In preparation for The Midland Vintage Wedding Showcase, I met up with Carol Bean, co-founder and Director of Itsy Bitsy and discovered a wealth of knowledge about the Vintage era and what’s going on creatively in Morecambe. She is also our expert advisor for The Midland Wedding Venue Showcase. Here is someone to whom I would feel very comfortable handing over the style reins of any Vintage glamorous wedding or event.
Where did the passion for vintage spring from?
Some of my earliest and fondest memories involve my grandmother, Lena, who had travelled extensively around Europe in a home-made caravan in the 1950s. She was a fascinating character and her kitsch collections of bold and bright china, glamorous outfits and elaborate jewellery became a playful part of my growing up years. She had an entire chest of drawers jam packed full of costume jewellery. You can imagine what a feast of sparkle that was for my twin sister and myself who were allowed unrestricted access for dressing up purposes.
My mother also had an eye for the unusual and so I don’t suppose there was ever any doubt that this love of vintage would weave itself into my soul and become part of my identity. As a teenager in Nottingham I would frequent jumble sales on a quest for stylish pre-loved items that beckoned a buy. Collecting is an instinct and is often about the inherent nostalgia of an item – a family connection, happy memories, shared history.
In the late 80’s my sister and I ran a stall in Camden Market. We were amongst the first to upcycle and we loved to be creative and crafty with clothes, adding little details to effect a change of style. Vintage was a way of expressing my identity, pushing against the norm, wearing floral dresses with doc martens for example.
It’s a style that seems to have well and truly arrived ‘up North’
Vintage was very slow to take off outside London but it’s now enjoying a glorious boom here in the North West. Events like ‘Vintage by the Sea’ have galvanised a growing following of enthusiasts and it’s lovely to be part of this renaissance. The Midland attracts many people who are interested in the iconic architectural style and this opens up a conversation about weddings from that era.
Very often it’s the bride that will lead the discussion, but more and more the men are taking an active part in the styling of their special day.
Tell us about Itsy Bitsy
Itsy Bitsy offers a vintage design service for weddings and events. I’m not a wedding planner as such, but I use my Art and Design training to work with other services to ensure that every element of a couple’s special day is seamlessly woven together to ensure authenticity, glamour and style. We also hire vintage china, bunting and props to venues across the North West and Cumbria. I’ve been thrilled that Itsy Bitsy’s work has appeared in several national wedding blogs including Love My Dress and Rock My Wedding, and Lancashire Life and Wedding Ideas magazines.
Over the years I have grown to appreciate the importance of celebrating special occasions in life – birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, christenings. The celebrations are like a rite of passage and often mark the beginning of a new season. Itsy Bitsy lends a helping hand in the organisation of these events and lend our applause to these important markers.
Itsy Bitsy Vintage recently styled John & Carly’s Great Gatsby Inspired Wedding at The Midland. Photography by Shot @: Photography.
Any particular reason for choosing Morecambe as home?
We moved to Morecambe about a year ago as my husband wished to pursue a full-time career as a freelance professional photographer and we wanted more space for our combined businesses. The Midland, of course, will always draw me – my family have celebrated some of our most poignant moments here. It’s my favourite hotel and I have a collection of 1930’s and art deco props built up specifically for Midland clients.
Morecambe itself is a growing hub of creativity and particularly on the vintage scene. The town is rightly proud that one of its sons, Neil Kendall, organiser of Morecambe Variety Festival, has just been crowned Photographer of the Year at the National Vintage Awards for his photos of the great and glamorous. ‘A Splendid Day Out’ steampunk weekend, Nice and Sleazy Punk Festival and of course, Vintage by the Sea are real crowd pullers and the second in series, ‘Take the Plunge’ mural, gives a tangible representation of the town’s art deco heritage. Add to that, the restoration and all that’s going on at Morecambe’s Winter Gardens and you have an exciting place to live and work.
Carol has been instrumental in the planning and creation of the first Vintage Wedding Showcase at The Midland on 20th September 2015.