That Time Victoria Beckham Walked The Roberto Cavalli Runway

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There are few people who better embodied the purring come hither of Roberto Cavalli’s designs than a 2005 to 2008-era Victoria Beckham, back when the pop star-turned-professional WAG was cycling through choppy bobs on the outskirts of Madrid. Though we now tend to think of Beckham as being permanently preserved in the amber of some straight-legged tuxedo pants – and perhaps a Balenciaga pantaboot – this was a moment in time when she seemed committed to the most exotic mores of fame: to superyachts, private jets and at least 15 engagement rings. To tits, tans and teeth – all of which Beckham brandished with the same carnal spirit as Cavalli’s zebra-print beach dresses when she eventually made a 13,000-square foot estate in Los Angeles her home in ’07. “I am grateful for the possibility of being close to such a wonderful woman as Victoria,” Cavalli said in 2006. “For she is not only glamorous and beautiful, but a person with a special sensibility, personality and true soul.”

Roberto Cavalli and Victoria Beckham in 2006. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Cavalli was one of the first high-fashion designers – among them Roland MouretMatthew Williamson and Christopher Bailey – to consider the former Spice Girl not just a muse, but an equal. “The celebrity connection is very important. It’s important because it’s adrenaline, and that’s what starts creativity,” Cavalli once said, though I imagine their kinship was also rooted in a shared taste in bedazzled back pockets. (Lest we forget Beckham’s erstwhile dVb denim line, the acronym for which might shock you!) And so, when the designer sadly passed away at 83 years of age on Friday 12 April – leaving behind one of the most ornate fashion legacies – Beckham was among the first of his former acolytes to pay tribute. “So sorry to hear the sad news of Roberto’s passing,” she posted on Instagram Stories. “He’ll forever be an icon.” This is, after all, the same woman who once challenged Cavalli’s atelier to cut a dress to such a waist-cinching extreme that she’d be rendered unable to sit down. “I don’t care, I’ll go in a horsebox standing up if I have to – I want it tighter!” Beckham said in 2006, remembering a fitting for the Ming Vase-inspired dress she wore to Elton John’s white tie and tiara ball in ’05. “Party clothes are the one area where my sense of practicality goes out the window.”

Victoria Beckham on the Roberto Cavalli catwalk in 2006. Getty Images

See also: the bling-tastic costumes that Cavalli designed on Beckham’s behest for the Spice Girls’s comeback tour, which left Posh a motionless, though no less gilded statue of girl power in 2007. But it was a year prior to that collaboration when the duo really forged their closest horizon, with Beckham walking Roberto Cavalli’s autumn/winter 2006 menswear catwalk in a grecian and crystal-embroidered gown. “After being a spectator for so long I was unbelievably nervous, terrified I would do something really stupid, like trip over,” she said at the time. “In fact, every model has that fear – however many times they’ve done it before – knowing that with one false move they’ll end up on the front page, and not for the right reasons. They joked that at least I wouldn’t have far to fall. And it was true that, even when I was wearing my highest heels, the girls towered over me. So I did what every girl does when she’s scared, I rang my mum. ‘Victoria,’ she said, ‘you’ve been walking for 31 bloody years, you should have mastered it by now!’ And she was absolutely right. I didn’t fall over, and I had a brilliant time.” It’s a point worth remembering: a mid-Noughties Victoria Beckham might have been petrified of stumbling before the fashion world, but with a little help from Roberto Cavalli, she would eventually ascend to the dizzying heights of a top spot on the Paris Fashion Week calendar.

Victoria Beckham and Roberto Cavalli on stage at the Swarovski Fashion Rocks for The Prince’s Trust in 2005. The Prince’s Trust/Getty Images

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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