Victoria Beckham raises the barre with ballet-inspired Paris show

<span>Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP</span>
Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

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 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 for a show staged in a grand 18th-century Paris townhouse once lived in by Karl Lagerfeld.

Fluid grey jersey dresses rippled over the hips to evoke the effortless elegance of dancers in the rehearsal studio; soft blue and green eveningwear pieces took their colours from the pastels of Edgar Degas’s famous studies of dancers.

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“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 and now make up half the business, a branch being expanded with the first Victoria Beckham fragrances launching during this Paris fashion week.

David Belhassen, the 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”.

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,” she said. Those vintage finds inspired cotton sundresses with scalloped edges and delicate doily cutouts.

A medieval hunting lodge on the eastern borders of Paris became a modernist catwalk for Loewe, the Spanish luxury brand that has been transformed into a cult label by the Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson.

“A high-waisted trouser does something sensual to the body, but at the same time it looks very civilised,” Anderson said after the show. The “personality trouser” – high-waisted, wide-legged or otherwise characterful in some way – is a hot look this season, both on the catwalk and on the front row.

At Loewe, the silhouette was an exaggerated vertical. Knitted capes clung from shoulder to ankle, trapping the arms close to the body. Loewe sells fashion and handbags, with a side order of urbane surrealism. “I love when something is familiar but slightly unhinged,” Anderson said. “Jeans and an Oxford shirt but a little bit off.”

Buttons were the size of bread rolls while hems looked not just raw but chewed. Hair styled into sideburns was a nod to Liza Minnelli. The artist Lynda Benglis designed metal accessories, including handcuff-heavy beaten bangles. Anderson called them “happenings” rather than jewellery.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of Loewe’s owners LVMH – and the second richest man in the world, after Elon Musk – did not attend the show, though his daughter and successor-apparent, Delphine Arnault, watched from the front row.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office has announced an investigation into transactions by the Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov, which are alleged to have been funded by a loan from a company owned by Arnault. A spokesperson for LVMH, quoted in Le Monde, refuted any wrongdoing, stating the loan had been “carried out with the strictest observance of the law”.