LONDON, United Kingdom — The word “duality” stood out in Victoria Beckham’s show notes. It’s easy to imagine the appeal of the idea to a woman whose life has played out as a set of contrasts, none more stark than that between girl-powered popster and the forty-something mistress of restraint who, on Sunday, showed her collection in Whitehall, the heart of British government. You can’t get much closer to the Establishment than that.
But then her soundtrackist Michel Gaubert took Beckham to the bridge. Or at least the bridge that Jimmy Page made for Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” You don’t know duality till you’ve watched dignified young women in decorous tailoring make their way through the marbled grandeur of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office accompanied by the shrieking guitar meltdown of heavy metal’s finest moment. Oh yes, Victoria likes a contrast.
And it wasn’t just the sound and vision that duelled. Inside the collection itself, there was a vigorous dialogue between the masculine, neutrally toned coats, jackets and pants and flagrantly feminine cascades of ruffled silk. One whispered control, the other burbled release. Their conversation made for a subtle, sophisticated dynamism, compounded when combined in a single outfit: navy pinstripes and ice pink ruffles, say, or an oversized ivory tux with a spill of matching silk at the throat.
It felt like a very complete collection, maybe the most complete Beckham has offered to date, with a look for every mood, from sweeping volumes, intense colours and bold prints to haute bourgeois restraint and discretion (Julie Hoomans in layers of sand and ecru, a trench layered over her shoulders). And how smart of Beckham to launch her new beauty collection the day before the show. No duality there, just an unambiguous symbiosis which opens up new vistas for the designer.