TRUE ROMANCE: VICTORIA BECKHAM’S LOVE LETTERS IN SCENT
THE VIOLET FILES:
TRUE ROMANCE: VICTORIA BECKHAM’S LOVE LETTERS IN SCENT
- Written by:
- SARAH BROWN
- Photography by:
- Steven Klein for Victoria Beckham Beauty
PARIS, 29 SEPTEMBER 2023
Today, as Victoria Beckham presents her Spring/Summer 2024 ready-to-wear collection in a storied hôtel particulier in the heart of the 7th arrondissement, the designer debuts another collection, too: a trio of deeply personal eau de parfums she describes as the scent equivalent of her life, and love, story.
Created in collaboration with master perfumer Jérôme Epinette and siphoned into vintage-inspired enameled flacons topped with fluted gold caps, her debut fragrances recreate three pivotal times in her life: Laced with Calabrian bergamot, black pepper, amber, patchouli, and vetiver, Portofino ’97 recounts the earliest moments of her epic love story with David: first dates, secret rendez-vous, the memory of an open balcony door on the Amalfi Coast, and the scent of a new lover. Dripping with glamour—not to mention black cherry, red peppercorn, rose centifolia, musk, leather and tobacco leaf—Suite 302 is about being literally swept off one’s feet. It recalls the sumptuous whirlwind weekends David would orchestrate to Paris, marked by midnight strolls and sexy hotel rooms tucked away from the glare of the paparazzi. With San Ysidro Drive—an energetic blend of passion fruit, pink peony, rose absolute, saffron flower, agarwood, black amber and vanilla incense—Victoria brings to life her time in Los Angeles.
Here, accompanied by an exclusive outtake from her Steven Klein campaign shoot, Victoria talks to VIOLET GREY about her California chapter: a period of sanctuary, happiness, and reinvention.
VIOLET GREY: Your new fragrance collection could be described as an olfactive autobiography. Why did you decide to tell your story—the story of your fairytale romance and life with your husband, and of distilling your own identity—through scent?
VICTORIA BECKHAM: Fragrance, for me, is so emotional, so personal. It’s how I’ve decided to tell my and David's love story—a story people all around the world feel that they have been part of since we met, since the first date we went on when he was a footballer, I was a Spice Girl. People remember when all of the children were born. They remember when we lived in Manchester. They remember when we lived in Madrid, and then when we moved to LA. But what people don't know is the details of the stories I'm telling: how our romance began and how it blossomed, and the journey that we have come along over the years.
VG: San Ysidro Drive—where you moved in 2007 after four years in Spain, while your husband was playing for Real Madrid—represents the LA chapter of your story. Where were you in your life? What memories and feelings does this fragrance capture?
VB: We were so happy when we lived in LA. We loved it. It wasn't easy living in Spain. And so, for me, when we decided to move to LA, I wanted to go ahead of the family. I wanted to set up our home. I found schools for the children. I really wanted to get us off to the right start. LA was a place where I really accepted who I was, loved who I was, found peace with myself. It was a time when I loved the fact that I felt like I was a long way away from where we had been. Coming off of the back of living in Spain, where obviously it's very difficult when you don't speak the language, moving to America was a new beginning, a fresh start.
We did a lot as a family—hiking, surfing. I loved that. I used to go to the Crystal Farm quite regularly. I collected crystals and was working with a crystal healer. I learned how to meditate. I spent a lot of time finding peace with myself and loving myself. And it just so happens that the San Ysidro Drive bottle is the color of a beautiful LA sunset, if you like. I didn't even see that until quite recently. I had Harper when we lived in LA, as well, which was incredible. I didn't know I was having a girl. I'd actually been told that she was a boy. So, you can imagine my surprise and joy when we had her. I'd had two of the boys in London, one in Spain, and now little Harper, who was the only one in the Beckham clan with an American passport. We were just so happy during this time. It really is the land of opportunities. I have nothing but really, really fond memories of LA.
LA was a place where I really accepted who I was, LOVED who I was, found peace with myself… It was a new beginning, a FRESH start.
VG: In addition to establishing your family life in California, LA was a pivotal moment in your and your husband’s professional careers, too.
VB: This was the period of time when I started showing my collections in New York, which was very exciting. I'd been laying the groundwork for fashion for a long time, but no one knew I'd been working on that. So, it was exciting to also spend time in New York showing what I'd been working on over the years.
David was taking on the challenge of the LA Galaxy. I mean, how ironic that the yellow bottle is the color of the LA Galaxy, as well? I mean, it was obviously all in my head, but I didn't realize it. And there began another challenge, with David moving from European football to the MLS. That was when we started talking about the franchise and the opportunities in the franchise, and that's where the Miami dream began. When he first moved to the MLS, people thought he was crazy, but it was always about the bigger picture and America was a huge, huge part of that for us. So, LA was such an important time for us for so many reasons— for family, for fashion, for football.
VG: Tell us about the decision to shoot your campaign with fashion photographer Steven Klein. That feels quite major!
VB: There was no doubt in my mind that Steven was the right photographer. I wanted to create images that felt iconic. I wanted them to feel cinematic. I wanted them to be timeless. I worked with Steven years ago, and I really respect his work a lot. I wanted the images to obviously be me, but I didn't want them to be “obviously me,” if that makes sense. I didn't want this to feel in any way like a celebrity fragrance campaign shot. I wanted the pictures to feel editorial. I wanted them to stand the test of time. And I love how when Steven photographs women, yes, they're sexy, but the woman is owning the narrative. She's in control. In his pictures of women, they’re strong, they're sexy, they're not playing the victim.
VG: Why was a car the perfect co-star for the image you and Klein created to represent your time in LA and San Ysidro Drive?
VB: When you're in LA, you have to drive everywhere, and I feel that I spent most of my time on the Pacific Coast Highway, just driving around. We rented a house in Malibu (actually Steven Spielberg's house, which was quite fabulous) just after I had Harper, and we spent a lot of time there. Commuting between Malibu and Beverly Hills (our primary home, on San Ysidro Drive), it felt like we were always on that PCH. Every time we would go surfing in Malibu, we were on the PCH; every time we went on a hike. It’s a road that’s so iconic, right?
Having this amazing car in the shot felt very LA. It felt very cinematic. It felt very Steven Klein. David and I did a shoot for W Magazine with Steven when we first moved to LA, and there's quite a few amazing pictures where we're lying on a car that might actually be a very similar car. I suppose that was in my mind, as well, when we were discussing the different sets. Stefan Beckman, who is a set designer that I've worked with a few times, is just incredible. It's very much his aesthetic. It's Steven's aesthetic. It's my aesthetic. It felt right.
VG: Each scent—Portofino ’97, Suite 302, San Ysidro Drive—is so different, in terms of the time in your life it represents, and the notes and scent profile. We must know: Do you have a favorite?
VB: There's something so nostalgic for me every time I smell any one of these fragrances. I wear them all, and I feel that each fragrance is very honest, very true to myself. The fragrance that you choose to wear is dependent on your mood and how you’re feeling that day—where you are, what you're wearing, who you're going out with. I love how I wear them individually, and I love how I can wear them together, too. They’re genderless, and really complement one another when layered together.