outline

From ‘dead ordinary’ to extra-ordinary, Victoria Beckham’s amazing life…Victoria Beckham is an iconic figure. For the past decade she has been the most talked about and photographed woman in Britain and a constant source of fascination for a celebrity-hungry public. But despite her star status, critics continue to undermine her, holding open season on her perceived lack of musical talent, constantly scrutinising her body shape, her looks and her hair, as well as speculating wildly on the state of her marriage.

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Now it is time to reassess this remarkable woman: a rare combination of wife, mother, fashion leader and business woman – and still Posh Spice. Sean Smith has gone back to the very beginning, to explore her family’s humble start in North London, to follow her childhood in Hertfordshire and her early attempts to find fame. He discovers a talented, shy girl very different from the Victoria we think we know. The result is a fascinating portrait of a woman who transformed herself from a spotty and bullied teenager into the aspirational figure she is today. Smith assesses how she has coped with the low spots of fame along the way including the jealousy, the security threats to her family and her husband’s alleged infidelity. He looks at what the future holds for one of the world’s most famous women.

With previously unpublished photos, Victoria is an affectionate and insightful biography of a sorely underestimated superstar.

 

extract

“Just after the New Year, 1992, Victoria, who was now seventeen, started to plot a professional career more seriously. The first thing she did when she returned to Laine Theatre Arts was set about organizing some photographs. Almost all of the students at the school used a local photographer called Geoff Marchant, who charged them £25 for what was, in effect, their first modelling session. Every young professional needs a portfolio ready for agents and job applications. Victoria arranged to go with her friend Tamsin. Geoff picked them up from the school and took them to the studio in Smallfield near Horley. Victoria knew exactly what she did not want – she did not want to be photographed smiling. Already the image that would become her trademark look later was taking shape.

Geoff recalls, ‘She wanted “moody” photographs. It was unusual. Most of the girls who came along would say, “I haven’t got a clue what to do. I’ll leave it to you.” I don’t think she had too much of a clue what to do but she did know what she didn’t want. She didn’t want to make herself girly and she didn’t want to make herself pretty-pretty. She wanted this moody sort of expression even though it meant that there was a lot of shadow, which didn’t help her skin at all. It would have been better with softer lighting. But it was unusual for a girl of her age to have in her mind the look she wanted.’

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Eventually, Geoff managed to persuade Victoria that it might be a good idea to smile occasionally. He explains, ‘I told her that somewhere down the line an agent was going to say, “I hope you’ve got some shots smiling.” I said I would have to do a couple and she said, “All right, but only a couple.”

Victoria had taken along a large bag of clothes to wear for the shoot. Almost all of them were black with a few white things for contrast. She scraped her hair right back in the South American fashion she has favoured many times in recent years. ‘She was quite an image-seeker, even then,’ says Geoff.”

what sean says

I was looking forward to meeting Chris Herbert, the man who ‘discovered’ the Spice Girls. In the days before X Factor he had the idea of holding auditions to find five girls who could become a successful pop group. We met in his office in Lightwater, Surrey, and he happily told me that he chose Victoria as one of the five because he had wanted one of the girls to appeal to the more mature, discerning man.

Victoria always wore the same thing to auditions, all in black with a crop-top showing off a very tanned midriff. She sang ‘Mein Herr’, the showstopper from Cabaret which Liza Minnelli made her own in the movie version of the hit musical. In those days Victoria was very theatre school and this was her party piece. If she had been starting out now, she would be more likely to audition for Andrew Lloyd Webber than Simon Cowell.

I was surprised when Chris told me that he had really rated Victoria’s voice, something for which she would receive a lot of barbed comments in the future. He thought she was a far better singer then than she would become when the Spice Girls were up and running. By that time, of course, the girls had ditched him.