celebrity

The incredible story of how Posh Spice became Victoria Beckham.

Today, Victoria Beckham stands as a style icon and one half of arguably Britain’s most venerable power couple outside of the royal family.

But back in March 1994, she was Victoria Adams – a 19-year-old aspiring performer, who had just answered the ad for “street smart, extrovert, ambitious” young women to audition to join an all-girl band.

That girl group was, of course, the Spice Girls, and it lifted Victoria and her fellow singers Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown and Emma Bunton into the glittering world of pop superstardom.

But hits such as ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Stop’ are now considered “classics” – their last original album was released 18 years ago.

Yet Victoria Beckham isn’t recognised as a fun fact of ’90s trivia, whose glory days are behind her. She’s managed to transcend her pop star image and transform herself from Posh Spice to Victoria Beckham, now worth a cool $630 million.

And though now we might recall it as a smooth, seamless transition – when we take a close look at the 44-year-old’s history, we see it was rockier than we remember.

The Posh one

The great gimmick of the Spice Girls was that each had a nickname that related to the character they were playing – what we as the public can only guess was an exaggerated play on each’s personality, if not entirely manufactured by the agents who created the band.

Either way, Victoria played up to her Posh Spice image with a chic bob, sexy pout and penchant for sleek mini dresses. But let’s not forget that Posh Spice was also somewhat daggy.

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The Spice Girls as we remember them best. Image: Getty

She struck the silly poses along with her bandmates, she dressed in costumes she likely cringes about and she belted out lyrics like "I'm giving you everything/all that joy can bring/yes I swear".

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When the band announced their "indefinite hiatus" (but not break up) at the end of 2000, Victoria decided to launch a solo career.

The then-26-year-old wanted to continue her singing career beyond the Spice Girls, and released her first solo single 'Out of Your Mind' shortly before the band announced their hiatus. It was well enough received for her to release her self-titled debut album the following October.

Although the album reached number 10 on the charts in the UK and sold around 50,000 copies - its success didn't come close to that of her former band's second album Spiceworld, which went five-times platinum.

She did release more songs in the early noughties - but no one would consider her solo career a "success".

But around this time, something else was going on in Victoria's life. She began dating British football star David Beckham at the height of the Spice Girls popularity in 1997. By their engagement in 1998 they had earned the couple nickname 'Posh and Becks'.

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Posh and Becks even had matching hairstyles at one point. Image: Getty

We should remember this was a very even pairing. The couple brought similar amounts of power and status to the relationship and - as Victoria would later describe, albeit with a more personal meaning - the pair are "much stronger... than we would be if we were individuals".

At their lavish wedding in July 1999 the pair famously sat on golden thrones - generously interpreted as an ironic, self-aware nod to their status as pop culture royalty, but far more likely just a because-we-can extravagance. David probably put it best when he commented on the nuptials in an interview last year:  "Unbelievable. What was I thinking?"

Mother and wife, but more than a WAG

Marrying David Beckham didn't provide Victoria with an instant image makeover or boost. But perhaps the one thing it did offer (other than love and happiness we're sure) was an extension of her relevance.

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All the couple had to do was go out to a party looking less than happy ("Gasp! They've SPLIT!") or better yet, announce a pregnancy, to earn the front page splash on a magazine.

This intense public interest also granted them their own TV shows. Victoria's first documentary Victoria's Secrets had aired in 2000, and her second Being Victoria Beckham in March 2002. Then together with her husband The Real Beckhams in 2004 and later Full Length & Fabulous: The Beckhams' 2006 World Cup Party.

While these specials and this period didn't completely transform Victoria's image into the sophisticate we know today, it did allow her to recast herself slightly from pop star, to doting wife and mother.

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By 2010 Victoria Beckham has serious fashion cred and had nailed her signature scowl. Image: Getty

This period of focussing on family (amidst persistent rumours about David's "affairs") allowed Victoria the time to ponder her next career move carefully and cultivate a high fashion image, instead of being forced to appear as a celebrity guest on a reality show.

Because Victoria Beckham wasn't about to be sidelined as a WAG - she had her own ambitions to be successful in her own right, as she had been before. And it wasn't going to be through performing, it was going to be via one of her other great loves: fashion.

Unexpected fashion icon

Still, when news got around Victoria was launching a high fashion line in September 2008, many initially dismissed it as a vanity project, doomed to fail as many other celebrity labels had before.

In years earlier, she had guest modelled on catwalks, designed a line of high-end denim, plus released a perfume and also a cosmetics line. But none of this has suggested she was actually a talented fashion designer.

Then, when the critics saw her designs at her low-key New York fashion week runway debut, their tunes changed. According to a report at the time, "beautiful", "desirable" and "classy" were just some of the complimentary words used to describe her designs - which upon sceptical questioning, the then-mum-of-three confirmed were all her own.

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With one last stint as popstar behind her (the Spice Girls reformed for a reunion tour from December 2007-February 2008 and an accompanying greatest hits album), Victoria Beckham had come into her own.

As she told TIME magazine at the time, "Fashion is my passion; music isn't anymore."

"People change, and I've changed a lot, and it's just not where my heart is at anymore."

Her label grew in popularity, soon becoming a favourite with celebrities like Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts and over the years also worn by the likes of Beyonce, Cameron Diaz, Eva Longoria, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lopez.

But it wasn't just celebrities who wanted to wear her designs. So in 2011, she released a slightly more affordable line, Victoria by Victoria Beckham and in recent years her designs have reached even more women through a line at Target. Due to the longevity of Victoria's still-running fashion line, it's clear women love the clothes, not just the celebrity who designed them.

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Victoria is a regular at Fashion Weeks, including in Paris in June this year. Image: Getty

Victoria Beckham is known now as a successful fashion mogul (and occasional royal wedding guest) with an enduring marriage to a former footballer - the ins and outs of which are somehow still fascinating to so many - and four beautiful children she appears to have close relationships with.

And it's this life that Victoria has built for herself that she isn't keen to step away from for several months to go relive her so-called "glory days" in a Spice Girls reunion tour.

Can you blame her?

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