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16-05-2005
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kit
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Footballers' Wives' Style
She shops, she scores!

Its most popular sellers include yellow tracksuits and rabbitfur pompom boots, and the future Mrs Wayne Rooney has already spent £20,000 there this season. What is it about the Liverpool boutique Cricket? Jess Cartner-Morley joins the real-life footballers' wives and discovers why, for women who like their men in shorts, there is only one place to shop

Monday May 16, 2005
The Guardian

The whole point of a little black dress is supposed to be that you can wear it to any occasion and fit in. So, after a protracted wardrobe crisis, I have chosen, for a midweek footballers' wives' night out, a simple, beaded, knee-length black crepe cocktail dress. My plan is that I will blend into the crowd, all the better to observe. Big mistake. Huge mistake, in fact. Walking into Cricket, the Liverpool boutique where owner Justine Mills is drinking pink champagne with Harry Kewell's wife Sheree Murphy, Lesley Owen (sister of Michael, and fiancee of Richie Partridge, a Liverpool player), and Malene Holst, girlfriend of Liverpool defender Djimi Traore, I blend in like a black cat in a butterfly house. Colourfully dressed and impeccably groomed (Owen has had acrylic nails since she was 14, she tells me) these girls flutter about the store in green and white and pink, like a little flock of Tinkerbells.

And while their clothes and handbags are expensive (they are all in designer jeans, Murphy has a Ghost top, Owen a Balenciaga "baby Lariat" bag) these pale into insignificance next to the jewellery. Everyone is wearing an impressive diamond necklace. Holst has an enormous Jacob & Co watch studded with dozens of diamonds, while Lesley's watch, although slightly smaller, is impossible to miss because the face is so encrusted with bling that she has to hold it above her head at a certain angle to be able to read the time through the diamonds. I am not convinced that my gold-and-coral chandelier earrings - a tenner from M&S, which I was quite pleased with until now - quite cut it, to be honest.



I am here because the first ladies of football - headed, since Victoria Beckham moved to Madrid, by Wayne Rooney's fiancee Coleen McLoughlin - have become a national obsession. McLoughlin's appearance in this month's Vogue has become a media story in its own right. And anyone who has followed tabloid tales of her pom-pommed, rabbit-fur mukluk boots, or the canary yellow tracksuit worn by Alex Curran (soon to be Mrs Steven Gerrard) will have noticed that one name crops up again and again - Cricket.

Cricket, a two-floor designer boutique in Liverpool, has become an unofficial footballers' wives' headquarters, not just for Liverpool and Everton players' wives, but for the Manchester teams too. McLoughlin is reported to have spent £20,000 there this season. Owen comes "about once a week. It's a meeting point - we come here and then go for lunch at the Living Room". The store has become such a mecca that paparazzi are stationed almost permanently outside and each day at 4pm, gaggles of schoolgirls come in to browse and, if they're lucky, star-spot. They all beg to be given one of the distinctive, animal print Cricket carrier bags, which have become a status symbol in their own right. One recently sold on Ebay for £25.

Justine Mills, the owner of Cricket - which started life 14 years ago as a menswear store, hence the now rather incongruous name - has seen her business boom since expanding into womenswear six years ago. She has the true buyer's talent for knowing her customers so well that she knows what they want long before they realise they want it - Cricket was the second store in the country to stock mukluks, long before they were popular. Mills sees the association with football as inevitable: "This city has always been famous for football, so if you're the premier boutique here, you're bound to be linked with the game." The previous evening she was in the store after hours helping Liverpool chairman David Moores and his wife choose outfits for the Champions League final in Istanbul next week.

Along with the players' lounges, Cricket forms the hub of these women's social life. Last week, Mills arranged a girls' night out to a Kylie Minogue concert, which Murphy describes as "like a hen night. We went in a stretch Humvee and we were all wearing bunny ears and dancing all the way there." Tonight, the gang are meeting at Cricket before heading to a party at Boodles, their favourite diamond store. These girls love to sparkle: as well as the necklaces and the watches, diamante shoes are a favourite. Lesley is wearing spike-heeled sandals with diamante bands around the toe and ankle which, she admits, are absolutely killing her. The shoe section of the store is wall-to-wall bling: there are diamante Gina court shoes, diamante Christian Louboutin sandals, diamante Pucci mules.

Behind the sparkle, however, the footballer's wife look has shifted in the year since Beckham gave up her Queen Bee crown to move to Spain. The latest style - epitomised by McLoughlin and Alex Curran, and Cricket's other top customers - is younger, more colourful, sunnier and more up beat. Pucci, Missoni and Matthew Williamson have taken over from Gucci and Dolce. Mills describes the look as "very LA, very Paris Hilton".

The new footballers' wives look is not a sophisticated one. As Alexandra Shulman, the editor of Vogue, notes, McLoughlin "wears a more expensive version of what most 19-year-old girls would like to wear. She wears the Chloe smock top, instead of the Topshop version." And while it is a style much mocked in the press, it is one that many girls aspire to. Owen is, tonight, sleek and sophisticated in a black bandeau top and designer jeans, but she first came to the shop because she loved Curran's Juicy Couture tracksuit and asked her where she bought it. (Owen now has so many Juicy tracksuits that she had to ring her mum from the store recently, to ask her to check in her wardrobe whether she already had a purple one.) When Curran was photographed in the yellow tracksuit - with almost universally unflattering headlines - the shop was deluged with requests for identical orders, from all over the country.

But there is a more sophisticated side to Cricket. The same Chloe Paddington bag that has been a sell-out in London's hippest boutiques is a must-have here. Alongside the rails of sunshine-coloured Juicy Couture are avant-garde naval-inspired trousers by Balenciaga (£605) and an edgy, deconstructed, mesh-and-satin mushroom-coloured Stella McCartney dress for £3,000. When I ask them who their style icons are, only Lesley says Beckham; Sheree cites Kate Moss, while Malene prefers Helena Christensen.

Although they are invariably known as footballers' wives, they are, in fact, more often, footballers' fiancees. At the Boodles party, every other girl I meet is engaged. At first I keep asking them, politely, when they are getting married, but am met, more often than not, with a blank stare. The message seems to be, once you've got a gorgeous Tiffany sugar-cube on your finger, why bother with a boring old gold band and a piece of paper?

But this aside, these women are curiously old-fashioned. Isabella Blow, who styled a fashion shoot in Liverpool to mark the Biennale, says the city reminds her of 18th-century London - "the girls dress like peacocks, or exotic birds" - and the lifestyle of a footballer's wife seems, in some ways, akin to that of the wives and daughters of wealthy families of a bygone era. They are privileged, but have limited autonomy, moving from city to city at the whim of the transfer market. (Sheree, who is charming and funny and bright, was working as an actress on Emmerdale until last year, but has given up for now because, as she puts it, "something's got to give".) They are all well-mannered and unassuming - when we go for dinner after the party, they each quite happily pay for themselves - and, it seems, very well-behaved. Even with free champagne flowing, none of them get remotely tipsy. Clothes are a safe way for them to be flamboyant and have fun.

Owen is the daughter, sister and, now, fiancee of footballers - even though, she says, Michael warned her off footballer boyfriends because he didn't like the way many of them treated women. She is an interior designer, but seems happy to play a traditional housewife role at home - when I ask her whether she watches the TV show Footballers' Wives, she says that most evenings she watches whatever Richie wants to watch while she does the ironing. Keeping perfect house is something of a point of pride: she washes both her and Richie's cars herself, she says, although at a petite 5ft 2in she has to stand on a chair to do the roof.

But some footballers' wives are quite different. At Boodles, I meet Steve McManaman's wife Victoria. She looks the part, with Barbie good looks, candyfloss hair fastened with girlish clips and stripy pink Missoni dress, but she is a barrister, and is keen to point out that many footballers' wives do have careers; it's just that the paparazzi prefer to wait outside Cricket for pictures of girls laden down with carrier bags than snap her in a suit on her way to work. Holst is a journalism student who hopes to go into broadcasting, while Nagore, a Penelope Cruz lookalike who goes out with Xabi Alonso, makes it clear she'd rather talk to me about the hotel where she works, than about the stores in which she shops.

But the sneering at McLoughlin is not borne out of the tabloid media's passion for women pursuing fulfilling careers. It is more about class. Shulman, who put McLoughlin in her magazine "because I thought it was an interesting story, and the fact that it was unexpected was, of course, part of the appeal for me", was shocked by the fuss that ensued. She attributes much of it to "snobbery and jealousy. There's an idea that it's all right for posh girls to go out and spend a lot of money on Balenciaga bags, but somehow it's not all right for a working-class girl to do it." What's more, the Cricket aesthetic is firmly northern. As Shulman says of McLoughlin, "she has a flamboyant, northern taste. To be proud of the fact that you've got money is more of a northern than southern trait." Recent research by the Queen's bank, Coutts, found that there are currently 3,200 millionaires in Merseyside, and the bank has opened a Liverpool branch. With the cost of living substantially less than in London, these wealthy Merseysiders have disposable income to burn. Like it or not, it seems the Cricket look is here to stay.


Paris Hilton in NW UK !!!?

You've GOT to be kidding .


Last edited by kit; 16-05-2005 at 03:48 AM.
 
 
16-05-2005
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kit
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Sorry that this thread doesn't appear on the forum list , but grateful it's taken here .

 
16-05-2005
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oh dear this is depressing. I don't know what else to say.....thanks kit!

 
16-05-2005
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kit
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Here's the website :-


http://www.cricketdesignerwear.co.uk/


Nuff said .

 
16-05-2005
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Quote:

To be proud of the fact that you've got money is more of a northern than southern trait
What? Why doesn't Jess try 'it's not okay for either posh girls or charvs to have that kind of money'...



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16-05-2005
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The same Chloe Paddington bag that has been a sell-out in London's hippest boutiques is a must-have here.

People like that shouldn't be allowed to own bags like that.

Why don't your threads ever stick, Kit??

 
16-05-2005
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kit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSoCalledPrep

Why don't your threads ever stick, Kit??
You tell me , Sweetie .

 
16-05-2005
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kit just look at that website - grimsville. Nice tsubi jeans oh yes and chiffon boleros.

 
16-05-2005
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kit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helena
kit just look at that website - grimsville. Nice tsubi jeans oh yes and chiffon boleros.


I got my degree at the University of Liverpool , plucky Scousers but even less style than Liam Gallagher - style Mancs , ( although there is quite a good shop there called ' Wade Smith ' ) .

 
16-05-2005
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I have never been to either Liverpool or Manchester but I imagine they are both like Glasgow - there are two Glasgow espressions to describe the style 'wee hairy Mary's' is one and 'gallus' is the other - i am finding it hard to actually verbally define those expressions but Colleen McL is a wee hairy mary with a gallus attitude.

 
16-05-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helena
I have never been to either Liverpool or Manchester but I imagine they are both like Glasgow - there are two Glasgow espressions to describe the style 'wee hairy Mary's' is one and 'gallus' is the other - i am finding it hard to actually verbally define those expressions but Colleen McL is a wee hairy mary with a gallus attitude.
LOL!

 
16-05-2005
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I personallty don't know any footballler's wives but I have gathered all the information I need about them (style and lifestyle) by watching ITV's Footballer's Wives

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16-05-2005
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kit
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Manchester has the edge , actually , over Liverpool for fashion labels .

Manchester can support an HERMES boutique that sells the rtw as well as the accessories , but Liverpool is far more ' bling ' - ' fur coat and no knickers ' , as my grandmother used to say .

Liverpool is a true haven for all things ' chav ' .
I cannot imagine Colleen Mc in a ' Jean Paul Gaultier for Hermes ' creation , although there's time yet ...........

 
16-05-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrinceOfCats
[font=Arial]

What? Why doesn't Jess try 'it's not okay for either posh girls or charvs to have that kind of money'...


Prince that was actually a quote from Ms Shulman.

I read of an amusing football chant sung to Liverpool fans:-

"City of culture, you're havin a laugh".

 
16-05-2005
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bling that blinds? chloe smock tops? juicy tracksuits? muklukwhatchamacallits? just goes to show money doesnt always buy style

 
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