“I’ve got a great job,” says Victoria Beckham the day before she is due to open her first store in Asia, at The Landmark in Hong Kong. “Asia is my fastest-growing market,” she says. “Now it’s happened, finally, and I’m hugely excited.” She pauses to measure her lot in life. “I really am living a dream.”
It’s some dream. She was a pop singer, model, international footballer’s wife, fashion designer, mother of four and lifestyler who’s wired into the global network of stars. Beckham’s is a rare achievement: making a fashion label sell not because of her fame or that of her husband – style icon though David Beckham is – but because she produces exquisitely cut clothes that people want to wear because wearing them is so effortless and indulgent.
“I love my latest collection,” the designer says of her autumn/winter 2016 offering.
“I think it really shows how my personal style has evolved and [how I’ve] been very honest, very true to myself. I want women to feel like the best version of themselves. I want them to feel strong, empowered and beautiful. And I want to make dressing easier for my customer as well.”
In endeavouring to hook the Asian customer, the partnership Beckham has with Lane Crawford Joyce Group, under its president, Andrew Keith, has been a boon. Beckham has been visiting Asia for eight years. “Andrew Keith bought into my very first collection and I’ve learned so much from him about the retail landscape,” she says. “I really feel a connection with customers here.” She’s hoping they’ll make connections with her own retailscape, too. “The store looks so good. It’s very much like the sister to my Dover Street store in London. I feel, when my customer goes into my store here in Hong Kong, they are seeing the brand through my eyes. I’m hugely excited.”
Beckham works with London architect Farshid Moussavi, who designed the Dover Street store, Beckham’s first standalone boutique. It was Moussavi’s first commission to design a retail property. The combination of the two women is symbiotic. “I love the work that she’s done,” says Beckham. “She’s got a strong eye. She’s an incredible woman who understands fashion. She has a point of view. And, like me, she likes to think out of the box. And, like me, she has a vision. I knew what I wanted. It was a real collaboration and she was open and excited about my ideas, and when I found out I’d been offered this incredible space in Hong Kong at The Landmark, I knew I had to work on this with her.”
Beckham has plenty to keep her occupied, and she does it willingly. Another purpose of her visit to Hong Kong was to receive an accolade from The Foundation for AIDS Research, or amfAR, at its annual fund-raising gala in the city. Beckham was honoured for what amfAR called her “exceptional contributions” to the global fight against HIV and AIDS. She is a goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS, the United Nations programme for dealing with the virus and disease, and she designs T-shirts for World AIDS Day to raise money for the programme.
Much of her commitment to good causes Beckham attributes to the example set by the man she calls her legend – her husband. “David is such an incredible father, a great husband. I do a lot of work with UNAIDS and David inspires me so much with the amount he’s done for charities and the amount he’s given back,” she says. “He’s a really good person and he does an enormous amount for other people.” Beckham all but chokes up as she speaks about her husband.
The designer launched her Victoria Beckham fashion line in 2008. How much has Beckham changed aesthetically since then? “When I first started I had a very small collection of dresses. They were all fitted. That was very much how I was dressing back then. As the seasons have gone on, my silhouette has loosened up. I’ve gone from just a dress collection to a collection of knits, tailoring, more like a wardrobe. It was just one category when I started. Now I have accessories. I have VVB, which is my other collection, that sits with the ready-to-wear.”
And how has Beckham changed as a person? “I have a strong fashion message, but still have my signature silhouette, which my customer still wants and which I still want. Each season it’s important that I give her what she wants, but that I also have a point of view and that it’s relevant fashion-wise as well. I’m also designing clothes that I want to wear myself. That’s very important. You know, when I was getting ready to come to Hong Kong, I had a rail of clothes and I was thinking about what I wanted. I looked at all these clothes in my dressing room – clothes that I had made and designed myself – and thought, I am the luckiest woman in the world.”
Given how the carousel of the seasons flings fashions down the runways and designers out of one fashion house and into another with more dizzying speed, what does Beckham find most difficult about the fashion industry’s new volatility? “I think the most challenging would be the amount of collections that one has to produce,” she says. “When you have multiple categories and pre-collections, it’s a lot to get your head around. So I would say that’s the toughest challenge. You start designing a collection before you’ve even finished the previous one. So it never stops. It’s like a hamster wheel. I love what I do, of course, but there are always challenges you have to overcome.”
Beckham may be glamorous, dream-styling her life, but that is the return on her investment of hard work and long hours. “I’m my toughest critic,” she says. “I’m very positive and very ambitious, but I’m tough on myself as well, so I’m constantly trying to better myself and say, what’s the next thing or what am I going to do next? I’m learning, surrounding myself with incredible people.”
Beckham’s will is so powerful that it feels at times as though she’s driving an Aston Martin to Perfectionsville and towing the world behind her. Does she ever have doubts? Was there a moment early on when she suddenly realised she could make Victoria Beckham the fashion label work as a business? “I don’t know if I have had that moment,” she says. “I think I’m very hands-on in all respects, including the business side of things. There’s a lot going on but I don’t think that penny has dropped yet. I’m too tough on myself.”
With a husband beloved by brands, wouldn’t a VB menswear line be a natural next step? “I’d love to do menswear,” Beckham says with a touch on the brakes of the metaphorical Aston – hubby owns a real one – before flooring the throttle again. “But there are so many categories that I’d like to go into. I think it takes a long time. For me, I go into a category when I can’t find what I’m looking for and then I surround myself with the people that can help me really do it and do it well. Otherwise, there’s no point. It won’t be happening anytime soon but, hopefully, in the future it will.”
A first glance at her autumn/winter 2016 collection tells us plenty. It’s mademoiselle-ish, street, sportive, architectonic and geometric. She knows how to appropriarte masculine codes and combine feminine aloof and allure to hit the sweet spot. Beckham ticks all the boxes of womanhood like a charm. Clothes that are so very Victoria Beckham are so very you, too. That’s why Beckham and her customer are so intimate.