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

Recruitment Genius: Front End Web Interface Developer - HTML, CSS, JS

£17000 - £23750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Liverpool based international...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: winter crisis for the NHS – Miliband and Burnham don’t know how to fix it

John Rentoul
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness