Vintage is a way of life for Bee's Knees flapper dance troupe members Aila Baila and Holly France, who work sequins, sparkles and fringing into their performance style and everything from 1930s frocks to 1950s satin bomber jackets into their day-to-day wardrobes. Jen Barton gets a kick out of their eclectic wardrobes...
Aila Baila and Holly France (aka Queen Bee and Holly Bee, two of the members of London's The Bee's Knees 1920s dance troupe) are all about bringing vintage glamour to the modern age.
You'll find Aila scouring charity shops and flea markets for her key pieces – she favours 1920s and 1930s silhouettes, finished off with a classic flapper bob – while Holly likes to mix old and new, playing around with eras and teaming threadbare pieces with more extreme finds. From embroidered kimonos to full matador outfits, Aila and Holly are giving us some serious vintage wardrobe envy...
Describe your style.
Aila: Charity shop, flapper.
Holly: Eclectic, worn, tropical.
Where are your favourite places to source vintage items?
Aila: Charity shops and flea markets. Not many things beat the tingling excitement I feel from finding a bargain.
Holly: Car boot sales!!!
What are some of your top tips for scouring the best vintage pieces?
Success in charity shops is about popping in whenever you pass one.
Although I've been shopping with friends who are amazed that I seem to find things where they have already looked - it's in my blood, you see! You rarely find what you want when you go looking for it. I spend way too much time on Etsy and eBay and have got it wrong as many times as I've got it right.
It's good to get a feel for the fabrics they used to use. Once you know, it's a lot easier to go straight for the good stuff.
How does your performance style differ from your everyday style?
Aila: Sequins look wonderful under the spotlight but tend look a bit out of place in the daytime!
Holly: Our costumes are very glamorous and of a very high quality, but my own everyday style - although still vintage - is a lot more varied through the eras and mostly threadbare.
What do you love about Twenties style? How does it inspire The Bee's Knees?
Aila: It's characterful, cute and flattering. I love geometric design and pattern, which was used a lot in that era, as well as the tactile quality of the fabrics - oh, and the hats, of course. I'm a stickler for detail so I make sure my dancers look immaculate and spend a lot of time sourcing and styling what we wear.
Holly: I love the elegance, the excessiveness, the beads, the accessories, the hats, the stockings, the gloves, the jewels, the slips, the capes. All the things layered on top of each other.
Looking for a 1920s dance troupe? Need flappers at your next event? Check out The Bee's Knees for performers, DJs and vintage dance lessons.
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