I just finished watching the new four-episode Netflix documentary Beckham, on football hero David Beckham. I came away learning two things, but neither of them was about football. The first is that Beckham is obsessed with his wife, Victoria, formerly Posh Spice. The second is that a man is lucky if his wife is anything like Victoria. Much of the footballer’s success comes from his wife’s smarts, off the field in any case.
Victoria Adams and David Beckham, now 49 and 48, started dating in 1997. Both were giant celebrities at a time when tabloid culture was at its peak. She belonged to a massively popular British girl band called Spice Girls that had several hits to its credit. He was the rising star of the England team, and its favourite Premier League club, Manchester United. A child prodigy, Beckham’s sensational swerving kick was even the inspiration for a hit film—Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckham (2002). It helped that Beckham was poster-boy handsome with long blond hair and a sea of female fans. Once he met Victoria, or ‘Posh’ as he and his teammates called her, he was smitten. He adored her as much as he adored football, and despite warnings from his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, he gave her ample time and attention, even during match season.
Victoria wouldn’t have it any other way. She had her own thriving career as a singer, and didn’t care for sports. What she did instead was always keep him in good cheer. And, she ensured his hair looked good when he played or was out in public. One would think that hardly matters, but when you are one of the two most photographed couples in the world (the other was Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt), it matters.
‘Posh and Becks’ became a worldwide rage. By 1998, they had announced their engagement. In a few months Victoria was pregnant with their first child (they would go on to have three more), and by 1999, they were married.
Through this roller coaster, Beckham remained the star footballer for his team and country. Each of their public outings was widely chronicled by photographers and magazines. They became UK’s power couple, a title left vacant after the collapse of Charles and Diana’s marriage and her tragic death in 1997.
True to her name, Posh ensured the couple was always at the top of the fame game. They got married in an Irish castle, in a lavish Robin Hood-style ceremony wearing (ghastly) matching purple suits. Beckham enjoyed indulging his wife’s stylistic whims, while having a few of his own. When Ferguson benched him for a couple of important matches, Beckham shaved his head, igniting a worldwide rage for clipped hair.
Post the wedding, Posh and Becks became the first couple to start coordinating their wardrobes. This was golden, especially since there was no such thing as Instagram or social media then. They famously wore matching leather ensembles to a Versace party in 1999, creating an image the world would remember 24 years later.
Victoria later made a rather successful career as a fashion designer. She showed two weeks ago at the Paris Fashion Week, with Anna Wintour and Kim Kardashian on her front row. She is now a full-fledged brand, selling beauty, perfume, sunglasses and handbags.
Victoria understood that much of the stardom of ‘Posh and Becks’ came from their ridiculously good looks. But all of it sustained for two decades thanks to their understanding of fashion and what it adds to one’s celebrity.