Kitten Von Mew is beautiful, and talented, and best of all she’s home-grown. She can sing, dance, and tease, tantalise and titillate all with the upmost class. A burlesque artiste and model; she doesn’t just perform in vintage, she lives her life in it.
“My acts aren’t suggestive and seedy, but fun and cheeky”
Her everyday style is casual 1940s and 50s. “Every so often I will dress 30’s for a change! I mix repro [reproduction] with vintage quite often, but never follow modern day fashions. I adore my vintage look!” We ask her if she ever slums it in a pair of tracksuit bottoms? Sounding almost offended, she exclaims, “goodness forbid the day I don a tracksuit! I like relaxing in jimmy jams, especially after a gruelling day, but even when I am wearing casual clothing it is vintage or vintage-inspired. Today for instance I am wearing some Heyday Online (www.heydayonline.co.uk) high-waisted 1940’s style trousers, a reproduction 1930’s blouse and a hand-knitted snood.”
In for a busy year, Kitten has heaps of exciting things happening. “I have three new acts debuting at various events of which I am working on costumes for at the moment. I have completed my ‘Carmen Mewanda’ costume and need to practice for War And Peace (www.thewarandpeaceshow.com) in July. My re-enactor friend Gaynor is creating the most amazing costume for my ‘A Tantalising Singsong by The Garrison Gal’ act which will hopefully be ready by War And Peace Festival. If not, I will use the costume for my singing set and debut the final act in October at a special event! My current project is the costume and prop for an act dedicated to my Grandfather who passed away last year. He was an absolute joy and I loved him very much. This act will debut at War And Peace and is currently called ‘Pipe Dreams’. I hope people like it, the idea came from a Victorian postcard and I have been playing around with it in my head for many years.
I am really looking forward to Goodwood Revival (www.goodwood.co.uk/revival) and a special weekend trip to Rockford Illinois in September. I seem to have quite a fan club over there and they are so lovely. I am excited to see how their WWII events differ from UK ones! Goodwood Revival was so overwhelming last year; I shed tears at the end. Everyone made me feel so welcome and I felt like part of a big family. I really cannot wait for this year, especially as it is the anniversary of the Spitfire, one of my favourite aircraft!”
We ask Kitten advice for those who do not necessarily have access to great vintage shops or fairs, she graciously gives us some great advice: “You will actually find some great vintage-inspired clothing in places like Matalan, Primark and Laura Ashley. Look for capped sleeves, high waisted skirts and trousers, knitted body warmers, waistcoats and wide lapels on suits. I love Heyday Online’s trousers, blouses and dresses. They are my wardrobe staple and very good value for money too. The clothing is made to replicate 1940s patterns, so you get an instant vintage looks with heaps of comfort and modern-day sizing. If you want a 1930’s look then Able Grable’s (www.ablegrable.com) website is a definite must. She custom-makes some lovely pieces from vintage patterns that are great for special occasions. Rocket Originals have some lovely shoes, but also look out in high street shops for vintage inspired shoes at a fraction of the cost. I often wear New Look, Matalan and Irregular Choice shoes for comfort, style and cost! At most events you are outside battling the elements and dirt tracks. The last thing you want to be doing is ruining a genuine pair of shoes that could be saved for an evening dance.”
In a (rare) serious moment, we ask Kitten how she reconciles being a modern woman with dressing in a vintage way that connotes a time where men were “men” and women were there only to support their man in a domestic sphere; “Let’s start with the feminism…what people forget is that they were fighting not only for the right to vote and to be treated as equals, but for sexual equality and campaigning against sexual harassment, abuse and domestic violence, which had been thought of as acceptable at one point. They did a great job and I have the choice to vote or not to vote, work in decent jobs next to men and get paid equally (I still think we need to work on the latter), I feel safe in the knowledge that any physical or verbal abuse I may receive will be taken seriously too.
In WWI women were needed to fill in for the men who had ‘gawn awft’ fighting and gained a little respect from their male counterparts, who started to realise we were actually stronger physically and emotionally that they thought. So I am grateful for the extremists in the 1800’s and 1960’s. I now have a choice and am thankful for it. Anti-feminism…I have certain tradition beliefs that would be thought of as anti-feminist I am sure. I prefer it when my partner earns equal or more of a wage that I do as I feel more secure in a relationship. It sounds odd I know, but some traditional values like this are important to me – Like men proposing to women, opening doors for a lady and the like.
I love what I do, yes I do take my clothes off, I do bare nipple pasties on some occasions and my role as a burlesque artist is to tease and tantalise. But I am strong-willed, independent, creative and confident. I dress with feminine flare and know what is trashy and what is socially acceptable. My acts are tailored to the audience and each event and if performing for families with children I will always wear as much as a bathing costume. My acts aren’t suggestive and seedy, but fun and cheeky. I hold traditional values close to my heart, but also revel in being able to choose what I do and how I do it whilst remaining ladylike.”
Kitten Von Mew performs at the War and Peace Show at the Hop Farm in Kent which runs from 20-24 July.
For more information visit the official Kitten Von Mew website.