Sunday, April 22, 2012

Posh Rover: Victoria Beckham unveils her exclusive 'baby' Range Rover Evoque in Beijing to woo communism's super-rich

By Ray Massey

Putting her fashion stamp on cars: Victoria Beckham has unveiled a new 'baby' Range Rover Evoque in Beijing, China

Victoria Beckham has designed and launched a special new limited edition ‘baby’ off-roader bearing her name and aimed at well-heeled customers who think the standard Range Rover Evoque just isn’t posh or bling enough.

It also aims to woo the super-rich and growing middle class of Communist China where the first models will be sold.

And with a price tag of £80,000 - or around double the cost of the equivalent standard Evoque – buyers will pay heavily for the privilege of owning one of just 200 exclusive 4x4s created by the former Spice Girl, dubbed ‘Posh Spice’, who is married to international soccer star David Beckham.

Smart interior: She has already worked her magic on fashion designs but has now demonstrated a flair for cars as well

The special edition styling was created by Mrs Beckham in collaboration with Land Rover whose bosses asked her: ’Tell us what you want, what you really, really want.’

And the finished product was unveiled by her in Beijing on Sunday on the eve of the city’s Auto China motor show which begins officially on Monday. It has attracted major luxury car firms from around the globe – from Rolls-Royce and Bentley to Ferrari an Lamborghini - to the world’s biggest and fastest growing car market.

The Beckham-styled 4X4 comes nearly two years after she was asked by Land Rover bosses to design a special edition Evoque when she unveiled the original car to the world at a gala event in Kensington Palace in July 2010.

Flash: Victoria spent 18 months working alongside Design Director Gerry McGovern to create the interior of the new vehicle

Given her fashion background and the fact that the Beckham family have owned a series of top of the range and bespoke Range Rovers and other Land Rovers – including a mini replica for their children – this made her well placed for the job, they reasoned.

Land Rover said the Beckham name is a significant ‘brand’ across the world and especially in booming new markets like China, India, Russia and Brazil, so they wanted to capitalise on her award-winning fashion and lifestyle prowess to capture new customers. She won the coveted Designer Brand of the Year award at the 2011 British Fashion Awards.

As the cover’s came off the four-seater luxury off-roader coupe in Beijing, Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern suggested that the understated styling might surprise many: ‘Those of you expecting something pink will be disappointed,’ he said.

Instead, the ‘baby’ off-roader is painted in a ‘stealth grey’ matt exterior paint which contrasts with high-gloss piano-black exterior detailing. It has specially designed 20 inch gloss-black forged alloy wheels with discrete rose gold accents which make them appear to be spinning like four continuous thin golden bands when the vehicle is in motion.

The rose-gold highlights inside and outside the car take their inspiration from the colour and shape of a favoured man’s large-faced 400 Daytona Rolex watch which she often wears on her slender wrist.

She has even specified soft and deep-pile luxury mohair floor mats to reflect childhood memories of taking off her shoes to run her own bare feet through the shag-pile carpets of her father’s Rolls-Royce.

At the launch in Beijing Victoria Beckham said: ‘I am very excited to be working with Land Rover as I have an enormous amount of respect for the brand. I’ve always driven a Range Rover, for me they are the epitome of quality and luxury.

‘When I first started working with the team I did a lot of research, and created mood boards to show the team my love of timeless and classic design. I looked at yachts, luxury jets and classic cars.’

She said that when she was a young girl, her father owned a Rolls-Royce and she would enjoy taking her shoes off to sink her bare feet into the thick carpeting.

Land Rover’s designers replicated this for her by using mohair, usually reserved for luxury clothing, to make the mats: ’It's the small detail that makes all the difference.

'I want everyone who gets into this car to feel special and empowered by its quality and craftsmanship. I like that it feels luxurious but also has quite a classic edge to it as well as a contemporary feel.’

Inside, the seats are covered in a soft, vintage tan leather taking inspiration from a baseball glove and with baseball-style stitching as a ‘tongue in cheek’ reflection of the Beckham’s sporty Californian lifestyle in the US.

The dashboard features the exclusive rose gold-plated interior highlights, including on air-conditioning knobs. There is a bespoke four-piece Victoria Beckham leather luggage set, with her name on each of the zipper handles. New interior trim materials including gloss black lacquers and veneers, textured aluminium and soft-feel black paint.

A hand sown leather wallet for owners’ manual is signed by Victoria Beckham. But other than that, nowhere else does her name appear.

Land Rover Design Director Gerry McGovern said: ‘Working with Victoria we quickly recognised our similar design tastes and ambition for this car. For example at the first meeting, Victoria herself inspired the use of rose gold. She was wearing dark clothes and no jewellery apart from a rose gold, man’s watch.

'I was struck by the juxtaposition of the masculine watch on a very elegant, feminine wrist. We both agreed it was the ideal way to introduce a softer touch to the bold, assertive exterior colour scheme.’

He added: ’Throughout the process we were keen to ensure that the vehicle would appeal equally to both men and women.

In fact Victoria always maintained that she wanted her husband David to be proud to drive this car. ‘

Coventry-born Mr McGovern said: 'Working with Victoria the intention was not to change the fundamental architecture and award winning design of the Range Rover Evoque. We wanted to create a Special Edition that extends its character in a new direction through understated, restrained colour and detail changes.

Designer: Beckham walked the red carpet before the unveiling

Elegant: Victoria ensured she was there in person for the special edition launch

Details: She worked for a year and a half helping to create the interior aspects of the new model

‘Both Land Rover and Victoria Beckham are British luxury brands with credibility and global appeal. This dual 'Britishness' makes the collaboration even more exciting especially when considering the huge audience for bespoke products around the world, particularly in China, Russia and Brazil where Land Rover is growing.'

Mr McGovern said: ’ ‘Cars and celebrities are nothing new. But for us, this is not about celebrity endorsement. She owns and drives our products. We’re not giving them to her.’

He said: ’She’d be the first to admit she’s not a car designer. She’s a fashion designer. She’s established herself in her own right in the fashion world.

Exclusive launch: She was appointed Creative Design Executive of the car firm in July, 2010

Special edition: The former singer flew into the China earlier this week especially to unveil the car, which she has spent the last 18 months working on

Finishing touches: She posted a picture on Twitter ahead of her appearance showing her putting her make-up on

‘Victoria has brought something to it which is quite unique. She very soon became part of the team. She reported to me. If I didn’t like something it was not going anywhere. ‘But we had a great belief that we were doing something which would give credibility to the range Rover brand. She’s a real precision merchant . She is incredibly uncompromising.’

Also on the small team was Land Rover colour and materials designer Mel McWhirter, 38 – swiftly dubbed ‘Mel M’ - from Leicester, who said: ’I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d be working with Victoria Beckham. I told all my friends and they all asked if I could get them one of her dresses.

'We’re about the same age and I remember listening to her singing in the Spice Girls. Who’d have thought we’d end up working together on cars.’

Enjoying China: Victoria posted a picture of herself landing in Beijing as she fooled around with an air stewardess

The Evoque ‘baby’ off-roader is built at Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood factory on Merseyside with the hand-crafted Beckham touches hand-finished by the firm’s ‘Engineering to Order’ division. It is powered by a 2.0 litre Si4 petrol engine linked to a 6-speed automatic gear-box that propels it to a top speed of 135 mph and allows it to sprint from rest to 60mph in just 7.1 seconds.

It has all-wheel drive and Terrain Response system which adapts to different road and off-road surfaces.

The Evoque has won more than 100 international awards and was last week named ‘Women’s World Car of the Year’ by an international jury of women motoring writers.



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