As a vocalist that specialises in performing jazz, swing and blues music at vintage themed events, I was very flattered to be asked to do a photo shoot for retro clothing lines, Weekend Doll. I intend to wear some of these fabulous garments on my gigs soon too as this will be a wonderful way to advertise them "in action" in a glamorous vintage setting.
I am accustomed to applying my own period look make up and styling my own hair for gigs in a variety of styles from faux 1920s bob, to 1930s and '40s waves, a la Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall. For this shoot I opted for the 1940s look and "ragged" my hair the night before. For the uninitiated, this means cutting strips of fabric from a T shirt, for example, then rolling strands of setting lotion soaked hair with them and tying them in knots to secure the hair. In the morning this produces rather alarmingly tight Shirley Temple style ringlets that be combed out into tamer sultry waves.
For the make up style, I wanted a lighter, more naturalistic base, so didn't use any foundation, just dots of light concealer and brushstrokes of loose "banana powder", which is my latest beauty find for a luminous skin glow! I penciled in Lauren Bacall style dark arched brows and Hedy Lamarr style crimson matte crimson lips and used a thickening mascara with fibres to give a movie star false lash effect. I swept some contour powder along my cheekbones to give them some Vivien Leigh-esque definition.
I accessorised this look with chic black court shoes, the cutest Billie Red and White Polka Dot Wrist Length Key Hole Gloves with a wonderful bow and small diamante heart trim! (I also wore the black and white version of these gloves and the sumptuous Monroe Black Wool Gloves for the shoot). I then carefully placed a gorgeous coral coloured wide brimmed hat on my carefully coiffed hair.
I changed into my first outfit which was a gorgeous black Bouquet Floral Rita Tea Dress which immediately made me feel ultra feminine. The fabric was very soft and hung beautifully on me. I have quite narrow shoulders and a long neck and I felt that this style of dress was very graceful and flattered my features. I then pulled on my next garment; a striking 1940s style Alise Black Swing Coat with faux fur cuffs and collar. I felt immediately "complete" after slipping this on and so elegant, as it nipped in my waist beautifully! If you want an instant injection of glamour and opulence then just buying this Joan Crawford style film noir swing coat will do just that!
We went to the Streatham Rookery - a beautiful enclave of pagodas, and gardens of autumnal colours on Streatham Common in South London. It was the perfect backdrop for a photo shoot of cosy but very glamorous retro clothing. I had walked across the common many times before but had never seen The Rookery and I was amazed by what I saw. It even has its own cafe. London is full of hidden gems like this!
I changed my outfit to a delicate but fresh looking Dark Sea Green 1950s style Regina Chiffon Swing Dress and drapped over my shoulders the Evangelista Black Faux Fur Stole to channel my inner vixen in true Bette Davis fashion! We moved to a backdrop of large lush leaved plants to compliment the colour of the dress and we even made some short videos for social media as I span around to showcase the flowing chiffon pleats of the gown!
I own many tomes about Golden Age Hollywood Film stars, such as Vivien Leigh and Rita Hayworth, and also books about pin up stars, Betty Page and Dita Von Teese, so for retro clothing photo shoots such as these, I study the way these stars would pose in their publicity shots since there is a very specific way in which they hold themselves which is unique to the era and style of shot. The photographer asked me to bring out the mood she wanted to create for each shot, which we had so much fun with, especially to the amusement of other people that had come to visit The Rookery!
I changed into a final outfit to channel a very different beatnik vibe with a snazzy outfit of a flattering, black, slim fitting calf length skirt, Mustard Short Sleeved Lacey Knitted Jumper, high brown wedge shoes and a black beret, worn at a rakish angle! This coaxed me into bringing out my inner Bonnie of "Bonnie and Clyde" fame, as immortalised in the film version by movie star, Faye Dunaway! I enjoyed posing around for some cheeky, fun snapshots!
I feel like I belong in in these bygone eras of feminine elegance and felt rather sad to take off the garments and return to my everyday clothing!
Weekend Doll is really one of the leading clothing lines in terms of creating faithful reproductions of affordable garments for every day and special occasion wear, and every woman should have at least one of their garments hanging in their wardrobe!
Hannah Northedge is a vocalist specialising in jazz, swing & blues from 1920s - 1950s & also a vocal coach & choir director with a Masters degree in Voice Science.
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