Look out Posh, here comes Claudine.
If you haven’t heard the name Claudine Keane yet, allow us to introduce you. She’s the wife of newly signed LA Galaxy player Robbie Keane, former star of the Tottenham Hotspurs, and captain of the Irish national soccer team. Claudine can be best described as the new Victoria Beckham—that wife of LA Galaxy player David Beckham, former star of Manchester United, and captain of the English national soccer team.
Claudine and Posh have more than goal-scoring hubbies eking out their twilight years on mega-bucks contracts in Los Angeles in common. Claudine, much like Posh before her, seems determined to exploit her relocation west of the Atlantic as an opportunity to reinvent herself as—if not a style icon—at least not a style train wreck.
America has always been a place where Europeans can transform and re-imagine themselves, unfettered by the tiresome Old World insistence on consistency. Since Dubliner Claudine touched down in Los Angeles on Aug. 18, she has wasted little time in recasting herself as the pretender to Victoria’s crown as the most stylish WAG (as the "wives and girlfriends" of British soccer stars are known) in L.A.
Her evolution from chav-tastic Irish party girl to wholesome L.A. body fascist began before she even took off. Claudine was photographed on departure at Heathrow airport in a classic blue velour and cashmere Juicy tracksuit, sending an open fashion telegram for those who cared to read it: she was taking her relocation to the West Coast so seriously she was bedecking herself in one of its native brands.
Of course, by the time Claudine arrived in L.A., she’d availed herself of that other classic Hollywood trick—a quick change of clothes in the arrivals lounge, which meant she was able to step through LAX camera-ready, in a midriff-baring asymmetrical vest top, skinny electric-blue jeans, an Hermes Birkin bag and spiked Christian Louboutin heels.
The latest evidence of Claudine’s concerted fashion lane-switch was to be seen as she cheered on her husband at the LA Galaxy match on Saturday night (Robbie scored a goal). The just-casual-enough clothes choices were spot on: skinny jeans, diamante belt, tailored jacket, chunky bracelet—but it was the hair (blond, extended), skin (tan) and teeth (brilliant white) that really showed Claudine has abandoned her Irish/British aesthetic and taken to Californian life and looks.
But finally getting it right has been a long and painful process for the former Irish lingerie model, who wed Robbie in 2008. For several years, her appearance has consistently been highlighted by the British and Irish tabloids (most of which are sister publications) for all the wrong reasons: a succession of spectacularly ill-judged, trampy outfits, a skin tone that looked like the dial on the tanning bed got stuck on 11—and an unfortunate tendency to go out clubbing with her mum. Dead classy.
Although she may have a ways to go until she’s rivaling fellow Galaxy WAG Victoria Beckham, Claudine is clearly in the midst of a personal style revolution, attempting to emphasize class and understatement over the brash-and-flash of her old life. The missteps haven’t been eradicated overnight, of course, but out has gone the revealing, tarty, nightclub gear and in has come a whole new sophisticated, elegant, and much more grown-up Claudine.
Central to her new image is the Birkin bag, which Claudine has been holding tighter than a magical totem ever since deplaning. However, she has also been spotted out and about with that other fashion evergreen—the oversized Louis Vuitton duffel bag—which is perfect for shopping on Rodeo Drive—balanced with, in the other hand, a Chanel shoulder bag.
It’s notoriously hard for new fashion immigrants to get it right in the fast-changing world of American denim, but Claudine appears to be not too far wide of the mark with recent legwear choices, sporting J Brand Houlihan cargo pants and low-rise skinny jeans from Rag & Bone—one pair in crimson, another in bright purple.
But it’s when it comes to footwear that the fashionista really gets to put her best foot forward. She’s been spotted in a variety of shoes in L.A., all of which have three things in common: designer names, giant heels, and vertigo-inducing pricetags.
She’s clearly a die-hard fan of Christian Louboutin—identifiable by their trademark red soles—and Alexander McQueen, having been photographed in his signature peep-toed ankle-boots on more than one occasion.
In a recent shoot for Irish celebrity magazine VIP, she showed off 11 pairs of shoes, comprising seven sets of Louboutins, one pair of Jimmy Choos, and three pairs of Manolo Blahniks. Whereas Claudine once only appeared to be capable of wearing Elie Saab’s dresses (the Lebanese designer responsible for creating her wedding dress) since the big move, she seems to have been steered toward the floaty feel of Hervé Leger, which she wore to the MTV Awards.
“Vast strides have been made,” says fashion writer Maureen Callahan, author of Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga. "She’s off to a promising start. Her hair looks much less ‘done’—far more fresh and modern than before."
Rivaling Posh—whose Victoria Beckham line is beloved in the States but who is not regarded as a style icon (she still hasn’t landed the cover of U.S. Vogue, rumored to be her mission in life)—is easily within her reach. But she needs to buckle down and eliminate the remnants of the chav: the dragon-lady nails need to go, as does the flash siren-red matching mani/pedi. The black eyeliner is hard and aging, and she’d do well to avoid embroidered denim and any logos that look like they’d be worn by anyone who’d appear on L.A. Ink.
And, if that doesn’t fix it, then getting pregnant and naming her new baby something more ridiculous than Harper Seven should close the deal.