On the off chance that there was anyone out there who had not yet clocked Victoria Beckham’s evolution from Spice Girl into sophisticated fashion designer, the opening 10 seconds of her first ever London catwalk show elegantly drove the point home.
The veteran British model Stella Tennant, star of Chanel and Céline shows and still catwalk royalty at 47, stalked down a sweeping marble staircase wearing a white blazer over a delicate lace camisole, one hand in the pocket of the trousers pooling elegantly over her slip-on loafers. Having had 10 years at New York fashion week to refine her formula of grown-up polish with a palatable amount of edginess, Beckham’s London debut oozed confidence.
“Stella is everything that a woman should be,” said Beckham after the show, which was held at an art gallery adjacent to her Mayfair boutique in front of an audience of 250. “She has had an incredible career, she’s got children, and she’s more amazing now than ever. It made me so happy when she agreed to open the show.”
The casting, which also included the 27-year-old Edie Campbell, star of 19 Vogue covers, was a departure for Beckham, whose New York shows have tended to feature young, unknown models. “This season I wanted it to be about women as well as girls. I wanted to have women on the catwalk who my customer can relate to.”
The 10th anniversary and Beckham’s transfer to her home city has amplified the noise around a brand which is always one of the most talked about of fashion month. Two catwalk shows were at the centre of a day of what the designer termed “activations”, which began with a breakfast for clients at the Mayfair store – on the menu were acai bowls with hedgerow berries, and ‘shots’ of activated charcoal – and was due to end on Sunday evening with a party in Beckham’s honour co-hosted by husband David and Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue.
The front row of the show was a family affair, with Victoria’s extended family joining her husband, all four children and David Furnish, godfather to two of the young Beckham brothers. “My sister’s kids haven’t seen what I do before, so it’s nice for them to see that I do have a job,” she explained.
The tagline for Victoria Beckham’s celebrations of 10 years in fashion is “Putting the Victoria into Victoria Beckham since 2008.” A Juergen Teller photograph showing the designer’s legs and trademark stilettos sticking out of one of her own shopping bags currently presides over Piccadilly Circus, and can be seen on a T-shirt much-worn at London Fashion Week.
“We were talking about what the campaign image should be – is it a woman in a dress, is it a woman in sunglasses – and we thought, let’s have some fun with it instead,” Beckham explained before the show. The joke also speaks the truth, which is that public fascination with Victoria Beckham herself is the heartbeat of her brand.
The most nerve-wracking moment, Beckham said after the show, was navigating the curving staircase to take her bow. “I wanted to wear a heel because it’s a special occasion, so the stairs were a bit of a challenge,” she said backstage, dressed in a caramel-toned silk blazer and a pair of skinny, long-legged trousers from the collection just seen on the catwalk. “Actually I get more nervous every season, not less nervous, because the brand keeps getting bigger.”
“Consciousness of the female form, rather than bodycon” is the silhouette which has evolved as signature to the Victoria Beckham brand. The laid-back, fluid shapes in this collection were strikingly different from the strictly tailored evening wear on which the label was founded, reflecting how Beckham’s taste has shifted from straightforward glamour to something far more fashion-forward over a decade.
Filmy lace pieces under tailoring, and utilitarian D-ring fastenings at the hip of elegant skirts, juxtaposed masculine codes with feminine ones. Unexpected colour combinations were another theme. A sky blue satin camisole worn with earthy, Dijon-mustard toned slouchy trousers was a pairing borrowed, Beckham says, from a painting by the New York-based British artist Nicola Tyson.