He is known for his ripped torso, Hollywood pals and, occasionally, kicking a ball around a football pitch. Now, a collaboration with one of the design world's most sophisticated trend connoisseurs is set to propel Brand Beckham into the cultural firmament.
In a minor coup for the footballer, Alasdhair Willis, the former publisher of design magazine Wallpaper*, has announced his appointment as Beckham's creative consultant following his resignation as chief executive of Established & Sons, one of the most coveted names in contemporary design.
Beckham will rub shoulders with Willis's other clients, who include Adidas and Estée Lauder. By appointing the expert trend-setter, who is married to fashion designer Stella McCartney, Beckham will augment his enviable address book with some of the leading lights in design, architecture and fashion – and follow his wife's move towards the more sophisticated end of style.
"David Beckham had a very bling image until very recently; it was neither tasteful nor refined," said Tammy Smulders, a co-founder of the trend marketing consultancy SCB Partners. "If you look at David and Victoria's perfume brand, for example, it's not something that people in more exclusive circles would be drawn to; it was designed to appeal to the masses.
"Willis can help Beckham cultivate his image as a more tasteful style icon and help him exploit a new set of opportunities beyond his football career. Equally, he could be looking to pursue ventures with Victoria. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with."
Beyond haircut experiments and fat ties and baggy jeans, David has played a supporting role as his wife flies the flag for fashion, though they appeared together in a campaign for Emporio Armani underwear last year.
Beckham returned to football for LA Galaxy on Saturday following a six-month absence – the longest of his playing career – after rupturing an Achilles tendon. After the game he restated his desire to play again for England, after manager Fabio Capello seemingly backtracked last month on his having ended the 35-year-old's international career. Yesterday he was reportedly having dinner with Hollywood movie mogul Sam Nazarian, fuelling speculation that he is giving serious consideration to his future.
Victoria has been making strides, having been feted last week at New York Fashion Week, where her fifth range of figure-hugging frocks was well-received. Posh's dresses scored lucrative endorsements from Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Drew Barrymore and are showcased in shops alongside established high-end designers. "Victoria has gone from an embellished denim line to £2,000 crepe dresses that are winning kudos from the fashion cognoscenti," Ms Smulders said.
Beckham's signing will be lucrative for Willis, who made his name working for Wallpaper* alongside publisher Tyler Brûlé in the late 1990s. He went on to co-found Establish & Sons in 2005, internationally renowned for its iconic furniture and homewear designs by the likes of architects such as Zaha Hadid (a prototype of one of her tables recently sold at auction for $300,000).
Willis, who declined to speak to The Independent, told his staff in an email yesterday that "starting a business like this from nothing is an achievement in itself but for it to become so internationally respected and established within such a short period is pretty unique."
It's a feat Beckham will be hoping his new consultant can repeat.
Alasdhair Willis: the CV
Family Married Stella McCartney at Mount Stuart House, Dornoch, Isle of Bute, in 2003. They have three children
Lives Notting Hill town house and Georgian house on Gloucestershire/Worcestershire border
Career Former publisher of Wallpaper* magazine. Co-founder and later CEO of Established & Sons, an award-winning British contemporary furniture design and manufacture company using only British designers and manufacturers
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