‘My Birthday Photos Showed The World Who I Really Am’: VB On Turning 50 And Her New Brow Product

This is Victoria Beckham’s year – she’s turned 50, launched a high street collaboration and officially sells one eyeliner every 30 seconds. Now, she tells Sali Hughes, she’s coming for your brows...

victoria beckham

by Sali Hughes |
Updated on

Victoria Beckham is celebrating. And it's not because she turned 50 two days before we meet, nor because she’s just designed an acclaimed fashion collaboration with Mango, nor because she’s recently been given the news that one of her now iconic jewel-coloured Satin Kajal eyeliners is sold every 30 seconds. No, in an utterly remarkable month for the designer, beauty maven, mother of four and wife of a one and only, today’s cause for celebration is that months after breaking her foot and just in time for this weekend’s birthday party, Victoria is back in proper shoes.

‘I was with my personal trainer this morning. I’ve been training through this whole thing, but literally in a boot. He came in this morning and I walked to him in trainers and he said it was like when his daughter started to walk!’ She sustained the injury in February at the gym, then ‘basically re-broke it’ while working in Paris after ignoring orders to stop moving and recover. In the end, Victoria submitted to the orthopaedic boot and a little mobility bike David bought her. ‘[At first] I just thought, 'Is this a joke? This is not sexy.' It was so swollen so I just wheeled around on that in Miami for three weeks, which was great. It was great social content as well for me, just basically taking the mick out of myself. It was either get my foot off the ground or get surgery. And a surgery does not fit into my schedule.’

That schedule so far today: up at 7am to catch up with work emails and WhatsApp messages with her ‘small but absolutely excellent’ fashion and beauty teams. She gave Harper her breakfast before David took her to school. The phone starting ringing at 8am (she’s in every single Victoria Beckham Beauty meeting, on every phone and Zoom call). Then she did a 90-minute heavy weights workout at home with her trainer – no cardio these days, she says weights make her feel ‘stronger than I did when I was 20’. She got a quick home haircut from friend and stylist Ken Paves before sitting down, still in her black leggings, workout vest and trainers, for a coffee with me in the family home in west London. We’re off the Victorian chequerboard tiled hallway with its grand, sweeping staircase and in the large but cosy living room, which is all ivory walls and sage green velvet accessorised with pink roses, modern art, cool photography and personal, slightly kitsch souvenirs.

Laid out on the coffee table is a large selection from the Victoria Beckham Beauty brand, including the eyeliners that broke the internet, her second best-selling eye wand shadows and mascaras. Next to them is what she believes is ‘going to be a big hit’: a new brow gel that Victoria – whose own husband, she tells me, never sees her without her overplucked ’90s brows having been restored with make-up (‘He thinks it’s au naturel,’ she laughs) – has been putting through its paces for months.

It’s really important that I test everything. If you say an eyeliner lasts all day then that has to be the reality.

‘This has been through what I call the jumper test,’ she says, as I choose a perfectly cool brown shade, groom my brows skywards and get an instant eye lift in the process, ‘which is me, in fittings, pulling knitwear over my head repeatedly.’ If the Beckham brows moved, splayed or smudged under all those turtlenecks, it was back to the lab. ‘It took ages. But it’s really important that I test everything. If you say an eyeliner lasts all day then that has to be the reality.’ Her name may be on the packaging, but Victoria believes that she thinks like her customer, so if something doesn’t feel right to her, it has to be reworked, regardless of the financial, strategic and practical implications.

‘Our contour stick was originally much thicker and I tried to get used to using it, but I just said, 'Guys, this doesn’t work.' It pushed back the launch, but I knew we needed a skinny component so I could draw on my face, and to launch something different in this crowded category.’ And if she doesn’t think she can make something perfect on her own, she collaborates – with scientist Augustinus Bader and facialist Melanie Grant for her skincare and perfumer Jérôme Epinette on her fragrances. ‘I want to put the best on myself and I think that’s what my customer deserves,’ she says. ‘I could have created the products in a lab and used good technology, or done a fragrance licence, but I wanted to have the best. My approach has always been that I’d rather have a piece of something really meaningful as opposed to all of something that isn’t. It’s about collaborating with the best. I don’t want to compromise with anything. I want this brand to still be here one day when I’m not.’

The way Victoria chooses to demonstrate her products leaves nowhere for false claims to hide. After launching Victoria Beckham Beauty in 2019, she realised quickly that highly stylised, perfect shoots weren’t how she wanted to communicate her brand. ‘When we started, we did do a few very produced films that cost a fortune, took a long time to make and I wasn’t happy with them. I wanted to take the control back and literally create it myself. I didn’t want to have to trust or rely on anybody else to get it right.’ The VB beauty way became candid, personal videos made on an iPhone at home. Five years into the brand, she’s finally stopped trying to do the whole thing single-handed and got herself a tripod from Amazon. She laughs, ‘There were lots of comments: 'Why do you only show the left-hand side of your face?' It’s like, 'I’m filming with this hand!' Anyway, I did listen and I’ve got a tripod, so now everyone can see that I do have two sides to my face.’

The handmade videos frequently blow up on social (is there any woman on Instagram yet to see her genius DIY contour job?) and the unexpectedly down-to- earth, warm, intimate content shifts a serious amount of product. But there’s another reason why she prefers to film home alone. ‘It’s a bit embarrassing. You’ve got other people in the room. I’m like, 'Guys, just give me the product. Leave me to it. I’ll do it.'’ It’s paid off. ‘I think people could just relate to it so much more,’ she says.

For so long people had this opinion of me that I was this steely-faced ice queen because of the paparazzi pictures and the story that the media would paint. Through social media, people now see that that’s not me. I like to laugh at myself. There’s always humour in what we do. I think that’s key.

The issue of relatability is interesting. A quick poll of my girlfriends ahead of today reveals that Victoria – multimillionaire entrepreneur and former popstar, wife of an icon, friend to the stars and owner of a gazillion Birkins – has, in the age of social media, somehow become oddly relatable to women my age. She seems happy when I say this, but not wholly surprised.

‘I’m a real girl’s girl and I think that comes across,’ she says. ‘I remember when I was growing up, my mum had two very close friends and one would never tell my mum where she got her outfit from or her bag. She just didn’t want anyone else to know. There’s a lot of women like that and it’s bizarre. If I’ve got something great, a great tip or a great new pair of trainers, I want to tell everyone. The other thing is that for so long people had this opinion of me that I was this steely-faced ice queen because of the paparazzi pictures and the story that the media would paint. Through social media, people now see that that’s not me. I like to laugh at myself. There’s always humour in what we do. I think that’s key.’

She claims that the silly, funny, embarrassing photos posted by all her friends on her birthday depict her more accurately. ‘They showed the world who I really was. That is the real me. So it’s like, 'Happy birthday, all that hard work of looking like a miserable cow for all those years is wasted!' All my friends successfully ruined that.’ She looks perfectly fine with it, relieved even. ‘Well, I also think that there’s an element of when you get older you care less what others think.’

She’s not, she says, prepared to be scared into denying herself any more memories. ‘I’ve had so much said about me and I’m sure that has robbed me of some experiences. I never want to look like I’m complaining, but there were times in the past that I haven’t felt confident enough to sit on a beach and watch my children play. I remember after I had Brooklyn, my first outing was on the front page of the newspaper, with arrows pointing to where I needed to lose weight. Those things can affect how you feel and conduct yourself in public. Now, if paparazzi want to take a picture and say something – too bad, it doesn’t bother me in the same way.’

But even in her gym gear, Victoria is immaculate. A subtle but perfectly applied face full of Victoria Beckham make-up, a fresh haircut, neat mani, unarguably tiny frame and super-toned arms. Not to mention a business empire built on appearance. Surely, she can’t claim not to care about how people see her? She doesn’t, but, ‘You just become more accepting, don’t you? This is how I look. I’m going to make the best of it, work hard at it,’ she says. ‘I’m very disciplined with the way that I eat, the way that I work out and the way I work. That’s just who I am. But I do like to have a drink and I’m not going to be one of these, 'Ah, there are too many calories in a glass of wine,' types. Whatever. Life’s too short. Let’s have a nice time.’

There is an ease and candour to Victoria that wasn’t as evident when we first met five years ago. She’s unguarded, telling me how daughter Harper is a chip off the old block, recently giving her parents a PowerPoint presentation on why she should be allowed a perm (‘absolutely not’ was the response, born from bitter personal experience) and enquiring as to whether netball was strictly necessary when it would probably ruin her nails. Victoria is warm, self-effacing and fun. The clip from David’s Netflix documentary, in which he forces a giggling Victoria to admit that during her “normal” upbringing, her father drove a Rolls-Royce, went viral and the quote was swiftly turned into a T-shirt under her own label. Months after it went live, TikTok users worldwide are still mimicking the couple’s smooch to Islands In The Stream from the last episode. ‘One night, David was looking at TikTok and it was so sweet. Everyone was smiling. And do you know what? To see all of that and people – older couples, families, just cuddling and kissing each other and dancing with their little babies, their pets. It was so lovely at a time when there’s enough shit going on. Let’s dance and have a bit of fun.’

The day after we meet, there is both fun and dancing. Victoria throws a 50th birthday party at a Mayfair private members’ club that dominates the press and social media for days. The Spice Girls reunite for an unplanned and slightly tipsy-looking rendition of Stop; stars like Tom Cruise, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Eva Longoria, Charlotte Tilbury and Gordon Ramsay attend, along with the entire Adams-Beckham clan. The paparazzi are there, of course, to capture them all, including the birthday girl in a floor-length Victoria Beckham seafoam gown and stilettos. She may walk in on crutches but, hours later, as her feet have given up and David has to piggyback her out of the venue, I note that the shoes have stayed resolutely on.

Photos: Dan Jackson for Victoria Beckham Beauty

Victoria Beckham Beauty launches Feather Fix Brow Gel on 18 June; victoriabeckhambeauty.com

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