Second World War pin-up style
Photographs by Wayne Cuddington
Curve-enhancing dresses and lingerie flatter almost any figure.
In the opening scene of the classic movie, The Battle of Britain, a British fighter plane flies low over refugees walking along a dirt road somewhere in Northern France, then climbs gently skyward and completes a full twisting roll before it turns and lands at a nearby airfield.
The dashing young Canadian actor, Christopher Plummer, playing the part of Squadron Leader Colin Harvey, barks at the pilot that he never wants to see him do a “victory roll” over his airfield again. He might have crashed the plane, you see.
Hair stylist Sharon Sugrue, 28, from Scissors on Murray Street, can’t be sure where the “victory roll” expression came from, but when fans of Pin-up style come looking for a special hairstyle for office Christmas parties, she’ll be curling lots of them.
Ella Modella, 26, (her professional name), a model and owner of Modella Media, defines Pin-up as “classic, innocent sex appeal,” while thumbing through the coffee table book, The Great American Pin-Up, which features models and movie stars that soldiers “pinned up” during the Second World War.
“It’s definitely a sub culture, but it’s becoming more mainstream,” she says, and credits the hit television series Mad Men, about a New York advertising company in the 1960s, with attracting many new fans to the look.
“People who watched that incredibly popular series saw how beautiful the clothes look and how elegant and classy the women are.”
Modella’s work often takes her to Los Angeles, where the Pin-up style of well-curled hair, dresses with bold checks or polka dots and cinched waists are incredibly popular.
And it has taken hold here in Canada. Recently, Modella held a contest for the best dressed Pin-up model in collaboration with a performance by Ottawa blues artist JW Jones at the Rainbow Bistro and more than 30 women participated.
She says the clothes can be found at many retailers, and confesses they “fit my body type and people treat me differently when I dress conservatively.”
Advertising representative DeeDee Butters, 32, who moonlights as a makeup artist and singer with the retro/pop band, The Peptides, wears retro style as part of the “Peptide look” when on stage.
“I like a contemporary style, but I think for me, I fit better with a retro esthetic,” says Butters, who is proud to be part of this feature so she can show women that “all body types are beautiful.”
“Some women, and maybe lots of women, are just more flattered by those (styles),” because, as Butters says, “it’s all about the curves, right?”
Many of her makeup clients are asking for a retro or Pin-up look, which is defined by a strong lip colour (usually red), cat eyes and big brows.
Ella Modella says lingerie, body shapers, and garters are just as important to complete the look.
“You don’t need to have it, but it’s more flattering for the (Pin-up) style,” says Modella, “because what women wore (originally) were girdles and waist cinchers and women today (have discovered) that shape-wear can be a lot more flattering”.
“We went from the ’50s when you had to wear your girdle, your bra, stockings, to the (late) ’60s where we threw all that out and they weren’t even wearing any underwear at all,” laments Modella, “to (today) where we’ve come back.”
Dresses from The Bay at Bayshore Shopping Centre
Undergarments provided by Brio Bodywear, 911 Bank St., 380 Richmond Rd.
Hair by Sharon Sugrue, Scissors Hair Studio
Makeup by DeeDee Butters, www.deedeebutters.com
Styled by Ella Modella, ModellaMedia/Facebook
Thanks to Metropolitain Brasserie, 700 Sussex Dr., for providing the location.