Author Archives: Nicole Mclennan

About Roller Derby

Since starting in Chicago, USA in 1935, roller derby has had a reputation for being rough, aggressive, colourful, and thoroughly entertaining!

Roller Derby competition from the 1950s.

Roller Derby competition from the 1950s: Wikimedia Commons

Once the sport had begun, professional roller derby quickly became popular; in 1940 more than five million spectators watched matches in about 50 cities across the USA. In the following decades it predominantly became a form of entertainment where the theatrical elements overshadowed the athleticism.


The sport declined in popularity in the 1970s, but was revived and reinvented in 2001 by a grassroots league in Austin, Texas. This revival focused on athleticism, community, sisterhood and sassiness. Although some sports entertainment qualities such as player pseudonyms and colorful uniforms were retained, scripted bouts with predetermined winners were abandoned. As word spread, amateur all-women roller derby leagues began to emerge across America and, soon after, all over the world.


Roller derby has enjoyed an explosion in popularity in recent years. There are now more than 1,250 leagues internationally (half of which are outside the USA) and Australia currently has roller derby leagues in all states, with more popping up every few months. With over 37,000 participants worldwide, roller derby is the fastest-growing female-focused amateur sport in the world, and is now under consideration for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Check out the video above of a women’s Roller Derby competition from the 1950s – no helmets!


Beauty School Knockouts

In September this year at The Sydney Vintage & Retro Fair, we were fortunate to have several members of the Sydney Roller Derby League on hand to entertain visitors and introduce them to the world of roller derby. The lovely ‘Fiesty Cuffs’ also demonstrated some of the popular ‘moves’ on stage.

Members of Sydney’s Beauty School Knockouts Team are pictured at right. The girls rock a ‘vintage/rockabilly/punk’ fashion vibe, with 1950s waitress-style dresses set off by fishnet tights and argyle socks – a look that is popular with roller derby teams around the world.


Feisty Cuffs: Image by Kris Ezergilis

Feisty Cuffs: Image by Kris Ezergilis

At the Sydney fair we caught up with Feisty Cuffs and learned a bit more about why roller derby is such a big part of her life…

“I signed up to a ‘Learn to Skate’ class with Sydney Roller Derby League about four years ago, and they taught me how to skate. Now, I am Captain of the Screaming Assault Sirens and a member of the Assassins (our A grade representative team).

When I started derby, I became part of something so much bigger than myself, I got an instant family. There is nothing quite like it. And to be surrounded by so many strong women, it made me want more from myself, on and off the track.”


Sydney Roller Derby League

Sydney Roller Derby League. Image by Maja Baska.

The Sydney Roller Derby League was established in late 2007, and now has more than 90 members. They also had their first full competitive season in 2009. They are always looking to recruit new skaters, secure bigger venues and continue promoting the sport in the greater Sydney area. For more information about the how you can be involved in the 2014 competition as a competitor or spectator, go to:



For information on roller derby leagues around the country, visit:

Shopping & Mr Selfridge

“If you lived at Downton Abbey, you shopped at Selfridges.”

The Cast of Mr Selfridge

The Cast of Mr Selfridge

Having visited the London store of Selfridges & Co several times, I was looking forward to seeing the recent UK production of Mr Selfridge on Channel 7…. and it didn’t disappoint!


Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge

Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge

The 10 part series centres on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of London’s famous department store, Harry Gordon Selfridge. The beautiful and faithfully reproduced costuming takes centre stage, and I became totally immersed in the fascinating tales of love and life based around the various staff and others associated with the Selfridges phenomenon.

In 1909, with a massive burst of publicity Harry opened Selfridge’s, England’s first truly modern purpose-built department store. Designed to promote shopping as a sensual and pleasurable experience, six acres of floor space offered what he called “everything that enters into the affairs of daily life”, as well as thrilling new luxuries – from ice-cream sodas to signature perfumes. This magical emporium also featured Otis elevators, a bank, a rooftop garden with an ice-skating rink, and a restaurant complete with orchestra – all catering to customers from Anna Pavlova to Noel Coward.

What I didn’t realise before I began watching the TV series is what a huge impact Harry Selfridge and his store had made on a favourite pastime of many … shopping!

I learned that many things we consider ‘normal’ in retail today were introduced by Mr Selfridge. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure instead of a chore and made it acceptable practice to purchase items in a store atmosphere, as opposed to scheduling meetings with personal tailors and dressmakers in private.

Here are a few interesting innovations he put into practice that are woven through the series:

  • He put merchandise on display so customers could examine it – previously stringent rules and regulations about shopping had it hidden away under counters and in cases.
  • He put the highly profitable perfume counter front-and-centre on the ground floor – this gave customers a wonderful relief from the no doubt highly pungent smells of the London streets in the early1900s.
  • He invented what we now think of as window dressing (and the Selfridges windows remain amazing, year in year out), which enticed even more shoppers inside.

    Windows of Selfridges in the series Mr Selfridge

    Windows of Selfridges in the series Mr Selfridge

  • He introduced marketing techniques that are used to this day – special events and celebrity appearances just to get more foot traffic and he introduced sales line such as ‘There are only ‘x’ more shopping days ’till Christmas’.
  • He grouped all women’s needs in one area of the store – clothing, accessories, lingerie, makeup and perfumes. Previously they were separated across several areas of a store.
  • He got shoppers into a store without any specific purpose – just to ‘window-shop'; and kept others there longer than needed to buy the item they came in for by having a store restaurant (The Palm Room), a reading room, relaxing room, rooftop garden and more.
  • He attracted shoppers with educational and scientific exhibits (and was himself interested in education and science), and he believed that the displays would introduce potential new customers to Selfridges, generating both immediate and long-term sales.
  • Harry Selfridge was obsessive about customer service and is generally acknowledged as the first to have coined the phrase “The customer is always right!”. He used this extensively in his advertising.

Mr Selfrige by Lindy WoodheadIf you haven’t had a chance to watch this series, it will no doubt be widely available on DVD soon and I would highly recommend it – watch out for the second series coming in 2014, only on Channel 7. I would also recommend the fabulous biography ‘Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge’ by Lindy Woodhead – it is a great read!

Images courtesy of Channel 7

‘Shopping Seduction & Mr Selfridge’ by Lindy Woodhead
Masterpiece Theatre, UK



The Gangsters’ Ball is on again in September!

If you’ve been searching for a fabulous event where you can get ‘fully frocked up’ in your very best vintage fashion, we have the party for you!


Now in its sixth year, the annual Gangsters’ Ball, held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in September, is a fully themed night of interactive and non-stop entertainment. The Ball brings to life the fashion, style, humour and classic entertainment of the 1930s and 40s. Modern day mobsters and molls can step back in time to a bygone era where men wore three-piece suits and fedoras, women wore feathers and pill box hats, big bands ruled the airwaves and gangsters ruled the streets.

This year’s headline acts include MC chanteuse Madame Leila Leontine, world renowned New York based broadville troupe the Pretty Things Peepshow, award-winning acrobatic troupe Acrobatica, master of illusion Adam Mada and juggler extraordinaire Jeremy Ansley, with each capital city playing host to a variety of other wild, wicked and amazing entertainers.

Every show also features Australia’s best swing, rockabilly and rock & roll DJs, The Gambling Den – with poker, roulette and black jack tables, swing dancing performances, pin-up models, cocktail bars, a vintage styling parlour and 1930’s themed photo booth. And one lucky attendee will be in the running for a VIP trip for 2 people to enjoy the Gangsters’ Ball in Las Vegas, USA!

Tickets are onsale now and these shows will sell out, so get in quick! Click here for more info.

We thought you would like to see some of the wonderful fun, entertainment and fashion from previous Balls. Check out all the action below… I can’t wait to be there!


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Like Grandma Used to Make

Share your favourite memory of grandma’s baking (or great grandma, mum, or favourite aunt) and you could win a gorgeous collection of wisdom from a host of grandmothers.

Like Grandma Used to Make

Growing up in rural South Australia in a small farming community, Rebecca Sullivan’s beloved great-grandmother, Lilly, was an award winning cake baker, famous for her Victorian sponge. When Lilly passed away, Rebecca realised the wealth of knowledge that had gone with her and made it her mission to collect and preserve as many recipes and stories as she could, from all the grannies, nonnas and yiayias willing to share their wisdom with her.

Crammed with useful tips and tricks, more than 100 recipes, and practical home crafts, ‘Like Grandma Used to Make’ is a wonderful manual for anyone wanting to reconnect with the simplicity and goodness of days gone by, and is available from all good booksellers now.

To win a copy of this delightful book tell us about your favourite childhood memory of home-baked treats… we want to smell the butter and icing sugar! Please comment below… the winner will be announced in the next Into Vintage newsletter.

Sending Mum some vintage love

Did you know? The tradition of giving gifts to mothers on Mother’s Day in Australia was started by Mrs Janet Heyden, a resident of Leichhardt, Sydney, in 1924. She began the tradition during a visit to a patient at the Newington State Home for Women, where she met many lonely and forgotten mothers.

Tfree-vintage-mothers-day-cardo cheer them up, she rounded up support from local school children and businesses to donate and bring gifts to the women. Every year thereafter, Mrs Heyden raised increasing support for the project from local businesses and even the local Mayor. [souce: Wikepedia]

And now the day has become a tradition for families to celebrate every year, on the second Sunday in May.

This Mother’s Day (May 12), you can show your Mum just how much you love her with something a little bit different and personal – a gorgeous, printable vintage card from the lovely folk at and Over the past several years, the owners have turned their passion for vintage art into specialised online businesses and have amassed an enormous collection – and here they share their vintage Mother’s Day cards.

Scroll down below the thumbnail images to read Instructions for Downloading. Please be sure to read the Rules of the Road (below), and then enjoy sharing these special pieces of history with the ‘Mums’ in your life…

Instructions for Downloading the Vintage Mother’s Day Cards

1.Please read the Rules of the Road terms of use before downloading any of the art. Please respect and abide by these rules.

2. Choose a thumbnail of any of the Mother’s Day cards. When you click on one of the images, it will appear larger.

3. If you have a PC, just right-click and save the final version of the artwork to your hard drive. If you’re a Mac user, control-click the image until you get a pop-up menu that will give you an option to save the file on your hard drive. Then you can print and make a personalised card, or email the picture to your Mum!

The images above are from
You can find more fabulous vintage cards and artwork on and




Guys… learn how to Pomp it up!

Hey boys, are you serious about looking good? Follow these tips from our very own Tony The Barber, and Jimmy at Layrite USA, and start channeling some serious celebrity cool!Tony The Barber

The Ultra, High and Tight Pomp, the Slickback, Full Back Pomp, the Johnson Boogie and the Hawleywoods Puff… these are just some of the more popular men’s hairstyles that veteran barber Tony Tavner-Corner (aka The Quiffmaster) creates for modern guys who love the classics.

Before styling with Tony

Before styling with Tony

Tony specializes in 50s and 60s styles, creating an ‘old school look’ that is so popular with fashionable guys at the moment. Check out the locks on David Beckham, Leonardo Di Caprio, Adam Levine…

“I started cutting hair in the UK 45 years ago”, said Tony. “I came out to Australia in 1982, working in Melbourne where I had two shops before moving to Queensland. My shop in Brisbane was bought by my apprentice after he became fully qualified, and now I travel to vintage and nostalgia events around the country spreading style!”

Looking slick... after styling with Tony

Slick…. after styling with Tony

“My number one tip to creating the hair style you want is to use the right product. I can’t go past Layrite Pomade. It goes in like a wax but washes out like a gel, it’s fantastic to work with, and is a specialty product made in the US by the world famous LA barber Hawleywoods.”

“You can also come and see me for the right cut and some styling tips at one of the many events I travel to, including the Love Vintage Shows in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The guys at Layrite have also created a series of You Tube videos so you can recreate the look at home.”

To purchase Layrite Deluxe Pomade, contact Tony at or catch him at the Love Vintage Shows.




How to clean your antique lace

Hand-made lace is one of the most beautiful, treasured and delicate of fabrics – but what is the best way to clean it? We went to the experts for advice.

Making Lace

Lace being hand-made by a member of the Queensland Lace Guild

You may have collected or inherited a piece of hand-made, antique lace but you may be unsure how to clean and care for it. The members of the Queensland Lace Guild have produced a video and booklet to show how it’s done, and although it’s not a quick process, the time is justified when looking at the value (sentimental or otherwise) of your lace.

Below is an extract from Care of Antique Lace by the Queensland Lace Guild that outlines their cleaning method.

Vacuum cleaner
Hair dryer
Washing solution – water with natural-based detergents, eg washing soda or soap flakes
Distilled water
Washing tubs
Netting, sewing thread, needle, scissors, brass pins
Sheets of plastic
Ether foam (do not use polystyrene)
Kettle or large pot to heat distilled water
Non-acetate blotting paper

A. Block – Take a piece of ether foam big enough to pin the piece of lace you are cleaning on to. Cover this in blotting paper. Then plastic. The block is now ready to use.
B. Lace – Take the lace to be cleaned and place it between two layers of netting, allowing the net to extend beyond and around the lace. Hand-stitch the net layers together so it will hold the lace firmly between (like a sandwich). If it is a large piece of lace, stitch between the holes of the lace but not through any threads. The idea is for the netting to hold the piece of lace firmly in place while you launder it.

1. Gently vacuum any excess dust off the lace.
2. Prepare your washing and rinsing tubs. One tub of washing solution and three (or more) tubs of clean, distilled rinse water. All distilled water must be tempered. (Tempered water is 2/3 cold to 1/3 hot).
3. Soak lace (which is encased in netting) in the washing solution; allow to stand for a short while.
4. Rub lace with the sponge. The net will protect the lace so you can rub quite hard to remove the dirt.
5. Once satisfied that all the dirt has been removed, lift the encased lace out of the solution and allow excess washing solution to drip off before placing into a tub of clean, tempered distilled water.
6. Pat and swirl the clean water through the lace. Repeat this method til you end up with clean water. Best to have at least three tubs of rinse water lined up (or however many it takes to rinse the lace fully).
7. Remove excess water by squeezing, but do not wring the lace.
8. Once you are satisfied the lace is clean remove the net. Lay the clean lace flat on the block (which was prepared beforehand). Using brass pins, pin the lace in place, making sure to pin through holes and not through any threads.
9. Once the lace is fully secure you may now use a hair dryer to dry the lace (on cool setting), or allow to air dry out of direct sunlight.
10. Store lace in fresh acetate-free paper, making sure you refresh the paper often.

The Queensland Lace Guild will be at the Brisbane Love Vintage Show (April 5-7). Come and watch the experts as they demonstrate lacemaking… and try it for yourself. The guild members are happy to share their knowledge and advice on making, identifying and caring for lace.

qldlace.orgThe Australian Lace Guild was incorporated in 1985 and operates nationally with branches in each state. The Queensland Branch has it’s own state committee which, among other things, operates a library, organises workshops and holds open general meetings.
The aim and objectives of the guild are:
 – To promote lacemaking as a craft throughout Australia
 – To bring together people interested in all forms of lace and lacemaking
 – To provide a forum for the exchange of information on lace and lacemaking
 – To establish and maintain standards of excellence in the craft of lacemaking in all forms
 – For personal and public education