It is a seemingly quiet afternoon at Keraton at The Plaza, the decidedly discreet hotel that provides its selective clientele convenient private access to Plaza Indonesia. But the buzz has got around that superstar-turned-designer Victoria Beckham is in town, and is scheduled to make an early evening appearance at the upmarket shopping center’s On Pedder boutique.
For the uninitiated, On Pedder is a Hong Kong-based multibrand boutique that sells designer accessories. Beckham has worked with the boutique for several seasons, but this is the first time her accessories are available in Jakarta.
“I designed a capsule collection of five bags and two sunglasses in vintage rose shades to be sold exclusively at On Pedder,” Beckham, donning a black knee-length sheath with a deep neckline, during the exclusive interview with JPlus provided by On Pedder.
The capsule collection consists of five bags and two sunglasses in vintage rose shades. Made in Italy, using signature buffalo and calf leather, each item is chic, romantic and feminine. There’s something very sporty about them too, and Beckham credits the robust construction, perforated leather and the zipper for it.
This boy-meet-girl aesthetic is a departure for her. Her ready-to-wear debut collection forged a sophisticated silhouette that championed a perfect fit, immaculate corsetry and body-consicious tailoring. There was also a long zipper at the back, too.
As she has grown as a designer, the Victoria Beckham look has evolved to embrace comfortable silhouettes with softer drapes and longer hemlines.
Relaxed and understated, the 2014 Spring/Summer Collection, which she presented in Singapore the day before the interview, consists of mostly separate pieces – button-downs, sleeveless tops, short-sleeve shirts and roomy culottes. It is also graphic, thanks to the use of double-crepe triangle pieces in white and fucshia, which are bonded to the organza base of the clothes.
“The ready-to-wear collection has a boy-meet-girl attitude; sporty with a strong tailoring. I like to challenge myself by working with different proportions; now I’m working on separates in ready to wear, enabling me to explore design and fashion a bit more – for the first few seasons it was all dresses,” Beckham says.
While the silhouette may change season after season, the DNA of Beckham’s chic, understated and flattering design remains intact. For her strong design vision, Beckham won the Designer Brand of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards, selected from nominees including Tom Ford, Stella McCartney and Burberry.
Beckham confesses today she has a sense of belonging she never had before in the fashion world.
“When I was in the Spice Girls, I was always more interested in what we’re going to wear for the video shoot as opposed to the video shoot itself. I always appreciate fashion, and for me, it wasn’t the superficial love – it wasn’t just about shopping,” she says, recollecting her childhood delight as she watched her mother dress up before a night out.
She emphasizes she was grateful for the exciting experiences she had with the group, but is quick to point out that it is fashion – not music – that comes naturally to her.
Figure of Fascination
Almost 20 years since her days as Posh Spice – the most successful girl group in history with over 80 million in album sales – she still retains an alluring persona that keeps the public fascinated and curious. Her high-profile marriage to David Beckham further cemented her celebrity, making them one of the most photographed couples in the world. He, the world’s most famous footballer with an impossible free kick and a killer smile; she, the stylish, glamorous and beautiful wife with great shoes.
What’s so fascinating about Beckham is her ability to juggle a growing fashion empire, marriage and four children (ranging in age from a teenager to a toddler!) – all the while looking fabulous.
“Well, I think it’s not until you turn 40 as a woman that you become more accepting of who you are, how you look and what you are. And you’re OK with that,” says Beckham, who entered her fifth decade on April 17.
I mention that my married female friends wanted to know what’s her secret to having it all. Well, truth be told, they wanted to know what it takes to stay svelte after having four kids.
“Tell me what exactly did they say? Tell me! Come on share! Didn’t they know the answers?” she responds, giggling.
Her playfulness may come as a surprise to some, as she is rarely shown smiling in photographs. In person, she is charming, informal, self-deprecating and also gracious, apologizing for her tardiness after she felt unwell.
“I have a small but wonderful team of people working for me. I’m fortunate that the kids and David support what I do, as I support them. But the children always come first. It’s a bit of a juggling act – I’m no different than any other working women,” she explains.
Much like her career, Beckham’s style has also undergone tremendous evolution. The clothes that she wears these days, she says, are deceptively simple – well-tailored pieces that drape comfortably around the body, much like her Victoria Beckham recent collections.
“It’s about a strong silhouette – whether it’s evening wear or jeans and T-shirt. I love to design color, we’re very known for the energetic color in our brand. But I don’t wear a huge amount of color. I tend to keep it quite simple,” says Beckham.
It wasn’t always so, and Beckham would be the first to admit that.
“I certainly dress differently now to how I did in the Spice Girls. The evolution of style happened very naturally; It wasn’t a conscious decision on my side to change my style,” she says.
“I mean I’m 40 now. I have moved on. So much has changed in the last 10 years. I was a lot younger then, I suppose I didn’t know who I was like I do now.”
Having Her Say
The Beckhams don’t seem to mind fame and stardom, taking it in stride as part of the demands of celebrity in the 21st century. Still, they remain somewhat elusive and circumspect in participating in lighthearted TV interviews, documentaries and agreeing to a few provocative shots for magazine covers and print ads. They are also very protective of their children.
”With fame comes a voice. I know that I have a voice. And with that voice comes a responsibility. When used the right way, that voice is very powerful,” she says, sitting cross-legged at her suite.
“Fame can be a double-edged sword,” says Beckham.
She was well aware that people have a preconception about her when she decided to pursue a career in fashion design, and insists that she is OK with that. She didn’t – and doesn’t – blame the naysayers. After all, how many celebrity lines truly ever made it in the market?
“I didn’t go into the fashion business to prove anything to anybody other than myself. I kept my head down, focused on learning the business and did what I had to do. Truth be told, I never consider my fame a hindrance for me to achieve success as a designer,” she explains.
In fact, she couldn’t care less if people don’t take her seriously. She quietly learned the ropes of fashion while people were laughing. Today, her fashion business has a team of 78. It turned over approximately US$50 million in sales in 2013, a 91 percent jump from the previous year.
“Before I started my own brand, I worked for a denim brand Rock & Republic and then Linda Farrow sunglasses – both merely designing. My advice to people who want to start a career in fashion is to work for somebody else. I learned an enormous amount over the years,” she shares.
Asked to advice a girl with $20 on looking stylish, Beckham suggests visiting vintage and second-hand shop. You can find some great bargains in such shops, she says.
“What people throw out is incredible. I recently donated an enormous amount of clothes to the Red Cross to help the tragedy in the Philippines. David and I opened up a shop in the Red Cross and sold off our designer clothes, and 100 percent of the money was for donations,” she says.
By Willy Wilson