hang from the key feature of this space – a monumental geometric-patterned ceiling, the construction of which wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a work by Damien Hirst decorates the lower floor pop-up events-cum-personal shopping area. Despite the rather industrial nature of the materials used, Beckham has worked with architect Fardshi Moussavi to create an inviting rather than intimidating space – a store where, as the designer herself has stated, “everyone’s welcome”. To this end, the staff are friendly and approachable, the changing rooms are practical in their cavernous size and there are seating areas low enough for children and comfortable enough to appease shopped-out husbands. “You know, I’m lucky. David buys me clothes sometimes and I wanted to make sure the men were going to be as looked after as the women,” Victoria reveals. Victoria Beckham, queen of fashion, long may you reign.



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