Retro festival uncorks some fine new vintage

Vintage by the Sea Festival at The Midland Hotel, Morecambe.
Vintage by the Sea Festival at The Midland Hotel, Morecambe.

A great many people are into vintage these days but to fully enter into the spirit of things you need to get the look.

I’ve been to lots of vintage markets but until Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage-by-the-Sea festival on Saturday, I’d never tried out a retro look.

Elena Gifford, project manager of Vintage-by-the-Sea, kindly invited me to experience a vintage makeover at the Midland Hotel.

Guys and Dolls Hair Boutique from Lancaster and make-up artist Shelly Alexander from Morecambe were hard at work all day giving men and women vintage make-overs from the ‘20s to the ‘90s.

Elena, who worked on last year’s Preston Guild celebrations, said she was delighted to have been instrumental in bringing the vintage event to Morecambe.

She left me to have my hair and make-up done and I arranged to see her later.

I sat in front of one of the Midland’s huge picture windows as Evonne Prior from Guys and Dolls worked her magic.

We decided on a 1920s influenced hairstyle which necessitated the use of nearly an entire can of hairspray and copious hair grips.

Evonne and business partner Marie Crossley own Guys and Dolls in the former Byrons salon in Lancaster.

They have exciting plans to turn one floor of the hair boutique into a vintage-themed salon. I was surprised and delighted with Evonne’s creation.

Then it was Shelly’s turn. She gave me dark, smoky eyes to accentuate the elaborate hairstyle.

It was great fun to have the makeover and my work colleague, Greg Lambert, didn’t even recognise me afterwards.

I caught up with Elena when she was having her hair done in a ‘30s style.

Elena, who lives in Lancaster and lectures in fashion at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, said: “I worked on Preston Guild last year and curated the fashion content.

“I realised the 80th anniversary of the Midland Hotel was coming up so I approached the hotel.

“I think they thought it was a brilliant idea. It gave them the opportunity to work with Wayne Hemingway and to do something really appropriate for the hotel’s anniversary.”

Elena worked on the vintage festival with project manager Lauren Zawadzki and both were delighted with the turnout on Saturday.

“We were hoping that it would be like this,” said Elena.

“I think what this shows is that people want to be alternative and they want something that focuses on the heritage of Morecambe.”

Elena said she’d heard that it was virtually impossible to get a hotel room in Morecambe during the festival as so many people wanted to stay.

The main festival events – a tea dance, a ball and Wayne Hemingway’s Soul Casino at the Winter Gardens – had sold out.

There had been an amazing 60,000 hits on the festival’s website and people from London and other parts of the UK had bought tickets.

Elena said she’d spoken to the Mayor of Lancaster, Coun June Ashworth, who’d had family links to the Midland Hotel in years gone by.

June said she’d never seen the hotel as busy and full of life as during the vintage festival.

Elena explained: “I really wanted to bring this event to the area where I live.

“That is why it is so special to me.Morecambe has the opportunity to be a place that people recognise as having nostalgic glamour.

“People want to engage with that type of aesthetic.

“It would be great to help the town to return to its heyday when people came to enjoy the views and do something different.

“People want it to be special again and I believe it can.

“There is a special vibe in Morecambe right now.”

Elena added that the festival organisers would like to get even more local businesses involved next year.