Timeless allure of Yorkshire seaside: Vintage beach looks enjoy a new moment in the sun

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Forget St Tropez and Cannes, Biarritz or the Amalfi Coast, for true old-school seaside glamour, it’s got to be Whitby. In an exclusive shoot with Rose & Brown Vintage, Stephanie Smith previews yesteryear beachside looks coming to next weekend’s Whitby Great Seaside Vintage Fair. Pictures by Simon Hulme.

From the 1700s through Victorian times to the 1960s heyday of the British seaside right and on to the present-day, Whitby’s West Cliff has long been a genteel spot for sunbathing and beachside entertainments.

There’s a cliff lift, built in the 1930s, leading down to a long row of beach huts, and then there’s Whitby beach itself, an atmospheric backdrop for our beachwear photoshoot with Rose & Brown Vintage.

The headquarters for our shoot was the wonderful Whitby Pavilion, an entertainment complex overlooking the sea with theatre, cinema, cafe and rooms and facilities for conferences, weddings and fairs. It’s the venue for next weekend’s Great Seaside Vintage Fair, organised by Rose & Brown Vintage and now in its eighth successive year.

Rose & Brown’s Caroline Brown says: “There’s everything under the vintage sun, from pretty frocks to vintage sunglasses, accessories and lots of nostalgic stuff like vintage books, old toys, small furniture, vintage suitcases – they’re really popular – and oodles of jewellery, plus antiques and collectables.”

The fair, which features more than 50 stalls of vintage fashion and homewares from the 1920s to the 1980s, is held in the Northern Lights Suite, which is perched above the beach and has enormous round windows looking out to sea.

PICS: Simon Hulme

PICS: Simon Hulme

“What a setting,” says Caroline. “The magical atmosphere of Whitby really adds to the buzz and vibrancy of these fairs, and each time we put together a diverse, quality mix of stallholders.”

The original part of Whitby Pavilion, including the theatre, was built in 1878 and retains the wonderful atmosphere of its Victorian origins, as we found when we made our shoot HQ in the original dressing rooms, all faded grandeur and glamorous, lightbulb-framed nirrors.

While vintage swimwear still holds its own in the style stakes, it’s not always suitable for swimming. Caroline says: “We definitely say it’s more for your posing and your lounging, but also, they’re so beautiful, why not mix them up – you can wear them around town with some fantastic funky jeans.”

You can find vintage sunglasses from £5, says Caroline, adding: “Depends what era. Obviously, some of the 1930s and ‘40s ones are quite rare.”

The gold swimsuit modelled here by Hannah Muirhead and owned by Vintage Beau is from the 1940s, pure Hollywood vintage glamour, while the blue and white zipped swimsuit is “quintessential Seventies, when women took on a much more sporting physique”, Caroline says.

Hannah is also an actress and is starring in a new film, Book of Monsters, which will have its world premiere at Frightfest 2018 on August 25 at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.

Catriona, meanwhile, wore a orange and white cotton print playsuit from the 1950s. “Pick them up with lovely novelty patterns – all the fun of the seaside,” Caroline says.

Our model Catriona was also the hair and make-up artist for the shoot, and is based at The Victory Salon, near Huddersfield, where she’s much is demand for brides and fashion shoots, as well as modelling for vintage fashion shoots.

The Great Seaside Vintage Fair is an event that covers the whole spectrum of genuine vintage, says Caroline, who is also an artist and runs Rose & Brown Vintage with her husband, Julian (they also organise the ever-popular Saltaire Vintage Home & Fashion Fair and the Saltaire Record & Retro Fair).

For this Whitby fair, there will be a specialist menswear stall, a vintage vinyl stall and a record player and radio stall, plus stalls specialising in French decorative vintage and antiques.

“So we do go even earlier than the 1920s but never later than the 1980s,” Caroline says.

“Because it is on both days of the weekend, it means you can really soak up the seaside atmosphere and spend proper time hunting the fair for exciting vintage finds. It’s an extra excuse to spend a day or two in Whitby if you live further afield, and it’s a lovely event which celebrates the beautiful setting.”

The Great Seaside Vintage Fair takes place next Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22, at Whitby Pavilion, West Cliff, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 3EN. Open: 9.30am – 4pm (both days), entry: £2 / £1.50 entry (under 16s free).

Organised by Rose & Brown Vintage: 07985 181120, roseandbrownvintage@yahoo.co.uk www.roseandbrownvintage.co.uk

CREDITS: All clothes and accessories from a selection that will be available at the Great Seaside Vintage Fair, including vintage pieces from Rose & Brown Vintage and Vintage Beau. See www.roseandbrownvintage.co.uk Twitter: @roseandbrown, Facebook: Rose & Brown Vintage, Telephone: 07985 181120. Photography: Simon Hulme. Fashion editor: Stephanie Smith. Location: Whitby seafront and Whitby Pavilion, which is open daily March to end of October 9am - 5pm, box office open all year 10am - 4pm. Opening hours during winter months depends on events taking place, see www.whitbypavilion.sivtickets.com. Styling: Caroline Brown. Hair & Make-up: Catriona Power - Instagram: @tronie_victorysalon and Facebook: thevictorysalon and Catriona Power. Models: Hannah Muirhead - Instagram: @hrmuirhead Facebook: Rose Muirhead Twitter:@Rose_Muirhead and Catriona Power, as above.

MORE UPCOMING VINTAGE FAIR EVENTS 
Saltaire Vintage Home & Fashion Fair (Victoria Hall) - Sept 15 & 16, December 1 2018

Saltaire Record & Retro Fair (Caroline Social Club) - November 10, 2018

Vintage Weekend at Lotherton Hall (Aberford, near Leeds) - August 18 & 19, 2018

Leeds Vintage Furniture & Home Fair (Farsley) - September 8 and 9, 2018

October Seaside Vintage Fair (Whitby Pavilion) - October 6 & 7, 2018