Reviled for having money but no taste, the wives and girlfriends of the England footie team can kill a brand with a single approving nod
Though its seems a while ago now, the events are green in the memory. There, united in defeat in a foreign land, stood our footballers, weeping copiously, sobbing convulsively until the mascara ran down their moisturised cheeks, falling on each other’s necks and rending the air with their anguished cries. Meanwhile, back in a bar in downtown Berlin their wives and girlfriends, WAGs for short, were knocking back the booze, dancing on tables, cursing like stokers and striking terror into cowering onlookers.
If their boyfriends and husbands (BAHs for short) were metrosexual, these formidable females were retrosexual, throwbacks to an era of warrior queens – amazons who would strap on a breastplate at the first bugle call and disembowel a foe with their bare hands. The World Cup WAG inspired a breathless awe in all who beheld her. She might, like Queen Elizabeth I, have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but inside she had the bald and tattooed ferocity of a true Brit. When the roistering was done, the last barstool reduced to matchwood, and the bruising was but a memory of the night before, did she stay abed nursing a morning head and heeding fearful wounds? Did she heck as like!
Out she teetered on strappy stilettos, shoulder to shoulder with her comrades, a determined glint in her eye, to mount crushing dawn raids on sleepy and unsuspecting boutiques. The WAGs drank for England, fought for England, shopped for England, turned the air blue for England – and was England grateful?
I need hardly ask. Like many a returning hero before them, the WAGs set foot back on their native soil to find their achievements scorned and their company shunned. Like Kipling’s soldier trying to order a beer they were turned away, muttering bitterly: “It’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Tommy how’s yer soul?’ But it’s ‘Thin red line of ‘eroes’ when the drums begin to roll.”
It is generally agreed among those who chatter about these things, mainly in the pages of the fashion magazines, that the WAGs are shopping poison, that with a single approving nod of a peroxided head they can kill a brand. As one commentator puts it: “For serious designer labels, there is a tightly defined hierarchy of who is desirable and who is not, and the WAGs almost uniformly fall into the latter categoryâ¦ being Wagged can damage the brand’s desirabilityâ¦ Between them, the WAGs have been the kiss of death to endless labels and fashion trends.”
According to the same source, the ChloÃ© brand has been tarnished. So too has HermÃ¨s, and Jimmy Choo – and, dear God, Stella McCartney is getting the same treatment. Now, hold on to your hats, Lanvin is in “serious jeopardy”.
In the world of fashion, snobbery is abiding and ineradicable. The whole point of attiring oneself in expensive, beautifully made and fashionable clothes is to stand above and apart from the masses. It was ever thus. In the Middle Ages, peasants were forbidden by law from dressing in materials and colours deemed to be above their station. For most of history, however, economics has been the friend and agent of the cognoscenti. Coarse and unrefined hoi polloi were debarred by poverty from sharing the indulgences of the upper reaches of society. Now, for the first time we have in England a class of extremely wealthy riff-raff, men and women with money but no taste.
Except that they do have taste, or at any rate are smart enough to know which labels count and which shops are the best to be seen in. Sadly for the WAGS – not that they care a fig – they might reach out and grasp their goal, but when they open their hand it is empty. By the very act of endorsing a brand, they rob it of its cachet.
Out in the Far East, where portly and desperate middle-aged Englishmen flatter themselves that the local waif-like females find them attractive for themselves and not their money, there is a saying/ “You can take the girl out of the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of the girl.” It is the same with the WAGs: you can put the girl into class, ie swathe her in Burberry, but you can’t take the class out of the girl.
But, just as they triumphed in Germany, the WAGs will win over here. The chavs are on the march and one by one the citadels are falling. The best restaurants, Royal Ascot, Tiffany, Bentley showrooms, the River Room at the Savoy when afternoon tea is served, these and more echo to the shrieks of excited Waggery. This is democracy, raw, unrefined, joyously assertive, and there is nowhere to hide, not even behind the latest ChloÃ© bag. â¢