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How did Coronation Street’s Roy Cropper, Princess Anne and farmer Clive Owen become style icons?

Whether it’s brown second-hand overcoats, horsey practicality or zip-up fleeces – there are a new bunch of fashion influencers in town and, hurrah, there isn’t a Kardashian among them, says Fleur Britten

Thursday 18 January 2024 12:32 GMT
Muses for the modern age: Golden Girl Sophie Petrillo, Princess Anne, Corrie’s Roy Cropper and Clive Owen from ‘Our Yorkshire Farm’
Muses for the modern age: Golden Girl Sophie Petrillo, Princess Anne, Corrie’s Roy Cropper and Clive Owen from ‘Our Yorkshire Farm’ (Amazon/ITV/Getty/Prada)

I don’t know about you, but I’m so bored of the current carousel of celebrities, all competing away to see who can most resemble a dog’s dinner. I’m thinking Barry Keoghan, Timothée Chalamet and Florence Pugh, just for starters – all seemingly desperate to look as absolutely Fashion with a capital F as possible. And yet, despite all that effort, all that preening, all that preparation, all those glam squads, all those designer arrangements, they all just look bum-clenchingly awkward in their fashion loans. What they’ve got wrong is that they’re Just. Trying. Too. Hard.

Thankfully, there is a refreshing new crop of style icons – the unfashionable fashion muses for high-fashion brands who can’t get enough of their look. These are the poster people for not trying to please anyone else at all. Sticking to their signature style (or un-style) through the decades, these newly unfashionable fashionable influencers are about timelessness – they’ll never look out of fashion, because they were never in fashion in the first place.

They’re relatable; they’re here for the people, which is not something that could be said for our aforementioned tryhards. So it’s about time the new muse had their moment in the sun. And guess what – even the fashion industry has noticed their enduring appeal, paying homage to them in this season’s collections.

Princess Anne’s response to becoming a style icon was peak HRH
Princess Anne’s response to becoming a style icon was peak HRH (Getty)

Princess Anne

The sturdy skirt suits, the horsey practicality, the resolutely dour colour palette – HRH has been nothing if not consistent in her style preferences over the decades. So if you happen to want to pull off the Princess Royal look – as indeed was the case for Fendi and its AW24 menswear (yes, menswear) collection – then you’re going to have a pretty straightforward playbook from which to plunder.

Silvia Venturini Fendi, the brand’s creative director of menswear, made no secret that the 73-year-old royal was her inspiration for the show, which took place last weekend in Milan. Princess Anne is, according to the Italian designer, “The chicest woman in the world capable of maintaining her femininity while wearing a uniform.” Hear, hear! The collection is a pretty literal interpretation: think dark earthy colours, leather wellies, thick hiking socks, sensible raincoats, pleated skirts (yes, for men – keep up, it’s 2024). Apparently, according to her aides, Princess Anne’s response to being the inspiration behind the collection, is that – fabulously – she didn’t see the point, given that some of her outfits date back nearly half a century. Which is possibly the most Princess Anne response imaginable.

Forget Carnaby Street, follow Roy Cropper to Coronation Street for your new style
Forget Carnaby Street, follow Roy Cropper to Coronation Street for your new style (ITV)

Coronation Street’s Roy Cropper

It surely doesn’t get any more un-fashion than Roy Cropper, the Coronation Street cafe-owning character who, with his trademark beige charity-shop anorak, workwear shirts, grandad knits and grey nylon shopper, looks like he hasn’t had a wardrobe refresh since the last millennium. “Bingo!” shouted Mrs Prada. “That’s the look for this season.” Well, OK – that’s not exactly how it went, but it’s got to be said that the shapeless, multi-pocketed sports-casual jacket of look 17 of Prada’s SS24 womenswear collection is Roy Cropper all over. (And remember, whatever Mrs Prada says goes.)

Prada meets Roy Cropper on the catwalk
Prada meets Roy Cropper on the catwalk (Prada)

It’s not just the coat though – Roy’s current relevance in fashion goes beyond that. With “grandpacore” being the new coastal grandmother (honestly, who makes this stuff up? Tiktok, apparently), Roy is a shoo-in for a grandpa pin-up. Should you want to jump on the pensioner-chic bandwagon, ask yourself, “What would Roy wear?” Choose comfy over chic, stick to the neutrals, grab some orthopaedic shoes, and remember: whatever you want you’ll find second-hand.

Sophia ‘Golden Girl’ Petrillo

If Florence, Timothée and Barry sit at one end of the fashion spectrum, grasping for the Very Latest Thing like their lives depended on it, Sophia Petrillo, the archetypal “little old lady” character from the 1980s American sitcom The Golden Girls, sits firmly and proudly at the very opposite end. The poodle perm, the buttoned-up, high-necked blouses, the surgically attached handbag, and the owl-eyed spectacles were the epitome of carehome-core (surely coming to catwalks soon), but what pulled it all together, what designers have been ripping off this season is Petrillo’s omnipresent Nana Cardi.

Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo in ‘The Golden Girls’
Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo in ‘The Golden Girls’ (NBCUniversal/Getty)

This is no normal cardi – it’s fancy. It’s even being touted as worthy enough to be the new blazer. Maybe it’s mohair-fluffy (ideally in pastel yellow – thank you, Marni, or blush – thank you, Sézane). Maybe it’s embellished with sparkly bits – Erdem’s bejewelled and floral-embroidered cream cotton cardi or Gucci’s sequinned teal mohair/silk number would be absolutely perfect for a spot of Darjeeling and Victoria sponge. Hopefully it’s got a puffed sleeve (capacious enough, of course, for a hankie) and a strong shoulder – the critical detail, though, is that it’s buttoned on the neck, and it’s got to be warm and cosy – damn, it’s got to actually do its job. Unlike some of the ridiculousness out there.

Amanda Owen and now ex-husband Clive rose to fame through the Channel 5 show
Amanda Owen and now ex-husband Clive rose to fame through the Channel 5 show (Getty)

Farmer Clive from Our Yorkshire Farm

It’s unlikely that Taylor Swift has any idea who Clive Owen is – no, not the tall, dark and handsome Hollywood actor, but the wiry, weathered Yorkshire shepherd living on a remote hill farm, who came to fame as the paterfamilias of the five-season reality TV series Our Yorkshire Farm. But his sartorial influence on the global megastar became apparent last week when Tay-Tay stepped out in – hold onto your chairs – a men’s zip-up fleece jacket.

It’s not even an isolated case – Hailey Bieber, Gigi Hadid and Chalamet have also jumped on the Mountain Warehouse bandwagon, while fashion fleeces are cropping up across the high street at Arket, H&M, Whistles and Marks & Spencer, as well as Bond Street, at Stella McCartney and Burberry, for example. What makes the modern fleece “fashion”, you may be surprised to hear, is its I-don’t-care colour scheme of sewage-brown. Remember, fashion loves a spot of ugly chic – crocs, cycling shorts and bum bags. You can now add a big brown fleece to that list.

All of this will be, of course, news to Farmer Clive, whose trusty collection of fleece jackets has always been key to his look – they’re warm! They’re lightweight! They’re practical! (He likes a sleeveless version, because of course the life of a farmer is very much sleeves-rolled-up.) And when Jeremy Clarkson joined the agricultural ranks, he quickly got with the tribal look, only to be roasted by the press for turning up to a Soho House party wearing his fleece. He’ll be pleased to know that the humble jacket is now very much on the guest list.

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