I am sitting in a suite at The Opposite House, Beijing, waiting for Victoria Beckham to arrive.
She’s in the Chinese capital to launch her second makeup collection with Estée Lauder, and I’m grabbing her before she is due to appear at Beijing’s Hanguang Mall to officially launch the line in China.
For Beckham, the makeup is new. Since starting her eponymous fashion line in 2008, Beckham has won acclaim for her razor-sharp collections. Then last year, she turned to makeup (with industry behemoth Estée Lauder), creating a range inspired by her favourite cities around the world: London, Paris, New York and LA. This year, Miami’s been added. The range launched worldwide last month.
The fashion designer (and mum, ex-Spice Girl and footballer’s wife) drifts into the white, minimalist suite while I’m chatting to Estée Lauder’s global partnerships lead, Sarah Creal, about new collaborations. Beckham is small and speaks softly: her ‘hello everybody’ goes almost unheard. But her presence, trussed in signature VB couture and flawless makeup (naturally) is undeniable. I am in the company of one half of Brand Beckham. She’s flown to Beijing via London, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and she’s jetlagged.
Not unusual. These days, Beckham’s runway is often of the airport variety.
‘I travel a lot, and when I get on or off the plane, there’s always a lot of paparazzi,’ she says. When you’re Victoria Beckham, you use an LAX landing as a business opportunity – from this, she created the Morning Aura Illuminating Creme, to brighten jetlagged faces.
‘She’s passionate,’ says Creal, who worked on the range with Beckham. ‘Nothing is not hotly debated.’ Creal once met Beckham at home for a casual meeting, only to be welcomed not by tea but by mood boards for the makeup prototypes (‘I look at everything like a ready-to-wear collection,’ Beckham says). Creal tells me that Beckham is very involved: from the packaging (elegant in black and gold, designed based on items from the Estée Lauder archives), to finding the perfect nude lip shade and the pigmentation of the smoky eyeshadows.
We meet again later, while Beckham is mid-conversation about what to wear for the evening gala at the Rosewood Beijing hosted by Vogue China’s editor-in-chief, Angelica Cheung. We chat while she’s casually sitting cross-legged on the sofa, sparkling water in hand. This time, it’s her love of Asia on the agenda.
‘The energy of Hong Kong is fantastic: the mix of cultures, the restaurants…’ she tells me. So enamoured is she by the city that she chose it as the home for her Asian flagship – the first Victoria Beckham shop outside London.
Shanghai, too, holds a special attraction for her. ‘There is a bright lip colour in the first collection that was inspired by the Shanghai sunset,’ she says. This particular shade of orange has now become a staple in her ready-to-wear line.
The conversation turns to England. Beckham speaks fondly of the memories of her mother rubbing lipstick on her cheeks as a child in the cold English winter (her first ‘natural glow’). She speaks of working abroad, separated from her family.
What’s next? ‘Expanding the business. I want to continue my work within beauty, maybe even fragrance.’ And no doubt more flights, more jetlag, more hotel rooms – and more cities to add to her next makeup range.
Public figure, private passions
Victoria Beckham on her favourite cities
Miami: ‘Miami is a total escape,’ says Beckham, praising the sultry, Latin music-infused mood and the city’s colourful art deco architecture. ‘I love its energy; it’s about the va-va-voom carnival feeling.’
Paris: Beckham loves the city’s contagious street style and effortless Parisian chic. ‘There’s a little bit of “old-school Hollywood” here.’
London: ‘I fell in love in London, the city is my heart and soul.’ The perfect blend of culture and edge, London is cool ‘but also a little volatile’.
New York: Modern, cool, sophisticated. Beckham’s New York is all about sensory overload: the pace, the energy, the lights, the concrete and steel.
LA: ‘I lived here for six years; I love the incredible light, spirit and energy of LA,’ Beckham says.