‘Vintage’ is the byword for the height of fashion these days, so as the Island has often said to be stuck in the past this must make it the epitome of chic.
Our seafronts are reminiscent of a bygone era, our beautiful landscapes are easily the setting for picnics with ‘lashings of ginger beer’ as in the Enid Blyton books, and many events throughout the Island’s social calendar hark back to earlier times such as the 1940s experience at the IW Steam Railway.
Realising that there is an interest in all things vintage, particularly the fashion of the 40s, 50s and early 60s, Islander Marianne Priddle set up Hubba Hubba to supply fashion conscious women with a wardrobe of wonderful dresses from an era gone by, brought bang into the 21st century.
Photographed here on Ventnor’s vintage seafront with its gorgeous old beach huts, ‘Audrey’ and ‘Grace’ bring a waft of nostalgia to the proceedings. ‘Audrey’ (top) is the stunning black classic cocktail dress with a high front neckline and dramatic slash V back, created in a stunning hi-sheen satin. Fitted to the waist with a beautiful full skirt and organza underlay, there are no prizes for guessing who this little black dress is inspired by.
Pretty pale blue ‘Grace’ (above left) has a delicate mandarin collar and front button décor, the ¾ length sleeves are darted at the cuff with buttons and it is gently fitted to the waist with a detachable matching belt, just like the princess would have worn.
Back at the old ‘Mission’ Hall in Chale, owned by www.vintagevacations.co.uk, the girls in their Sunday best dresses pose demurely. ‘Betty’ (right) has a classic sweetheart neckline, is short sleeved, with a loose fitting bodice at the bust that is darted to the waist, again with full 50s skirt. ‘Dee’ is a pretty white on red polka dot scoop neck sleeveless dress trimmed with contrast piping and both have detachable matching belts. ‘Veronica’ is a more sophisticated day dress in black with deep plunge neckline.
And smouldering in the fading light are two 40s beauties ‘Josephine’ and ‘Loretta’. A stunning full length shimmering white gown with a deep V neckline and flattering gathered bust fitted to a wide panelled waistband, ‘Josephine’ simply oozes old school Hollywood glamour as does ‘Loretta’ in stunning emerald green with her puffed sleeves and flattering gathers to the bust.
Inspired by her Grandmother’s wardrobe, “gloves, brooches, incredibly feminine things and furs,” the dresses Marianne has in her collection are pretty, smart and sexy in equal measure – based on original patterns with unique styling. You won’t find another dress like one of Marianne’s originals.
“Some of the pieces I do are quite on trend at the moment,” explained Marianne who learned to sew from her grandparents as a little girl.
“My grandparents looked after me when I was little and they had a soft toy business – Grandad did the pattern cutting and my Grandmother made the toys. I had my first hand sewing machine at the age of six, then a foot pedal machine and moved on to an electric machine.
“I used to make dresses for my dolls and moved on to making them for myself,” she enthused. “I’ve always made my own things. My mother sewed as well so my knowledge comes from two generations.
“I love the glamour of the old style Hollywood era so I tended to make big dresses like the ones in Gone With the Wind and flounced around in them. In the 1980s I went to a lot of balls in Shropshire where I come from and the Lady Di look was in,” she laughed.
Her new collection is ‘big’ in that many of the dresses are designed to be worn with petticoats to show off the flared skirts, but the silhouette is definitely tailored and the look is smart and pretty, although the evening dresses are certainly sexy in a Hollywood starlet way. Hubba Hubba also have long (fake but classy) fur stoles to wear slipping down the shoulders for a totally sizzling look.
“The dresses are made from a cotton mix or synthetics as they would have been at the time, to give a lovely drape,” explained Marianne. “I use colours influenced from the time such as more muted olive greens, dusky pinks and lavender was very popular because the Queen Mother wore it and it was considered a colour of hope. Also navy blues and of course gingham and polka dots.
“I have a stock of patterns from the 1930s to date, and some key elements are taken from them. Clothes from the 1940s were very heavily tailored as they were often made from husband’s suits – with eight panels in the skirts. I just tweak them a little bit to give a nicer look. Some I do from scratch.
“You can find some amazing stuff down here on the Island but it’s actually quite difficult to buy an actual vintage dress that’s going to fit you because of the different lifestyle. Women were smaller, did manual labour, walked everywhere, food was rationed and they wore corsets. Women who are very into the era are also into foundation wear, but I will be using standard sizing as well as offering made to measure.”
Marianne’s wonderful creations are available from her website at www.hubbahubbavintage.com