Posted in Event, Exhibition, Fashion History, Historical Hair and Make-up, Museum, Vintage, Vintage Retail, World War Two

Interview: Gloria Holloway From Vintage Hair Lounge

Glamourous vintage pin-up model, Miss Scarlett Luxe with the co-owner of Vintage Hair Lounge, Gloria Holloway. ©Come Step Back In Time
Glamourous vintage pin-up model, Miss Scarlett Luxe, with co-owner of Vintage Hair Lounge, Gloria Holloway. ©Come Step Back In Time

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.

Gloria and I at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Me interviewing Gloria at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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. 

Advert for Plix setting lotion by L'Oreal. The setting lotion of choice for professional hairdressers in the 1950s and 1960s.
Advert for Plix setting lotion by L’Oreal. The setting lotion of choice for professional hairdressers in the 1950s and 1960s.
Gloria Holloway creating the perfect 'beehive' hairstyle at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Gloria Holloway creating the perfect ‘beehive’ 1960s hairstyle at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

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.

Example of Gloria's technical expertise in creating the perfect Victory Roll. Model is Miss Scarlett Luxe. Goodwood Revival 2015. Gloria with one of her former students, Mellisa Holme. Mellisa was working at Vintage Hair Lounge's pop-up salon at Goodwood Revival 2015. Mellisa now runs her own salon on the Isle of Wight, Six Hair Studio and Upper Six, Ryde, Isle of Wight. ©Come Step Back In Time
Example of Gloria’s technical expertise at creating perfect Victory Rolls. Model is Miss Scarlett Luxe. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.’

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  • 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 with one of her former students, Mellisa Holme. Mellisa was working at Vintage Hair Lounge's pop-up salon at Goodwood Revival 2015. Mellisa now runs her own salon on the Isle of Wight, Six Hair Studio and Upper Six, Ryde, Isle of Wight. ©Come Step Back In Time
Gloria with her former student, Mellisa Holme, at Vintage Hair Lounge’s pop-up salon, Goodwood Revival, 2015. Mellisa runs her own salon,  Six Hair Studio and Upper Six, Ryde, Isle of Wight. ©Come Step Back In Time

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.

Gloria's former pupil, hairdresser Mellisa Holme, creates the perfect 'beehive' at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Mellisa Holme, creates the perfect ‘beehive’ thanks to expert tuition from Gloria. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Mellisa's client is utterly thrilled with her 'beehive'. Gloria's former pupil, hairdresser Mellisa Holme, creates the perfect 'beehive' at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Mellisa’s client is utterly thrilled with her authentic ‘beehive’. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

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.

That’s Solent TV, ‘Talk Solent’, chat show, pictured (L-R) presenter, Shan Robins, myself, Gillian Tully (CEO of Film Expo South), Sharon Holloway (Co-Owner of Vintage Hair Lounge). November, 2015.

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.

Sharon Holloway with model, Miss Scarlett Luxe at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Sharon Holloway with model, Miss Scarlett Luxe. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Scarlett Luxe. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Scarlett Luxe. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers
  • ‘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).

©Scott Chalmers
Eye of Horus Cosmetics display. Goodwood Revival, 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

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.

©Scott Chalmers
Eye of Horus Cosmetics display. Goodwood Revival, 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

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.

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.

©Scott Chalmers
Eye of Horus Cosmetics display. Goodwood Revival, 2015. ©Scott Chalmers

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.

Gloria Holloway at Goodwood Revival 2015. Model is Miss Honey B'Zarre. ©Scott Chalmers
Gloria Holloway at Goodwood Revival 2015. Model is Miss Honey B’Zarre. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Honey B'Zarre. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers
Model, Miss Honey B’Zarre. Hair and make-up by Vintage Hair Lounge. ©Scott Chalmers

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:

Gloria and Sharon Holloway in their pop-up vintage hair and beauty salon at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Gloria and Sharon Holloway in their pop-up vintage hair and beauty salon. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time


Posted in Historical Hair and Make-up, History, Vintage

1940s and 1950s Hair and Make-up

The Glamorous 1950s Look.

Before the War, my grandmother ran a successful hairdressing and beauty salon in Mayfair, London. Her skills were much in demand among society’s elite. She had a large movie star clientele too, being chauffeur driven to assorted penthouses and beautiful houses across the city to tend their coiffures. Some of her memories of this period are just incredible, however, she was always discreet which is why I will never publish here, any of her salon tales. I have inherited her love of hairdressing and beauty, although I never trained professionally or pursued this career path, a choice I often regret, I do have her skill and confidence when it comes to creating period hairstyles.  This posting will focus on 1940s and 1950s hair and make-up trends.

Despite austerity measures experienced during the Second World War, looking good was still as important as ever to women.   Instead of discarding lipstick ends, they were melted down, moulded into pots and re-used.  When a lipstick ran out, solid rouge was used on lips.  Soot and charcoal were often used as eye-shadow and rose petals steeped in water produced a liquid tint that would effectively colour the cheeks.  Even boot polish was used as an eyelid-darkener.  Cold creams and make-up removal creams disappeared off the market as the War continued.  Sometimes,  a small amount of lard was used on the face to remove stubborn make-up traces.

Christian Dior introduced his ‘New Look’ in Paris on 12 February, 1947.  The antithesis of wartime utility dress.  The shoulder line was softer, waists were nipped in, and skirts were long and voluminous involving lavish use of fabric which would have been impossible to have achieved during the war.  Beauty houses correspondingly produced a wide range of “New Look” cosmetics to complement this fashion.   Cosmetic advertisements at the end of the decade show an emphasis on colour and novelty packaging.  Elizabeth Arden produced a wide range of matching lipsticks and nail polish colours.  Rimmel introduced an ingenious lip colour palette which incorporated a mirror and brush.  Goya were known for their ‘Thick and Thin’ lipstick, two metal lipstick containers, one slim and one thick, joined together by a delicate chain.

Setting lotion was also difficult to obtain, sugar water was sometimes added to dampened hair before setting.  Hairpieces were popular, false braids, fringes on combs and falls of curls.  Curls remained popular until 1947. Perms were all the rage, particularly the new cold perm method.   In the mid 1940s, the topknot or doughnut emerged.  The hair was put-up all the way around from the roots into a mass of curls at the top.

Early 1940s

  • there were fewer shades, powder and lipstick was dry and flaky;
  • shortages of alcohol meant more perfume and less cologne;
  • shortages of fat, oils and the complete dearth of glycerine resulted in products with no emollients;
  • Boots No. 7 began in 1935 and continued to be popular throughout this period;
  • nail polishes were made with film scrap instead of nitro-cellulose;

Late 1940s

  • a ‘fresh young-natural look’ emerged which was less harsh.  Lipstick shades became lighter and emphasis began to shift away from the lips to the eyes;
  • Pan-Cake by Max Factor was extremely popular, it came in 6 shades and first appeared in 1947.  Max Factor used film stars for his advertisements and top French models were employed to promote his cosmetic range;
  • artificial eyelashes, fluid eyeliner, cake eyeliner, eye shadow sticks, cream shadow, waterproof creme mascara.  Eye make-up remover was now available in pads;
  • eyelash curlers began to appear;
  • Coco Chanel introduced her lipstick range;
  • beauty spots came back into fashion.

During the 1950s, the range of face powders and foundations was matched by an equal variety of lipstick, eyeshadow and nail varnish colours.  Paler lipstick tints appeared designed to enhance and contrast with the beauty of a summer tan.  Gala added titanium to their lipsticks to give them a bright white appearance on application, ‘Italian Pink’ was a favourite colour in this range.  They also manufactured a large number of mid-tone colours, ‘Sari Peach’ was one of the most popular shades. At the lower end of the price scale, Woolworths produced a more affordable lipstick line.

  • softer coloured lip shades made the mouth less noticeable and attention was now drawn toward to the eyes;
  • the range of eye shadow colours was vast.  Eye shadows were sold in cream or compressed powder which would be applied with water and brush.  Some eye shadows resembled colour crayons and were sold in metal holders.  Glitter eye shadows were created by adding fish scales to the powder;
  • colour combinations in make-up were bold, violet mascara, blue eyeliner, silver eye shadow, copper mascara with green frost shadow was popular;
  • the upper lid of the eye was emphasised by a thick black line applied using the newly fashionable liquid eye liner. The eye decoration resembled that seen in ancient Egypt;
  • natural brows were accentuated with dark pencil;
  • Audrey Hepburn’s ‘urchin’ hair-cut was very popular in the early 50s.  This drew the attention to the face’s bone structure and eyes;
  • soap ceased to be rationed in September 1950 and this made-way for all kinds of shampoos, hair tints, hair dyes and setting lotion.

Forties and fifties inspired fashion continues to dominate current British fashion trends.   The playsuit teamed with wedgy espadrilles, floral prints and tailored dresses with full skirts, flared trouser suits with halter necks all can be seen on both the catwalk and the high street.  Pattern companies are delving into their archives, recognising the obvious commercial potential of re-issuing patterns from the 40s, 50s and 60s.   Original patterns from this period are also at a premium and can be expensive.  I know this as I have recently purchased a 1952 blouse pattern and want to buy more but not at the inflated prices that some retro-retailers are charging, cashing in on the trend.  I think it is time to have another rake around my mother’s attic and see if I can find any pattern gems hidden away in a forgotten, dusty corner.

  • For more information on life in 1950s Britain, together with lots of lovely images to inspire you from the decade, then you may find my four part series on the subject to be of interest. Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.
  • In the Summer of 2010, the concept ‘Vintage at Goodward’ was launched, a blend of 40s, 50s and 60s fashion and popular culture.  For further information click here.
  • One of London’s top notch Vintage Fairs is ‘Clerkenwell Vintage Fair’ held at The Urdang, The Old Finsbury Town Hall, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4RP, 11am-4.30pm. The next three Fairs take place on Sunday 25th September, Sunday 25th October and Sunday 13th November.  For further information, click here.