“Freedom, confidence, power – strength, reality, and identity.” Who expressed these words to define her work? Victoria Beckham.
In a collection that pushed forward her aim to make clothes that are winners for women, the designer showed a new confidence in linking her looks to her native Britain – using heritage fabrics, thick knits and even tartan – but styled with her own international experience of the requirements of a streamlined wardrobe in mind.
The result was based on tailoring “light” – literally when a chiffon or georgette skirt swing mid-calf below a smart flannel jacket. Or when a vivid red dress that covered the body from neck to calf was teamed with over-the-knee boots with a light wedge. There were even flat pointed toe shoes with a hint of a punk winkle picker to them – and this from a woman who once relied on perilous high heels.
“I feel that I’ve been talking about empowering women for so many years and never was there a time when that was more relevant with what’s going on in the world,” said the designer. “For me and my customer, what I believe is that she wants to feel secure and comfortable. For me, it was also looking at my heritage: you can see we’ve got heritage fabrics here in the hounds tooth and tartan. British – but with a global outlook.”
Victoria was referring to a camel pantsuit or a gray swing coat with bulbous sleeves and also to a more unexpected insertion: abstract patterns in bright colors inspired by a visit to the paintings of Paul Nash in London’s Tate Britain – the first time I can remember a Victoria Beckham show referencing art.
But each season, it seems that Victoria’s vision grows a little. And like all women designers she absorbs her life changes into her collections. One strategic move for her company must be the highly successful makeup collaboration with Estée Lauder: the cue to a square handbag looking like a vanity case.
Did the Victoria Beckham collection with its rich, soft colors and lean shapes alter the face of modern fashion? Not in any major way. But the designer is clearly sensing the changing attitudes of women and linking that to her collections. And the fact that there was not a single outfit aimed expressly at the evening – meaning that you would have to get back from work to change – was significant from a designer who once relied on celebrity status.
The softly, softly approach to moving forward is good for brand Beckham. And so is the sense that there are family values rooted within Team Beckham – Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and their sister Harper were sitting with dad David Beckham in the front row. Brooklyn was focused on his camera, after a period of studying photography in New York. Those who want to study the skills of this next Beckham generation will be able to buy Brooklyn’s book of images, titled What I See and published by Penguin, in May.