Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

When I said wear a scarf, this isn't what I meant

Not tied round the head, for godsake.

Celia Walden in the Telegraph tries one on and does not like it.

According to Dennis Nothdruft, curator of London's Fashion and Textile Museum, this headscarf resurgence is about a new sense of chastity in fashion. "Before peasants used them to keep their heads cool, women wore headscarves in medieval times to maintain their modesty," he explains. "But it is also symptomatic of the economic downturn. If you can't afford to have your roots done, wear a headscarf to cover them up. Sociologically, it's about escapism."

Given that the fashion world likes nothing better than provocation, isn't it also a nod to Islam? "There's no doubt that we have a huge Muslim clientèle," agrees Alexander. "But this is more about a return to that elegant Grace Kelly era than anything else."

So, will this strange amalgam of royal homeliness, Muslim chic and proletarian pretence ever take off? Come autumn, will we be seeing women ambling down high streets or queueing at the cold meat counter in Waitrose, looking like Russian peasants?

"I do think we will be seeing a fair amount of headscarves around over the next few months," says Gaia Geddes, executive fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar. "But the fashion may be better suited to young girls, who will be able to pull it off with the right tongue-in-cheek manner."


dinazad said...

What's wrong with headscarfs? I've worn them since I was a child. My ears are sensitive to cold and wind, so a headscarf is the ideal way to escape bad pain and an inflamed inner ear. They keep your head dry in a mad dash through the rain towards the next bus or taxi, they double (if they're large enough) as a shopping bag, belt, neckwrap, bandage, bikini top, sun hat, tablecloth, and many other things. They can look very stylish (well, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn certainly looked stylish in them), let you experiment in ways to tie them, and so on and so forth. All in all a most practical and handsome piece of apparel! As with all other accessories you have to know (or learn) how to wear it to best effect, but that's part of the fun.

Linda Grant said...

What's wrong with them is that most of us find them very unflattering and ageing when worn in the manner shown above. Tied around the neck or the many other uses is another matter. The women always cited as looking fabulous in a headscarf tied this way seem, by a quirk of coincidence, to be stunningly beautiful and would look glamorous in a hessian sack. The rest of us look like Bulgarian peasants in them.

Arabella said...

Oh, if only my old mum could hear all the frightened clucking going on over at The Telegraph and beyond! She was Roma/English working class and perfected the scarf knotted under the chin with the addition of wool-lined ankle boots. I can understand not wanting to look like a Windsor, but the post-war food line heroine? Bring it on and wear with love.

phyllis said...

Dinazad, sure they can look stylish, IF you look like Audrey Hepbrun or Gracy kelly. As for those of us who don't? No so much.

No babuschka's on my head. Ever.

Toby Wollin said...

Let's see list for who will look good in a headscarf: Young(check), thin(check), tall(check), good cheekbones(check). Me? Nope, nope, nope and ...nope. I've got family photos from the early 1900s in the Ukraine with the ladies of the family(who I resemble almost preternaturally, I might add)primly dressed in their best, with those headscarves firmly tied under their chins, hairlines covered right down to the eyebrows. Looking like a senior member of the Windsor clan is NOT my worry - looking like my Ukrainian great-grandmother IS.

Polly said...

I do think they look a bit mumsy, but it's too bad, because as Dinazad said, they're so practical on a damp windy day. I'm secretly hoping they catch on.

Anonymous said...

Apropos to a friend of mine who recently gave up wearing wigs (she lost her hair to cancer chemo) and started wearing headscarfs. I went with her to a support meeting and saw women of all ages wearing turbans, headscarfs, berets, etc. Although, obviously, some of them looked quite ill, most of them looked fabulous. She had visions of looking like the Princess Royal (minus the lovely hair), but after a bit of experimentation she loves them and she looks good.

I don't think it's a case of anything being better than bald, but most of these women seemed to carry off the look. I guess it's attitude above all.

It was interesting, I really thought the idea was completely frumpy and yet these women looked so good.


Deja Pseu said...

If you're one of those Euro-Glam Gypsy* types, perhaps tied pirate style would work. Otherwise, like the Prada turbans, this is a look best worn ironically by pretty young women and which I'll probably skip.

*See: Doonan, Simon, "Eccentric Glamour"

Gorgeous Things said...

IMHO, the only time to wear a headscarf (I'm talking about non-religious purposes) is when driving with the top down and very large sunglasses. And even then one's makeup and overall attitude must be perfect to carry the look off. Otherwise you look like you borrowed Granny's babushka.

Rollergirl said...

As soon as I saw that photo of her I thought, 'it's not meant for you, you twit, it's for the Pixie Geldof types who can do it with a bit of ironic flair' which was of course echoed by the Harpers bod at the end of the article. Had to laugh at the quote about covering up your roots! I think scarves (is it scarves or scarfs??) will be a massive seller for autumn, you don't HAVE to wear them on your head.

Susan said...

Most headgear isn't for me--I need a wide brim--but at least scarves would be a change from the baseball and gimme caps. Oh, but I'm sick of seeing those, on men or women, bill worn forward, backward, or sideways.

Rosaria said...

Listen honeys, it was great for Kelly and Hepburn, but they're done and dusted, and 99% of us don't even faintly resemble either icon. Linda's spot on, we would resemble European peasants or mummsy Windsor. The young and the reckless might get away with it, but even they would see sense after five minutes.

It's definitely not Muslim chic either. There are some beautiful, elegant ways to tie hijab so it drapes the head and shoulders in flattering ways. But tied under the chin thus isn't one of them. Younger Muslim women have more recently adopted more flair in hijab styles.

Scarves can be tied around the head in all sorts of innovative ways, but tied under the chin isn't one of them. Even if you didn't have a Ukranian grandmother, you would look as though you did.

I have a recent picture of me in a black scarf tied under the chin (the one and only occasion, will explain another time, it's complicated), and I look like granny from that there village far yonder over the mountains. My family had hysterics.

Anonymous said...

If you can't afford to have your roots done, use a headscarf to cover them up?

Is he mad? With a headscarf the only part of your hair that shows is the roots.


Anonymous said...

I wear headscarves, but think it works because I'm American wearing them in the states where our associations are more "Grace Kelly" than "The Queen". (Well, that is until La Mirren's The Queen.) We can get by with a little irony & attitude.

(I live in a windy place and must cover my ears, but don't wanna wear what everyone else does: manly cheap watch caps or Emo hacky-sack hippie bobble-topped hangin'-sidestraps ethnica or polartec Patagonia jock.)

-- desertwind