Style police: Doris Day meets Jackie O

James Sherwood
Saturday 09 May 1998 23:02 BST

Think Heidi on the catwalk. Think headscarves with attitude. This season's must-have is nothing more than a small triangle of material worn with style

SOMETIMES fashion is like the Grand National. The collections give us a shopping list of runners and riders for the season. A favourite is chosen and every magazine backs it as the season's winner. As we all know, the favourite rarely, if ever, wins. This spring the major tipsters, from Vogue to Marie Claire, all backed Cowboy chic as hot favourite. What a lame nag that turned out to be. The first past the post this season is that old thoroughbred the headscarf.

The headscarf is having a fashion moment. The beauty of headscarves is their absolute simplicity. There is something undeniably chic, casual and soignee about a Heidi headscarf tied at the nape with a jaunty triangular fold. Just because Style Police mentioned Heidi doesn't mean you accessorise it with a Dirndl and pigtails. American Vogue christened the Michael Kors headscarf in their April issue the "Jackie O in Athens look". It is that icon-off-duty ease of scarf, dark glasses, slouchy pants and Gucci sandal flatties. Think of Jackie O aboard Ari Onassis's yacht or Audrey Hepburn drifting incognito through the streets of New York.

The designer really responsible for the headscarf hysteria in London is milliner Jo Gordon. Gordon's more outre hats are commissioned by Comme Des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto and Thierry Mugler Couture. Her scarves, naive little triangles of felted wool, are actually a sideline that simply wouldn't be sidelined. "It started with a cranky little shop in New York commissioning me to make felted wool scarves for their little old lady customers," says Gordon. "I had my six knitters in Scotland make-up samples and took them to London Fashion Week." At Gordon's Fashion Week stand, the fashion stylists swooped like a plague of locusts on to the headscarves.

"I made the headscarves in 38 colourways for autumn/winter 98," says Gordon, "but when I saw the response we had, I made them up in net and offcuts of pink and lilac linen for spring." The spring scarves are, in Gordon's words, "quite cheesy. I've edged them in rick-rack." Now bear with Style Police here. Gordon's symphonies in net and rick-rack work with box-pleated prom skirts, clam-diggers and Capri pants. Of course, you can follow the sainted Jackie O style, but the London look is more naive, peasant-girly and cute. You may think Style Police is coming over all Doris Day. You may be right.

The thing Style Police really loves about the headscarf trend is the ease with which it can be adapted. The gurus may be wearing Jo Godon but you could put a linen napkin on your head and still look fabulous.

It is crucial, however, that you don't tie your scarf under the chin like the Queen or Christine Hamilton. "Tied from the back, headscarves make a woman look incredibly beautiful. They look their most flattering when they sit quite far back from the hairline," says Gordon. "Because my headscarves are made from felted wool, they hold the point of the triangle at the back." These little pieces of felted heaven will be available at funky boutiques like Egg, Browns Focus and Graham & Green. The spring samples are as rare as hen's teeth. Nip into Browns Focus and get one to order.

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