Velvet DeCollete on stage at The Very Vintage Day Out 2017. Image by Elizabeth Jury.
Velvet DeCollete won over the judges with her charm, style and intelligence at the recent vintage festival The Very Vintage Day Out and took home the crown of Miss Pinup New Zealand 2017. The gorgeous beauty has been honing her pinup style in her tiny hometown of Waikino near the Coromandel and used her sewing skills to handcraft her stunning vintage-style gown.
We caught up with Velvet to find out why she loves pinup style, her tips for vintage shopping and what it was like to win the most coveted pinup crown in NZ.
How did you first get involved in pin-up style and what attracted you to it?
I first became involved in the pinup scene in mid-2014. I was performing burlesque and fell in love with my friend Soda Fontaine’s vintage hairstyles and modern pinup outfits. The Auckland pinup community was incredibly welcoming and I was drawn to their strong sense of style and the timelessness of vintage clothing, something which my mother taught me to appreciate from an early age!
How would you describe your personal style and how you present yourself?
Norma Desmond meets Joan Holloway. My personal style is vintage inspired and tailored, classic with an adventurous alternative twist. I like cheeky kitsch details, sky high heels, accentuating my curves and usually go easy on accessories to let the fabric and silhouette take centre stage.
Congratulations on winning Miss Pinup New Zealand 2017, how did it feel to win the crown and what was the experience of being in the pageant like?
Thank you! Honestly, it took about a week to sink in because I was so exhausted and overwhelmed. Winning Miss Pinup New Zealand was a really humbling experience, all the competitors had their own unique view of pinup and something different to offer, so I’m grateful that the judges appreciated and understood my take on pinup style and culture.
The lead up to the pageant and the competition day itself were intense, but rewarding. I loved getting to know pinups from all over the country, and becoming excellent friends with Mrs Greatnews who became my pageant buddy. It made me step back and question what pinup really meant to me, what I felt I could contribute to the pinup community and how I could best present my true self on stage.
Velvet DeCollete in her beautiful pageant gown she designed and made herself. Images by David Watson.
You do such a beautiful job of making your own clothes, how did you get into sewing and where do you get your outfit ideas from?
My mother is an incredibly talented dressmaker so I learned the basics watching her. Being small and never having a mainstream sense of style I was drawn to sewing because I couldn’t find clothes that fit, or that I liked. After a disastrous term of fashion technology in high school (that almost put me off sewing forever) I completed a Fashion and Design degree at AUT which filled in my technical knowledge gaps.
When designing outfits for myself I draw inspiration from the design features of vintage clothes, exaggerated silhouettes and imagining what a strong female character would wear in a given scenario.
Clearly you know a great deal about pin-up style, what are your tips for people who want to embrace the pin up look?
Don’t go out and buy a bunch of reproduction all at once! It takes pinups months or years to nail down their own aesthetic and build up a wardrobe that reflects who they are. Spend some time looking at vintage fashion and modern reproduction styles to see what inspires you.
Invest in, or op-shop for, quality garments and accessories that can work in with your existing wardrobe. Most importantly, don’t be afraid! Experiment with style, colour, hair and makeup. Have fun with it, don’t be afraid to look different from other people and wear things that truly make YOU feel happy, empowered and like you can handle anything life throws at you.
What’s your beauty routine and how long do you spend styling yourself in the morning?
It surprises people to learn that I only wear makeup for special occasions and photoshoots. Due to extremely sensitive skin and contact allergies my daily routine consists of washing my face with warm water, using a gentle, unscented moisturiser like Hope’s Relief or Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturiser and then applying the creams and gels I use to help control my dermatitis and eczema.
Full pinup hair and makeup takes me about 2 hours. My go-to makeups are Too Faced, Chi Chi and Karen Murrell as they don’t hurt my skin, and I always make sure to wash it off with non-irritating foaming cleanser!
Pinup model, Velvet DeCollete. Image by Froger.
What are your top three places to shop for vintage/pin-up clothes/shoes/accessories?
Op shops! I find about seventy percent of my vintage or pinup accessories and clothes in op shops. For new garments local pinup designers have some amazing stuff, and for vintage I always went to Tock Tick Vintage. Tock Tick has sadly just closed, so I’m on the lookout for a new favourite!
What have been the highlights of your pin-up journey so far and do you have a favourite moment that stands out above the rest?
I believe we rise by lifting others, so modelling for my fellow NZ pinup designers Devel Branded and Honey L’Amour is always a highlight for me. This year I started my Facebook group The Pinup Posse to support and mentor women who are new to pinup style which has been an exciting journey.
Currently my highlight is winning Miss Pinup New Zealand, I’m hoping the publicity will help me share my belief that pinup is more than an aesthetic, and provide more women with strong female role models and the confidence to embrace their personal style.
Where do you see yourself heading from here and do you have any goals you’re working to achieve in future?
Pinup world domination haha! I’d love to get to the point where I can design clothes, blog and model full time, and provide a body positive and educated role model for young women.
One of my goals for 2018 is to collaborate with or model for some brands that share my ideology and style aesthetic. I’ll be continuing to create custom made clothes that make my clients feel like a million dollars, and I’m currently working on a range of glamorous oversized faux fur stoles that will be released on my Etsy store.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Crocs. Never. Just no.