By 9am on September 13 last year, Victoria Beckham’s first capsule collection of make-up for Estée Lauder had entirely sold out. Like, really sold out. Online and in-store in the UK, Europe, US, Hong Kong and Singapore, the whole lot went before breakfast. In June, they doubled the range and tripled distribution from 450 to 1,200 outlets, and… Every. Single. Item. Flew. With a huge new collection about to land on September 1, including her first mascara, there’s a NYE-style countdown clock over on Victoriabeckham.com, taunting fans with the precise number of seconds, minutes, hours and days until they can fill their carts.
I want it all. You’re going to want it all. But what is it about Victoria Beckham’s make-up that has such appeal? Even at its extortionate prices (hello £52 bronzer?), I may have figured it out.
I met Victoria Beckham a few weeks ago, where she presented the new bits to a handful of journalists alongside Sarah Creal, global partnership lead for the Beckham collection (and the driving force behind so many brilliant Lauder projects, from the snazzy little range with Courrèges in 2015 to the recent Insta-genius Estée Edit collection). I certainly wasn’t sitting with a pop-star-fashion-designer who likes a nude lip. This felt more like a seminar for cosmetics supernerds – a thrilling debate about pigments and reflective powders, jelly textures and suspended spheres, as if VB had a master's in beauty biochemistry. She admitted to being obsessive with each product design, wear-testing them to the max. And I think that’s when the penny began to drop.
She’s been photographed at every angle, in every light, at every event for almost two decades – of course she’s going to know what texture and tone of bronzer works
Her success and likeability has nothing to do with the obvious sleb clichés. It’s not the mega-fame or money. It’s not the hot husband, nor the lovely, photogenic children. It’s not about wanting to be her. What I – and I think most of us – see is woman who’s been flung a lot of shit at, very publicly, yet still comes out the other end graciously and bossing it as a clever business director with a sense of humour. So, when I watched her describe in intricate detail every piece from her new collection, I didn’t want it so that I could replicate her look. I wanted it because I trusted her. This is someone who knows instinctively how to look visually refreshed and groomed on the back end of a long-haul flight, running several businesses and dealing with the roll-eye soup of tabloid fodder. She’s been photographed at every angle, in every light, at every event for almost two decades – of course she’s going to know what texture and tone of bronzer works, or what level of shimmer you need in your eyeshadow to look sophisticated, not seven, and which formula of mascara stays put – and I mean really put – without a rogue crumb smudging into your concealer by lunchtime. Insight is what pumped all those pre-9am sales. Not influence.
At one point, we chatted about translucent powder and how several high-profile women get photographed on the red carpet with those unlucky white patches of light-reflecting talc that haven’t been buffed out. “So many of my friends have gone through that,” she said, with a genuine pinch of sympathy. I’m staring at the lab sample of her new Skin Perfecting Powder; I’m seeing years of bullying and future shame-proofing milled into the softest, most pore-blurring, brightening, suits-all-tones palette, I’m thinking, "Hell, yes! If I were walking down the aisle, or suffered from consistent shine, or might be snapped at a big family party or corporate event, I’d want this by my side. The same goes for the new Smudgy Matte Eyeliner: a sponge-tipped powder that you rub into the lash line for an imperfect, worn-in effect. There are lots of brands that make similar ones, but have they been tested by someone who has a dozen HD lenses pointed at her during a horribly lit department store PA?
I felt the same when I first heard about Tamara Ecclestone’s hair salons, SHOW Dry. Whether you like her and her lifestyle or not, who cares? This is someone who has a LOT of hair that needs to look fresh, healthy and bouncy all day, and many women can relate to that. Thanks to that insight, it’s my trusted go-to for hair that needs to behave for hours on end, and I’ve never once had a dud dry from the various stylists I’ve sat beneath.
Beauty brands created by been-there-done-that women are gold dust. It’s got nothing to do with their popularity or prettiness – it’s about delivering a product that performs against all the odds they’ve had to personally endure. Yes, running a fashion empire helps considerably and VB’s style and high standards means the packaging is achingly delicious and touchable – all sharp clicks, smooth fixtures and pleasing clam-shell corrugated textures. But I’d still pay £55 for her Modern Mercury highlighter even if came in a Lock & Lock tub, because it makes skin look like ballet-slipper satin. So, I’ll see you on September 1, mouse at the ready, for the best beauty haul of the year.
The COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS TO ELBOW YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT FOR
BEST FOR A BIT OF GLOW: AURA GLOSS IN HONEY, £30
“This looks like a tiny pot of honey,” says Victoria. “You can use it on your lips, but also on your face. It’s not overly sticky, it makes your skin look fresh and it’s got the right level of shimmer in it. I use it for my cheeks and down the centre of my nose to create subtle spotlights.”
Best EVERYDAY LIPSTICK: Matte Lipstick in Victoria, £38
“This is my new take on a nude lip for autumn/winter 17,” says Victoria. “It’s got a beautifully pigmented colour, so while it gives a very natural-looking pout, it’s not at all wishy-washy and will give any skintone a boost.”
Best for jet-black lashes: Eye Ink Mascara in Blackest, £36
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia and something I love is how the make-up artists paint your eyelashes. It gives such a dramatic finish,” says Victoria. ”I wanted this mascara to mimic that effect, so it’s got a super-long wand and special brush that holds a lot of product to give a strong, glossy and modern lash.”
BEST FOR TOUCH-UPS: SKIN PERFECTING POWDER, £62
“It evens out skin, blurs pores and gives an almost airbrushed finish. It’s also light, looks fresh and doesn’t build up or turn at all cakey,” says Victoria. “I use it for touch-ups throughout the day.”
Victoria Beckham's collection for Estee Lauder is available from 1st September