Southampton-based Vintage Hair Lounge, is one of southern England’s leading providers of vintage hair styling and make-up. Founded in 2010 by mother and daughter team, Gloria and Sharon Holloway. Sharon originally worked as a top criminal barrister but retrained, in the early 2000’s, to work as a hair and make-up artist in film, television and theatre. Gloria has been a hairdresser all of her life, spending many years as head of hair and beauty at Isle of Wight College.
In 2015, I had the privilege of interviewing Gloria at the vintage extravaganza that is, Goodwood Revival. Gloria has had a long and illustrious career in the hair and beauty industry, spanning over 5 decades. I am delighted to share with you here, highlights from my interview with Gloria.
In 1960, aged 16, Gloria began her training in historical hair and make-up for television at the BBC’s prestigious in-house academy. Gloria explains:
It was an excellent 2 year training scheme. We were taught to do everything ‘properly’, paying particular attention to historical accuracy and techniques. Unfortunately, in the year I finished my course, the BBC raised the age they employed training academy graduates, from 18 to 21. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t begin working for the BBC straightaway and would now have to wait 3 years to put my skills into practice.
However, this early setback didn’t stop Gloria from continuing with a career in hair and beauty. Returning to her family home on the Isle of Wight, Gloria set-up her own salon, with help from her parents. Gloria has fond memories of these early years:
We opened the salon in 1962/63. I really enjoyed working in a salon environment, chatting with customers and finally getting to use the skills I learned at the BBC. The 1960s was also a very exciting time to be a hairdresser. Hairstyles were changing so fast. Clients became more adventurous with their choice of cut, colours and styles. When I first started working, ‘beehives’ were very popular.
- British Pathe film, ‘Luxury Hairdressers’ (1964). Uploaded to You Tube, 13.4.2014.
Gloria’s beehive updos are now legendary amongst her Vintage Hair Lounge clients. Quite simply, Gloria is the Queen of Beehives. Afterall, Gloria learned her techniques first-hand, back in the 1960s. In the last few years, Gloria has seen the beehive hairstyle make a comeback. This is thanks, in part, to being popularised by a number of celebrities from the entertainment industry.
British singer, Amy Winehouse, performs at the Glastonbury Festival 28th June, 2008. AFP Photo/Ben Stansall. Amy’s iconic hair style was a modern-take on the 1960s beehive.
British singer Adele was also a fan of the beehive hairstyle. 24th February, 2013. Credit: Jason Merritt.
At Vintage Hair Lounge’s pop-up salon, the beehive is still one of their most requested styles. Luckily, the team has Gloria’s first-hand knowledge of how to recreate the original look. Gloria advises that:
A traditional beehive doesn’t have a French pleat! A common mistake with modern-day versions. The hair should be smoothly swept upwards, blended at the top and sides, it should also be teamed with a fringe. Backcombing is the key to a really good beehive.
It was such a joy speaking with Gloria about her career, she is a remarkable lady with an indomitable spirit. As a social historian, I had many questions to ask relating to various aspects of hairdressing in the latter half of the 20th century. Gloria explains:
Dressing hair properly was very important in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, hats were worn high on the head with hair in a French pleat. In the 1960s, Vidal Sassoon liberated women’s hairdressing. Haircuts were less complicated and a modern-take on the 1920’s ‘bob’ became popular too. Hats were still worn in the 1960s but less fussy and not so old-fashioned. In the Swinging Sixties, young people liked wearing berets and ‘baker boy’ hats. I used a lot of ‘Plix’ by L’Oreal setting lotion in the salon. I also remember creating the unusual ‘cottage loaf’ hairstyle quite a lot.
When I teach 1960s hair styling techniques on courses at Vintage Hair Lounge, I am very particular about backcombing. Nowadays, backcombing is often taught incorrectly. If not done properly, the hair will become tangled and impossible to work with. Each section of hair should be backcombed in stages all the way from root to tip and in one direction. Don’t drag the hair. This method ensures that you create strength and structure in the hair. This gives you a strong base from which to build your style. Backcombing is important when creating 1940s Victory Rolls too. You don’t need rollers to create them, just backcomb, control and shape the roll.
Miss V. Neels of Southsea, Hampshire works on a model to create the ‘cottage loaf’ hairstyle during a teen hairdressing competition at the Park Lane Hotel, London. 25th April, 1960.
British hairdresser Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012) creates a long bob with a soft fringe for actress Janette Scott (b. 1938). 4th January, 1963.
- British Pathe film ‘Artists in Hair Styles’ (1962). Uploaded to You Tube 13.4.2014.
Beehive hairstyles emerged in the late 1950s, peaking in popularity during the early 1960s. Although, according to trendsetting booklet, with it: trends for ’63 (1962) : ‘Out for the with-its are bouffants and beehives. Out, too, is back-combing: it’s harmful to the hair. In are blonde and light brown shades to tone with the natural look of the new fashions’ (p.19).
Also in the early 1960s, new setting lotions, hair sprays and colourants began to emerge for professional as well as amateur home stylists. Hair spray had been around since the 1940s but by the 1960s it was mass-produced and very cheap.
Colouring your hair at home, in a wider range of shades than before, also become a reality. I found a wonderful article, ‘What it’s like to colour your hair’, in my vintage magazine collection. The article appears in a popular British weekly, Woman, (11.3.1961). Unlike today, in the early 1960s, there were only 2 options for colouring your hair at home, temporary water rinses and semi-permanent rinses. Permanent tints had to be done at a salon.
- A selection of popular 1960s hairstyles. Images from my own private collection of magazines, Woman (March, 1961) and Woman’s Day (April, 1964).
The article in Woman magazine has the following advice for the home hair styling enthusiast: ‘Girls who “go a new colour,” say they feel new personalities too. It’s fun to experiment first with rinses, before going a new colour for keeps. Colour choice is huge….. If you want to dye, check that your skin-tone won’t quarrel with the new colour… check that your hair isn’t too dry…check that you can afford the upkeep…check that you and your hairdresser are the best of friends.’
- Gloria Holloway during the 1960s. All images courtesy of Gloria Holloway.
Gloria married in 1966. In 1969, Gloria was approached by the Isle of Wight College who were setting-up a new hairdressing department. Gloria explains:
By the time the college approached me, I was managing 2 salons on the Island. I thought that the new department at the college was an exciting development in hairdressing education. I had always enjoyed teaching in my salons. I accepted the position at the college, initially working there part-time. When I started at the college there as no in-house salon but eventually I set one up. I was Head of Department and Head of Student Services at the college for 26 years.
Until the end of the 1980s, Gloria was the owner and innovator of 4 Isle of Wight salons (Marina Dawn, Monroe Hair). Today, Gloria is still a highly regarded lecturer and trainer in hairdressing, continueing to work closely with hairdressing training providers in both college and salon environments to improve industry skills.
Gloria’s passion for passing on her knowledge to the next generation of hair stylists has never diminished. Gloria now regularly teaches students about historic hair styling and techniques on Vintage Hair Lounge’s wide range of courses. Gloria tells me:
Hairdressing is a fantastic career! It allows you to be creative, meet new people and travel the world. It is never too late to master the skill. It is a wonderful thing to be able to make someone ‘feel good’ about themselves by simply doing their hair nicely.
When Gloria and Sharon started Vintage Hair Lounge, in 2010, they had a salon in Southampton High Street but in 2012 they closed that salon. Going forward, this enterprising and dynamic duo, now operate their business, predominantly, as mobile specialists and trainers in vintage hair and make-up. Their HQ is based at Southampton’s Solent Business Centre, facilities include an in-house photographic and training studio.
There are many unique aspects to Vintage Hair Lounge’s business model. It comes as no surprise that education and training still remains at its core. Gloria and Sharon run courses for both professionals and the general public. Keep an eye on their website for forthcoming courses as they sell-out very quickly! Click here.
- ‘Vintage Hair Lounge to be stocked in the British Museum’. Film by That’s Solent TV. Uploaded to You Tube 20.1.2016.
Vintage Hair Lounge also has a sister company, VHL Distribution an independent cosmetics distributor based in the UK. VHL Distribution has recently formed new partnerships for distribution in Europe with Australian based brand Eye of Horus Cosmetics (Twitter: @eyeofhorus_mu), and French brand Féret Parfumeur (Twitter: @FeretParfumeur) for distribution in the UK. Other heritage brands on VHL Distribution’s portfolio include: Papier Poudré Limited (Twitter: @papierpoudre) and Barba Italiana (Twitter: @barbaitalian #barbaitaliana).
These beautifully packaged, extremely high quality, heritage brands can be found on-sale at vintage retailers, salons and barbers, museums and gift shops. A selection of these products can also be purchased at Vintage Hair Lounge’s online store.
Exciting times are ahead for VHL Distribution (see film above). The British Museum has recently selected award winning Eye of Horus Cosmetics to be sold in the gift shop, later on this year, during their major new exhibition, Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds which opens in May.
- Teaser trailer for the British Museum’s forthcoming blockbuster exhibition, Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds. Uploaded to You Tube by British Museum, 4.01.16.
Regular readers of Come Step Back In Time will know that interest in Egyptology is currently at an all time high. In July 2015, British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves, published a paper that claims Tutankhamun may not have been alone in his burial chamber. A series of ultra-high-resolution images of King Tut’s tomb (subsequently designated KV62) have revealed what is believed to be the outlines of two doorways, previously blocked and plastered over.
Reeves has suggested that behind these hidden doors there may be a lavish secret tomb belonging to the legendary Queen Nefertiti (the 14th century wife of Akhenaten, step-mother to Tutankhamun). Tutankhamun died at the age of 19, and it is thought that, due to his unexpected death, he may have been buried in a chamber of his step-mother’s tomb.
Continued interest in Egyptology ensures that Egyptian Revival products, such as Eye of Horus Cosmetics range, will remain popular with beauty professionals and the general public alike. It is interesting to note that Eye of Horus Cosmetics range of illuminating eye makeup is actually based on sacred formulas passed down from the ancient Egyptians.
Eyeliners in the range are all made with natural waxes and oils and the incredible organic Moringa Oil, a tell-tale product found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Check out the entire Eye of Horus range at Vintage Hair Lounge’s online store.
There are many ways to connect with Vintage Hair Lounge:
- Vintage Hair Lounge’s website;
- Vintage Hair Lounge’s Emporium (online shop);
- VHL Distribution’s website;
- Vintage Hair Lounge on Facebook;
- Follow Vintage Hair Lounge on Twitter @vintagehair ;
- Follow VHL Distribution on Twitter @vhldistribution.