A Beginner’s Guide to Pinup

Montreal’s Pinup Academy launched its first workshop to give hopefuls all the tips and tricks they’d need to become pinup bombshells on Saturday.

Nineteen women gathered at Marisa Parisella’s photo studio in the Old Port to learn about makeup, vintage hairdos, pinup fashion, body image and how to pose like a pro. At the end of the event, the women got to put their knowledge to the test in a photoshoot with Parisella.

“It’s an accessible form of glamour that all ages and all sizes can really accomplish without feeling the need to be tall, blonde, slim,” said Lori Morrison, founder of the academy.

Morrison says the workshop was created in Toronto by Elle Rebel, the owner of Rosie the Rebel Boutique, which is a rockabilly, psychobilly and retro clothing retailer. In March, Morrison started to work on bringing the idea to Montreal.

“I thought the idea was so fantastic and that it would translate very well to the Montreal market, so we [Elle Rebel & herself] worked together on that,” said Morrison.

Here’s a taste of what happened at the workshop.

Makeup with Audrey Ivory

Audrey Ivory, a burlesque performer/producer, pinup model, hairstylist and makeup artist, kicked off the workshop by teaching attendees how to get the perfect pinup look.

“I’m telling you what works for me,” said Ivory. “The more you use makeup, the more you’re going to find techniques that work for you.”

The first step to a pinup ready face: foundation.

“For photoshoots and the stage, water-based products like BB creams are generally not covering enough,” said Ivory. Her go-to foundation is Teint Idôle 24h by Lancôme, a liquid foundation with SPF that fixes on skin for a matte effect.

Then there was contouring and concealing before moving on to creating winged eyes and red lips, a classic pinup look.

Hairstyles with Alexandra Apple

Next, attendees tried their hand at two hairstyles: curls à la Veronica Lake and victory rolls. Alexandra Apple, owner of Salon Unlistd on St. Laurent Blvd., along with her assistant Cassie, offered a hands-on approach to hairstyles that were somewhat tricky to achieve.

The Veronica Lake is a multistep process. To get the look, part hair in six sections—two at the front and four at the back. Curl each section—starting with the first two—from root to tip. Once hair is curled and heated, curl it onto itself and secure the piece with bobby pins. Some women may need a touch of hairspray here and there to keep unruly hair in check. After some time, let the curls down and finalize with hairspray.

Body image and style with Lavender May

Lavender May, burlesque entertainer, pinup model, costume designer and vintage collector, spoke about body image and how to dress if there are certain parts of your body you want to camouflage. One by one, the women were asked to share which parts of their body they liked the most and which they liked the least. Most women agreed that they liked their bust the best. Attendees were not as unanimous in regards to the least favorite body part, which ranged from butts and thighs to bellies and arms.

Handy tips:

If you love your breasts, a heart-shaped collar with large straps that tie together at the nape of the neck will beautifully accentuate the bust.

If you want to hide your belly or accentuate your waistline, high-waist clothing with frills will hide bulge and draw the eye to the waist. If you’re up for it, waist-training with a corset will also accentuate curves.

May, who’s been sewing her own creations since she was eight, emphasized the importance dressing the way you like. “For me, it’s not just about wearing vintage clothes. As long as you like what you’re wearing and you feel sexy and confident, that’s pinup,” she said.

Photoshoots and posing with HellCath

For the last segment of the workshop, HellCath, a model with 10 years of experience under her belt, spoke about posing and knowing what to expect and how to behave during a photoshoot. HellCath, who specializes in pinup, had an extensive list of dos, don’ts and practical advice for the hopefuls:

  • When posing, think about making triangles with your arms to create space between body and limbs; you’ll look less big.
  • Book your photoshoot early in the day or late, so you don’t have to deal with the full glare of the sun.
  • Study pinup photos from the 50s or whichever decade you want to emulate.
  • Be camera-ready: wax, shave, trim, dye your hair, paint your nails (toenails too)
  • During the shoot, move slowly to have a variety of poses of the same look.
  • Prepare a CD mix to put you at ease during the shoot
  • Always have a back-up plan.
  • Don’t do pinup for the money
  • Avoid anachronisms; a 50s look with a car from the 70s is just a bad idea.
  • Don’t look too far away from the camera if you’re going for that ‘looking away look’—all the camera will see are the whites of your eyes
  • Avoid that ‘oops’ look (you know the one, where you feign surprise and put a hand to your lips) gratuitously. Better yet, just don’t use it. Why? Because often, contextually, it doesn’t make sense.
  • When shooting, don’t use your favorite outfit first—keep it for later as you may not be completely comfortable at the beginning of the shoot.

When all was said and done, Audrey Ivory, donning a pink dress that matched a large, pink-glazed plastic donut on her head, performed a playful burlesque set in honour of the snack. After her performance, attendees changed into dresses, re-touched their makeup, fixed their hair and ended the workshop with the opportunity to test what they learned in a photoshoot with Parisella.

For those who may want to try their hand at pinup modelling, Morrison says the Pinup Academy’s next workshop is being planned for the end of August.

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