Yessssssss!! We knew this day would come!!! -- J.
Click on the links to see all the nice pictures!!http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/main.jhtml?xml=/fashion/2008/07/16/efscarves116.xml
Scarves are making headlines once again
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 16/07/2008
Celia Walden remains unconvinced that the frumpy accessory will ever become cool
# In pictures: How to tie a headscarf
# In pictures: Head of the headscarves
I've embraced some dubious trends in my time, but peering at my own babushka-like reflection, I can't help but wonder if this might be the most ludicrous of them all. I blame Dolce & Gabbana who, along with Paul Smith and Jean Paul Gaultier, have decreed that headscarves, tied beneath the chin - à la "Queen at Balmoral" - are back.
Celia Walden in a headscarf
Celia wears 'Chasse en Inde' silk scarf, £192, Hermes, Sloane Street, London SW1; 020 7823 1014
"We wanted to revamp the headscarf," explains Domenico Dolce, "give it a new life and introduce it to a younger generation. Our aim was to give it a modern and cool twist."
But even after a scarf-tying lesson at Hermès (where else?) under the direction of its "scarf ambassador", Vivienne Alexander, the modern and cool part eludes me. What I see staring back at me in the mirror is more quasi-religious than Riviera Chic, with shades of Romanian gipsy.
Still, D&G must be given the benefit of the doubt: just look at the calibre of women who have famously worn headscarves in the past. Grace Kelly sheltered her fair skin beneath one while riding and sailing; Audrey Hepburn swathed her heart-shaped face in one as she frolicked with Cary Grant in Charade; and Jemima Khan looked so beautiful in her hijab, while living in Pakistan, that the more impressionable members of the fashion set briefly considered converting to Islam.
But how can I achieve their look, rather than that of the Coronation Street charlady, Hilda Ogden?
"It's not an easy one to get right," admits Alexander, "though the basic rules are simple. The Kelly/Queen look should be uncluttered - whether you decide to tuck your hair in or leave it out at the back. It's important for the scarf - ideally made of the softest patterned silk - to be large enough [minimum 35in x 35in] that it can be folded into a big triangle. It should be wound around the face in such a way that a little hair is visible along the brow line. Then, cross it over at the neck and tie neatly at the back."
Hermès headscarves - made famous by the 1960s Côte d'Azur crowd - have been selling out in recent weeks, to what Alexander describes as "a much younger crowd than usual". Handmade and finished in France, each design is painted by a different artist - and they are priced accordingly at £192 (it's the "2" that really pinches, isn't it?).
Respectful looks greet me as I venture on to Sloane Street, my pace regal but demure. It's then that life decides to throw me a curveball. A Romanian gipsy, wearing a headscarf that is tied just like mine (but, I imagine, at a fraction of the cost) starts hurling abuse at me, convinced I'm stealing her patch. It takes a few sharp words from the store's security to see her off, but the whole episode leaves everyone feeling a little uncomfortable. That said, the headscarf blessedly spared me much of the unpleasantness, since wearing one is like walking through life under water: it's hard to hear when your ears are tightly bound to your head. No wonder the Queen's a fan.
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."
Paul Smith, Dolce and Gabbana and Jean Paul Gaultier autumn/winter 2008 collections
From left: Paul Smith, Dolce & Gabbana and Jean Paul Gaultier headscarves
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."
While Geddes thinks the look is more likely to be a "short-lived fad rather than anything lasting", she suggests that anyone who does try it keeps the rest of her outfit minimal. "I would advise a black, short-sleeved polo-neck and sleek, tailored black trousers if you are going to wear one; certainly nothing like a tweed jacket, which would be too ageing."
However, Jo Elvin, editor of Glamour, thinks it's one catwalk craze best avoided. "It really only works if there's a practical reason for it - like protection from the elements when you're driving in an open-top car," she says. "Then it's far better than a baseball cap. Otherwise, though, it looks mumsy or slightly pretentious."