I have long wondered about Victoria Beckham. It is an interesting transition she has made, from her perma-bronzed, pneumatically-breasted, be-Skechered days as Posh Spice, to a designer of all things sleek, simple, evocatively feminine, and creator of a concept girl she has now taken to calling ‘subversively sexy, without trying’, and one she claims she’d ‘like to meet’.
Aside from the fact that someone who ‘marches rather than walks, drinks espresso, and devours books and art and film’ sounds like a bit of a military pseudo-intellect (and let’s be honest, a complete fucking nightmare), the VVB girl sounds a little like the impression VB herself seems to want to give these days.
We all have photos of ourselves in our more awkward phases. I know I certainly do, dressed as a fat goth at a day Irish camp when I was 12. The make-up was unfortunate and incidental. The chub would linger much longer. But there is no internet full of photos of me in a t-shirt so long it covers my leopard print bicycle shorts and nearly touches my Reebok Princesses, whereas every sartorial moment of her adult life has been recorded, dissected and left to moulder, forever, in that most horrifying repository of head-shake-and-tut-inducing moments in time: Google Images.
Baudelaire said ‘the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was making the world think he didn’t exist’.
Victoria Beckham’s was making everyone forget about Spice Girls. And the thing is -the sort of marvellous thing – that she’s done just that. There are hints – the tan has never fully faded, her hair still has that straight-from-the-wigmaker shine, and it must have been a very windy recording studio, because her trademark pout – amid much commentary, to which I needn’t add, but here I go anyway – has stuck.
But the photo of her smiling and jumping for joy yesterday, in front of the Hollywood sign, is a big sign (appropriately enough) of how her life has transitioned into a new phase. And it’s one she’s much more comfortable in. The skin she’s in – designer, mother, businesswoman, wife, half of a power couple – this is the one she was born to inhabit, and she does so sleekly, gliding through life with seeming flowing ease.
And she has plenty of reason to smile, because the VVB clothes are gorgeous. The blurb might need work. The duds do not.
Lord knows she was always going to have a hard time announcing herself as a designer. And critics salivated at the thought of lambasting her offerings. But season in and out, she consistently turns out the goods. And now, she has matured further, and tuned in to the nicest things about the sudden hunger for all things minimal. There are similar shapes to a lot of what we’re expecting for the season, and she’s gone back to basics with a lot of her cuts. She’s still got emphasis on flattering the female form, but the cinching is gone, and it’s a looser, more playful girl, than a woman. And when she does oversized, she does it with structure, and form – almost playing with negative space to bring out the best in the woman or girl wearing the pieces.
‘Subversively sexy, without trying’ means very little (hence the pretentious nonsense title of this post), although it sounds nice. To think you were just walking about the place, subverting the basics of sexual attraction, based on what you were wearing, makes me think you need a bigger mirror and brighter lights in your hallway, as well as some more truthful friends. That, or a long-running tenure in a basement sex club in Berlin. These clothes aren’t subversively sexy. They’re sweet, with a tinge of androgyny.
But when I hear the word subversive in relation to Beckham, I can’t help but think it’s appropriate, because she has subverted so much of public opinion. And all of it about herself.
I get the impression that Victoria Beckham, when describing the VVB girl, was thinking of herself. And I don’t doubt it was anything but accurately, either. She seems a cultured woman, and considering the amount of work she does, she probably does live on espresso, as she runs from one appointment to the next. But here’s the other thing – we don’t need to know that. And not because we’re not interested – but because she’s done it all, spun 180 degrees, and come out the other side a total winner.
VB doesn’t need to march instead of walking, because she has nothing left to prove. Because she’s proved that she’s no manufactured girl band member. Instead of vacuous lyrics, her clothes are doing the talking now, and she’s beating the drum at the head of the parade – and we’re all only too happy to fall in rank and walk in time, at whatever speed she sets.
Check out the rest of the VVB collection here.