Take control of your image with burlesque star Bea DeVile and her top pinup resources.
Today, the phrase pin-up girl may bring to mind one of the popular images from the 1940’s & 50’s of a coy expression or a flash of underwear. That may come from the original illustrations of the “Gibson Girl” or George Petty which were both seen as defining the ideal woman of their own time – beautiful and feminine, capable but definitely non-threatening to the male audience. Or later the stronger, more assertive and independent woman depicted by Alberto Vargas and his contemporary Gil Elvgren.
Photo by Retro Photostudio.
Aside from the male dominated world of vintage illustrations, the pin-up has had a long and varied history. A wide range of women - from early burlesque performers, to aspiring socialites, to movie stars – created posed photographs of themselves to use as calling cards, enabling them to present the image of themselves that they wished. The term can be used to describe any picture which was and still is literally pinned-up – on a wall or a locker – and admired. Photographs and illustrations could be torn from magazines, taken as still images from films or distributed by the subject themselves.
Regardless of what form it takes, the pinup has always been characterised by a woman with control over her own image and a high level of self-awareness, even when behind the mask of mock-innocence.
Whether you are drawn to the illustrations of the Gibson Girl, Vargas or Elvgren; you aspire to the timeless class of vintage beauties like Fleur de Guerre or Dita von Teese; you love the Bettie Page inspired style of Bernie Dexter and Anna Fur Laxis; or you want to join the new wave of modern pinups offering their own take on the genre such as Kandy K and Beatrix Von Bourbon – there is a wide range of places to draw your inspiration from. And with a new generation of designers specialising in creating personalised accessories, there isn’t a better time to find your image and stamp your own identity onto it.
Artist and illustrator Kate Kamikaze takes her inspiration across the decades, from the 1920’s to modern burlesque stars. Her one-off pieces which incorporate many vintage materials reflect this – from fascinators to feathered shoulder pads. Kate’s best pinup advice is that there’s no need to faithfully recreate pinup images from the past, feel free to experiment with styles and eras, and take inspiration from wherever and whenever you find it.
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Tricia Cox Millinery
As well as designing her own range of fascinators and miniature top hats, milliner Tricia Cox also runs workshops teaching the basics of making your own hair accessories so you can find your own individual style. Tricia recommends that you wear your choice of accessory with confidence – don’t let a hat wear you! For that instant confidence boost, her top pinup tip is starting with fabulous underwear, even if you might be dressing down on the outside.
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Miss Sweet’s Boutique
Amber Sweet delights in the chance to make individual commissions to match any outfit or personality, aswell as a selection of flowered hair accessories ready to buy.
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Clutterfly Jewellery even give the option to customise their range of necklaces, rings and hair barrettes, popular with burlesque girls and pinup favourites Missy Malone and Anna Fur Laxis
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If you’re still not sure where to start with your own persona, why not try one of the pinup photographic studios that offer makeover packages.
The Hourglass Studio
At The Hourglass studio in Bletchley, Milton Keynes there’s even the option to become an Hourglass Girl. Nicole, the woman behind The Hourglass, also thinks that the most important attribute for a pinup girl is the attitude. Don’t dwell on any aspects of yourself that you aren’t as happy with: “If you have a lovely waist, try wearing a corset to enhance it, if you have lovely legs, buy some seamed stockings and some nice heels to show them off – or beautiful make-up with gorgeous red lipstick will make your face the centre of attention”.
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For the classic Vargas look, Terry Mendoza at Retro Photostudio in Shoeburyness Essex, offers an airbrushed finish to his photographs to capture the look of illustrations straight out of 1950’s Esquire magazine. Terry believes “a retro photoshoot should be the ultimate feel good experience – dressing glamorously, being beautifully lit and guided into flattering poses, then being captured as a gorgeous retro siren – it is the most fun you can have with (most of) your clothes on!”
With a treasure trove of retro and vintage props and accessories to play with, you can re-enact the ubiquitous George Petty telephone poses, and there’s even the option to have a hair & make-up artist on hand to help with styling.
Check out Retro Photostudio >>
Ultimately, with an emphasis on self-awareness and confidence – you can create an image worthy of being pinned up above any young man’s bunk.