With parallel fashion careers and matching fortunes, country houses, famous friends and royal connections, you might imagine that Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney have a lot in common.
They’ve each got four children, handsome husbands and are even regulars at the same London facialist.
Indeed, Stella and Posh were on chummy terms around ten years ago when Stella’s husband Alasdhair Willis was hired as a style consultant to help re-brand David after his move to the U.S. football team LA Galaxy. But recently there has been a definite chill in their friendship, with talk of fallings out over staff and publicity.
There is also a feeling Posh, 45, has been trying a bit too hard to emulate effortlessly cool Stella, 48. Battle lines have now been drawn — and Posh has been unfollowed by her one-time friend on social media.
Here, Alison Boshoff tells the story of the ‘best of frenemies’ and exactly what has driven them apart.
Stella McCartney (left), 48. Stella has unfollowed Posh on social media. Victoria Beckham (right), 45. Victoria offered a job to Stella’s nanny, having heard on the mummy network that she was outstanding
Stella has made around £50 million in fashion, while Posh has lost £42 million.
Stella started out as an intern at Christian Lacroix when she was 16, then worked for Edward Sexton, a Savile Row tailor who made clothes for her father Sir Paul McCartney. She graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1995 with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell walking in her graduation show.
Her fashion house was launched in 2001 in collaboration with the Kering group.
It has been a huge success with revenues said to stand at around £250 million a year.
Victoria (left) and Stella (middle) with Natalia Vodianova (right) in 2009
She bought back Kering’s 50 per cent stake in 2018 and last year made a deal with luxury giants LVMH — part of their new commitment to ethical fashion and sustainability. She does not use any leather or fur in her designs.
Victoria, meanwhile, started in fashion with jeans and sunglasses in 2006, before launching her own line in 2008. Figures filed last year indicate Victoria Beckham Ltd has failed to turn a profit for the seventh year running. It has lost £42 million in 11 years, the equivalent of nearly £10,500 a day.
Losses are 18 per cent worse than last year and stand at a painful £11.7 million. Meanwhile, sales have also dropped by 16 per cent to stand at £35.1 million for the year ending December 2018. Previously they stood at £41.7 million.
Company chairman Ralph Toledano said it was experiencing a ‘growth crisis’ because demand had reached a ‘plateau’.
fashion designer Jeff Banks told me: ‘It is not that she has lost her eye, but she is struggling against a massive overhead which does not support sales of £35 million a year.
‘The question is how much can they afford to pay so that she can keep pursuing her dreams?’
The two women have little in common socially — Stella’s dearest and oldest friends are supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, both of whom have well-reported antipathy towards Posh and her fashion aspirations.
But the beef between the ladies actually began thanks to a friendship which has sprung up between their daughters, Harper and Reiley, both nine, who attend the same private London prep school.
In 2017, Stella’s daughter Reiley was invited to Harper’s sixth birthday tea party at Buckingham Palace. Proud dad David posted a snap in which Reiley was clearly pictured in a group photo with Princess Eugenie during the trip, which had been organised by Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.
Stella was ‘extremely angry’ over this breach of her daughter’s privacy, which she has always taken pains to protect.
Then, more recently, Victoria offered a job to Stella’s nanny, having heard on the mummy network that she was outstanding.
Rumour has it that the nanny was not being paid at the elevated rates which this kind of work usually commands. In any case, sources confirm that the nanny left Stella to work for Posh. (Representatives for both women declined to comment yesterday.)
Following this, Stella heard that Victoria had made an approach to a senior member of her fashion team. Although the employee, a head of studio, didn’t leave, it was the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of their friendship.
Stella has now unfollowed Posh on social media. Victoria is said to have sent an email begging for forgiveness, but none has been forthcoming. A source said: ‘Stella has lots of friends in high places and obviously Victoria does not want to become a pariah in the celebrity world.
‘She sent an email apologising, and asking that their personal row should not be allowed to affect their families’ friendship.
‘Her daughter Harper is good friends with Stella’s daughter Reiley, and she’d hate for that to become an issue.’
Very proper properties
Victoria and family own a spectacular barn conversion a stone’s throw from Soho Farmhouse — the Cotswolds outpost of the luxury private members’ club — of which Stella is also a member.
It has three ‘wings’, an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court in its landscaped grounds, plus an enormous treehouse.