Romantic History Fetishism: Traveling In Time With Laura May
Ever wondered living in the Victorian era? The early 20s or booming 50s? The aesthetics of those times are still pleasing our eyes. Sometimes we wonder too much about how happy we'd be if we'd be BORN then. But the 21st century is both captivating and triggering, that you don't have to. You can do and dress whatever you want and if you dare Laura May is here to help you travel back in time serving a daily bunch of vintage goodies. Let's find out how one becomes a Victorian lady living in 2018.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN FEW WORDS.
Hi, I’m Laura. I’m the owner and operator of Laura May Curates, an online clothing boutique.
#lauramayshistory Circa 1960s Sheer Chiffon Blouse Featuring Embroidered Pink Rose Spray Stem Panels, Skirted with Ruffled Lace, 3/4 Length Puffy Sleeves & Clear Diamond Cut Buttons | SOLD | Circa 1960s Rose Pink Boned Medical Corset Featuring Seven Synching Buckle Straps, Four Adjustable Suspenders & Velvet Covered Back Support By Spencer | XS / S / Small M | DM to Claim
When your style started to differentiate from a basic, simple and casual and became more history oriented? What inspired that change?
From the beginning I intended to work with garments rich in history and culture but it was all new to me then, I had to get a feel for buying and selling, understand the pieces I wanted to stock and discover how I could find them.
I still love to work with modern garments particularly designer pieces that may be under 10 years old, I’m giving them a new life.
I wouldn’t necessarily describe my earlier pieces as simple or basic, more casual certainly. I had fewer sourcing methods when I began but I always shopped with a personal aesthetic in mind, the vision is clearer now although it's evolving.
WHAT TOPICS OR VALUES IN HISTORY ATRRACTED YOUR ATTENTION & WHY?
There isn’t a specific era or story in history that I solely relate to. I find individual garments, sculptures, paintings and furniture fascinating, it could be its style, its decadence, its absurdity that speaks to me. I’ll find something that feels so relevant today and realise it was hand crafted several decades or even centuries ago. A life’s work, a physical impression of time, It connects us.
Tell us about your background, where are you from what do you do on daily basis?
I studied fashion communication in Liverpool and later moved to London with my partner to pursue styling. I assisted a few stylists on fashion editorials, met inspiring people and had some wonderful experiences there. But I couldn’t continue working on low paid/unpaid projects so it didn’t last as long as I had hoped, you know, the living costs are crazy.
My partner was offered a great opportunity in Liverpool, so we decided to move back here a couple of years ago. I loved London. I miss it. My work has been heavily influenced by my experiences there. I am now so grateful that it’s turned out this way because I wouldn’t have been able to start Laura May Curates, at least not in the way I have here in Liverpool where I have the freedom to create and happily run my shop full time.
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SURROUND YOU? DO THEY HAVE THE SAME INTEREST IN HISTORY OR IS IT JUST YOU?
It’s not so much about a fascination with history but a revival of history. I’m repurposing pieces that embody a new world whilst appreciating their origin, which is deeply personal.
I live with my long-term partner Rob who has been so supportive through all of this, we have a very close relationship and share a similar taste in film, music, culture and comedy which undoubtably influences my work.
WHERE YOU GOT YOUR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE HISTORIC FASHION? IS IT ACCURATE OR FREE TO YOUR INTERPRETATION?
Some pieces are undeniably of their time, once you understand them you can spot them a mile away, it’s all about learning, discussing and discovering. You get to know the fabrics, shapes, labels and fastenings but there’s always room for error.
Many of my sources have been collecting for decades, so they’re pretty reliable, but you can’t be too trusting. If I’m not 100% confident I will do some online research and refer to a few books, I do my best to get the information as close to the truth as I can.
That’s one of the beautiful things about vintage. The knowledge is passed down, it takes time, energy and communication to master it.
SOLD Circa 1960s Full-Length Two Piece Peignoir Nightgown Set | Peignoir: Exaggerated Ruffled 3/4 Length Sleeves, Sheer Lace Bodice, Button Chest Closure, Full-Length Open Skirt, Four Tiered Ruffle Hem | Nightgown: Sleeveless Dress with Sheer Lace Bodice, Long Waist Bow Tie Cords, Full Sweep Skirt with Four Tiered Ruffle Hem | Size S / M | #lauramayshistory
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BRING IT EVEN FURTHER AND SELL SAME STYLE CLOTHING? IS IT JUST BUSINESS OR A SPECIFIC MESSAGE YOU TRY TO SEND TO PEOPLE?
As the business grows the products become rarer, odder and higher in quality, the collections become more cohesive and the styling becomes more experimental.
I see it like I’m creating a fantasy. My friend Ruby described it as a Cyber Romance, I like that, I often think about that when tying things together. The Romance is obvious, maybe the cyber element is more subtle. I love modernism, futurism and sci-fi which I want to make more prevalent as the brand grows.
There’s a number of topics that I communicate, which are free to interpretation. The common theme that runs throughout is its filled with femininity, from the instinctive to the exaggerated. Expressing femininity is something that comes naturally to me, though through certain stages in my life it was something I felt ashamed of, I’m now rejecting that and feel like I’ve regained a part of myself. I hope that idea of self-acceptance transcends to others that identify with the feminine.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR CLOTHES? ARE THESE SPECIALISED SHOPS OR YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING THAT FITS YOUR IDEA ANYWHERE YOU GO?
Earlier on I worked with vintage wholesalers and raided charity shops but it was too much of a gamble, I could spend all day hunting and not find a single piece I wanted. So I decided to become more specialised by developing a strategised sourcing method. I’ve built connections with vintage/antique dealers, corset/lingerie collectors and trade with people at antique fairs. There are a few local shops that supply the odd piece that works for me but I don’t rely on them, I tend to pop in casually if I happen to pass them by.
WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF STUCK IN A LACK OF STYLING CREATIVITY WHAT DO YOU DO TO HET YOURSELF BACK TO CREATIVE THINKING?
Honestly, I am never stuck for ideas. I’ve spent a lot of my life enthralled in fantasy, so I’m full of unrealised concepts. The question is do I have the resources to achieve it. I don’t right now but I hope that Laura May Curates can grow and grant me the means to realise my visions.
BEST DRESSED GROUP OF PEOPLE ALIVE OR DEAD, IN YOUR OPINION.
Victorian pieces tend to excite me the most, I love the beautifully constructed bodices, dramatic puffy sleeves, heavy multitiered skirts, decadent bonnets and flamboyant footwear. It’s all so dream like, but I couldn’t say they were the best dressed group of people to have lived. It’s too much, overindulgent and restricting, it needs to be diluted to really appreciate the beauty of an individual piece.
There’s something exciting happening today. Although there’s a sense of conformity among the masses living behind their corrupted screens, falling victims to fast fashion. There’s a counterculture of people that are experimenting with their style to a degree that makes them absolutely one of a kind, they’re gaining unexpected references in an instant from places they never could in their internetless lives. They’re the people I do it for.
3 INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS YOU RECOMMEND TO FOLLOW AND WHY?
@brrch_floral takes floristry to a new level, it’s beyond fantasy. You’ll fall in love with every arrangement.
@matbrown777 creates post-apocalyptic interdimensional nightmares, or fantasies depending on how you look at it. Warning it’s quite graphic and may not be to everybody's taste, but it’s definitely mine.
@rarebooksparis sources the most incredible artistic books, from high fashion look books to architectural documents. Their collection maintains a classic chicness that’s a must see.