My Vintage London: Amanda Moorhouse of Lipstick & Curls
In our ‘My Vintage London’ series we’ve asked vintage-loving Londoners to share their favourite places in the capital. Here Amanda Moorhouse of vintage hair and beauty specialists Lipstick & Curls talks about her top buildings, shops and places to see.
I’m actually from a small town on the outskirts of Doncaster but moved down to London at the age of 18 to study hair and make up at London College of Fashion. In a city that was surrounded by culture and design, I couldn’t have chosen a better place to live and study. I completely submerged myself in its culture and fell in love with its charm.
The Rivoli Ballroom (pictured above)
One of my favorite buildings in London, at least for the interior, is the Rivoli ballroom, the only remaining 1950s ballroom left in London. I first came across it 12 years ago on a photo shoot, I shamefully didn’t venture south of the river very often in those days, and it was lovely to discover this amazing dance hall with much of its original character still intact. I have since moved to just around the corner from it and I often work there on shoots for fashion and media and have even gone out socially to it. It has been family owned for many years and I know the owner is keen to sell for his retirement. It would be a real tragedy if it was bought by developers and converted into flats.
We are lucky in London to have so many of our museums free to the public. I am a big art lover and particularly like the National Gallery with its amazing collection of art from the Renaissance to the first half of the last century. My favorite paintings tend to be Spanish for some reason, work by Velazquez, Zurbaran, Murillo and Goya, although if I had to pick one, it would be the 1833 work by French Artist Paul Delaroche “The execution of Lady Jane Grey.” for the shear drama of this tragic event in history.
I love vintage clothes, furniture and other paraphernalia from the past. Things were made better then, and while I live in the present, I love to surround myself with beautiful objects from a bygone age. I particularly love the 30s, 40s and 50s and my home and wardrobe is a mish-mash of all these eras. I’m a big fan of vintage fairs with specialist dealers and like to find a bargain in car boots and charity shops, but my favorite shop in London for many of my vintage needs is Radio Days near Waterloo. I have found some amazing dresses, clothes, suits and tops from there but have also bought a radio, 1930s phone and bits and pieces for our bar. I also collect old film and fashion magazines and this is a great source for them.
We are also lucky to have a great wealth of architecture in London. A favourite building is the Carrearas Cigarette factory, built in 1928 in an art deco style with an Egyptian influence. I think like many people I first discovered it stuck in traffic on my way into Camden.
This is one of those pubs that I love to visit of a quiet Sunday, when it’s not too crowded or you are five deep, trying to get a drink. It was built in 1891 and named after one of Queen Victoria’s daughters. It played a vital part of the late 50s early 60s folk revival and was host to many of Ewan MacCall’s band nights. It was recently restored to its former Victorian glory and has booths which I believe were designed for lawyers to discuss their cases in privacy but are great for a small group of friends.
I’m a huge fan of film, new and old, but prefer the smaller traditional cinemas to the multiplexes. London used to be full of amazing cinemas but over the years they have been converted into bingo halls, pubs, retail outlets or flats. The Rio, or Kingsland Empire as it was then known, was built in 1915. It was redeveloped in 1937 and little has changed structurally or aesthetically since then. It combines a good programme of films, classics, art house, foreign and the more commercial Hollywood affairs. I particularly like the late night Saturday classic film screenings.
This is a must for Rock N Roll lovers. The original building was built in 1938 and became a popular hang out for motorcyclists. Damaged during WWII, it was rebuilt and opened in 1949. With the new freedoms of a post-war teenagers and perhaps the influence of films like the Wild One, motorcycling became a popular pass time and was associated with the new music of the time, Rock N Roll. The Ace Café became famous for the record races, where you dropped the coin in the Jukebox and had to get to a point and back before the record stopped. It was re-opened in 1994 and is now host to many vintage music nights.
picture of Amanda by Southern Retro