Everyone knows what Victoria Beckham did before she became a fashion designer. But this season, she has a whole new backstory. “From when I was three years old up until I was in the Spice Girls, I wanted to be a ballet dancer,” she said at a preview of her latest collection in Paris. “One of the things that I find so special about dancers is that even if you are travelling on the tube, you can always spot a ballet dancer – just by her posture and the way she carries herself.”
The Victoria Beckham show, held in an 18th-century Parisian townhouse that was once home to Karl Lagerfeld, was a grand affair. The coming together of two superstar families, the Beckhams and the Kardashians, saw the picturesque left bank streets gridlocked with SUVs and phone-wielding fans.
The Beckhams – along with Anna Wintour and the chic, makeup-free Pamela Anderson, who has become a folk hero of this Paris fashion week – were kept waiting for 47 minutes after the scheduled show time for the entrance of Kim Kardashian, in sugar-pink satin, and Kris Jenner. The show began shortly after they took their seats, to a sweetly serene soundtrack of Rose Royce and the Shangri-Las. It closed with a third Kardashian, model Kendall Jenner, incognito in a black trouser suit and sunglasses.
The clothes Beckham wore as a dance student – leg warmers, an oversized knit with a neckline stretched to expose a shoulder, even hair nets – were given a chic glow-up on the catwalk. Fluid grey jersey dresses rippled over the hips to evoke the effortless elegance of dancers in the rehearsal studio; soft blue and green evening-wear pieces took their colours from the pastels of Edgar Degas’s famous studies of dancers.
“I got my old pointe shoes out and did some pointe work in the kitchen at home – [my daughter] Harper was impressed I could do that. It’s like riding a bike,” the designer said. A tutu “dragged down from my mum’s loft” became the inspiration for a cocktail dress in tissue-thin mint tulle. “I hadn’t worn it since I was 16. The girls in the design studio laughed at me running around in a tutu for the first time in years.”
The Victoria Beckham brand is now a serious business. Beauty ranges launched in 2019 have proved lucrative with the first Victoria Beckham fragrances launching during this Paris fashion week. David Belhassen, founder and managing partner of Neo, which bought a £30m minority stake in Victoria Beckham in 2017, said the fragrance launch “transforms Victoria Beckham into a fashion house”.
Much of Beckham’s show had an aloof, elevated tone – conceptual transparent tailoring, sculptural necklines suspended on wire – intended to give a halo effect to accessories and beauty products by giving the brand an elite, haute-fashion edge. But Beckham has a sixth sense for the zeitgeist, and many of the season’s key trends were on the runway, from head-to-toe grey as the new power-dressing to the modern twinset, seen here as a ribbed leotard with matching cardigan.
Beckham moved her catwalk from London to Paris a year ago, and “feels very welcome” in the city, but this collection included pieces that were a love letter to the British countryside where she spends most weekends. “There’s this lovely antiques store we go to on Sundays, and I love browsing the vintage tablecloths and napkins – they remind me of visiting my grandparents.” Those vintage finds inspired cotton sundresses with scalloped edges and delicate doily cut-outs.