Vintage Arts Journalist
CNI's fashionista Tammy Moore travels back in time. Or her wardrobe does at least
Standing on hairdresser Kelly White's doorstep I feel like Mr Benn. Like the suited cartoon character, I am about to get dressed up in the clothes of a bygone age. Instead of a fez-wearing shop keeper, however, my guide is a slim woman in turquoise tights and a buoyant 1960s updo. She looks like a classy Amy Winehouse.
Upstairs there are touches of retro glamour everywhere you look. A dressmaker's dummy stands at the top of the stairs, spangled with vintage brooches, beads and bangles, and pictures of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe hang on the walls.
Rebecca Moore, founder of the Frock Around the Clock vintage fair, admits that loving Monroe is something of a cliche but, 'There was just something about Marilyn wasn't there? She was fabulous.'
Moore been a fan of the retro look since she was a teenager. Her boyfriend's mother had a wardrobe of 60s clothes and gave Moore free rein. 'I just wish I had pictures,' she sighs. 'I was running around in vivid pink dresses with these huge petticoats.' Today she's wearing a dark red tunic vest, which is probably vintage, but you'd not be surprised to see it in a store either.
One of the dresses they've brought for me to try on is from the 60s, a sparkling, vivid blue gown. It's lovely but just not for me. Okay, if we're being honest it didn't fit. I blame Christmas. Moore says that it happens a lot with vintage dresses.
'It's the reason the fair is so great,' she explains, diplomatically whisking the dress away. 'If something doesn't fit there's always something else to take your mind off it. I used to get people asking me to order things in all the time and that's just not how it works.'
The 50s day dress she offers me next does fit. It's nice but I want glamour. A floor-length green satin gown with a beaded bodice and thin straps provides it. I should take my socks off, but it's cold.
Now that I'm dressed, Kelly White sits me down in front of the mirror and gets backcombing. Back when Moore ran a vintage shop in Belfast, White was one of her best customers. White giggles and admits that she still spends more than she makes at the fairs most times.
'I started by styling men's hair,' she explains, desploying hair spray generously. 'Women started asking me to do their hair too and I thought, why not.'
'Kelly always draws a crowd at the fair,' Moore adds.
I can see why. My hair is teased up and out, like a roadkill hedgehog. I'd stop to look at me too.
White, who owns a hair salon in Stranmillis, Ashby Gents and Miss Ashby, that specialises in vintage hair styles, knows what she's doing though. I hope.
In the mirror, framed by necklaces and bits of silk, she smooths my hair back and poofs it up. My fringe is swept to the side and pinned up. It starts to look like a style.
The first Frock Around the Clock of 2010 is on February 7 and Moore hopes that the upcoming Valentine's Day will encourage sales.
They are also holding their first vintage Bridal Fair later this year. A lot of the traders at the fairs have vintage wedding clothes but they don't like to display them at the usual fairs. Too many people like to try them on when they have no intention of buying.
My hair is finished and they both look at me critically. 'Something gold,' Moore decides and White hands me a pair of gold gloves.
Do they ever give people advice at the fairs? Moore wrinkles her nose. 'Not really,' she says. 'Most people already know what they want or just want to look around.'
'I tell people to get there early,' White adds. She stands on her tiptoes and pins a gold disc to my hair. 'I am there as soon as it opens and have already done two circuits before most people start arriving. It can be very competitive. I've seen people nearly getting into a scuffle over who put their hand on a dress first.'
A bracelet, sparkling necklace and a pair of heavy clip-on earrings complete the makeover.
Pictures taken and back in my day wear, I head outside. I leave the dress and the jewellery behind, but the hair comes with me. You don't part company with that much backcombing lightly.
Frock Around the Clock will be held on Sunday February 7, 11am - 4.30pm at the Holiday Inn on Ormeau Avenue. Admission is £5 for adults.
(The dress is a 1950s jewelled satin gown from Lulu Rose Vintage.)