Fashion is always changing, says Victoria Beckham. “I’m getting older and I like to wear different things. My personal style has loosened up quite a bit. And how I dress of course influences my label. We started out with a collection of fitted dresses and now it’s really a full wardrobe.”
Still perfectly put together at 42, the pop star turned fashion designer’s look has evolved, and so has her take on fashion. Her hair is now wavy and chopped to chin length, and at New York Fashion Week last month, she took her bow at the show in a masculine striped shirt, belted cream slacks and flat sandals.
“As a person, she’s very honest, smart and straightforward and has a very good sensibility in what looks good in design – all aspects not just fashion,” says Hong Kong-based tycoon Bruce Rockowitz, who is friend and business partner to Beckham and her husband, David. “Of course, I was around during the Spice Girls, but it’s like she has had two lives. She reinvented herself so successfully as a designer, to an extent that no other ex-pop star or celebrity has been able to do. She lives and breathes fashion.”
While women’s fashion has undoubtedly become more liberated, only someone like Beckham could unwittingly send the internet into meltdown by playfully admitting she preferred flats over heels in “a shocking revelation”, as MailOnline called it in February.
“I’ve said things in the past tongue-in-cheek and it’s been taken literally – I’ve said that I can’t concentrate in flat shoes, as a joke, but people take you very seriously,” she laughs as we chat in a room at Duddell’s in Central during her trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. “It was bizarre because I said that off the record, too. But yes, I do wear a lot of flats now. When you’re working as much as we’re all working, I’m not going to totter around all the time. I still like a heel, but often I just want to be more comfortable.”
When Beckham was in Hong Kong to open her first store outside of London, in The Landmark, in Central, she ran a tight ship as press and VIPs were taken through rails of the latest collection. It felt like many other luxury fashion-house events – precious, lovely, expensive clothes hung on minimal rails being introduced by slim PR girls dressed in black. But the security presence sparked hushed excitement, and everyone knew she was in the building.
“She’s clever – I would bet on her brand,” says Rockowitz, who reveals that behind that controlled public exterior, “she’s actually fun to be with. You look at her in pictures and she doesn’t smile that much. But she really enjoys herself. She’s got a great sense of humour.”
The Beckhams’ increasingly frequent visits to Hong Kong and mainland China have had much to do with their developing relationship with Rockowitz, who met them a few years ago through a mutual friend, American designer Tommy Hilfiger.
“He thought we’d get along well,” explains Rockowitz, who is married to singer Coco Lee. “We were friends first, and over the years as David was considering retirement [from soccer] and deciding what to do next, his business partner, Simon Fuller, was discussing with us the potential for working on brands.
“Coco, my wife, was all for that. She loves David and Victoria,” says the Canadian billionaire.
In 2014, the Beckhams and Fuller launched Seven Global, a joint venture with the Rockowitz-led Global Brands.
“I was just with them yesterday at their house in London for a meeting with our board,” Rockowitz tells me over the phone recently. “Yes, she is investing more in Asia and has a few trips planned already. They both have an affinity for Hong Kong, they just like being there. I see them doing more and more in that part of the world.”
Seven Global stays out of the Victoria Beckham fashion brand but partners with the couple for David’s fashion ventures (in which Victoria is a partner), such as the Kent & Curwen capsule line – a Savile Row label owned by Hong Kong’s Trinity Group. A few older contracts, such as H&M, Biotherm and Adidas, are also going through Seven Global.
“We’re quite excited,” Victoria Beckham says of this partnership. “I don’t know what the future holds but we’ve all got big hopes for it.”
With both David and Victoria working in fashion, and their children taking steps into the industry, too – Brooklyn, 17, just shot a campaign for Burberry while Romeo, 14, started appearing in the brand’s adverts last year – the household is a formidable style hub. The trick, Victoria says, is mutual support rather than competition.
“Creatively, David just lets me get on with what I do. I’m excited to see what he’ll do with Kent & Curwen,” she says. “Brooklyn is a really good photographer – he’s still young, he doesn’t have an enormous amount of experience but he’s got a good eye. Romeo’s involved in Burberry, too; [Burberry’s chief creative officer] Christopher Bailey is so good with kids. I’m proud, they work very hard and are genuinely well-behaved, nice kids.
“We’re real family people – it’s everything to us and that’s another reason why we feel such a strong connection to Hong Kong and Asia, because you get a strong sense of that, too.”
Asia is also Beckham’s fastest growing market, and she plans to open more stores in the region.
“For me it’s about finding the right location as well as the right territory. It will happen when the right space becomes available. We are also looking in New York, Miami and Dubai but there is absolutely no rush,” she says.
As for her latest collection, spring-summer 2017 brought out sexy satins and crushed velvets that came with drawstring fastenings on sportier items. However, it was her draped “undone” necklines on shirts and covetable fitted dresses, sexy corset bras and cool girl, tailored jackets that really anchored the line.
For the autumn-winter 2016 collection currently in stores, she referenced favourite pieces from past seasons. There are plenty of modern stripes, flared silhouettes, knits and sexy corset tops that recallher structured signature dresses but loosened up and easily translated into daywear.
It’s got a more effortless feeling, she says of her clothing now. And with all this new knitwear and fabrications, the designer can “take my signature silhouette and make it feel new, fresh and more relaxed”.
“I think,” she muses, “a woman’s idea of what is cool, sexy and modern may be quite different from a man’s point of view.”
So, after more than a decade of being dressed by others, how does it feel to be firmly on the other side? Not surprisingly, Beckham prefers it:“I enjoy being creative. I’m happiest when I’m in the studio designing.”
The hard work is paying off. Beckham is stocked at leading luxury retailers in countries from the United Arab Emirates and South Korea to Ukraine; she’s nabbed multiple industry awards, gaining respect as one of Britain’s most promising luxury brands.
“I never really sit back and appreciate things as much as I should,” she says in a moment of contemplation. “I’m tough on myself. I’m always thinking about bettering myself and what’s next ... You know, I’ve always been that way.”