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Back in Las Vegas, Beckham stopped at one table so a woman could query her about the vibrant orange that ran throughout her spring line. “It came from a picture of the Japanese sunset that I found when I first started working on the collection,” she responded. Not one to sling one-liners and swap celebrity stories and fashion disasters, Beckham instead had poised, unfussy interactions with her customers, often asking questions about themselves.
“She’s very personable, polite and likable,” said Audra Baldwin, 31, the wife of Bobby Baldwin, president and ceo of CityCenter in Las Vegas. She wore a dress from Beckham’s fall collection, and here ordered a few skirts and jackets. “I really think they are good for day to day,” she said. “You can throw on the blazer over a blouse with a pair of jeans.”
Angie Barrett, a philanthropist who bought four Beckham dresses, a handbag and an iPad cover at the Dallas event, described the designer’s wares “like lipo in a dress. You really have to stand up straight so it’s a posture corrector, too.”
Not everyone was there for herself. Personal shopper Monica Avakian drove north from San Diego to L.A. on the hunt for merch for clients. “It’s young. It’s fresh,” Avakian said of Beckham’s aesthetic. “It’s sexy without being vulgar in any way.”
Beckham concluded her Neiman Marcus tour in the retailer’s hometown. “I’ve never seen quite so many diamonds since getting to Dallas, which is hugely exciting for me,” she told her audience while exhibiting the charm clients love. “So many gorgeously glamorous women — I’m kind of lost for words, to be honest.”
In Las Vegas and L.A., Beckham was impeccable in black dresses from her spring lineup; in a knee-length, collared version in the former city and a thigh-length, skirted version for the latter — a low ponytail swept onto her left shoulder and barely there makeup on both occasions. In Dallas, she wore white, this dress with a peekaboo panel, but the rest remained the same. These details are crucial. Beckham has transitioned successfully from Posh Spice to luxury-sector designer at least in part because customers trust her style instincts. And that’s the point. “I always want to design things that I would wear myself, that I can’t buy from anybody else,” Beckham said.
“People are enamored with her style and taste,” said Jim Gold, president of specialty retail at Neiman Marcus Inc. “She just looks great when she’s out in public and it resonates.” The clients at Beckham’s Neiman Marcus PAs lent credence to Gold’s statement. In L.A., Cleo Kades, a 34-year-old outfitted in Tibi, said, “She never looks contrived. In my book, she’s the ultimate fashionista.” In Dallas, Natalie Chu, who ordered a nude dress and a black-and-red number that Beckham suggested she try, said, “[Beckham] was telling me about the panels in her signature dresses — so smart. It really holds your ‘stuff’ in. Almost magic.” And in Las Vegas, Caroline Eliades, a 24-year-old housewife, was wearing the same dress Beckham wore in the ad for her fall optical line. “She’s so put together. It is such a departure from the Spice Girl years,” Eliades said.
A Spice Girl reference was rare during the Neiman Marcus appearances. These shoppers see Beckham as a fashion designer, not the singer of “Wannabe.” “I’m very proud of my past, but these women are not Spice Girl fans,” said Beckham. “These are women who love fashion. They appreciate quality.”
Duane maintained that many clients around the world are familiar with Beckham via fashion, period. “There are markets where people only know Victoria Beckham as a designer brand, which at first I struggled to believe because she was part of one of the most famous pop acts in the history of pop,” he said. “You assume that everyone is going to think of that side of Victoria. That’s not the case. The Middle East is very much about as her as a designer. People never refer to her as Posh. The same is true in Hong Kong and China. In Beijing, our average customer is much younger. They are in their early 20s, and the Spice Girls mean nothing to them.”
The biggest complaint from the Neiman Marcus customers? They couldn’t get enough merch. “I wish she’d come out with more. Every time they come in, I call my personal shopper [to put them aside.] If they don’t have them, I look online, but they are always sold out,” said Eliades in Vegas.
The tight distribution is on purpose. Gold offered an explanation: “The business would be even bigger but they really control the production because Victoria wants the quality to be great and she wants to be sure the business grows in a very healthy way.”
The brand isn’t going to be everywhere anytime soon. Duane said, “I am struggling to see [exclusivity] as a problem. I am pleased that the customer is really keen to get their hands on the collection because, at the end of the day, that’s the basis upon which we build the business.” Beckham concurred, saying, “I think my customer enjoys the fact that it is exclusive, and it is very special. The ready-to-wear is all still made in London, and I want to keep it quite small so I can offer the very best quality. I don’t want to compromise at all.”
With Beckham firmly in the driver’s seat of her brand as designer and muse, these PAs indicated she’s on the right track. But as the label grows, so do the demands on her schedule. “We are still going to organize personal appearances. The challenge is that we now have 54 countries. We have mapped out the next two years,” said Duane. “I don’t see a time where it won’t be necessary to have personal appearances in some shape or form.”
Again and again, they will inevitably take her away from her home — wherever that may be with her husband leaving the L.A. Galaxy in December — but Beckham is happy to continue logging appearances. “I genuinely really enjoy doing these things,” she said. “Quite often, they are private. We don’t release pictures. I’m not doing this for publicity. I’m doing this because I want to meet my customer, and I want to go to as many different retailers as I can. I definitely want to add categories, but first I have to make sure I can do it and do it really well. I’m not in a rush at all.”