My regular readers will know that I have mentioned the “40’s and 50’s Most Marvellous Meet-Ups” group that I am part of on Facebook. This amazing vintage loving group organise days out, shopping trips, meals out, and even a Winter Ball, all for like-minded vintage loving people.
Last winter I went up to Manchester to a Vintage Ball and literally had a ball! (Click here to read the post) Emma, who originally set the group up, had the idea of raising funds for charities through the members of the group. Through the ball and raffle quite a substantial amount of money was raised.
Now as funds are always desperately needed, another idea was needed. This came in the form of a Charity Calendar featuring members of the MMM group.
Bearing in mind that there are over 6000 members spread not just all over the UK, but some in faraway places, the shoot only needed a handful of people.
A lovely photographer by the name of Pete had offered his photographic studio and skills for the calendar, and Jen’s hair studio had offered her premises for the models taking part to get ready in.
And so the wait came to see who had been chosen to take part.
At almost 10pm about three weeks ago, I was added to a group chat on Facebook and learnt that I had been picked to have one of the coveted spots!
Well, I was absolutely over the moon. I mean, I love modelling (even though it’s always just for fun) and as it was hoping to raise funds for The British Lung Foundation, it was important to me too.
Now, the rest of the people attending the shoot weren’t as lucky as me! They were coming from all over England; Reading, Yorkshire, St Neot’s, Sheffield, you name it. But the photo studio just happened to be in the town where I live!!!
Most of the group had been picked to have “pin-up” style and a few had been given the “Hollywood” style, of which I was one.
Looking on the website of the Beck photography studio, I was instantly enamored of the Hollywood Shoots; black and white photographs with strong lighting and hair/make-up reminiscent of the period. I literally couldn’t wait to turn up and get in front of the cameras.
Now of course, photo shoots need clothes. just quite what was I going to wear? Oh, and accessories too! Of course, I had so many dresses to choose from, it was just a case of narrowing things down!
The main aim of the calendar is to raise as much money as possible, so the MMM group set themselves up with the task of raising money through auctions and the ball in order to pay for the printing of the calendar itself. That way, every penny from the sale of the calendar would go directly to the charity!
I scoured through my wardrobe and chose several dresses, gloves and accessories. Not knowing what the photographer wanted to shoot, it was a little difficult to decide just what to take with me.
I had also been chosen, with a few others to represent a fabulous vintage shop in Northampton called Bohemian Finds, and would be wearing some of their clothes, and being on their chosen month – how fabulous was that? This was however quite easy as I would be given the items to wear, so there was no pressure.
I arrived at the Salon about an hour earlier, the permanently early-bird. Luckily there was a lovely cafe there too, so a sausage, bacon and egg bap was just the tonic. Shortly after bevies of beautiful pin up babes started arriving to get beautified.
Full vintage hair and make-up was the order of the day. Emma, the founder of the group and Clare started trying to curl my hair. Now, I have problematic hair and to start with it just was having none of it. I started to worry a little as they struggled a bit, but eventually it started playing ball and I was a mass of ringlets.
Moving over to the amazing Miss Carrie-Ann Dring, she started my vintage make-up. Pale base, slight smokey shadow, defined eyebrows and of course a red lip. Mel was called into service to attach the false eyelashes and that was it, I was done!
Carrie-Ann then pinned the back of my hair so I had a sweep across one shoulder and attached a large circular diamante hair accessory and off to the studio I went.
Arriving hot and a little panicked (I had got lost) the photographer Pete immediately put me at ease and told me not to worry about the time. He was still going through photographs he had taken of Lynda, who had the shoot before me. I got changed into a beautiful dark blue Scarlett and Jo Velvet gown with jewelled shoulders and the most amazing large vintage necklace that a special friend, Jane had given me as a gift. I felt a million dollars.
Eventually we went into the studio and Pete took test shots to see if the lighting was right. And off we went.
This was the part I had been so looking forward to. I love photo-shoots. I find them such fun and I love the way that you can look so very different to your every day life. I love taking on a persona and becoming someone else.
Pete made me feel like a vintage movie star. He told me about the process used, how it mimics the style that was perfected in the 30’s and 40’s by a man called George Hurrell. It was a fabulous experience and I literally loved every moment of it.
Once we had finished shooting Pete took me through to the computer where he showed me a couple of shots he had taken. I have to admit I absolutely loved them. They were just classic and timeless and I can’t wait to see what one is chosen for the calendar.
Now that my shoot was over it was time to get to AJ’s Diner for the second half of the day. I was due to be representing Bohemian Finds and their clothing. Meeting Gretchen and Vicky they showed me the two outfits that they thought would work on me, A red nautical Voodoo Vixen dress and a cherry print Dress by Dolly and Dotty.
They decided to dress me in the cherry print dress and once red and black petticoats were added and a change of hair flower I was all ready to go. My fellow models were Lynda, Carrie-Ann and Jacky. They were all in various red white and blue outfits; skirts and tops, trousers and full swing dresses.
Whilst we waited for Pete to be ready for us we went outside in the garden and took some personal photos for use on social media.
Then it was our time to be photographed. These shots were more Pin-Up style. Bright and colourful. Starting off inside the diner we all sat in a booth and had various shots taken. Then we moved downstairs to another booth and had individual and group shots taken.
Finally when everyone was done every single model joined together for a huge group photo or two. There was every kind of vintage look going; wiggle dresses, swing dresses, prom dresses, cigarette pants, halternecks, chinese silks, and a very dapper gent by the name of Dean, in a velvet jacket, waistcoat and the most marvellous moustache!
Eventually the last picture was taken and everyone took part in a huge round of applause for everyone and all that had been achieved.
Every single person there was amazing. Literally everyone pulled together. Items were borrowed from each other, people helped dress each other, hair was “Zhoozhed” up and we all encouraged and complimented.
I have to say that without the organisational skills of Kia Marie Hurley who ran the whole day like an Army Major, I don’t think it would have gone so smoothly. She really did an amazing job. Her right hand woman Mel Stevens was just out of this World and ran things like a professional. It really was all down to their hard work!
So many people volunteered their skills and assistance and I would like to personally thank everyone who helped not only me, but all the other ladies to get ready. I don’t know what I would have done without Emma, Clare and Carrie-Ann (well I probably would have had a meltdown)
Thank you again to Kia for putting her faith in me and choosing me to be a part of such an amazing experience, and to Gretchen and Vicky from Bohemian Finds for wanting me to represent their shop.
All we need to do now is raise the funding for the printing so that every single penny from the sale of the calendar goes to the British Lung Foundation. I hope that you will all be digging deep in your pockets if possible, and support this amazing charity.
One other bonus from this adventure is it also makes it a little easier when it comes to Christmas time – All of my family and friends now are sorted for presents!!
*** Thank you to Lynda for allowing me to use a lot of her photographs and also Bohemian Finds for the same***