Wealth with Stealth; Why Are the Stars Dressing like Tramps? Hobo-Chic Is the New Bling Bling in These Uncertain Times

Article excerpt

Byline: SIMON MILLS

DID YOU read about that chap up in Scotland who got stopped by speed cops on a motorway outside Glasgow last week after being clocked doing over 140mph - in a Skoda? The policeman in charge of the case was flabbergasted.

He never knew they made a Skoda that could go so fast.

He'd probably never heard of stealth wealth either. You see, in many ways the Skoda in question (Octavia vRS) is the ultimate stealth-wealth vehicle.

Underneath its understated hood is an engine that is basically the same as an Audi TT's, but its much-maligned badge means that it can sneak around town unobtrusively, and largely undetected.

This is the essence of stealth wealth rough translation - understated luxury), and with war looming and the stock market crashing with the regularity of a premenstrual Amstrad computer, it is an option that seems more appropriate than ever. The mantra of the committed stealth wealther is: "If you've got it - conceal it." This is not to say you should be a tightwad and killjoy, like some lottery winner who insists on keeping his council house. More that in the current climate, the showy concepts of "bling" and "ker-ching" are starting to look a tad, well, tasteless.

Still not clear? Here's a checklist for you. Elton John is definitely not stealth wealth. Sartorially dizzy Cameron Diaz and effortlessly elegant but rootsy, fag-smoking Kate Moss are.

So is Gwyneth Paltrow, who didn't make a fuss when she wasn't given a seat at the Brit awards. She couldn't give a stuff. Kate Winslet is getting there.

Victoria Beckham with her SEXY Dolce & Gabbana choker and incorrigible shopping habit appears very happy not to stealth wealth. Guy and Madonna think they are stealth wealth astride their mountain bikes, dressed in their Jerry Springer leisure suits and flat caps, but they are not.

Their statement is too preconceived and look-at-me. They are trash cash instead of stealth wealth.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is the very antithesis of stealth. She nets a million from her Hello! wedding then goes through an ostentatious court battle with its rival, claiming that a few million is "not much" to her. Worse still, she has also started pronouncing escape "ex-cape" - ugly, selfconscious, mid-Atlantic drawls are so anti-stealth.

Dan Macmillan, heir to a vast publishing fortune, is yobbo stealth wealth.

With his gold tooth and So Solid Crew hair he looks like a hip-hop artful dodger. He is stealth because he

cops current million lives (in some style) on the South Bank (not a converted designer loft in Shoreditch), and dresses in a combination of Turnbull & Asser shirts, T-shirts and retro Reebok sneakers. Like Johnny Vaughan, another paragon of contemporary young stealth, Macmillan has never committed the cardinal anti-stealth crime of inviting Hello! …