Vintage powder puffs from Accrington

These vintage powder puffs have been the launch-pad for a new business set up by a young woman from Accrington. Mary Hampshire reports Photographs by Joan Russell

They were a glamorous and essential beauty item of the 1950s. Now pressed and loose face powder compacts are enjoying a comeback. Jane Johnston, from Accrington, is helping to champion their restoration and revival through the launch of her new business VanRoe Compacts.

She scours the world looking for special examples before cleaning and restoring them.

Jane, 29, says: ‘I saw the gap for vintage compacts that fit modern powders when I remembered a gorgeous example I’d seen growing up in Accrington. I’d often wished I could go back and buy it as a perfect present’

On her kitchen table is an assortment of mainly round compacts including an original 1950s Max Factor Creme Puff. The range of designs includes floral patterns such as wild roses and images reflecting nature including birds and butterflies. The compacts hold modern refills including contemporary loose mineral powders and the more traditional pressed powders.

Jane enjoys researching their history. Two of the leading brands were Kigu, started by a Hungarian goldsmith, and Stratton - known for patenting a self opening mechanism so women didn’t chip their nail varnish.

She adds: ‘. In the 1950s, they were shaped as flying saucers, telephone dials and roulette wheels. I specialise in floral compacts because they are currently very fashionable. Women love the nostalgia of the floral designs, very much like the feeling you get with Cath Kidston products.’

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Jane usually has up to 30 compacts she’s renovating at any one time at her home, now in Halifax. She gently cleans all the pieces, removes any traces of old powder, and sometimes replaces the old powder sifters and puffs. On average they sell for around �30.

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