Vintage Fashion Modelling at John Lewis – Marie Cooper

Vintage Fashion Modelling at John Lewis

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In September, an opportunity arose to work on something completely different, a vintage fashion show at John Lewis in Norwich. I saw an ad for for fashion show models by the Fabulous Miss K and got in touch, partially not expecting to hear back. So I was a little dazed to find myself waiting, as instructed, in the entrance of John Lewis on a crisp, Saturday morning.

Fashion Through the Years 1930’s to 1940’s at John Lewis

It was an early start to the day. I had to give myself plenty of time to get some makeup on my face whilst still half asleep, so I set the alarm for 6.30.  I’ve never done modelling for a fashion show before so I was excited but had no idea what to expect.

Unfortunately the day was unpaid, but it was something I had never done before, never expected to do, and so I was curious, wanted to have a go, learn something new and enjoy the experience.

John Lewis looked after everyone splendidly throughout the day. Such a shame I am Paleo, and so don’t tend to eat processed food/carbohydrates, because the store put on so much food for us all, both for breakfast and at lunchtime.

Once we had all arrived, settled and had a short briefing, I tried on a dress. It was a bit on the big side and just sort of hung on me rather than fitted nicely. I don’t think my being so short helped. Karen, the blogger and stylist, Fabulous Miss K,  suggested that I try on a blue suit with gold blouse instead. It fit perfectly. It was an example of how the American style during the 30s/40s contrasted with that in the UK at the time.

I took my own shoes, but I think they went with the look quite well. I’d picked them up in a charity shop some time ago, thinking that they might be useful for on stage. Because they were quite classical looking, they also suited the time period for the fashion show well I think.

There wasn’t much time for everyone to get hair and makeup because there were so many of us. But Karen very quickly did the most amazing vintage updo with my hair.  Thankfully I’d done basic makeup before I left the house so I just touched up my own lippy.

There were two fashion shows throughout the day, one at 11am and one at 3pm. There was also a fascinating display of clothing and textiles from the era, and I spoke to an extremely knowledgeable woman Joy Evett about Women’s fashion at that time.

The Knightingales, a vintage, three part harmony, trio, were singing songs between the shows. There was also a film, which unfortunately I didn’t get to see, that included interviews with people about the fashion during the war and how they managed to stay fashionable despite the rationing and difficult times.

The Fashion show displayed the key pieces and trends that defined the 30s and 40 both in the UK and the US. It also showed clothing that was created in the community, showing how women kept in fashion by making their own clothing from what was on hand, despite the difficult times and rationing.

I was a bit nervous. Silly I guess, considering I’m used to being onstage, in front of much larger audiences and having lines to learn. But it was just the newness of it all and not knowing what to expect.

The first morning catwalk was all a bit of a blur.  The instructions made me laugh, when we were told that we were to walk, turn to the left, turn to the right in front of the audience, then carry on to the end, turn and walk back. I got David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ stuck in my head.

It was lovely to hear someone say as I walked by “Oh, I do like that”. I joked afterwards that when I got to the end of the catwalk, I was tempted to just keep on walking and take the suit home with me.

All in all, a fun day.  I can’t say that doing a catwalk fashion show was ever even on my bucket list. It isn’t something I ever considered that I would have the chance to try. So I am very grateful to Karen for inviting me along. I was bouncing with happy all the way home after the event. It was an enjoyable day and another string to my bow.

I was too excited and focused on the day at hand to take a selfie, until I got home, by which time I was looking a little windswept. However, Tim from East Region Media  took photos of the show and very kindly gave me permission to use the photograph below.

Photograph with permission from Tim of Eastern Region Media CIC

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