Victoria Beckham: “I don’t know that I could have done much more in 41 years.” Photo: Reuters/Danny Moloshok Earnest, ambitious, entertaining and unfailingly polite, Victoria Beckham has provided a behind-the-scenes look at her workaholic life and spoken openly about being a ’90s pop star and mother of four.
“Sometimes I just want to scream, because I’m not sure how you are meant to do it all,” she says. “I’m sure there are a lot of working mums out there. It’s tough when you’re trying to juggle.
“I have a good team that helps me manage everything, so that I can be at all the school plays and also be at the office on time. With all the parents’ meetings and soccer matches, there are a lot of people who help me make all of this possible. I’m not doing any of this on my own.”
That said, Beckham might have played down her global reach a bit, considering how she and the rest of the Spice Girls sold more than 75 million records. But with a team of 150 in the London base of the pop star turned fashion designer – though the design team in two ateliers is a fraction of that – Beckham’s eyes are set on the future, not the past.
“I think I’ve achieved a lot in 41 years,” she says. “I like how 41 feels; I feel good. I don’t like how it sounds too much. But I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and I’ve got four incredible children. We’re so lucky to have them. I don’t know that I could have done much more in 41 years, so I’m OK with it.”
Beckham is speaking during a recent appearance at the 92nd Street Y, a non-profit cultural and community centre in New York City, to present her signature label’s pre-spring collection to the media for the first time. She is self-deprecating throughout her hour-long chat, where she also describes the challenges she has faced.
With Beckham’s flagship store in London now open, Beckham plans to open another boutique in Hong Kong (Asia is her largest market), followed by New York. Her signature label’s Australian stockists include David Jones. Childrenswear – a more affordable secondary label – menswear and a full-fledged footwear collection are also on her to-do list, and talks for the first two categories have been explored.
Pre-show nerves are recurring, and Beckham, who reads all of her fashion critiques, says: “I read every single review, not the tabloids, though. As much as people say, ‘I don’t care’, I think they’re lying. You do care. I care what everybody says. There are lots of journalists who have come on this journey with me and I have great respect for them. I’m interested in what they have to say.”
Asked about responding to an ad in London’s The Stage looking for five girls who were “street-wise, outgoing, extroverted, ambitious and able to sing and dance”, Beckham says: “Other than ambitious, I was none of the above. But I liked the idea of being in a pop band. Thousands of girls came to the audition. Everyone but me sang a pop song. I sang Mein Herr from Cabaret, which was really, really not the better thing to do. But it got me in the group. It was very dramatic … and you know that video is out there.”
She says of the Spice Girls: “We didn’t really have a lot of routines. We just kind of danced around. They thought of getting a choreographer but no one would listen. I think people liked the fact they were real. We were five girls that individually weren’t that great but collectively all girls could relate to us … It was about telling people, ‘It’s OK if you’re a little bit different, if you’re not the tallest, the prettiest or the skinniest. It’s OK to be who you are, whether you’re a boy or a girl or man or a woman.'”
Her first pay cheque from the girl band – whose first album sold 20 million copies – was used in part to buy a pair of Patrick Cox slingback Wannabe shoes she stood in line to buy and shared with her sister.
“Because me and my sister have always shared everything,” she says. “I loved fashion and always have. When I was at school, I used to customise my uniform in the toilets at lunchtime.”
In the random facts department (some asked, some offered), Beckham describes her short solo musical career as “not great”, and she has choicer words for her long-forgotten runway modelling at Roberto Cavalli and more recently a shortreality-show career. She says Hillary Clinton is the one person she’s dying to meet and dress. Beckham is still very close to the Spice Girls, she says; and Geri Halliwell hid the band’s demo CD “in her knickers” when they escaped from their first managers in the middle of the night. Beckham’s husband of 14 years, David, has so many tattoos she has lost count.
A few of Beckham’s other observations:
– Simon Fuller introducing her to David Beckham after a Manchester United soccer match. “What I really liked about David right from the start, when all the other players were in the lounge having a drink with their friends, David was sitting with his mum, dad and his younger sister.”
– Naming the Spice Girls: “We were going to be the Spicy Girls but it turned out that was the name of a porn site, so we had to change it because that would not have been good.”
– Her first present from David and her first Christmas gift for him: A big, black Prada bag. “I spent everything I had to buy David a bright red Ferrari. I wanted him to have something that he would have never bought for himself. I loved him so much and I still do. I just wanted him to have what he wanted. We were much more extravagant in those days. I wouldn’t do that now. You’re much more sensible at 41.”
– Learning to relax: “Sometimes I really wish that I could sit back and enjoy it, live in the moment more. But I am terrified and I want to better myself, not that I want to prove anything to anyone other than myself. I am ambitious and there are many things I want to do. It doesn’t get any easier. I asked Marc Jacobs once, ‘Am I going to feel like this each season?’ and he said ‘Yeah.'”Women’s Wear Daily/Conde Nast Publications
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