Polynesian prints, Fifties silhouettes and a penchant for John Waters movies make for two seriously amazing vintage wardrobes for the ladies behind Hula Nails, founder George Amador and hairstylist and burlesque queen Ruby Martin (aka Emerald Fontaine). Jen Barton gets the tiki treatment...
From flamingos to florals, wiggle dresses to pin curls, Hula Nails' George Amador and Ruby Martin mix retro with repro for a fresh take on vintage style with lots of colour, prints and bold accessories (hair flowers, wicker handbags, parasols, gingham headscarves – you name it, they've got it. And can rock it).
Set against the backdrop of Old Street's most fabulous beauty parlour, decorated with bamboo walls, velvet sofas and retro furnishings, George and Ruby show us their favourite vintage pieces...
Tell us a bit about your style.
George: My style is extremely bright and playful. I take a lot of inspiration from the vintage travel era and love a retro tiki, Polynesian style. I don't take myself too seriously and enjoy the 'tackorama' side of retro dressing.
Ruby: I guess I would say my style is a combination of Fifties vintage, reproduction and my favourite designers and labels. I love Vivienne Westwood, Wheels & Dollbaby and Christian Louboutin.
Any vintage beauty and wardrobe must-haves?
George: I can't move in my dressing room for hair flowers, headscarves in polka dots, stripes, leopard prints and gingham. Accessories make the outfit. Vintage handbags make an outfit for me but swapping them all the time means I lose track of where keys and make-up are, so there's always a nice little surprise in each one.
Sarah Lucy Brown
Where are your favourite places to source vintage items?
George: The antique shops on Chatsworth Road in Hackney hide some little clothing gems. Thea Vintage is great. I also love Camden Passage in Angel. I adore Not Cartiers in Bath Market for Swarovski costume bling. My basic everyday wardrobe is still really made up of wiggle and pencil dresses and I do a one-shop of the entire collection at Collectif every season - the repro label first got me going when I found them in Camden Stables Market one afternoon many years ago.
Ruby: I love American eBay and Etsy. Alfie's Antiques market has also given me some treasures, too.
What are some of your top tips for scouring the best vintage pieces?
George: Always be on the lookout. I can't go on a Sunday day trip without seeking out a vintage or charity shop. I love vintage homeware and love an ironic naff piece or two. I've got some amazing china dogs on my vintage vanity table that my husband loathes.
My favourite weekends are spent wandering markets or vintage shops. I should learn to go before lunch as after a glass of fizz or two I buy everything I like. I don't limit to buying for the season, I'll purchase and store a piece until the right time of year.
Ruby: If you find something you love, don't be disheartened if you spot a moth hole or two - a good tailor should be able to sort it right out. Be warned though: anything which might be a little 'fragrant' under the arms unfortunately will not come out... not even at the dry cleaners, so don't risk it. Can't tell you how many outfits I've bought thinking a dry clean would do the trick.
What are some of your tips for styling vintage outfits?
George: I use key pieces such as an original vintage or repro statement dress, shoe or coat and over-accessorise with frivolous vintage-style accessories, generally flowers, headscarves, etc. to take it to the next level. With my tattoos and red hair, half the work is already done colour-wise.
Ruby: Shoes and a matching jewellery set is the best way to finish any vintage dress.
In summer, I don't go anywhere without my wicker handbag and parasol.
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