HMS Vintage makeover

Turns out the old fox was in there all along


Over the last 5 years my self-image has taken a bit of a pounding. I’ve turned 40, been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, lost all my hair, gained some new scars where once tubes poked out, lost a lot of weight, grown back my hair but with the texture of a brillo pad and piled weight back on again.

Then this summer came another shock to the system – suddenly becoming a new mum to a 3 yr old.

Now in the morning I look in the mirror and wonder who that tired middle-aged person looking back at me is?

I can’t lie – I’m a bit battered and I can’t quite believe that Wonderwall was 20 years ago.

So when the offer to review a vintage makeover company came along, I thought I’d be brave and give it a go.

From someone who has been hiding at the back of group photos, surreptitiously deleting others and avoiding mirrors for years, it was a brave thing to do.

But, it turns out that the old fox is still in there ……. she’s just buried a bit deeper these days! A heartfelt thank you to HMS Vintage for helping me to feel beautiful again!


Alison Staples by HMS Vintage


The makeover


Relatively new to the vintage scene, HMS Vintage has already been scooping accolades, winning the Best Photography and Best Newcomer awards at The Vintage Manchester Awards.

Based in Salford, HMS Vintage is a creative partnership between photographer Ian Brooke and make-up artist Ewa Baberska.

Being a lady of curves, my immediate worry was that there wouldn’t be anything in their extensive wardrobe which would actually fit me. I needn’t have worried. In a separate room were rails of bright prints and sultry gowns in all styles and sizes – with accessories galore.


Vintage clothes rail


Vintage accessories


With the radio playing and a piping hot pot of tea, hair and make-up was a relaxed affair.


Vintage book & radio


I’ve only ever had my make-up professionally done once before and that was for my wedding. But bridal subtlety wasn’t in Ewa’s vocabulary when it came to my makeover. We were going for full out glam.

As a false eyelash virgin, I’m now a convert. They made my eyes look amazing. Along with the flicky up eye liner which I can never seem to get right, when all was revealed, I was unrecognisable (to me!)

I can’t lie, as someone who doesn’t wear much ‘slap’ it was a bit of a shock, but Ewa reassured me that it would look amazing in the photos ……. I’ll let you be the judge. But thankfully I don’t think I look like a man in drag or Tracy Turnblad – and I am my own harshest critic!


The photo shoot


I have absolutely no modeling experience, and initially felt enormously awkward – telling photographer Ian on more than one occasion that I felt like a complete (k)nob!

But with Ian’s encouragement and direction, before long I was confident enough to freestyle it!

“Bend your knee, drop your hip, turn your shoulders, turn your head that way, now look at me and play coy!”

It’s no mean feat in 4 inch red peep toe stilettos I’m telling you! But I think I pulled it off, and we certainly did a lot of laughing.


Themed makeovers


New for this year, the team have introduced themed makeovers, with a different theme offered every other month.


Sin City themed shoot by HMS Vintage


The current theme is based on theĀ 2005 American ‘neo-noir action thriller’ Sin City. So I also got a movie star treatment!



Alison Staples by HMS Vintage




HMS Vintage are currently running a 50% discount sale on their vintage makeover experiences (offer available until 28th February 2015) and a special Valentines offer (available until 14th February 2015), so whether you’re a hen party out for fun, looking for a glamorous gift or like me, just trying to rediscover your inner fox, I can thoroughly recommend HMS Vintage.

For current offers and promotions click here.



Alison Staples by HMS Vintage


Address: HMS Vintage, Office 3, Spark Studios, 208-210 Great Clowes Street, Broughton
M7 2ZS

Tel: 0161 705 7903



Twitter: @HMSVintage



Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: HMS Vintage, Alison Staples

Disclosure: my makeover and photo shoot were complementary, however this is a fair an honest account of my experience. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t write about it.








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