Victoria Beckham cancelled her planned “salon-style” catwalk show just a few days before London fashion week, fearing that although permitted under current guidelines, a show “didn’t feel appropriate”.
Instead, she presented her new collection to small groups of three visitors at a time, in the same Hoxton art gallery where she had planned to hold the show. Monogrammed silk “VB” face masks were presented to each visitor, to ensure chic social distancing was maintained at all times.
“I was really looking forward to having a show and to the social element of that, after such a long period of not seeing anyone,” the designer said. The intention had been to stage several shows spaced at intervals through a day, each with an audience of 15 people masked and seated 2 metres apart. “I am hoping that next season we will get back to something a bit normal. And maybe have a glass of wine,” Beckham said.
Lockdown loungewear – but done with signature Beckham glam – is the new look, with jeans making their first ever appearance in the brand’s main collection. “I lived in vintage jeans all the way through lockdown,” Beckham said. “Although I will have you know that I never once turned to an elasticated waist, except for in the gym.” High-waisted, wide-legged jeans – think Jane Birkin circa 1971 – are to be worn with oversized silk shirts.
Hard hit by months of store closures and weak sales, the brand is downsizing. About a fifth of Beckham’s 120-strong team have been made redundant, and the number of pieces in this collection has been cut by more than half in order to streamline production costs. Just 20 outfits feature in the video of this season’s collection, compared to the 46 shown on the catwalk in February. Online sales are rebounding, but “the store is challenging. I think people just aren’t physically going shopping,” said the designer.
The new collection skews towards the kind of clothes that can be relied upon to seduce the Victoria Beckham customer. There are lots of dresses – a strappy lilac silk overlaid at the bodice with a halter in fine black lace was a standout – along with sharp tailoring and luxurious silk and knit separates. After last season’s flirtation with shorter skirts, the long hemline that is a Beckham trademark is back. The brand has perfected a hit formula that bridges edgy cool and commercial appeal, giving her brand fashion pedigree while pleasing a customer who wants to look pretty, as well as interesting. These are clothes that win compliments from fashion people and non-fashion people alike.
A Parisian-style trenchcoat, for instance, is made quirky by being layered under a padded gilet, which Beckham calls “a petrol station puffer”. Knit pieces are imprinted with “laundry press” creases, like those found on a freshly unboxed shirt. “It looks interesting, and it creates a more flattering shape on the body,” she explains.
The lockdown hobby of the designer’s husband also makes itself felt. A blazer is “banana”, a ruffle-trimmed polo neck comes in “creme brulee”, trousers are “hollandaise”, in Beckham’s descriptions. “A lot of the references are food-related because David’s been doing so much cooking,” she said.
The designer’s offspring lined up on the front row has become a London fashion week tradition, but this season they came to the gallery to watch the collection video being filmed instead. “This season is different in lots of ways, but the Beckhams still got their fashion day out,” said the designer.