x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

How a former Spice Girl became a star designer

Victoria Beckham is no longer the queen of hot pants and hair extensions, dreaming of being a fashion designer - she is one.

Tina Chang / The National
Tina Chang / The National

Victoria Beckham is no longer the queen of hot pants and hair extensions, dreaming of being a fashion designer - she is one. And a real one at that. Sales of her label, Victoria Beckham, are around $7 million (Dh25.7m) a year, sold through 22 stockists worldwide. And after all the rave reviews at this season's New York Fashion Week, they are sure to climb.

How on earth has this happened? How does an ex-Spice Girl (the one with no bottom, no voice and an improbably plumped chest who lip-synced and never wore more than a "little black dress") have people like Anna Wintour of American Vogue recently warning: "Don't underestimate her!"? On reading comments like that I wince, and then I wince some more. Last time I looked, designers were people who studied fashion, then worked as hard as pit ponies for 20 years or so before selling out at Selfridges.

Being a celebrity - and part of team Beckham, of course - helps. Drew Barrymore, Elle Macpherson and Dannii Minogue have all been spotted in the "right places" in her snake-hipped creations. But it doesn't stop there, as was predicted - she has managed to penetrate the masses despite, the hefty price tags (starting at £850 [Dh4,876]). Net-a-Porter, the online luxury clothing website, recently called her the "next big thing", and announced that her dresses sell out instantly and leave a waiting list in their wake.

Maybe it's because of my age. I was right there when the Spice Girls were in their heyday. I can't get the image out of my head of a spotty robot belting out, "Tell you what I want, what I really, really want," floating above us in a pair of spear-like heels, taunting us over our lack of spandex. Her latest success has been made in cutting dresses for the "real woman". Call me jealous, or whatever it is you call someone bad-mouthing a success story, but what does Miss VB know about the "real" woman? She's about as "real" as a Karama handbag.

While I'm sure her knowledge of complex pattern cutting, fabric manipulation and creativity levels are through the roof, Victoria Beckham is not a designer, either for real women or less wholesome objects (such as herself). OK, somehow she is. But not one we should take seriously.