Well, you can say what you like about Victoria Beckham, but she can do a decent dress. And given some of the celebrity fashion offerings out there (Lindsay Lohan for Ungaro anyone? Paris Hilton’s pet couture?) you have to hand it to her: Mrs B stands head and shoulders above the rest.
It is a fact of life in 2010 that more and more celebrities are making the creative/commercial leap from front row on to the runway. It’s a phenomenon that has been challenging some of the credibility of some of the best fashion buyers in the business.
Struggling designers can argue that the dice are loaded in favour of the celeb collections. Popstrel X’s collection is bound to sell because she has huge press exposure and her fame makes her a ready-made brand. It’s a bit like the manufactured stardust of the X Factor artist versus the gigging indie band. And some department store buyers have been heard fretting about where celebrity collections should be sold: do they rightfully share floor space with Karl, Marc and Miuccia?
And getting a Celeb Collection dress has always seemed to me a bit like drinking wine from a box: no reason why it shouldn’t be good, but it just doesn’t seem right. Well, I may just have to get over myself because there were some great looking dresses in the collection of 26 that Victoria Beckham showed in NY yesterday.
Her venue was the room that was Big and Carrie’s apartment in the Sex And The City movie. And, no we didn’t get to see the closet. ‘Kelly Hoppen is one of my best friends and she gave me loads of advice on dressing the space,’ said Victoria, who took her own grey linen covered seat on the front row of the show, greeted everyone in person and spent the entire presentation talking each outfit through for the audience.
Her front row presence, and the faultless patter, made her sound, at times, more like a practised vendeuse, than the stressed out creator, who we are used to seeing in a dishevelled state of stress at the end of a show. But, hey, we are also more used to designers graduating from school and not the ranks of super shopper. Maybe we have to think again.
The inspiration was Dick Tracy and Martha Graham, who apparently is one of Victoria’s style icons. ‘I am playing with structure and movement away from the body and a classic comic strip palette,’ she explained. Mrs Beckham modestly refers every design detail to a decision made by the team. ‘We had fun draping this jersey.’ ‘We lost endless nights’ sleep making the cloud dress work.’ But she is clearly hands on: ‘This dress was really fun to make. I draped the fabric around my body and someone tied me into it.’
And she knows how to work the Beckham charm, which impresses anyone who has met her and mystifies anyone who knows her only from her unsmiling pictures. ‘I’ve been working on sunglasses lately and we had a lot of fun adding them to the looks to give them a kind of nerdy chic, which is what I am’, she laughed; and the whole room laughed with her.
The key elements in these dresses are rib jerseys and felted wools that are worked in a drapey yet structured shape that follows every curve of the body. The draping makes them look easier and more graceful than the ruthless second skin silhouette of previous seasons. Exposed zips and grosgrain belts are becoming a VB signature and serve to underline those sinuous curves. The collection is tight and focused with 40’s style shifts hitting just below the knee and tunic styles hitting mid thigh as an option.
No matter how fervently VB talked about the ‘couture techniques” of using wadding and invisible corsetry the eveningwear was less convincing. And this is clearly still a collection for a limousine lifestyle. It doesn’t pretend to explore anything beyond the world of the red carpet and restaurants with doormen. But there are at least three dresses there that I’d have in a heartbeat. This collection will undoubtedly earn its floorspace.
- Paula Reed in New York