The devil wears Beckham
She was Posh Spice then a ‘wag’ – but her third incantation as a top designer is her most enthralling yet, writes Kawai Wong
It’s almost been a third coming for Victoria Beckham. The British style icon started her life in the public eye singing in the Spice Girls and later moved to ‘wag’ status after marrying footballer David Beckham. But her latest reinvention as a fashion designer has arguably given her street cred far and above what the world expected from Posh Spice.
VB touched down in HK at the end of April. It’s the first time she’s been here since she was a teenager and her aim is to promote her fashion line and meet customers. And Time Out is there to greet her. But we can’t get too close. Our time is limited to just 13 minutes with about 10 other journalists sitting around a table in the Four Seasons Hotel. The mother-of-four only answers pre-written questions, asked by a moderator, which are solely based on her fashion line and personal style. Questions on her personal life aren’t even addressed and there’s a caution in her eyes which shows her mistrust of the media. We thought Tom Ford was hard to break – but Beckham’s ‘none shall pass’ PR team make it a step too far on her whirlwind visit.
Later, we catch up with VB at a cocktail party in Lane Crawford IFC. There’s a host of ‘mini-Victorias’ dolling about, all wearing her dresses (which cost upwards of $10,000 each). They clutch Hermès Birkins (Beckham has a 100-strong collection worth an estimated £1.5million). And they don sky-high Louboutins (shoes that Beckham doesn’t live without). Some women just want to be her – and others are endlessly fascinated by her.
The Westerners may think of her as anorexic, but indeed she has an Oriental woman’s physique. Put VB in an AKB48’s video and it becomes more of a Where’s Wally. But she has long since put the epic girl-group wardrobe malfunctions behind her and been reincarnated a fashion icon. Referring to her winding fashion journey, she says: “I don’t look back at any stage and cringe.”
At the interview, we’re sitting less than an arm’s length away from the 38-year-old and, oh god… the meticulousness of her careful style. There’s not a single clump in her long lashes; not a single blackhead in her pores. She accessorises with two one-millimetre golden wristlets and a six-carat monstrosity on her wedding finger. Her ‘messy’ ponytail is styled ever so perfectly and when she talks there’s this measured slowness and precision that Henry Tang should take note of. She’s one of those women who leaves no lipstick mark on a glass.
Women might not have loved her back in her wag days but they talk about her now because of what she represents. She’s ditched the plunging necklines and dropped two boob sizes – and she’s no longer known as a Beckham just because of her husband. A raging feminist she is not – but she does want to be perceived differently today. “People ask me why I do what I do,” she says. “It’s because I love women. I want to empower women. I want women to feel good about themselves and feel strong.” Girl power, indeed. She continues: “I never went into [fashion design] to prove anybody wrong. I just wanted to do what I love to do. I think the industry has welcomed me. I’m very appreciative of this. I’m very lucky.”
VB’s hard work was recognised by the British Fashion Council last year, winning the ‘Designer Brand of the Year’ award. And now she has her eyes fixed on the Asian market. Before her two-day trip to HK, she spent five days in Beijing preaching her fashion line to a market where 44 percent of global luxury products are consumed. She says: “This market gives me the opportunity to have fun. And I’m absolutely blown away by how incredible Asian women look. Women with the most incredible physiques work really well with my designs.”
There’s a certain expectation of Beckham in the West which probably doesn’t apply in the East. She’s on the cover of this month’s China’s Harper’s Bazaar, styled like a cold devil right out of Final Fantasy. She dyed her hair red and had metal phoenixes in it. Not your average elegant and well-groomed VB by any measure. And then she tweeted pictures of her making an announcement on a commercial aircraft (she normally travels by a private jet) when she was here. So we wonder if this is a signal for a change of image? “No!” she protests. “What I liked about Bazaar was that it was very cool, it was very fitting for the Asian market – and that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to be seen in the same way.” In that case, maybe an Asian Spice will make for a good fourth coming in the not-too-distant future…
Victoria, Victoria Beckham is sold at Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, Central, 2118 3388; www.victoriabeckham.com.