"What we all want to know is... Will David be here?" Buro 24/7 previews Victoria Beckham's London store
Picture the scene: London Fashion Week is coming to a close and style industry journalists are, in a word, busy. Invitations are being thrown around left right and centre to shows, launches, lunches and parties (such woe), and following the whirlwind that was NYFW, it's safe to say a 'not enough hours in the day' mentality has taken hold. But then, a surprise offer comes along in the shape of a polite request of our presence at a private preview of Victoria Beckham's Dover Street store, with the woman herself playing tour guide.
Our RSVP? Yes please. And we find ourselves the following day standing in said bustling Mayfair road, trying to locate the shop-front. It was, at the time, hidden discreetly behind black wooden hoarding (and sitting smack bang opposite Dover Street Market, a brand also in the midst of its own celebration), before tentatively stepping inside...
"Now, is the TECHNICAL term for this floor just 'concrete'?" she jokes
Victoria appears almost immediately, greeting her guests personally, and clutching a copy of the day's Suzy Menkes Report paper in hand. Coincidentally, we happen to have the Vogue International Editor in our small group of press – and the world's best-known fashion journalist instantly delves into conversation with one of its most-famous fashion designers. They are soon on familiar ground like old friends, and the latter is relaxed and happy to be showing off her greatly anticipated new shop for the first time.
This is a big move for Beckham, a new baby, and as a 'walk-in' – if you'll pardon the retail reference – the place makes a striking first impression. Music by Jay Z is playing loudly from somewhere in the high-rise ceiling and the unassuming, narrow shop-front has somehow expanded way, way back to reveal over 6,000 square feet of selling-space, over three storeys.
A sharp wall of Beckham's handbags welcomes visitors to the left of the entrance like a leathered army, stocked up on 'retractable' shelving – so things remain flexible and adaptable for events, presumably – and an enormous, four metre wide staircase leads up to the ready-to-wear first floor to the right. There is a large projection screen featuring runway shows, brand mini-movies and footage shot on Victoria's personal Go-Pro camera (currently in her other hand) at its landing. "Now, is the technical term for this floor actually, 'concrete'?" the designer jokes, pointing down, before a VB team member confirms that yes, that's what it is; 'polished concrete' to be precise. And we ascend.
Once upstairs – Victoria leading the way carefully in her favoured black 'Blade' pumps by Casedei, Suzy close behind in something much more comfortable – we see that the RTW room's perimeter is adorned with blonde-gold chains from the ceiling, punctuated by garments hanging, hooked at the end of each. "They're the same shape and design of the chains on my handbags," she explains, proudly waving a hand at the dangling dresses and turning to look at the depth of the first floor, back to the original Georgian sash windows overlooking the narrow road outside, directly into the windows of Dover Street Market opposite. We are impressed.
Suzy takes a wander to inspect the windows (they are lovely) and returns to quiz our host on a number of topics. "Where are the price tags, Victoria?" They haven't got round to that bit yet, she explains, as actually, they still have a week to go until launch. "So how much do the dresses cost?" Well, the Victoria Victoria Beckham pieces (known affectionately as the 'VVB' line) are downstairs and start at, "around five or six hundred pounds." But there's a range of small leather goods, including a journal, a wallet, a credit card holder and small and large pocketed pouches starting from £150, exclusively designed for the store and victoriabeckham.com, along with some one-off classic aviator shades, in blue, too.
But, most importantly, says Suzy, "What we all want to know is, will David be seen here much?" Yes, Victoria answers, with a laugh. In fact, she plans on spending a lot of time here herself as well, meeting customers that she hopes "aren't intimidated and feel comfortable," welcomed by friendly and unimposing staff, each of whom were interviewed by Beckham herself. It's also important that men will feel comfortable enough to stroll in and purchase presents, she says, just as David would. We can but dream...
THE MIDDLE EAST IS DEEMED A "key market" FOR THE BRAND
Back to business and Victoria takes time to answer a swift succession of questions that reveal she hasn't planned any further store locations just yet, and wants to "see how this one goes," before any further plans are revealed. At present, the Middle East is deemed a 'key market' for the brand, with many categories a roaring success in the region. "People are always asking me, 'what's next?' but I'm really just taking time to enjoy each stage along the way for what it is, as we're growing. It's like, 'dude', I have a lot on my plate." Before sharing her appreciation for the support of her team behind the scenes.
In terms of other ventures, expect no H&M-type collaboration in the pipeline. "I think they're great but I am focussing on other things right now. David works with them a lot, on his underwear – we consider ourselves very much a partnership, so in a way, I already have worked with them." She smiles.
A talk through other features of the shop that will mark her label's sixth year ensues, including details of five fitting rooms over two floors, each clad in expensive looking bottle green glass, a mirrored stainless steel ceiling on the lower ground and ground floor, and then the breathtaking cast concrete, diagonal grid ceiling before us up on the first level. It was designed by architect Farshid Moussavi, also responsible for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and an installation called 'Architecture and its Affects' shown at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennial. "I love architecture, and I really love that she is a woman," Beckham reveals. And good job, too – the results are sharp, cool and completely in keeping with the Dover Street location.
The VIP lower floor in progress, holding the label's Spring/Summer 15 line just shown in New York
On the walk back to leave the store, we pass onyx counter tops in shades of 'caramel' and 'iris', but they won't be holding tills any time soon. All transactions will take place over iPad, before client's pieces are wrapped and presented to them on the ground floor, by the window-display free front-of-house. It sits above the personal shopping space downstairs dedicated to her latest collection, which also includes shoes, an area for 'VIP' shoppers and a painting by Damien Hirst.
We are waved off back into the noisy W1 street, and it's with the sense that this truly is the right time for Victoria Beckham's brand to play host to a home like this, in all its minimal aesthetic, true to the label-DNA glory. "It's a window to view it all through my eyes, my vision," is how she described this new project enthusiastically, and it's one we'll happily peep into again and again.