25 Years On… David And Victoria’s Purple Wedding Outfits Have Another Outing

How many people would bet against Brand Beckham still going strong on their golden wedding anniversary in 25 years’ time? 

David and Victoria

by Polly Dunbar |
Published on

‘Yep, still got it,’ read the caption Victoria and David Beckham posted on social media accompanying pictures of them wearing their purple wedding reception outfits, last seen on 4 July 1999. You can understand the couple’s sense of triumph as they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary by jetting off to sail around Sardinia. No, not because the Antonio Berardi outfits still fit - in fact, David’s suit ripped as they sat on the thrones that have been mocked mercilessly since the iconic wedding 25 years ago. But rather because, ever since the couple married at 15th century Luttrellstown Castle in Dublin, there have been those that said it would never last.

On their Robin Hood-themed wedding day all those years ago, the Spice Girl and hero Manchester United footballer were 24 years old, new parents to Brooklyn and the biggest celebrities in the UK. Their adoration for one another was obvious, yet few would have bet on them surviving to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary, let alone becoming the country’s ultimate power couple, with a combined fortune of £455 million.

‘As a brand, they’re as ubiquitous as Heinz baked beans or HP sauce,’ says brand and culture expert Nick Ede. ‘They’re a fundamental part of British culture. They’ve both achieved a lot professionally but, ultimately, they’re as successful as they are because we like them.’

The path to national treasure status is rarely smooth. From the moment Victoria was spied leaving David’s house in 1997, dressed in her all-black Posh uniform of tight skirt, little cardi and big sunglasses, just weeks after the pair first met in the players’ lounge at Old Trafford, their relationship has been tabloid catnip – with their lows as well as highs played out publicly.

There was a bidding war for exclusive rights to cover their wedding, with OK! winning after coughing up £1 million. Martin Townsend, the magazine’s editor, later confessed the offer was based on rumours of a big money offer by The Sun, which proved not to be true. Alan Edwards, the Spice Girls’ publicist, ‘nearly fell off his seat’ when he heard the astronomical sum. It was worth it, though. People were desperate to see details of Posh ’n’ Becks’ big day: with a Vera Wang dress with a 20ft veil, cake topped with a nearly-nude sculpture of the couple and some 236 security guards to try to keep control of the hordes of fans. In what Townsend called ‘the golden age of celebrity’, the OK! issue sold 1.7 million copies.

All that wealth and glamour made the Beckhams an obvious target for tall poppy syndrome, that very British penchant for building up celebrities just to knock them down. An early sign that any hint of deviation from squeaky clean would be punished came when David was sent off for kicking Argentinian player Diego Simeone during a World Cup match in 1998; supporters back home were filmed burning effigies of David. Victoria was mocked relentlessly as she tried to launch her solo career, for everything from her singing abilities to a lip ring that turned out to be fake.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: David and Victoria Beckham attend Victoria Beckham and Sotheby's celebration of Andy Warhol with Don Julio 1942 at her Dover Street store, on September 30, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage for White Company) ©Getty

By far the couple’s biggest crisis came in 2004, when Rebecca Loos, David’s personal assistant at Real Madrid, claimed she’d had an affair with him the previous year. In last year’s Netflix documentary, Beckham, Victoria admitted, ‘It felt like the world was against us. And here’s the thing – we were against each other, if I’m being completely honest… I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was and how it affected me.’

They battled through and, against the odds, Brand Beckham continued to grow. At 50, Victoria’s fashion empire has experienced hiccups but is now flourishing, with her make-up range in particular proving phenomenally successful: one of her iconic jewel-coloured Satin Kajal eyeliners is sold every 30 seconds. David’s commercial interests include co-owning Inter-Miami football club and his longstanding deal with Adidas.

So how have they done it? ‘They’re very family orientated and they’ve taken us with them on their family’s journey, from the wedding deal with OK! onwards,’ says Ede.

The Netflix documentary and subsequent Super Bowl advert, in which David teased Victoria, telling her to ‘be honest’ when she insisted their families were ‘very working class’ despite her dad picking her up from school in a Rolls-Royce, was a masterstroke – as is the couple’s strategy of using social media to give the public intimate glimpses of their lives, such as Victoria posting a picture of David doing a topless workout with the cheeky caption, ‘You’re welcome!’ They’re incredibly famous, yet we feel like we know them.

‘Everything they’ve done has had an element of tongue-in-cheek, even the thrones, and the documentary showed they have a great sense of humour,’ says Ede. ‘In person, Victoria is hilarious and genuine – her friendships with women like Eva Longoria are real and deep. Doing her own videos for her make-up brand is clever, because being herself works for her.’

Reviving the purple outfits about which David has since groaned, ‘What was I thinking?’ is further proof the couple are in on the joke. So how many people would bet against Brand Beckham still going strong on their golden wedding anniversary in another 25 years?

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