Spend it like Beckham: Who's buying what, where and how!

Baden-Baden welcomes careless shoppers. Ruth Elkins discovers why; Max Clifford counts the cost
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Baden-Baden is still struggling to get to grips with the WAG concept. "Oh, you mean the footballer women?" asks Edith Kopf, news editor at Badische Neueste Nachrichten. She shrugs. "I'm not sure I'd recognise any of them if I saw them in the street."

Some kinds of celebrity, it seems, do not export well. For Ms Kopf and her fellow citizens the likes of Coleen, Victoria and Cheryl are just the average well-heeled summer visitor to this immaculately scrubbed spa town. But for the hundreds of British journalists and paparazzi, whose sole purpose is to hunt the WAGs, this is the closest the modern age comes to a royal court. But what is the fascination of these women? It cannot be the mere fact that they are living in the luxury of the Brenner's Park Hotel. No, it is the sheer sinful idleness of it all.

"They're doing a lot of shopping," trills Ilona Dressel-Witte, owner of Nanou, one of Baden-Baden's numerous designer boutiques. "Shopping, shopping, shopping." Here, on the Lichtentaler Strasse, smart black canopies shield new-season €1,000 Chloé bags in the window from the afternoon sun, and Diane von Furstenberg dresses are flying off the shelves so quickly that Ms Dressel-Witte is panicking she'll run out of stock. "They come every day, apart from Posh who we've not seen," she says. "They all want clothes for Saturday night. They love Blumarine, Chloé, Marni. They all have very good, very feminine taste." And are they behaving like chavs? "Oh no, they're so polite," she replies. Then her eyes widen and she leans in closer. "And they spend a lot of money."

Two doors down it is the same story. "The ladies love the labels we have here," says Peter Malassr, co-owner of the Monika Scholz boutique, pointing out Prada shoes similar to those Wayne Rooney's fiancée, Coleen McLoughlin, spent €2,000 on last week. Molly, the shop's dog, wags her tail enthusiastically across a pair of €400 Gucci heels. "The women are buying, aren't they Molly?" Mr Malassr jokes. "I certainly know what WAG means!"

Up at the Brenner's Park Hotel, where the royal suite costs €1,660 a night, the concept has already moved on: from WAG to Wagah. Every court needs its entourage. "Wives and Girlfriends and Hangers-On," giggles a hotel guest. "I've counted at least 50 of them," she says, as uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, nannies and bodyguards trooped off the England coach when it returned from Nuremberg on Thursday night.

"Theo has got his whole family here," said Peter Vinten, a 24-year-old England fan autograph hunting outside the hotel. "Peter Crouch's mum and dad are here, John Terry, his wife and the twins. Aaron Lennon's two brothers. There are loads of them."

No one will confirm exactly who is in the massive WAG entourage at the Brenner's Park. Fifa, worried that allegations of money-wasting would be levelled at them, has reportedly refused to pay for their players' guests, much to their alleged annoyance.

"The hangers-on are more the problem than the wives," sighs a pianist in the hotel bar. "They drink so much. Every night, you know? I don't know where they put it." He leans across his piano and confides that some have already dubbed Brenner's Park "Little Liverpool". "One of the guests got drunk and started having a go at the chief barman the other night. He said: 'Do you know who I am?' The barman replied: 'Are you a footballer?' The man said: 'No, I'm his brother.' The barman just snorted."

But the WAGs' (and Wagahs') constant shopping, bar-hopping and penchant for Baden-Baden's McDonald's has disappointed some here who say the town, once Europe's summer capital, could offer so much more.

"We sent the ladies an invitation to come and see the opera house," said Rüdiger Biermann, head of PR at the renowned Festspielhaus. He shrugs. "We thought they might be interested in seeing one of the world's largest opera houses. But so far, they haven't replied." It probably didn't appeal to Joe Cole's girlfriend, Carly Zucker, whose response to Thursday night's victory against Trinidad and Tobago was a night out on the razz. "Come on," she yelled across the hotel bar at 1.40am. "Are we gonna do one?!"

"I don't understand why they don't visit the two amazing art museums we have here," says Edith Kopf. "We have such great contemporary art. But maybe they just aren't that kind of women." The WAGs have also not taken the opportunity to try the town's famous thermal waters. "I don't get it," snorts a German woman as she slurps on a beaker of the salty warm water. "You'd think they would have done that," she says pointing to the plaque on the wall listing the water's perceived health benefits. "It's only 20 cents for the cup and it even helps you to stay thin."

But perhaps the Brenner's Park is already doing enough on that score. "If anything's too big for you, we also do half-portions," says a waitress in the Michelin-starred Wintergarten restaurant, where a €9 piña colada parfait and a €29 Dover sole with basil and champagne sauce are on the menu. Here, where Bono, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat have stayed, staff have been trained to spot a tabloid hack at 100 paces and photography is banned. A large white screen has been erected around the hotel swimming pool to ward off the paparazzi lenses and the entrance to the spa has been locked. "We are not Fort Knox," says the hotel's manager, Frank Marrenbach. "We are merely a world-class hotel with very high expectations." When the WAGs are in residence, public restaurant reservations are banned.

Back at the Nanou boutique, it is another day in WAG heaven. Rebecca Robinson, wife of England goalkeeper Paul Robinson, is buying a €585 Marni dress and a €185 necklace. "How do you like Baden-Baden?" asks a reporter. "Beautiful," she replies in a flat, sulky voice, before gathering up her purchases and turning on her heel.

COLEEN McLOUGHLIN

Age: 20

Who is she? Wayne Rooney's fiancée.

What's she been wearing? Sixties-style cream minidress; polka-dot bikini.

What's she been doing? Wearing St George's flag shades and knocking back pints; leading the drinkers and dancers; talking on two mobile phones during England matches.

Clifford says: Rooney is the greatest natural talent we have produced for a long time. Coleen seems to have a big heart, and that programme she did about hospices was very well received. She has huge potential.

Max factor: 5/5

ALEX CURRAN

Age: 24

Who is she? Steven Gerrard's partner, columnist, mother of Lillie-Ella and Lexie.

What's she been wearing? Tight white jeans and wedge heels.

What's she been doing? Leading the drinkers and dancers with fellow Scouser Coleen; rolling home at 3am singing Barry White;

eschewing the group shop.

Clifford says: Steven Gerrard is a major star and

someone very well liked and respected. Gerrard is not someone who courts or works the media, which gives him solidarity with people that they like.

Max factor: 4-4.5/5

VICTORIA BECKHAM

Age: 32

Who is she? David Beckham's wife and struggling pop star.

What's she been wearing? Anything tight, white and very expensive; enormous sunglasses; bunions.

What's she been doing? Shopping; sewing; turning up with 60 pairs of sunglasses and white trousers in several different sizes, in case she loses weight.

Clifford says: She was the one who established the whole thing, and David Beckham is the biggest-earning player. If she were more popular herself she could be a 5/5.

Max factor: 4/5

LOUISE BONSALL

Age: 25

Who is she? Partner of Michael Owen. Mother of James, four months, and Gemma Rose, three.

What's she been wearing? Stella McCartney white shorts and high heels; white vest tops; elderly-looking cream dress.

What's she been doing? Hanging out with Elen and Carly; relaxing by the pool.

Clifford says: Most people would know Michael Owen even outside of football. He's shy, retiring and wants to avoid the spotlight. But he does have the potential to be a major star for years to come.

Max factor: 4/5

ELEN RIVES

Age: 28

Who is she? Spanish-born girlfriend of Frank Lampard, and mother of 10-month-old Luna.

What's she been wearing? See-through blouse, chino shorts and high heels; cropped skinny jeans, black heels and strappy black top.

What's she been doing? Dancing on tables; singing songs; going jogging; shopping.

Clifford says: She is good-looking, and he is a major star, but mainly on the football stage. But she has true potential only if he builds up his profile outside football, through charity work.

Max factor: 4/5

CHERYL TWEEDY

Age: 22

Who is she? Ashley Cole's fiancée, singer with Girls Aloud.

What's she been wearing? Brown baseball cap she didn't take off at dinner in the Wintergarten restaurant.

What's she been doing? Dining quietly with Victoria, Romeo, Cheryl, Sandra and Joanne Beckham and two bodyguards; getting early nights.

Clifford says: Ashley Cole is a talented footballer but not one of the superstars. Not everybody has heard of him, so unless in the next year or so he becomes a much bigger star...

Max factor: 3.5/5

MELANIE SLADE

Age: 17

Who is she? Girlfriend of Theo Walcott.

What's she been wearing? High street clothes (shock, horror).

What's she been doing? Staying with Theo's family in a separate hotel from the rest of the WAGs. After all, she has to go home this weekend to revise for her AS-levels.

Clifford says: Theo's predicted as having such a great talent she's a three and a half. But if he has an amazing 12 months she could go up to four and a half, even five if he becomes a superstar.

Max factor: 3.5/5

CARLY ZUCKER

Age: 24

Who is she? Joe Cole's girlfriend, and a professional personal trainer.

What's she been wearing? Black bikini; cropped white vest tops.

What's she been doing? Joining delegation to Garibaldi's; helping to spend £440 on seven bottles of Moët, 23 lemon or Red Bull vodkas, 12 glasses of beer, four Sambucas, five orange liqueurs etc; still managing to get up for pre-breakfast jog.

Clifford says: A good-looking girl but if you say her name to people in the street, most wouldn't know who she was.

Max factor: 3.5/5

LISA ROUGHEAD

Age: 25

Who is she? Michael Carrick's fiancée and a pilates instructor.

What's she been wearing? Yellow bikini.

What's she been doing? Part of Sunday's shopping expedition, when six WAGs spent £4,000 in just over an hour. Each bought £500 sunglasses.

Clifford says: He's up and coming, but is not quite there yet. A WAG's success will be based almost entirely on her partner's star rating. There's an awful lot of very attractive girls going out with footballers you've never heard of.

Max factor: 3/5

ABIGAIL CLANCY

Age: 20

Who is she? Peter Crouch's girlfriend, but wants to be known for her singing talent.

What's she been wearing? Golden tan; lot of blond hair; lots and lots of cleavage.

What's she been doing? Posing.

Clifford says: He was virtually unknown a few weeks ago. For her to become a three and a half or four he would have to have a really good World Cup. But if he doesn't, we won't be hearing anything about her in a few weeks' time.

Max factor: 2.5/5

NANCY DELL'OLIO

Age: Nobody really knows

Who is she? Long-suffering Italian partner of Sven Goran Eriksson. Oh, and an international lawyer.

What's she been wearing? Ginormous shades; the most expensive designer handbags; bling, bling, bling.

What's she been doing? Plonking herself in the seat next to Prince William at England's first match; dining with her own friends.

Clifford says: Once Sven is no longer England manager, she starts to disappear. She has been somewhere between a three and a four, but that will go down as soon as Sven disappears.

Max factor: 2/5

TOURNAMENT SHORTS

Bid to kick cancer

A pharmacy student battling bowel cancer is auctioning two tickets to a World Cup semi-final after being refused treatment on the NHS. Nick Keher, a keen Everton fan and talented amateur footballer, hopes to raise up to £50,000 to pay for the cancer drug Avastin which the Government's drugs rationing agency has refused to clear for his condition. The tickets, donated by his father and a German company, are being sold at iwanttogototheworldcup.com.

Betting to top £1bn

World Cup gamblers are betting more than £350 per second; more than £21,000 per minute; almost £1.5m per hour; more than £30m per day and are well on course for a record total of more than £1bn on the tournament, say bookmakers William Hill. The biggest winner so far collected £371,000, but a London businessman will dwarf that amount if England win the tournament. He staked £200,000 and will collect £1.4m if the bet comes off.

Sticks and stones...

Fans attacked an electricity office with bamboo sticks and stones after multiple power failures interrupted coverage of two World Cup matches in Bangladesh, including Serbia & Montenegro v Argentina, one of the two South American nations vigorously supported by Bangladeshis.

Fans in team strip

More than 1,000 Dutch fans were forced to get their kit off or miss their team's clash with Ivory Coast on Friday. Dutch brewer Bavaria handed out free orange lederhosen to Holland fans, but Fifa rules ban any logo in the stadiums unless they are official sponsors. The orange army shed their freebies and sat in their undies as their side won 2-1.

Comments