Vintage hair and make-up workshop

Make-up artist Christina Jessel demonstrates the looks of yesteryear at a workshop at Wakehurst Place

Make it Yours workshops are the brainchild of Louise Burton, who has harnessed the zeitgeist by offering traditional skills taught in a convivial environment.  Today I am learning vintage hair and make-up techniques in the company of a gaggle of giggling girls.

The idea is that as well as being a bonding exercise, these experience days  will furnish the attendee with practical skills in the spirit of the Make Do and Mend movement.

Today’s course is in the manor house at Wakehurst Place.  The panelled room has been transformed into an enclave of retro femininity. There’s floral bunting. There is mismatched, wafer-thin china. Later, there will be cakes.

Our teacher this afternoon is Christina Jessel. A wedding hair and make-up artist by day, she has assisted in Glyndebourne’s hair and wig department for the last nine years. Here xtensive CV also includes film and TV credits  – Johnny Depp flashed her a smile on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Christina will recreate two looks for us today. My course-mate Katie has asked for a Forties pin-up look and I, with touching faith, have asked Christina to make me look like Grace Kelly.

Katie is in the hot seat first. To achieve the victory rolls essential to this look Christina adds heated rollers, before turning her attention to the face.

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While she’s working, Christina offers tips on how to improve our own day-to-day routines. Cosmetic products have improved immeasurably in the last two decades, but the techniques remain the same. We all pay particular attention to detailed demonstrations of application of liquid eyeliner and false eyelashes.

After she has painted Katie’s lips with a perfect red cupid’s bow, Christina sweeps her backcombed hair into gravity-defying victory rolls (pictured above). Transformation complete: the lady is a vamp.

We then break for afternoon tea. Wildflowers nod in vases, homemade jam plops onto plates and tea tinkles on porcelain.

Suitably fortified, Christina begins what I hope will be my transformation into Princess Grace. As my hair is about eight inches too long, Christina will have to wing it a bit.

Grace Kelly was famed for her natural beauty, but I need a bit more help. Christina uses soft greys on my eyes, with sugary pink blusher and lipstick.

Impressively, Christina manages to style my hair into a pretty close approximation to Kelly’s shoulder-length chignon by rolling and pinning it at the nape of my neck (above, centre).

All too soon it is time to leave, but it has been a blissful afternoon and perhaps most charming for the atmosphere of light-hearted feminine camaraderie.  

Details of this and other brilliant experience days at Hair & Make Up experience with Afternoon Tea costs from �85 per person. One hair and make-up stylist to every three attendees, min. numbers six.Afternoon tea provided by Splendid Days a stunning heritage venue such as Wakehurst Place. For more about Wakehurst Place, see

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