Is new-look Coleen queen of chav or chic?
She has a magazine lifestyle column, a £2million book deal to write about fashion, lucrative Asda and Nike contracts, and is launching her own line of sportswear. Yet three years ago, Coleen McLoughlin, 19, was a Merseyside schoolgirl with puppy fat and a suspicious taste in clothes.
This week, pictures from her latest holiday reveal she is looking slimmer than ever, so FEMAIL asked five writers where they stand in the Coleen debate. Is she chav — or chic?
Liz Jones, Daily Mail columnist and former editor of Marie Claire says CHIC:
I love everything about Coleen. When she was photographed in Vogue last summer, I thought Hurrah for her creamy chunkiness.
Here at last is a young woman who enjoys the way she looks, proof that even someone who is relatively short (5ft 3in) and definitely curvy can look fabulous.
OK, so she has lost quite a bit of weight on a punishing new fitness regime — she was pictured on the beach in Dubai this week flaunting her new size 10 figure — but she is still a much better role model than the dangerously cadaverous Victoria Beckham, and over the past year or so has demonstrated far more of a passion for fashion.
Even when she didn’t have millions and could only afford a new scrunchy for her hair, you would see her every Saturday afternoon patrolling the High Street stores in Liverpool — ‘You always see great-looking girls in lovely clothes in my home town,’ she said once — and peering in the window of her favourite boutique, Cricket.
Now that she can afford whatever she wants, she hasn’t plumped for the more obvious, look-at-me labels, such as Gucci and Versace, preferring instead the more quirky Chloe, Matthew Williamson, Stella McCartney and Missoni, mixed with basics from Gap, H&M and Topshop — the bikini she wore in Dubai cost a mere £20.
Like any ordinary 19-year-old, she sometimes gets it wrong — fake Mukluks and a gilet teamed with a lurid Juicy Couture tracksuit — and she has hair extensions and false, French-polished nails, but she has bravely avoided the chavvy trampi-ness of most footballers’ wives.
You will never see Coleen displaying public clinginess on the arm of her fiance, mewing like a kitten, cleavage on display. She has too much class to do that.
Amanda Platell, Daily Mail columnist says CHAV:
Coleen does chav like the Queen does duty — she was born to it. Being chav is like having ginger hair, it’s a defining characteristic. There are things you can do to disguise it, or highlight it, but in the end it’s what you are.
With a talent for vulgar displays of extravagance that would make even Elton John blanche, at the ripe old age of 19, Coleen is quintessentially chav. She is the poor man’s Posh.
With a limited education (except in the school of life), unskilled (apart from milking her relationship with Wayne for all it’s worth), Coleen is the kind of lass other girls like having around. By comparison, she makes the average footballer’s fiancée look chic.
No number of designer makeovers can disguise the fact that underneath she is Vicky Pollard with money (and a boyfriend), just as no amount of crash diets can really change that sweet, tubby little figure.
Stomping along the beach this week on yet another holiday, with her new slimline figure (we’re talking Anne Diamond weight-loss here), she’s still a double cheeseburger and fries kind of gal.
Yet her ordinariness is all part of Coleen’s appeal. Author, columnist, fashion designer and now model, the career list goes on. She is flogging her chavdom for all it’s worth while she can, as even Col knows she has the shelf life of an Asda pork pie.
If Coleen were a stick of Brighton rock, she would have the Burberry check stamped all the way through — and she’d love it. Bless her.
Karen Clarkson, a writer and celebrity stylist says CHIC:
They say that Victoria Beckham is in danger of losing her Tiffany crown to Coleen. Well, in my opinion, that happened long ago.
OK, they both have soccer-star partners and the large shopping allowance that comes with them, but that’s where the similarities end.
For the one thing that divides the pair unequivocally is class.
Coleen was born with it whereas Posh, no matter how hard she tries, will never have it.
Indeed, while Coleen grew up in a three-bedroom council house in Liverpool, Victoria was cruising around Hertfordshire in the back of her dad’s Rolls-Royce — and perhaps that’s where the differences were born.
While Victoria learnt at an early age that if you’ve got it, flaunt it, there’s something charmingly modest about McLoughlin.
Yes, she spends her boyfriend’s cash on designer clothes, but how many of us in her position wouldn’t do the same?
When Coleen gets photographed emerging from a designer boutique, she smiles sheepishly in her Juicy Couture tracksuit and heads for home. She doesn’t pout, pose or preen behind a pair of ostentatious sunglasses with the smug assumption that every woman in the world would just love to be in her stilettos.
Even the designer labels they choose to wear say it all. Coleen favours intelligently chic labels such as Balenciaga, Chloe and Matthew Williamson, while Victoria can’t resist a vulgar smattering of Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli.
Even Coleen’s recent weight loss has been managed with her usual modesty — a healthy low-fat diet and a regular work-out shifted her puppy fat to reveal a shapely but slender figure that we can all relate to. She hasn’t — at the expense of her own health — shrunk to status symbol, skeletal size 6.
Coleen might have landed her bikini-clad body across the pages of every national newspaper, but at least she hasn’t orchestrated an entire fashion shoot, like the Beckhams did last summer.
Rooney’s girl couldn’t look more gorgeous emerging from the sea in a simple, black High Street bikini, with not a speck of make-up and her hair tied casually in a knot.
Even the hint of sunburn makes me love her more. Forget a trip to Beckingham Palace, I’d eat my entire shoe collection to spend a weekend hanging out in Liverpool with Coleen.
Comedian Jenny Eclair says CHAV:
Is she the new Jackie O, or just another dumpy little girl who got lucky?
Well neither. I can’t imagine what is ‘lucky’ about being landed with Mr Rooney — at least when JFK ‘played away’ it was with Marilyn Monroe. Wayne, on the other hand has disturbing gerontophilic tendencies.
And as for the notion that Ms McLoughlin is the nation’s newly chosen Queen of Chic, it makes me despair. Coleen is a pretty girl with a heck of a lot of pocket money, but the new Kate Moss she is not.
For starters she’s got one of those classic working-class bodies — it doesn’t matter how gym-toned the girl might be, there is still something about her that looks like she was designed to bring in the washing.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to see a girl who is obviously fond of gravy — but let’s face it, anyone who still wears Ugg boots and Juicy Couture is so far away from the cutting edge of fashion as to be positively blunt.
Here are some facts: you cannot be a style icon and the face of Asda. That — literally — would be having your frozen chocolate gateau and eating it. Coleen is as exotic as a catering size bag of chips, but possibly slightly duller.
That said, she has done a shoot for Vogue, so what on earth is going on?
You can’t blame Coleen. She just so happened to come along at a time when this country is suffering from a massive dose of inverted snobbery. Today, anything bog standard is strictly de rigueur.
So while we continue to be obsessed by the ordinary, the Chav Princess rules.
Novelist Helen Frith Powell, expert on French and British style says CHAV:
The fact that Coleen is considered a style icon is one of the most depressing bits of news I have heard in years.
This is a girl who has nothing to recommend her bar the fact that her equally unstylish boyfriend can kick a football.
She epitomises everything that makes British women the laughing stock of Europe in the style stakes. If Coleen lived in France or Italy, she wouldn’t be famous for being a footballer’s girlfriend, she would be notorious for being the worst-dressed woman in the country.
Granted, she has now lost some weight, but let’s not forget that this is a woman who spent the past two years with her belly hanging over a pair of low-slung tracksuit trousers. Coleen looks about as stylish as Sir Alex Ferguson looks in his trackies.
Whatever next, will the gum-chewing, red-faced Scot be voted the world’s sexiest man and write a guide to achieving the perfect six-pack?
Another big mistake Coleen makes is always wearing clothes that are too small. Listen love, let’s get this straight, wearing a size 10 won’t make you a size 10. It will just make you look like a person whose clothes are too small.
So now this icon has been paid a reported £2 million to write a fashion and lifestyle tome. That’s like King Herod penning a Bringing Up Baby manual.
She may be a nice girl, but I’m as likely to take style tips from Coleen as I am to take elocution lessons from her boyfriend.
To write a style book, I would have thought you would have needed just that.
It is a sad indictment of Big Brother Britain that all you need to become a celebrity is a good manager and a famous boyfriend.
Coleen has said she is trying to look like Audrey Hepburn. That’s a worthy aim, but maybe she should read some style books instead of writing one.
She still has a long way to go and a lot of tracksuits to burn.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor in chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. Helena is also working on a thriller called Thin Ice that will be published in spring 2021 as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
Her latest non-fiction work Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles came out in hardback in 2016 and in paperback in April 2018.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
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