Embracing the glamour of pinup

Dunedin woman Kerry-Lee Charlton will be at her glamorous best for the Miss Pinup New Zealand...
Dunedin woman Kerry-Lee Charlton will be at her glamorous best for the Miss Pinup New Zealand pageant, being held in Auckland on Saturday. PHOTO: PINUP & NOSTALGIA IMAGE CREATIONS
Kerry-Lee Charlton will fly the flag, with vintage glamour and flair, at this weekend’s Miss Pinup New Zealand pageant.

Set to be held in Auckland on Saturday, the pageant is usually held as part of the annual Very Vintage Day Out, which has had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Instead, the pageant will be held as a stand-alone event with just the nine finalists, the judges, and a small number of supporters taking part.

"It’s a shame that the Miss Pinup New Zealand pageant can’t be the usual big, public event, but I’m sure it will be spectacular all the same," Ms Charlton said.

The pageant celebrates the thriving modern pinup culture in New Zealand, which has a focus on 1950s-1960s vintage style and fashion.

"This competition is quite prestigious and I am lucky to be a finalist alongside eight other wonderful and diverse ladies from all over the country," she said.

Entrants in the pageant were encouraged to show their interests and personalities in four main categories — day wear, beach wear, talent, and evening wear.

"It’s quite full-on. There is a time limit and quite strict rules, so that everyone is on an even playing field.

"Entrants have three hours to get ready, and have to do their own hair and make-up, and so on."

Over the past few months Ms Charlton, who lives in Dunedin, has been doing intense planning, with the support and advice of friend, photographer, and behind-the-scenes pinup expert Rachael Taylor.

Ms Charlton is keeping her approach mostly under wraps until the big day.

"It’s going to be theatrical and dramatic, and there will be full 1950s petticoats.

"It will be very exciting to be part of it."

It was while shopping for vintage garments in Christchurch that she discovered that there was a diverse, inclusive and supportive pinup culture across the country.

"For someone who has struggled with body image, it is wonderful to be part of a community where everyone is celebrated and encouraged," she said.

"Size doesn’t matter in pageants; it is only about celebrating what we love."

Pinup culture was also gender diverse, with an emphasis on inclusivity and being mutually respectful and supportive.

"Pinup culture has been a positive influence in every area of my life — the support I have been given has been wonderful."

Both Ms Charlton and Ms Taylor have been members of the nationwide pinup community for several years, and dress in a 1950s style every day — albeit more understated than pageant-wear.

"I had really enjoyed the pinup look for a long time, but had only dabbled a bit on special occasions, until I turned 30 and left a long-term relationship," Ms Charlton said.

"I discovered that I didn’t care what people thought any more, and when I dressed in vintage style I felt good."

For Ms Charlton, taking part in events and pageants is a family affair, with her partner Chris Forsyth and three children Emily Charlton-McLarfen (14), Liam Hurring (8), and Theo Hurring (6), all taking a keen interest.

"Over time they have become more and more involved — my two daughters enjoy getting dressed up for events as well," she said.

"It’s great that we have something like this that we all do together."

While there were those who enjoyed stepping out on stage in pageants and events, there were others — such as Ms Taylor — who preferred to be involved behind the scenes.

Running her own small business, Pinup & Nostalgia Image Creations, Ms Taylor assists and advises others on style matters and make-up, and does photo-shoots.

"Being on stage in pageants is not for me, but I love being involved behind the scenes — everyone is so supportive and friendly," she said.

With vintage style fans spread throughout the country, many people involved in pinup culture connect online, through social media.

This means there will be a substantial audience watching the Miss Pinup New Zealand pageant when it is live-streamed online.

For information and to tune in , visit https://www.facebook.com/theveryvintagedayout

BRENDA.HARWOOD @thestar.co.nz