Should you find yourself wandering over to the vibrant Instagram of Marjorie May Fair, your eyes might be drawn to, apart from the gratuitous images of beautiful hairstyles straight out of the 40’s, a few quotes for consideration:
Be fearlessly authentic.
What’s stopping you?
You are enough.
A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.
It’s by these words that the Melbourne-based stylist empowers her clients and followers to live fulfilling lives in letting their inner-self shine. And if by shining means a perfectly kept coif reminiscent of Grable or Hayworth, then Marjorie is the key to success. Four years in the making, the pin-up stylist has enjoyed recreating classic brush-outs and Victory Rolls for a new century, never to be forgotten and always enjoyed by all women whether they’re modern trend mavens or fellow vintage fashionistas. The future will always find a way back into the past, especially in fashion and beauty. But thankfully, as Marjorie notes, modern tools and improvements have graciously made her classic hair easier to master– and easily accessible to anyone wanting to dabble in the look of their mothers and grandmothers before them.
We got to chat with Marjorie over her inspirations, business, and overall art that she’s playfully mastered over the years:
How did you start your business?
I was at university, completing my Bachelor of Arts (acting) degree, and I had to do a research essay on old Hollywood starlets. Every actress had pristine skin, glamorous hair and lashes to die for. I became obsessed and spent hours flicking through old images. Once I finished drama school, I immersed myself in the Vaudeville scene, and my entire persona changed; something that had been bubbling inside of me for quite some time. I decided that it wasn’t enough to pursue one creative passion of mine; so there and then began the life of a solo business woman; aiming to spread my love of vintage hair to other like-minded ladies.
How long have you been doing retro-inspired hair?
From a young age I would watch my grandmother put in her wet sets every evening, whilst passing her pins and listen to her retell war stories. I unintentionally found myself wearing a flower in my hair or a bandana during my school years. About 4 years ago, I gradually transformed into a pinup queen. Mostly self-taught, I would spend hours trialing different techniques with various hot tools, rollers, products and brushes. It is so easy to find inspiration these days; one only has to type ‘vintage hair’ into Google and before you know it, 3 hours have gone by and you take on the challenge of trying to figure out setting patterns and cheat ways in an attempt to recreate a hairstyle that you’ve seen on 1940’s and 50’s starlets! 90% exhilarating, 5% highly frustrating!
Technology has come such a long way, and I think we are very lucky that we have the option of using tools that will set our hair in an hour, as opposed to wrapping it up in a hair scarf hoping it will come out perfectly the next day.
Who is your starlet for hair inspiration?
You want me to name one? Oh dear….
Too hard a task, but I’ll narrow it down to three. For starters, Lucille Ball is an absolute goddess. Her famous red locks and poodle up-dos never cease to amaze me. But beyond her glamour, she was such an intelligent woman and her devotion to her work is incredibly inspiring. One of her life mottos has really stuck with me – “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
Rita Hayworth is another go-to for inspiration. It’s all about the waves with Rita! One of the most asked for hairstyles by my clients and a style that is not only timeless, but that is so elegant and suits so many different personalities.
And then there’s sweet little Betty Grable. Her victory rolls are iconic and with her golden locks, it was the perfect combination. Victory rolls are so versatile and one of my favourite go-to hairstyles when I have limited time, a day old set and the desire for volume!
Why do you believe most women still prefer the care and devotion to retro styles?
For me, it has become part of my morning ritual. Just like brushing your teeth or having a shower, getting ready mentally and emotionally prepares me for the day ahead and makes me say ‘Hey world, I’m ready for you!’
There is also an element of not wanting to let go of the past. My grandmother would never leave the house without being completely dolled up from her lipstick to her Mary Jane buckled shoes; traits that I now have adopted to some extent. It makes women feel like they are continuing to live and breathe history!
At the end of the day, most women like to feel unique and special. For us vintage inspired dolls, it not only gives us a creative outlet, but it allows us to be whoever we want to be on any given day. I wake up every morning, pick an era and work my whole style around that era. One day I’m a 20’s flapper girl, the next day I’m a rockabilly grease monkey.
What is your favourite era for hairstyles?
My favourite era would have to be the 1940’s. I love that many of the hairstyles invented in the 40’s were influenced by the war. Women needed styles that were both practical and feminine. Many were working in factories and hospitals and still needed to look presentable both in the workplace and at home. Also as materials were scarce, those in the beauty industry needed to rely on pure talent to come up with inventive styles for their starlets. Hairspray products were not easily accessible, and so brush-outs became less slick and adopted more of a fluffy finish.
What is the easiest style, and the hardest?
The easiest era for me to style is the 60’s. As long as you have strong teasing techniques and have no fear of looking like Magenta from Rocky Horror before slicking back it into a beehive, it is a great 5-minute, run out the door vintage style.
On the other hand the 1930’s and 40’s had the most intricate hairstyles. You can never get enough practice to create the perfect vintage wave; a style that Rita Hayworth made women idolise.
What is your own unique or signature look?
Recently I have put my own twist on Lucille Ball’s famous poodle hairstyle; combining a few trademarks from the Lucy poodle, the Dita bun, and Betty Page’s bangs. A great look that exudes femininity, complexity and detail that is incomplete without a glamorous hair flower (*Sophisticated Lady Hair flowers, Hair Wear by PinUpCurl and Miz Smitten Kitten are a few of my favourite hair flower stores – all found on Etsy!)
How has your business connected you to the wider vintage lifestyle community?
Technology is a wonderful networking tool. Yes, it has its problems, but in terms of networking, I have met some amazing people since joining the Instagram circuit. Many of my followers are UK and USA based and it is so wonderful to make connections on a global scale. Thanks to social media, not only have I made friends, but I have expanded my skills as I have trained with international stylists such as Bethany from The Vintage Beauty Parlous and Miss Rockabilly Ruby from LA; both artists that I found online and that I respect and admire so much.
Could you give our readers any product recommendations?
I am constantly trying out new products and hot tools. I think that my goal is to find products that work on the majority of hair types. Depending on what kind of curl or wave I want, I alternate between my GHD hair straightener, the Babyliss 1-inch curling wand and my MUK reverse wand for my sets. At present, my go to styling products are the Whitesands Medium Hold Thermal Setting Spray, the Sexy Hair – Get Layered Hairspray and Suavecita’s Pomade for finishing touches. All these products not only work wonders for the majority of hairstyles, but they also smell delicious.
Illustration by Ashleigh Beevers
Spring Carnival Photos courtesy of Marjorie May Fair
Photography: Wendell Levi Teodoro
Millinery: Cailin Alainn Millinery
Dress: Vivien of Holloway