Can a Spice Girl be French chic? Victoria Beckham won over fashion skeptics in New York and London, but for her first show in nearly three years, she upped the ante with a leap into the quintessential style capital.
“Paris is the ultimate dream,” Beckham said ahead of a performance staged in the honey-swept stone cloisters of the baroque Val de Grace church. “It’s a pinch moment for me to be here.” Although the designer insisted she was more excited than nervous, it’s a tough time for her brand. The work-from-home zeitgeist has been a bad wind for a name that trades on jet-set glamour. Prices had to drop to boost sales. And the celebrity circus around the Beckham name – invaluable in bringing allure and pizzazz to a relatively small fashion brand – had threatened to overshadow the show with rumors of a “feud” between Beckham and his step- daughter.
The designer opted for understated glamor over catwalk fireworks for her Paris debut. Satin dresses were cut on the bias for a flowing walk, hung from delicate spaghetti straps for drama and fringed with silk tassels to hug bare shoulders. Beckham thinks her client wants what she wants herself: “A sexy dress that’s easy to wear. It’s what I like the most and I’m not going to worry about it. Everything was tasteful and serene in the front row too, where the support of Beckham’s son and daughter-in-law Brooklyn and Nicola Peltz Beckham put an end to the gossip.
“A year ago we weren’t able to do a show,” Beckham said. “We had to put together a whole new team. As an independent brand, having come through the pandemic and being here, accepted by the French fashion community, is a big deal. Marie Leblanc, who joined the brand as CEO in 2019, expects to break even next year.
“It’s more modern not to bury myself under a wardrobe now,” Beckham said. It’s fashion week that speaks for the oldest adage: sex sells. A body-conscious aesthetic now runs through the Victoria Beckham label, from a low-priced VB Body line of solid-colored stretch-jersey dresses to lingerie style on the Paris Fashion Week catwalk, where the shaped cutouts love hearts reveal flashes of bare skin or black latex.
Lara Barrio, previously at Salvatore Ferragamo, was recently named the brand’s design director, but Beckham said she was “always there in the studio all the time. I work on the collection every step of the way. This look is what I want to wear. For the runway, she wore a black version of a draped, cut-out green dress worn on the catwalk by Bella Hadid.
Although Beckham credits spending time in Miami “where women with all body shapes love to show them off” for rekindling her love of eye-catching dresses, she hasn’t embraced the movement toward body diversity that has been a feature of much of fashion month. Behind the scenes, the creator defended her decision to only cast sample-size models by saying that a show “is about creating this character for the season,” and insisted the cast was “diverse and interesting” in other respects.