The most surprising thing about spending a morning in the presence of the fashion arm of Beckham Enterprises – or, to be specific, sitting opposite David and Brooklyn while they watch Victoria’s spring/summer 2018 catwalk show – is how much more relaxed the experience feels than much of the rest of New York fashion week.
Consider that Saturday night was dominated by two style spectaculars: the Alexander Wang show, in which models performed “guerilla” catwalk shows across New York, while flanked by portable speaker systems, lighting rigs and a cavalcade of Harley Davidsons; and the Philipp Plein “Good Gone Bad” event, where models vied for attention with booming music and Dita von Teese doing a burlesque routine in a giant Martini glass.
The Victoria Beckham show, on the other hand, was simple. Though David and Brooklyn provided a bit of star power (and sat between the new guard at British Vogue, editor Edward Enninful, on one side and fashion director Venetia Scott on the other), in the main part the spotlight was firmly on the clothes. And it was a very strong collection, too, comprising of loose linen suiting, blazers layered one on top of the other, and fluid evening dresses with ruffles. Though the individual pieces were fairly accessible, wearable and familiar – elevated versions of great dresses, trousers and tailoring, rather than weird, avant garde pieces – imaginative styling and slightly odd colour combinations, such as moss-green with pistachio and red with lilac, helped to ensure that the overall impression was fresh and unexpected.
There were sparkly accessories – a glitter-covered clutch bag peeking out of a shirt pocket, sparkly moss-green high heeled shoes and silver and red flat sparkly mules. These were incredibly pretty (Beckham later said that her little daughter Harper, a fan of Disney’s film Frozen, had loved them when she had seen them on Facetime) but were presented with simple and sometimes androgynous looks so the effect was grown-up and never princessy.
Backstage, Beckham spoke in a considered, heartfelt way about the technical details and techniques employed; the “little tiny check” on one outfit “that reminds me of maths exams at school” and the “moire fabric” whose marble-like, wavy lines became a printed pattern; the ruffles on dresses which were “flattened and killed and manipulated to make them really graphic”.
“Delicacy can mean strength,” she added. “This collection is about the many powers of femininity. These are play-doh colours; ice-cream colours,” she added. “Fresh and summery but not too sweet. There is something strange about them, together, that feels really fresh and cool and interesting.”
Beckham has now been a fashion designer for nine years – two years longer than she was a Spice Girl – and in the fashion industry her transformation from arriviste to insider is long complete, as was evidenced by the backstage scene, where Brooklyn posed for selfies with models and David chatted with illustrious fashion critic Suzy Menkes.
It’s no surprise that the industry likes her approach, given that she is so respectful of its conventions. Her catwalk shows do not seem to be designed to win brand-building Instagram “likes” but to sell clothes that should be worn. “This was not about creating show pieces that are not wearable,” she said. “That’s not how I want to dress, that’s not how I believe women want to dress. There isn’t anything here that you can’t wear straight from the catwalk.” That makes this, she says “a very honest collection”.
The evolution of Beckham’s own look is a key part of her fashion designer narrative. Her PVC jumpsuits and crumb-catcher corsets feel a world away, now. As the tabloids who follow her every move have recently noticed, she has spent the past four days wearing a simple white t-shirt and trouser or jeans, which she wears again today, joining the ranks of editors and designers who opt out of trying every trend and wear similar outfits all the time.
“I haven’t really had the time to think about what I’ve been wearing,” she said. “My wardrobe is full of white T-shirts, and it’s one less thing to think about such a busy week.” Though in Beckham’s case you imagine she will be using her own best billboard – herself – and wearing her spring/summer 2018 ice-cream colours before very long.