Victoria Beckham, New York Fashion Week 2014, review

For spring, we went a little Little House on the Prairie, with deluxe hopsack, dirndls, artful raw edges and giant homespun jumpers

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Delivery is terribly, terribly important in fashion today. It’s not just about shifting product into store, but about designers delivering on their promise on the catwalk. It’s about satisfying and maybe defying expectations. A number fail to deliver - and, much like failing to ship to a shop, if you don’t get your message across precisely and concisely on the catwalk, no-one will buy it. That’s an issue.

What does New York Fashion Week deliver? A lot of the time, same-old, same-old. There’s something odd that seems to happen in this city, where when designers hit on a decent idea, they stall. It’s reliable, but repetitive. It works at retail (to a degree), but can leave press frustrated and fumbling for something new to write about and photograph.

Victoria Beckham of course doesn’t need to worry too much about that. People will always want to write about and shoot her. Bundle her clothes up with that, and she’s guaranteed editorial coverage. That’s slightly unfair (although very true) because Beckham’s garments are always good, sometimes great, if never groundbreaking. She’s easily grouped in with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row, and what Katie Holmes hoped for her line Holmes and Yang: elevating a celebrity label into a luxury brand that transcends the bold-face name behind it. It’s worked in a way that say, Jennifer Lopez’s Sweetface never quite managed. 

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Designer Victoria Beckham acknowledges audience applause

Beckham’s label is the blueprint for the whole notion, focussing on tweaked classics with a high luxury factor that can be delivered season after season, without fashion getting in the way too much. For spring, we went a little Little House on the Prairie, with deluxe hopsack, dirndls, artful raw edges and giant homespun jumpers. It was big and clunky and artisanal, proportions ungainly, models balanced on giant platform sandals or flat witchy-poo pointed brogues.

Frankly, it all tried a bit hard to be “interesting.” Then Beckham herself came out, pairing the proportions of her elongated mid-calf skirts with a taut sweater and stilettos, and you realised what her women would be buying and how they would be wearing it. And really, that’s what labels like Beckham and The Row are about, and should be judged on: retail appeal, rather than design innovation.

Incidentally, it’s not just celebrities that want in on that recipe: Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, The Row’s former design director (she also did duty at Celine before that, which makes perfect sense), will be heading Hermes’ womenswear from the winter 2015 season. We’ll wait to see how that turns out, but it feels like something of a safe choice.

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David Beckham, centre, on the front row with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, left, and Brooklyn Beckham, right

Safety in those sales numbers can be a designers undoing. For all the undeniable attraction of Joseph Altuzarra’s latest collection, I couldn’t help but feel we were treading ground the designer had already covered. The artfully deshabille layers, knotted ribbons and rumpled cottons echoed designs from his past pair of terribly well-received shows (he’s been throughout the wringer on some of his more experimental endeavours). It was fine, in every sense of the word, and was met with a roar of approval from American press and buyers, but personally I missed the expectation of the unexpected.

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