Sophie Heawood: Hilda Ogden: an Audrey Hepburn for the Noughties

A salute to the moving spirit of Corrie Chic

Share
Related Topics

Not somewhere you'd usually look for fashion inspiration, Coronation Street. The Rovers Return could put olives in its martinis, pastries on the bar and "Moon River" on the jukebox and it would still lag some distance behind the style of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Yet Corrie Chic is the new inspiration for Amy Winehouse, who this week ditched her bedraggled black beehive, cut her hair, bleached it and wrapped it up in a nice Hilda Ogden headscarf. And Hilda Ogden herself, or rather, 81-year-old Jean Alexander, who played the part of the put-upon char lady for more than 20 years, is thrilled.

Alexander told The Sun that her style came from the Second World War, when women were thrown into industry. "I used to see the young women on the trams and buses going to the munitions factory at Speke. They had their hair tied up and scarves like that to stop their fashionable long hair from getting caught up in the machinery at work. I'm delighted the headscarf is having a revival."

Of course, Hilda's headscarf was there really only to keep her rollers in, in perpetual expectation of some significant event for which she would finally unveil a full head of curls.

That day never came, because, when not busy reading teacups and admiring the "muriel" decorating her living room wall, she was cleaning. She was always cleaning. She resented the machinists in the factory for not being cleaners.

So the Ogden look speaks volumes on Winehouse, especially since she is just back from a Caribbean holiday that she apparently didn't enjoy much. Of course she didn't – a trip to Mustique is for ladies who lunch, not ladies who lurch, and the idea of doing a hard day's manual labour is clearly what Amy dreams of now.

She says she's ready to start a new album, and so the headscarf cries, "I am no longer hiding beneath my big, fake beehive (in fact, it drifted off to sea and a fisherman now uses it to ensnare red snapper). I'm cleaning up my act and I'm ready to go to work."

Of course, Coronation Street nowadays is full of clothes that fashion would call chavvy, because it's only ever in retrospect that working-class style becomes cool, once its functional value has been replaced with nostalgic kitsch. Denim jeans were worn only by labourers until Marlon Brando and James Dean made them glamorous on the silver screen. Japanese fashion took off in the 1980s when Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake were inspired by the functional workwear of fishermen.

Matelasse, which is the quilted padding effect on Chanel handbags so redolent of luxury, is an effect that Coco Chanel had seen on stable boys' jackets. Like Lady Chatterley, luxury and high glamour often fetishise the lower orders – because the lower orders have specific jobs to do. The headscarf, the land girl look, and the pencil skirt secretary are all in vogue now, because we want to look like we have a purpose.

Fashion is often said to be for those with more money than sense, but in these pre-recession times, Corrie Chic declares its wearer to have more sense than money. Though, as it happens, I've just been to the birthday party of a Coronation Street actor and the Hilda Ogden look was nowhere to be seen. Gail Tilsley wore a silver blouse; that handsome chap who goes out with Violet had on a very expensive pair of shoes and the gay couple wore beautifully fitting shirts.

But when I asked who one particularly handsome man was, it turned out he writes the scripts. Screenwriter chic, anyone? Be sure to carry a pencil.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Accounts Receivable / Accounts Payable Assistant - Central Lond

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Receivable / Accounts Payab...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

.Net/ C# Developer/ Analyst Programmer - West London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .NET/ C# .Pr...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
David Cameron and Theresa Mayspeak to Immigration Enforcement officers at a property where six immigrants were arrested on July 29, 2014 in Slough, England.  

Does David Cameron actually believe his tough new immigration stance?

Matthew Norman
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on