Fashion victim to style victor: Victoria Beckham's journey from Spice Girl to respected fashion designer

Once seen as a bit of a novelty, she has developed into a well regarded – and successful – designer, with a much-anticipated catwalk show in New York. Fashion editor Alexander Fury salutes her

There's a story, possibly apocryphal but entirely plausible, that the designer Tom Ford once tried to prevent Victoria Beckham from wearing his clothes. That was more than a decade ago, when Ford was head of Gucci and Beckham was "née Adams" – or more significantly "née Posh", one fifth of the Spice Girls. Despite being the biggest group on the planet, the Spice Girls, rather like ABBA, never really shook off the novelty tag. Especially where fashion was concerned.

What has happened between then – when Victoria and David sported matching Gucci leather jackets – and now? It's nothing short of a complete transformation: the re-education of Victoria Beckham, from clothes-horse to bona fide fashion designer. Today, she will present her mainline collection to a heavyweight audience of retailers, editors and critics at New York Fashion Week.

"I'm never going to be 'angry' when people mention my past, I mean it is what it is … but people don't mention the Spice Girls so much now," Beckham said in an interview with LOVE magazine last year. "People do consider me a relevant fashion designer and the brand being incredibly relevant – and that's great."

You get the feeling it's something of a Cinderella story. Beckham was always a fashion fan. Even when she was Posh Spice she wore great clothes. They weren't just blazing, brazen brands – Gucci, Dolce and Versace. In the film Spice World, she performed in a dress from Alexander McQueen's first ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy. It was not exactly the Gucci double-G when it came to brand registry.

Brand Beckham is, though. It has been used to sell everything from denim to perfume, to a line of H&M bodywear. But Victoria Beckham is more than her name – the industry term for her would be creative director. That's the new favourite moniker for fashion designer – a title awarded to Donatella Versace, Alber Elbaz at Lanvin and Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Fendi. And it's a title that actually says a lot. It doesn't imply that Beckham deals with the nitty-gritty of pattern cutting and godet placement.

Beckham is reportedly hands-on when it comes to her fashion, trying on garments to test the fit. She's an exacting consumer, and has brought the perfectionism of an avid luxury goods shopper to her clothes. Prices are high (this season, a silk and wool day dress retails for £1,450, a matt satin evening gown for £2,750), but the fine finishing and fabrics warrant them. Her handbags range in price from about £900 to £2,500, but have soared up to £18,000.

The real test? Women are buying Beckham. Beckham Ventures, the company behind the clothing label, reported a turnover of £15.4m in 2012, and a profit of £1.5m.

Beckham's name carries cachet, sure. It will, perhaps, shift some fragrance at the lower end of the market, but it will not shift a £2,000 dress, or a £1,500 handbag. These clothes are selling because they're good. Because Beckham is good. Buyers from Selfridges say that the clothes fly off the hangers.

The fashion industry seems to have taken Victoria Beckham to its heart. Last year, she was guest editor for the December/January issue of too-cool-for-école French Vogue, and tomorrow she will discuss "her career as a designer and the growth of her namesake brand" as part of a panel discussion with Simon Collins, dean of fashion at Parsons, The New School for Design, on Fifth Avenue.

Victoria Beckham is taken seriously because she takes fashion seriously. Look at her shows: originally intimate presentations with Beckham herself talking the fashion press through her wares, they are now full-scale catwalk shows, but still not blockbuster affairs. Contrast that with Jennifer Lopez's short-lived "Sweetface" range, or Sean "P Diddy" Comb's "Sean John" line, both launched with much fanfare around the time Posh and Becks wore their matching Guccis. Beckham learnt from her predecessors.

It's also worth noting that the fashion line is the focus of Beckham's career. There are no "fashion designer/..." afterthoughts to her work. "It wasn't until after the Spice Girls that I could really knuckle down and I was in a position to do what I really wanted to do," she said last year. "Which was fashion."

Read any Beckham profile – or that weighty guest-edited issue of French Vogue – and she's described as a fashion designer. Because today, that's Victoria Beckham's job. One she does very well indeed.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

    £350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

    Assistant Marketing & PR Manager

    £16 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    Systems Developer Technical Lead

    £65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment