It's her first time going for drinks at the Chateau Marmont, but she negotiates the dark staircase up to the lobby like a pro, using the kind of sidestep one has to perfect when 4-inch Balenciaga heels are everyday footwear.
"Beckham, is it?" the bar hostess asks in a feeble attempt to act nonchalant.
It's no use. There is just no way not to notice Victoria Beckham. She's dressed in a black bandage dress by Herve Leger, her legs tanned the color of an Hermes Birkin bag. The pear-shaped diamond ring on her finger has to be the biggest bauble in Hollywood, or maybe it just looks like it on her child-sized frame.
She strides into the garden, taking a table in the middle of the action. Settling in for her first sit-down interview since her husband, David, signed a deal potentially worth $250-million to play with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, she orders champagne and asks if it would be all right if she keeps her sunglasses on.
Fitting right in
This week, the Beckhams and their three boys were moving into the $22-million, 13,000-square-foot Italianate house they bought in Beverly Hills. ("I didn't want anything too big and ostentatious," she says, by all indications being serious.) But for months, every detail of their arrival has been engineered to build buzz. The Beckhams hit the Oscar party circuit in February, then announced plans for a reality show that aired last month on NBC, displaying her fashion sense to the full.
Unlike most celebs, she doesn't dress down in slouchy T-shirts, flip-flops and jeans. Beckham dresses, really dresses, for every occasion.
Her wardrobe notes might read something like this:
June 11: Opening pitch at a Dodgers game - short-shorts and debut of Dries Van Noten platform sneakers.
Jan. 16: Dinner date with Katie at the Ivy - frilly organza Giambattista Valli dress, very ladylike.
June 3: MTV Movie Awards - vintage zebra-print Azzedine Alaia mini with pink satin bra peeking out. So 1980s, so MTV.
Her style isn't classic and it isn't driven by trends. It's daring, at times silly, and British at heart - think Princess Diana, who wore Moschino to meet the Italian president, Escada to Germany and Chanel to France, or the queen, with all those wonderful hats at Ascot.
"I don't want to change the way I dress," she says between nibbles of strawberries soaked in balsamic vinegar. "This is me, and if people like it, great."
But in many ways, she's already gone L.A. She's highlighting her brown hair blond, launching her own denim line, promoting her own reality show, decorating a house in the hills and gearing up for a reunion tour with her old band, the Spice Girls. Did she miss even one stereotype?
Well, she doesn't have a stylist - yet.
"I get quite bored with the way people look the same all the time, with the same makeup and the same outfit and the same kind of hair. I like to change things around quite a bit," she says, explaining that she works with stylists for magazine shoots only. But for personal appearances, "I prefer to do it myself."
She's worn nearly every designer you can think of and she's kept everything - the red Roland Mouret dress she wore to the Costume Institute ball at the Met, the white Alaia Academy Awards gown fitted by the master himself in Paris as a birthday present from David.
"Victoria is a true fashion lover," Mouret says. "She will never say 'no' to trying an outfit."
A longtime love
Beckham, 33, has loved fashion since grade school.
"I tried to customize my school uniform, because I went to a very strict Church of England school. I used to get sent into the toilet every single day at school to take off my makeup and brush my hair spray out.
"My hair was so big in the 1980s," she continues, "I went to the theater once and the person behind asked if I could flatten my hair because they couldn't see."
Olivia Newton-John in Grease was an inspiration. "Remember when she wore those tight black satin trousers? One of my mom's friends promised me those and she never came up with the goods. I still look at her and say, 'You cow!' You should never promise a child something and not come up with it."
So she's designed a pair for the holiday collection of her dVb line.
Her sunglasses, in stores since April, are based on vintage styles inspired by Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis and Farrah Fawcett. And now they're being worn by some of today's most stylish women, who happen to be Beckham's pals, including Katie Holmes, Elle Macpherson and Jennifer Lopez.
"This is just the beginning," she says. "I want to still be doing this in 20, 30, 40 years' time. I was never going to be the best singer or dancer or actress. I worked hard at it and I did a pretty good job. But with fashion, I'm good at it."