A chunky, ribbed, stone-coloured polo-neck jumper with leather elbow patches, grey schoolboy trousers, white trainers, no socks, a centre parting and a ponytail. What Victoria Beckham chooses to wear to present her catwalk collection isn’t just celebrity trivia, it’s salient fashion news, because the designer’s personal wardrobe, as featured in paparazzi pictures and gossip websites, underpins the Victoria Beckham brand. Backstage before her show in New York on Sunday, she said with the knowing pragmatism of a self-made woman: “It’s just what I want to wear now but in a fresh way.”
Judging by her latest collection, what Beckham wants to wear now are corsets as daywear, checks with intentionally unfinished threads and shut-out-the-world coats. These corsets are not, it must be stressed, shiny items which speak tackily of Valentine’s, nor a relic of the Posh Spice brand, which is gathering dust somewhere in the noughties. Instead, they are wool bodices worn with hefty midi-length skirts that swish and land above bare calves, accompanied by flat, pointed, buckled shoes. Beckham said she had wanted the collection to recall where she started from as a designer
Back then, in 2008, the mood was as controlled and uptight as the corset dresses but now the mood is about easiness and relaxed luxury. The Victoria Beckham who talks through her collection on Sunday talked about a modern femininity in her designs but had something of the tomboy about her. When a temporary power cut interrupted the preparations ahead of the show, she laughed and turned on the torch of her iPhone and carried on: “We won’t let that stop us.” A question about what to wear in New York’s freezing temperatures was met with an anecdote about how cold her hair-parting was when she left her hotel and how the wind made unwelcome leggings of her boyish pants. Not exactly the patter of an ivory-towered designer.
Highlights on the catwalk included a pair of high-waisted gabardine pants which were worn with a knitted bustier, which Beckham stated was “exactly what she wanted to wear on the red carpet now”. They were downplayed and chic rather than showy and unrealistic. Some of the ribbed knitwear felt familiar, the trousers which puddled at the hem and the trompe l’oeil bra-cupped jumpers were similar to ideas explored at other labels in recent seasons.
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