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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicky Clarke has criticised the Duchess of Cambridge for having grey hair  

Letting one’s hair turn grey would be the most subversive Royal act

Rosie Millard
 

London’s foreign money bubble is bursting – but will we be better off?

Chris Blackhurst
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash