There has been no wardrobe more copied, envied or pored over than Victoria Beckham's – from the minute she zigazigah’d on to our screens as a Spice Girl to now, as a respected designer and bona fide fashion icon. So to celebrate her 40th birthday, we look back at her style journey...
In today’s age of celebrity brands, when the internet offers up millions of pictures of every style step (and mis-step) you’ve taken, reinvention is one of the trickiest feats to achieve. However, if there’s one woman who can bask in the light of her successful evolution – both wardrobe and career-wise – it’s Victoria Beckham. Slowly but steadily she has navigated the apparently impassable waters between being an icon of pop culture irony to a bona fide industry powerhouse. So how did she do it?
A touch of Spice: being Posh with the girls in 1996 and promoting Spice World the movie in 1997
Of the five fresh-faced girl-power prophets who high-kicked their way into our consciousness back in 1996, it was young Victoria Adams who was the classy bird of Spice town. ‘Posh’ to her fans, Victoria’s wardrobe of LBDs and strappy black sandals permanently accessorised with a razor-sharp bob and signature pout made her the group’s most style-savvy member.
By 1997, Posh ’n’ Becks had become a media phenomenon as Victoria started dating dashing young footballer David Beckham. Their matchy-matchy style choices opened a new era for the pair and inimitable ensembles ensued.
Early days with David: walking their matchy-matchy Rottweilers and announcing their engagement in 1998
Soon Victoria would be making her first forays into the world of fashion, attending shows and even walking for Maria Grachvogel at London Fashion Week in 2000. As part of her recent collaboration with Skype, she described the first fashion show she ever attended: ‘I’d never been to a fashion show and Donatella Versace flew me on a private plane with my friend to Milan, it was all very glamorous and it was taking me into a completely different world… That was the most exciting thing I’d ever done.’
As David’s career took the burgeoning Beckham family to Madrid in 2003, Victoria’s look came to resemble the era-defi ning WAG template – all glamorous long hair, distressed denim and Hermès Birkins in every colour of the rainbow. When it came to after dark, her go-to designer was Roberto Cavalli who tailored countless memorable gowns. Spain also inspired a looser look, reflecting the boho vibe of the time.
The next step was working with licensing brands – designing jeans for Rock & Republic in 2004 and sunglasses with Linda Farrow. She also posed for a series of niche fashion magazines, including Pop and i-D. Looking back, she now says that the fashion industry viewed her ‘with a layer of irony’ at the time.
What no sarong? VB with David in St Tropez; walking for Maria Grachvogel in 2000; a date at Claridge’s
The Beckhams’ 2007 move stateside came complete with a whole new vibe for VB. Her new hairstyle – aka the POB (Posh Bob) – was framed by a wardrobe of close-cut Roland Mouret dresses and longer hemlines. The following year marked the beginning of Victoria’s ascent to fashion credibility, starting with her starring role in Marc Jacobs’ advertising campaign, shot by Juergen Teller.
Later that year, Victoria took the plunge and debuted her first eponymous collection: a highly edited, expressly chic capsule of dresses. Presented to a handpicked selection of editors and buyers in a salon-style show at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel during New York Fashion Week, the show was an instant hit. With her hair cut into a Hepburn-esque crop and a new closet of timeless, wasp-waisted frocks, Victoria had well and truly left the Spice razzle dazzle behind.
Over the past 11 seasons, Victoria has trampled the naysayers. With sales up from £6.8m in 2011 to £15.4m in 2012, reflecting additions of extra categories, including the lower-price-point label Victoria by Victoria Beckham launched in 2011, handbags, eyewear and denim, the business is in rude health. And while we can’t predict which look she’ll wear next, if one thing’s for sure, it’s that women up and down the country will follow her every style step of the way.