Harper Beckham, fashion's favourite four-year-old
With her Burberry coats and her Gucci loafers, the smallest Beckham is a tiny fashion icon
Even before she was born, Harper Beckham was the subject of much scrutiny. Her parents, Victoria and David, made little secret of the fact that they longed for a little girl to complete their brood, already active with three boys. Fast-forward via time's giant wheel to the present day, and the four-year-old isn't just the apple of daddy's eye… she's muscling in on mum's style territory.
But even the most casual celebrity follower knew that when it came to Harper Beckham and fashion, it was only ever going to go one way. Effortless style seemed almost pre-ordained from the outset. Who can forget that moment back in 2012, when Victoria Beckham descended on Brown Thomas' flagship store on Grafton Street, only to be promptly eclipsed by her designer-clad toddler?
Whether by accident or design, Harper stole the show this week at New York Fashion Week, resplendent in Gucci loafers, a Burberry coat, handpicked for her by Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey, and an already-seasoned air of FROW ennui. Even the famously capricious Vogue editrix Anna Wintour appeared charmed by her.
Brown Thomas' fashion director Shelly Corkery was also charmed by Harper's poise at NYFW: "She's such a cute little girl, though she acts much older, as though she could be six or seven," she observes. "I love that her look can be quite edgy... her mother balances her out with jeans and Chelsea boots so that she's not always pretty and girly."
Naturally, the press can't get enough of her; a blog, entitled Harper Beckham (harperbeckhamfashion.blogspot.ie) chronicles her every move.
"I first started eight years ago with a fashion blog about Suri Cruise because I loved her style when she was little, and have been a lifelong fan of Victoria Beckham, so a focus on Harper was a natural progression," the site's founder, Anastasia Medveva, told the New York Times.
Harper's favourite item of clothing, according to her mother, is her football jersey, but it's safe to assume that hers is a life less ordinary compared to most other toddlers.
For a start, Harper's 'favourite' designers are Little Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney Kids, and she is often snapped in cult label Marie-Chantal.
"She's a very stylish little thing with her own sense of how she wants to dress," says Victoria of her mini-me. "She tends to choose exactly what she wears herself."
Dad David is equally enamoured by his daughter's fashion-forwardness: "It'll take (Harper) a good 20 minutes to decide what to wear and then she'll change her mind," he is quoted as saying.
Harper Beckham is cutting quite the presence with timeless simplicity. Think mini capes, Hermes accessories, and Chloe sundresses. Better still, Harper's look is entirely age-appropriate. It's a simple yet striking modus operandi, and quintessentially British at that. The look might be timeless, but the clothes certainly aren't; kids grow out of their designer duds quicker than you can say 'Baby Beckham'.
According to Emma Colleary, director and owner of Serendipitykids, a childrenswear boutique in Dublin, a splurge on better quality outfits is often worth the investment.
"The reason people buy (high-end) kids' clothes is because the quality is good and it outlasts a cheaper alternative," she says. "It also gets passed down to siblings and cousins."
Certainly, the Harper effect is felt keenly worlldwide: a survey by the fashion and lifestyle brand Paul Frank found that 64pc of parents think children today are more fashion conscious than in previous years.
A study by Cotton USA found that nearly half of parents (49pc) admitted celebrity culture and mini-fashion icons influenced how they dressed their children.
"We stock the labels like Bonpoint and Chloe in-store and once Harper is seen in a certain dress we get plenty of phonecalls to the store about that very dress," says Shelly.
For her part, Emma also believes that Irish shoppers don't fall for the cult of the celebrity designer child quite as faithfully as elsewhere: "In Ireland, we don't have that culture of dressing kids head to toe in designer labels, and we don't have the kind of culture where Irish celebrities 'celebritise' their children".
Given quite how much press coverage Harper can generate with a single NYFW pout, it's safe to assume designers will continue to shower her with miniature classics. For now, watching to see what label she will next lend her star power to will be interesting, to say the least.