Eight years ago, I headed to London to interview Victoria Beckham for the cover of Marie Claire. I had always sort of snobbishly dismissed her and her Spice-y past. But I adored her. Below is the beginning of that cover story I wrote for the magazine. You can then give a listen to an excerpt of our conversation in the archival podcast that fits so perfectly with this special London Edition of sessumsMagazine.com. Enjoy.
From Marie Claire‘s October issue in 2010:
Victoria Beckham throws open the paneled Giambattista Valli coat draped around her shoulders to reveal what is hidden underneath: her whippet-like body encased in a kind of dominatrix corset-cum-bustier rigged with bad-girl garters. “Take the pic-cha! Take the pic-cha!” she coaxes — akimbo now — tossing her cell phone to an assistant. It is the exact coax — part dare, part demand — that Audrey Hepburn calls out to Fred Astaire in Funny Face as she descends the stairs of the Louvre in a red Givenchy gown, her reluctance to being a model giving way to an infectious giddiness. Beckham, on the other hand, is on the portico of a folly of a mansion on the outskirts of London. We’ve gone from Givenchy to gee-she’s-fun.
When she was a cog in the wheel of the Spice Girls pop-culture juggernaut in the ’90s, Beckham carried off the name “Posh” with an ironic wink, since the little black dress she wore while performing was more High Street than haute couture. But her poshness is no longer ironic. Since leaving the Spice Girls, Beckham, now 36, has carved out a place on the pop-cultural landscape all her own, at that busy roundabout where celebrity and show business and fashion all converge. After she married David Beckham on July 4, 1999 (with their 4-month-old son, Brooklyn, as ring bearer), she became part of another cultural phenomenon: Posh and Becks. Each augmented the other’s fame until they were more popular as a couple than they had ever been as individuals. They became a two-headed, paparazzi-hunted Hydra of Headlines.
I stare at the “pic-cha” that she is now more closely examining on her cell phone screen. “I’m going to send this to David and see what he thinks,” she whispers.
“Thinks?” I ask. “His brain is not the body part that is going to respond to that image. You’re really e-mailing it to him? I mean, one would assume he’s seen you like this before.”
Beckham laughs as she pushes the Send button. Yes, laughs. Though she doesn’t often smile in public, in private she’s generous with her humor. “Contrary to the rumors of my wearing sweats around the house, this is how I greet David when he comes home each day,” she says, her voice losing its burnished Hepburn purr and taking on a fake hauteur. “The only difference is that I have a leashed Doberman in each of my hands. And when dressed like this, I insist my children call me Mommy Dearest.” With that, she strides, in character, out onto the folly’s lawn and begins to pose.
An almost completely different person greets me the next morning for breakfast in her temporary apartment at the Metropolitan hotel on London’s Park Lane. Beckham is barefoot on the floor in a pair of ripped jeans and a tank top through which a lime-green bra peeks out. Her hair is pinned haphazardly atop her head. Busy untangling her travel jewelry — mostly strands of gold necklaces and bracelets — she tosses each untangled strand into a small, nondescript cardboard box.
“I look a bit different than yesterday,” she says, smiling at my reaction to how fresh she looks so early in the morning, how un-made-up. But she’s already been awake for several hours, having seen David and their boys off to the airport for a camping trip back home in America where they have lived — in Los Angeles — since 2007.
Below, listen to more of our conversation.