The public have been with me on this journey from the start’, Victoria Beckham nostalgically remarks as she takes us on a personal tour of her first-ever boutique. ‘Five years ago I certainly never thought I’d be opening a store of my own…’
Victoria is certainly one impressive lady. She has managed to divide and conquer the fashion world – an incredibly harsh industry to make your mark on – in what seems to be a few short years. But don’t let that fool you; it’s been tougher for her than it looks. We caught up with Victoria herself ahead of the opening of her brand new store to get a sneak peek of its interior and, subsequently, become inspired at the rather amazing journey that’s brought her to this point.
Arriving at Dover Street in London at lunchtime last Wednesday, we walked the street until we came to a building shrouded under a black wood cover. Against the magnolia cream building, only one feature alludes to the fact that we’re in the right place: the number 36 scribed in gloss black. There are no signs brandishing the Beckham name and should you happen to walk by you probably wouldn’t think twice about it’s boarded-up exterior. However, inside, it’s a very different story.
Crossing the building-work threshold, we are met by a large glass window and towering cement door which looks as though it requires some serious cardiovascular cred to push open. However, as we approach, it rather elegantly slides to the side. So effortless is the motion, it’s reminiscent to a magical opening of a cave of wonders. Rather apt when you consider it’s luxury contents.
Walking into the store is what we can only describe as entering a way more stylish version of the Tardis. Rather small and unassuming from the outside in comparison, the space which Victoria has created inside the property is, put simply, beautiful beyond belief. A polished cement floor cascades to the back of the room while the high ceilings look even more colossal thanks to their mirrored finish. The space is so sleek, so perfect and so well designed it initially feels like you’ve entered a gallery rather than a store. That is until you clock the rather impressive homage to VB’s most iconic handbags on the right; then you’re firmly reminded that this is, first and foremost, a fashion haven.
After taking in the first impressions of the store, it’s only a moment before Victoria herself appears from the far end of the room, striding over to greet us warmly.
Wearing a white top featuring her iconic AW14 print, dark grey skinny jeans and chicly shoulder-robing a black, pleated hem blazer, she is every inch the style icon you’ve seen in the photographs, but the sullen face which the tabloids like to portray is nowhere to be seen. Greeting all of her guests personally with a strong handshake and a warm grin, it dawns on us that she is just as excited to have us there as we are to be there.
Clearly still in awe of what she and her team have created, Victoria starts off by addressing her shop window, or the lack there of. ‘I didn’t want a traditional shop window,’ she tells us. ‘I much prefer the clean feel just glass provides’. To her right, Victoria gestures towards the rows of bags that penetrate the entirely of the wall as you enter the store, saying that all the ‘accessories will be here as you enter. There will be exclusive leather goods as well as clothing available here that you won’t be able to buy anywhere else.’
Following her lead, we walk on the ground floor towards the rear of the store where, behind a corner, her diffusion line Victoria Victoria Beckham is housed. Lined up oh-so neatly on a rail moulded into a zig-zag (or, more aptly, VV) effect, Victoria is quick to add that there will be ‘a constant flow of new product’ in this section that is set to keep even her most seasoned of customers enticed visit after visit.
The rail is suspended by chic chains modelled in blond gold; the very same chain which is used as a design element on her gorgeous array of arm-candy which, as you’d expect, was no accident.
Speaking of the chain, Victoria beamed with pride as said explained her reasoning behind its use in the store. ‘Every element of the store is signature to the brand’, and, it’s easy to see, that no small detail has been spared.
As we explore further into the store, the grey tone of the concrete floor is broken up, instantly warmed and thus contrasted with rich bottle-green glass panels and a dark American Walnut wood. While luxurious and aesthetically beautiful, it makes the space seem more homely and welcoming than you would expect from a high-end designer store.
‘All of the wood you seen throughout came from one single American walnut tree. Just one.’ Yep, It’s easy to see that VB relishes in every tiny detail of her enterprise.
‘I want people to feel like they can come to my store and just look around’, she reveals. ‘I have hand-picked the staff myself; they are the best in the industry, and they are here to make the experience of the store enjoyable for everyone who comes in.’
She also alludes that the way she and her family shop for themselves played a big part in the development of the store. ‘I’m lucky that David [Beckham, obvs] still shops for me’, she shared. ‘I wanted men to feel just as comfortable in these surroundings and with the staff as my female customers. That’s very important.’
Speaking as a mother, Vic also told us that whenever she goes shopping, she has ‘at least one child with her’, so she wanted her space to be ‘functional and practical’ too. As a consequence, she shows us one of the fitting rooms – the store’s smallest, in fact – but, in reality it was big enough for Victoria to set up her very comfortable, albeit, make-shift office.
Although the store has three floors, just two will be open for the initial opening. Explaining this, Victoria leads us up the grey-scale staircase to the first floor where her Ready-To-Wear catwalk collection will be displayed.
Again, the gorgeous garments all hang from the same chains as downstairs but, rigged on the ornate and architectural ceiling, they can be moved and pulled easily around the space to create new, dynamic displays. The same walnut wood can be seen throughout this level in the shape of movable furniture which Victoria sweetly remarks that they remind her of ‘little woodland animals’.
Suddenly draping herself over the seating, Victoria quips, ‘This is where all the men will be sitting, waiting for their girlfriends and wives to finish up.’
‘Children are also very welcome too’, she emphasises as she stands to her feet. We can just see her brood having a whale of a time scampering over these wooden blocks…
From the tiniest of details to the sheer vastness of the space, it’s clear to see that the endeavour has been a complete labour of love for Victoria. ‘It’s taken us two years to really think about what we wanted from the space, and after finding this, I fell in love with it. I believe in fate and this place just felt right.’
Once the store’s up and running, the designer has no plans to jump ship either. ‘I’ll be in the store a lot, taking personal appointments, talking to my customers and really getting to know what she wants.’ Now that’s what we call consumer research.
Talking about her design ethos in general, Victoria made the observation; ‘It’s fashion. We take it very seriously but it still has to be fun’, and, when we asked her just who she has in mind when she designs her clothing and accessories lines, she was decidedly clear on the matter. ‘Right now I’m designing clothes I want to wear myself. When I’m older, I might design clothes I fantasise about wearing.’
She might be one of the world’s most famous women, but Victoria couldn’t help but talk about her amazing journey from Spice Girl to designer heavyweight. ‘The public have been with me on this journey from the start and continue to be. Five years ago I certainly never thought I’d be opening my own store.’
As we head back to the gigantic concrete door, Victoria rather candidly suggests; ‘I hope the customers like it. This is me, really.’ We don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about, Vic…