Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
Over two years ago when I got an email about scheduling an early morning appointment to view a small collection of dresses by Victoria Beckham, I didn’t respond. I assumed it was just another celebrity gimmick at a time when there seemed to be an endless supply of musicians and actors launching one fashion collection or another. But three seasons ago, out of curiosity, I went on my first excursion to an Upper East Side townhouse where Ms. Beckham introduced herself to the very small group, shook our hands to welcome each of us, then sat among us to narrate the collection as models emerged from an adjencent room.
It was no different last Sunday morning when Ms. Beckham, wearing a light grey loose cashmere dress and black boots, started by saying that this time she needed a microphone, as the audience has grown slightly.
The first model came out in a deep magenta crepe ruched neck dress with a light hood, veiling part of her head like a scarf. That was dress #116.
“This dress requires four meters of crepe fabrics and it has to be hand-pleated,” she said describing the detailed work required to make dress #125–a magenta double crepe batwig dress with a pleated skirt.
Her zenith moment was what she called her “100th Dress”–a saffron double crepe wrap collar dress similar to the fitted silhouette that has been the base of her previoius collections. But like a designer reminding herself of what really worked in the past and how to move forward, she jokingly said that after making a hundred different dresses, it was time to add new items to the collection, namely four new coats, including a vermilion structured wool raglan and a black structured wool with a pleated peplum.
Feeling comfortable with herself also means that she is no longer bound to produce the very fitted sexy dresses that were long a part of her–and her customer’s–wardrobe. Many dresses have moved far from that strict sinewy silhouette to a looser fit, including a cashmere oversize jumper dress and v-neck cocoon dress. She’s also experimenting more with shapes and fabrics, but not at the expense of what the customer would want to purchase.
There’s a constant thread in her narrative; she’s always reminds us of how each particular dress can solve a dilemma for her woman. A black short sleeve wool dress was “a perfect winter day dress.” A grey honeycomb jacquard wool dress–made with three different colored yarns–was the dress to get ‘totally comfortable in.” I think designers today don’t articulate these kinds of ideas enough.
Ms. Beckham conducts her business in a way that is the antithesis of how fashion companies operate in this era of corporate branding. Her small presentations are always just about the dresses she’s made for her customers, specifically 25 dresses each time until last season, when she introduced seven different bags including two for traveling. This time she added four more like a duffle, a mini satchel and a Victoria Tote.
Last Sunday morning as I drove across Central Park on 65th treet, I regretted missing her first two presentations.