New Labour, new tailor

Fashion-wise, it seems William Hague is to take a leaf out of Tony Blair's book. Don't do it, begs Cayte Williams

As a nation, we love a shabby underdog. Ken Livingstone, Ossie Clarke, Woofie. And as a nation we hate smarmy. We pride ourselves on the fact that (unlike our gullible American cousins) we can spot a spiv a mile off. No shifty geezers get past us, we cry. That's why we're starting to get suspicious about these New Labour salesmen: Mandelson with his greasy slick hair-do, Blair with his double-glazed smile, Campbell with his "don't bother with the small print" bovver-boy charm.

All three represent that New Labour Look, turned out nicely in smart suits, ties with knots a little bit too tight and shoes just a little too shiny. They'd all probably use their mobile phones too much on the 125. It's not a good look.

For all we know, Mandelson might wear Gap fleeces off-duty and actually care whether Pinochet gets it. But, boy, are we living in an age when politicians have to get fashed-up.

All these stylish MPs need somewhere to pose, so from January there will be Congress, a new membership dining club in Westminster where politicians, styled within an inch of their constituencies, will be able to lounge around on Bill Amberg leather banquettes and appreciate the Vivienne Westwood staff uniforms.

But isn't this all a bit boring? Rows upon rows of the same suits - boys in Paul Smith, girls in Richards shops. One of the reasons Londoners want Ken for mayor is that we know you can always trust a man with knee-creases in his trousers.

Which, sartorially, brings us to the opposition. If the Tories have anything going for them it's eccentricity. How we miss Ken Clarke's Hush Puppies! How we mourn Douglas Hurd's Mr Whippy perma-waves! But even that last bastion of conservatism is under threat. William Hague, perhaps the closest one of John Major's garden gnomes will ever get to power, is giving in to the style police. The Independent reports that he has succumbed to "an image makeover under the careful tutelage of John Morgan, an associate editor of GQ magazine and the editor of Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners. Is William taking a leaf out of Tony Blair's book? Will he hire a celebrity hairdresser? Or rush to a hip tailor from New Savile Row, like Ozwald Boateng or Timothy Everest?

Not if he's got any sense. Hague should hang on to his natural naffness. It's certainly attracted some fashion types. Katharine Hamnett, noted for attending a Thatcher bash at Number Ten wearing an anti-nuke T-shirt circa 1985, has decided that the Tories are hip. "The Conservatives are classic style," she said in the Guardian, while Labour she dismisses as "a passing fad".

Hague has one big handicap in the style stakes. Mandelson, Campbell and Brown are all, broadly speaking, lookers. William Hague is not. He's balding and has no eye-lashes, and should avoid Enforced Style at all costs unless it is completely his own. Old fogey is better than Old Trendy (remember Neil Kinnock's foray into fashion with the help of Lynne Franks? It was not a pretty sight). Put Will in a pinstriped suit and he would look like an albino penguin on a hit and run from Gieves & Hawkes.

The fashion press aren't optimistic. According the Independent, Hague looks like "the sort of man who owns a Corby trouser press." So how about some advice? "Chop his head off or get cosmetic surgery," said Vogue's fashion director, Marcus von Ackermann in the Sunday Times, before advising a spot of Jean-Paul Gaultier menswear. Fashion eccentric Isabella Blow wasn't much use either. "Anything by the designers Keupr/Van Bentm would be perfect for him," she oozed. "They specialise in wrapping the body up, almost as you would a Christmas present. He would look marvellous in their glittery stockings."

Meanwhile, the Observer paid a visit to Tony Blair's suit guru, Malcolm Levene. No doubt William digested the article over brunch. The deluxe tailor believes that "Fashion is thoughtless; style is a philosophy". Apparently, when you go for a Levene fitting you get more than a tape measure and a few chalk markings. "I want you to find out who you are," he said to journalist Nicci Gerrard. "I can tap into things you may not be aware of... I am observant. I go deeper than the surface." Blimey, if him and Campbell get together we could have a Westminster Waco on our hands.

So what does Levene think of old Haguey the Fogey's foray into fashion? "It will be a quick fix and it will look like it," he predicted. Let Will and Ffion be the style eccentrics of Westminster. Let him wear his baseball cap the right way round. Let her wear chopsticks in her hair. The only way the camp couple are going to woo us is with some Sid and Nancy charm. Sid James and Nancy Griffiths, that is. Just give us anything as long as it's not Blair Good Taste Inc.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Maths Teacher

    £90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

    Maths Teacher

    £22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week