The timing of Victoria Beckham‘s catwalk show at New York fashion week on Sunday was undeniably awkward. The scheduled start of 10am allocated to Beckham by the organisers saw her Spring 2012 collection take to the catwalk while Barack Obama was leading the nation in remembrance at the World Trade Centre site.
However, the potential for upset was elegantly avoided. Attendees were instructed to arrive early, so that the silences at 9.59am and 10.03am could be properly respected.
The show marked a gear change for Beckham’s feted second career as a designer. Figure-flattering, modern-ladylike, cleverly constructed dresses have been the heart of her brand since her first collection, and were still there – but the focus was pulled back to include a wider range of looks: oversized parka-style jackets, looser pieces, and utility detailing.
The staging of the show also reflected a move away from the tight focus on a singular look. Previously, Beckham had staged small-scale presentations of her collections, which she talked through in person. Her shows were held first in a hotel room, then in recent seasons in a private townhouse. This show was in the New York public library and soundtracked by loud music, and marked a leap in scale which seemed to display a new confidence.
The change in direction may also be designed to cede some space in the limelight to Beckham’s new lower-priced line, Victoria by Victoria Beckham, which she will launch on Monday. The few pieces that have so far been seen from the Victoria line have had a “cocktail dress” look.
Stretch fabrics, exposed zips, flat shoes and high-energy navy-and-orange colour combinations suggested Beckham had finally succumbed to the appeal of the sporty Californian lifestyle. When she arrived in LA, she was teased for wearing high heels to throw the first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers game – to which she replied: “I hate working out. Maybe it’s the whole getting sweaty thing, but it’s just not me.”
Yesterday she described her working method as “like juggling glass balls” and said the arrival of baby daughter Harper two months ago was a blessing in disguise for the collection, “because it made us very focused, and that influenced the collection”.
Handbags, a recent addition to the label, were prominent on the catwalk. The signature Victoria bag has been, the designer said, “squished up, to make it practical and looser”. The result on the catwalk was a chic, two-tone handbag with a sleek, understated feel, which falls in line with the minimalist diktats of recent Paris fashion weeks.