INSIDE VICTORIA BECKHAM’S FIRST STORE
BY SARAH KARMALI 25 SEPTEMBER 2014 "This is the first time that people will be able to come and see and feel the brand through my eyes,
so I’m very excited about that," says Victoria Beckham. "I think from the moment that you walk through the front
door, you know this is a Victoria Beckham store."
The designer is giving us a private tour of her new Dover Street store - the first standalone space dedicated to selling her eponymous label. And she's right: the three-storey 7,000-square-foot
boutique, nestled among the art galleries, restaurants and boutiques of Mayfair, is immediately impressive the second you pass through its vast sliding door. Sleek, minimal, stylish: this is Brand Beckham.
The launch has been two years in
the making and no detail has been overlooked - it took seven builders nine weeks just to construct the ceiling. Designed by architect Farshid Moussavi, elements from Beckham's collections can be found throughout - from the chains that are used to hang
the garments (made from the same blonde-gold hardware that's been used on her bags for the past 12 seasons), to a diamond criss-cross shape in the ceiling, reminiscent of a pattern used on a previous knitwear collection.
"I wanted the space to feel
a little conceptual, but I also wanted it to feel warm," she explains. "I want this to be a really welcoming experience for customers. We’ve all been into stores in the past and been made to feel as if we shouldn’t really be there, but I want everyone
to feel really welcome. There are a lot of people who have come on this journey with me – and some will just want to come and look at the architecture, and that’s cool, if people just want to come and have a look!"
Her excitement is
palpable; you truly get the sense that this has been a real labour of love. As with the way she creates her collections ("I design clothes that ultimately I want to wear"), the store feels very personal to her. It's about creating an experience that she believes
she - and therefore, her customer - would enjoy.
"All the fitting rooms are really nice and big – whenever I go shopping I’ve always got at least one child!" she laughs. "So when this was still a building site I was trying to
picture in my head: ‘one child can go there, and then shopping there’. As much as I want the store to look beautiful, I also wanted it to be practical. So there’s lots of space for people to sit and wait while they shop too which is important.
And there's flattering lighting. And plenty of hanging space."
All grey concrete floors, glossy American walnut wood and deep bottle green glass, the minimal space is not disimilar in feel to an art gallery - this is a place for displaying
designs, no over-crammed rails or cluttered shelving here. A vast set of stairs runs all the way from the top floor to the basement ("I just thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could just drill a hole through all three floors? And we were allowed
to do that which was just incredible"), with a huge screen at the top displaying a constant stream of Brand Beckham video content.
"This will be where all the boyfriends and husbands wait while their wives and girlfriends shop - and kids can
play here too," she says, reclining on the wooden structures in the middle of the shop floor. "I want men to feel really welcome. I’m very lucky that David will sometimes go shopping and buy me things – so I want men to be able to come to the store
and have someone talk them through the collections, so that the person that they are buying for will get exactly what she wants."
Of course, it's not lost on her that having her own store could also double up as an extremely convenient walk-in-wardrobe...
"Earlier this week I had an event to go to and had nothing to wear, had just landed in London from New York and was exhausted, and I just suddenly stopped and looked around and thought, Oh! How lucky!" she laughs. "I saw Christopher Bailey at
the event and told him that I’d just pulled a dress to wear from the shop and he said: “You know that’s not the idea, don’t you?”
The store opens to the public today - and, hectic international schedule
depending, customers are quite likely to find Beckham herself hidden away inside.
"I’m going to be spending a lot of time here, meeting the customers and taking personal appointments, and really getting to know my customer and what she
wants and what she likes – that’s such valuable information," she says. "I’m really proud of it, I really am. A lot of time and energy has gone into this and it really feels like me. I just hope the customer likes it! Because that’s
why I’m doing it, after all."