If you think of authentic pin up fashion in the UK, you think of Vivien of Holloway – the two simply go hand in hand. Vivien of Holloway have long been a supporter of the burlesque and vintage entertainment industry, sponsoring events up and down the UK.
Their Holloway Road store offers an exclusive styling service for all customers, and they’ve dressed stars including Paloma Faith, Nigella Lawson and Imelda May for red carpets, events and photoshoots.
With their ethos of “making the world a more glamorous place” you can’t go wrong with a beautiful dress from Vivien of Holloway this festive season. Whether it’s to wear out to your Christmas party, a burlesque show, or as an after show dress, Vivien’s vintage designs based on period couture pieces of the ‘40s and ‘50s are just the ticket to making the most of your figure.
Best of all there’s something for everyone; from flattering wraps to killer pencil skirts all with boned, halterneck bodices that will nip you in at the waist and give a gentle bullet bust, all available in a variety of luxurious fabrics.
We recently caught up with Vivien about her passion for vintage clothing, recreating silhouettes from the 40s and 50s and how this goes hand in hand with her love for burlesque.
“As far back as I can remember I have been captivated by costume. From the wonderful early icons such as Josephine Baker and Mata Hari, women have dressed in costume to tease and dance their way into men’s hearts.
I found my love of everything vintage by watching wonderful old movies; stars such as Rita Hayworth and Mamie Van Dorine gyrating to sultry tunes in fabulously sexy outfits that clung and swirled across the screen. These women inspired me to create my own clothing label.
I opened my first shop at eighteen, filling it with all the vintage clothes I had collected, then gradually replaced them with clothing I had made, most items being one-offs. I like to design clothes that are wearable, so I think about what I would like to wear and that is what we make. I have a list in my head that could keep me going for the next decade or so!
Our designs can easily be dressed up or down to go from work to play. We don’t make fussy clothing but classic styles. We try to construct the garments as they would have been made back in the day and not cut corners.
The cut of the clothing is very important. We design for curves and for that things need to be cut and graded well. The growth of the company means that I no longer make the clothes myself, but I do make the patterns and supervise the whole process.”
Could you tell us about the first place you heard of burlesque?
About twenty-five years ago in London I remember being in a sleazy club in China Town; one of those wonderful late night drinking joints. The club was spread over a few floors, and crackly old movies were being played of dancing girls – one I soon got to know as Bettie Page!
The club was run by a fabulous woman called Sparkle Moore and her sidekick Jake Vegas. The vibe was: Wild exotic music mixed with hard pumping Rock ‘n’ Roll. This, to me, was the beginning of the burlesque revival. As the scene has developed, the burlesque nights in the UK have gradually lost the grunge and grime and have moved to lovely old dance halls and the most glamorous clubs, with shows like The Black Cat and Cirque Du Cabaret.
The dancers on the burlesque scene have certainly changed over the years. Anna Fur Laxis was the one of the first of the revivalist burlesque dancers I met when she came into my store. She looked so cute then, but when she sent us some photographs of her in our designs she’d purchased she immediately became our poster girl.
Her cheeky innocence mixed with sexy flirtation shone through the images and was irresistible. She has grown into one of the most amazing performers over the years and I believe her mix of vintage styling on and off the stage makes her a true Queen on the burlesque circuit. You can catch her in Shanghai!
How do you feel your designs fit into the fashion industry?
In a world where skinny is celebrated by the fashion industry, curvier women need to find a style that makes them feel good about themselves. It was great to be nominated by the UK award for Body Confidence and come up against some huge names in British Fashion.
It’s great that a pin-up, vintage style is being recognised as a way for women to celebrate their curves today. This is a wonderfully exciting time for fashion. It is a time to truly show your inner showgirl not just for one night, but every day!
We are a company of lovers of all things vintage, so we do our best to be sure we give you the best we can – from designing and making, right through to the lovely lady waiting in the boutique to style you and help you look your best for that special occasion. You can happily trust her to bring out your inner glamour puss!
If you’d like to sparkle this season then why not head over to Vivien of Holloway online or drop by their boutique shop in London to view their Christmas collection. They have designs in festive fabrics from Jezebel styles with a peplum feature in divine duchess satin to halterneck pencil dresses in sumptuous sateen. And of course not forgetting their signature halterneck circle dresses in luxurious lace.