Vintage Lane Bridal Fashion Shoot, The Pickerings Country House Hotel

Dawn in a Givenchy gown

Dawn in a Givenchy gown - Credit: Archant

A group of women with a shared love of fashion and the 50s got together to stage a stunning vintage bridal shoot. Toma Sukyte reports

Angel-Blue with props in the garden

Angel-Blue with props in the garden - Credit: Archant

Sometimes great ideas require hours of painstaking thought. Other times, they just seem destined to happen.

Natalie's 1930s inspired outfit

Natalie's 1930s inspired outfit - Credit: Archant

Julie's Rapunzel style

Julie's Rapunzel style - Credit: Archant

Angel-Blue, Julie and Natalie

Angel-Blue, Julie and Natalie - Credit: Archant

That was how it was when vintage make-up expert and hairstylist Alison McMath got chatting to boutique owner Sybil Worsley at a bridal fair in Preston.

Cat gets a 1960s look

Cat gets a 1960s look - Credit: Archant

Alison, who runs Kitty Wink Vintage from her home in Chorley, and Sybil, owner of the Vintage Lane Bridal boutique at Last Drop Village, Bolton, started to kick around the idea of creating a vintage bridal photo shoot with a twist.

The day after the fair, Alison received a call from photographers Cat Powell and Suzanne Cope, of CT Images Photography at Bolton. They wondered if Alison would like to collaborate for a bridal photo shoot. What are the odds?

While the idea for the shoot came in a flash, making it happen required a considerable amount of planning. The aim, they agreed, was to show that there could be more to vintage styling than just the standard look we’ve all become very used to.

Rather than re-live the past, the group decided to give the vintage gowns a new lease of life using contemporary makeup and hairstyling techniques.

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Alison noticed that a growing number of brides were looking for something unique, unusual or downright quirky. ‘We wanted to show that we can create something unique for each bride,’ she said. ‘We’re not limited to do it in one particular style.’

The make-up and hair stylist said whether it’s a personal photo shoot, a wedding or the increasingly popular hen party, most of her clients ask to be transformed into ladies from the 1950s.

Alison searched for inspiration on the social network websites such as Pinterest – a place where you can collect and organise the pictures, quotes, recipes and many more things you love. Works of other artists and designers helped her mould the concept of the photo shoot.

While the idea for the shoot may have come in a flash, making it work took much longer. The project required six weeks of careful preparation before going ahead at the now closed Pickerings Country House Hotel in Catterall, near Garstang.

Alison described the day of the shoot as a ‘military operation.’ She added: ‘Normally, you have someone helping you on the shoot, but I really wanted to do all these specific styles myself. I started at six in the morning and got home at six at night. It was a full day and it was hard work, but it was worth every minute.

‘Only one of our models does it regularly, they’re just friends of ours. It was a very cold day and we did a lot of outdoors shoots, but the models were very professional.’

Most of the items used in the photo session were from the hotel, which was closed a year ago. Alison said they had lots of great props like chaise lounges and beautiful four poster beds.

Kerry McGhee, the set designer and the owner of the event planning and decorating business called Happily Event Décor, of Chorley, fashioned the magical scenes.

‘It was stressful because we did everything on our own,’ Alison said. ‘There was no help or assistance. I guess most people would choose only one model or two at most, but I wanted to use four. I wanted to make the most of the day, because you don’t get this opportunity often.

‘There was no money exchanged, we just did it because we loved the idea and because we all benefitted from it in some way – we could show our creativity and the models had some nice photographs as a memento. Everyone was happy.’

Alison revealed that there is a vintage headwear photo shoot in the horizon. ‘I think it’s nice to push yourself, to get out of your comfort zone and create something a little different.’

Frocks & figures

Dawn Holden’s look was inspired by Marie Antoinette - over the top and flamboyant yet pretty, feminine and romantic. She wore a 1973 Vintage Givenchy nouvelle cream sheer gown with embroidery and ribbon cuffs originally purchased from Bergdorf Goodman in New York

Natalie Duncan’s hair was waved and took its inspiration from the 1930s. However, they were angled and sculpted to one side rather than the softer finger waves of the era. She wore a strapless early 1980s Chantilly lace fitted gown adorned with tiny pearls and a side split, she also wore a 1950s tulle ballerina-length dress by US designer Jack Brya.

Cat Sleigh’s look was inspired by the 1960s. Her makeup was re-vamped to bring it up-to-date with a lighter and softer look. She wore a white handmade 1960s boat-neck dress with a lace train and also a 1960s satin scalloped edge dress by US Designer Rappi.

Angel-Blue Harman was given funky cone-hair, like candy floss and her make-up was earthy and natural. At the end of the shoot her hair was teased out of the cones to give a completely different, wild and wispy style. She wore a handmade late 1940s/early 1950s lace and soft linen wedding dress with a peplum detail.

Rebecca Harman wore a heavy satin 1980s dress with a strong 1920s influence, a drop waist and pearl flower detailing. Sarah applied a dramatic makeup with smoky dark eyes creating a strong and sultry look.

Julie Jessimen’s dress was an Art Deco 1920s illusion gown with beading. Her other dress was a 1970s chiffon layered gown by US designer Jessica McClintock. Sarah created a Rapunzel look for Julie, bringing out her natural beauty by giving a flawless complexion with soft textures.

Take a bow

Credits: Bridal gowns:


Hair & makeup for Angel-Blue, Cat , Dawn and Natalie: Alison McMath,

Hair & makeup for Rebecca and Julie: Sarah Heys, of Chorley

Set design: Kerry McGhee, Happily Event Décor, Chorley.

Location: The Pickerings Country House Hotel, Caterall