Victoria Beckham turns 50: From surviving Posh Spice to a high-flying business career

The former singer has arrived at a resplendent professional moment marked by her beauty line’s success and with things looking rosy for her eponymous fashion brand, which is finally turning a profit. Behind her lie the years of media harassment and a turbulent Spice Girls star era

Victoria Beckham
Victoria Beckham in the premiere of ‘Lola’ on February 3, 2024 in Los Angeles.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin (FilmMagic/Getty Images)
Elena Muñoz

Victoria Beckham’s relationship to fame goes back decades. Few celebrities have been able to maintain their popularity through the years as she, having first risen to stardom in her twenties and now navigating her 50th birthday on April 17. She broke onto our consciousness as a singer with the Spice Girls, the best-selling women’s group in history. When she subsequently put her career on hold to start a family with soccer star David Beckham, the press propagated an image of her that annoyed with the world, elitist and haughty. Today, her name is tied to the fashion industry, having made her debut as a designer in 2008. But for many, she is still known as Beckham’s partner, an identity she approaches with a certain degree of humor. So much so, that the company that bears her name has a white short-sleeved shirt for sale emblazoned with the phrase “Beckham’s wife,” available for $137.

“I believe that you can be many things. A pop star, a mother, a wife, a designer… My passion has always been to dream big, then dream even bigger! Believe in yourself first — everyone else will follow. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find someone who believes in you even more than you do,” she reflected in a message commemorating her milestone birthday, posted on Thursday to her Instagram account. She rounded out the post with words of thanks for her parents, partner and four children.

The British entrepreneur has found a balance between her international celebrity status and that of businesswoman and founder of a company that, after many years, is finally reaping benefits. “It’s such an exciting time. This year, we made a profit! This takes time, especially for an independent brand,” she revealed last October in an interview for the French edition of Vogue.

Victoria Adams, life before the Spice Girls phenomenon

Daughter of an electrical engineer and an insurance salesperson-hairstylist, Beckham is the oldest of three siblings. Victoria Adams was born in Essex to a moneyed family. In the David Beckham documentary that premiered on Netflix last year, she tried to stress her family’s hardworking, humble character — until her husband enters the frame and asks: “What car did your dad drive you to school in?” She initially refuses to answer, but eventually gives in to her husband’s insistence, allowing: “In a Rolls Royce.” That scene became the documentary’s most talked about moment (and was even made into merch, again by Victoria’s own company), evidence that, perhaps, the Adams were a bit more wealthy than Victoria admits.

As reported by the BBC in 2002, the designer’s life changed in 1993 when she answered an ad in The Stage magazine that was looking for girls who could dance and sing to audition for a nascent girl group. Behind the call were Bob and Chris Herbert, a father-son duo that represented musical artists. The Herberts signed Adams and the rest of the group — Melanie Chisholm (Mel C), Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown (Mel B) and Emma Bunton — initially calling them Touch. When that first go failed, the five young women decided to change managers and began working with Simon Fuller. They renamed themselves the Spice Girls. On July 7, 1996, they released their song Wannabe in the U.K., and the rest is history. “We’d all struggled in our own ways. And I think to take five really normal girls, put them together, and have them travel the world — it was so exciting and not something that any of us took lightly,” Beckham recently told W Magazine, regarding her experience as a member of the group.

Spice Girls
The Spice Girls at the Brit Awards in February 1997. From left to right: Mel C, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Adams, Emma Bunton and Mel B.Avalon (Getty Images)

Each one of the group’s performers represented an archetype (as stereotyped through the lens of ‘90s fashion) and Victoria was Posh Spice, a nickname that has stuck with her to this day. Overnight, the Spice Girls became a phenomenon. Taking advantage of their success, they put out two albums in quick succession: Spice, in 1996, and Spiceworld, in 1997. 2000 marked the arrival of Forever, their last full-length release at the time. They spent those years on tour, becoming the most famous Brits on the planet. Meanwhile, also in the United Kingdom, a young man named David Beckham was beginning to emerge as a star player for soccer team Manchester United. Victoria and David experienced the rise to fame nearly simultaneously. In 1997, they met in person and on July 4, 1999, got married in a high-profile and high-budget wedding.

The Beckham era

British tabloids, known for their harassment and takedown tactics, identified in Posh and Becks, as they called the couple, their new golden goose. Photographers followed their every move and their every gesture was analyzed down to the inch, giving rise to all kinds of rumors. “When people knew that we’d started dating, the intensity of the paparazzi and the media was something that I’d never experienced,” she told W Magazine. That media onslaught had many consequences. The former singer lived one of her most terrifying moments when she learned of a plot to kidnap her. Scotland Yard eventually arrested nine people implicated in the alleged operation in 2002.

Victoria Adams & David Beckham
Victoria Adams and David Beckham after a Whitney Houston concert in London on September 20, 1997.Dave Benett (Getty Images)

Even before, in 2000, she had to deal with death threats that were sent to her parents’ home, according to the press at the time. Such was the insanity surrounding her during that era that she had to be evacuated from the stage of the Brit Awards that year when a red laser was detected pointing at her chest. To shield herself from the dark side of fame, she composed a serious and distant façade, a response to the heightened attention her persona aroused. She was criticized for having too few curves or too many, even blamed when her husband had a bad day on the field. “When I think back to the era of the Spice Girls and everything that the media put me through, I can see that this really affected me. When you are in that situation, you protect yourself. As soon as I saw the paparazzi, I would put on my armor, and so that was how the world saw me. […] I was made out to be someone who was always in a bad mood. This was untrue. But I was conscious of the image that I was projecting,” she confessed in Vogue.

Background career in fashion

The couple had their first child, Brooklyn, in March 1999, when Victoria was 24 years old. Shortly after, in 2000, the Spice Girls made their breakup official and Victoria tried to launch a solo career, which was put permanently on ice after her sole studio album received a chilly reception. She decided to put music on the back burner to support her husband and devote herself to her family. After Brooklyn came Romeo, now 21, Cruz, now 19, and Harper Seven, 12. From 2003 to 2007, the Beckhams lived in Spain, with David triumphing as one of the stars of the Real Madrid team. This period at the epicenter of Spanish tabloids was hard on Victoria, but she says that it was in Madrid where she began to forge the idea of creating her own fashion brand. Then came life in Los Angeles, where things started looking up. In 2007, the Spice Girls reunited, to the delight of their fans, releasing a compilation album and playing dozens of concerts on a tour that lasted for 12 months, until April 2008. The last time she was seen on stage was in 2012, at an iconic performance during the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. The singer turned down a subsequent Spice Girls reunion, though the group has continued to perform concerts without her.

Mia Regan, Romeo Beckham, Cruz Beckham, Harper Beckham, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz
The complete Beckham family, from left to right: Miga Regan (ex-girlfriend of Romeo), Romeo Beckham, Cruz Beckham, Harper Beckham, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz (Brooklyn’s wife) at the Netflix premier of ‘Beckham’, October 2023 in London.Karwai Tang (WireImage)

In 2008, Victoria’s lifelong dream materialized: she launched her fashion company. Its extensive collection of bags (she herself owns more than a hundred Birkins, the most costly Hermes model) and her attendance at runway shows during the Posh Spice era had always hinted at her love for fashion. “It was always what I wanted to do. At school, I would personalize my school uniforms and those of my classmates too,” she said in an interview upon being asked about the creation of her eponymous brand. After 14 long years, the company turned a profit for the first time just a few months ago. Financial Times reported that her company VBHL (Victoria Beckham Holding Limited) grew by 44%, from $43.5 million in 2021 to $62.5 million in 2022.

In the beginning, the fashion industry’s skepticism about Beckham was clear and her company’s future seemed less than certain. To many, it seemed to be no more than a celebrity’s attempt to capitalize on their fame by diversifying their business. The industry had recognized Beckham’s powerful commercial appeal on many occasions: she led campaigns, starred on magazine covers, launched perfumes. But it was one thing to be an external agent and another to form part of some of the most hermetic machinery in the world. Beckham is conscious of her visibility, she is her own best representative and doesn’t hesitate to dress head to toe in her brand’s offerings. And the list of celebrities and media personalities who have put their trust in her designs is growing all the time, from Queen Letizia of Spain and Kate Middleton to singer Rosalía and actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway and, of course, her friend Eva Longoria, godmother to Beckham’s daughter.

New businesses and challenges

In 2019, her company grew with the creation of Victoria Beckham Beauty, a division that functions as an independent brand that has been received well. “I’ve worked hard to get here, to be given that stamp of approval in Paris by the industry in both fashion and beauty, and you know what? That’s a tough thing to accomplish,” she recently told Allure. Now she’s launching a perfume collection inspired by her life with her husband. They’ve been together for 27 years, and his name comes up in nearly every interview and public talk. Family life stars in much of the content that the designer shares on social media and she has gone so far as to collaborate with her children’s partners in promoting her own fashion brand, aware of the acute interest in her personal life.

At 50, she exercises a high degree of control over her image. She stopped caring about what the press said about her some time ago, and cannily uses social media to depict the truth about her life, or at least, the truth as she wants it to be perceived. “As I was able to communicate via social media, people could see me as I am. But let’s be clear: I never post to prove anything to anyone. I stopped worrying about what people think of me a long time ago. Thanks to social media, people now see me as a hard worker, a wife, and a mother… they see my real personality,” she told Vogue.

The Beckhams have not abandoned life in the eye of the public, and now that the glare of paparazzi flash has dimmed, they seem more comfortable in their celebrity status, frequently appearing on the red carpet, supporting each other’s projects (the entire family never misses Victoria’s fashion shows) and sharing moments from their time together with millions of fans. In the year that marks three decades since the creation of the Spice Girls (Royal Mail, the U.K. postal service, released commemorative stamps last January), Beckham has emerged as the only one of the five members to have completely reinvented themselves. In addition to her fashion and beauty business, this year she has joined forces with the watchmaker Breitling. And beginning April 23, the capsule collection she designed with Mango becomes available, its launch set to coincide with the Spanish brand’s 40th anniversary and expected to be a commercial hit. Indefatigable, her half-century has hardly been accompanied by flagging energy from the entrepreneur, who wants to make it clear that this is just the beginning: “I have lots of ambitions, and I work hard to achieve my goals. I never wait for things to just fall into my lap.” The birthday message she posted to her more than 32 million followers concluded with a look to the future: “This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter, and I’m only just getting started.”

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