Switching jobs from army physical training instructor to glamorous Second World War Hollywood actress isn’t your average career move.
But then Sheila Lloyd-Graham, aka Lady She, isn’t your average lady.
A self-confessed aficionado of everything retro, she puts her passion for bringing vintage fashion to a wider audience down to her mother and grandmother.
“My mother was a hairdresser, and had beautifully styled hair, but also used to wear lovely dresses and suits, and was never without her red lipstick,” says Sheila.
“As a child, I was intrigued by her look, and she taught me all the 1940s styling techniques, including the classic “victory rolls” hairdo. I went on to train in drama from the London Academy in Music and Drama, and was very comfortable performing in public.
“But I also had a very sporty grandmother who trained me in tennis and swimming, and for 40 years had a career in both Berlin and the UK in teaching, training and sports management and athletics – including the PT instructor role in the army. Still, I never lost my love of the style of vintage fashion, and since I was about eight, when an old lady left me some Victorian jewellery, I’ve loved wearing things from times gone by. Even my own wedding was Tudor-themed.”
When she left the army, Sheila decided to put her talents for creating vintage looks to good use. Drawing on her drama training, she created the character Lady She, a 1940s Hollywood actress returning to the UK to support the war effort, and acts in Second World War re-enactment events. She also established Sheunique Vintage in Cirencester, which offers classes in hair styling, makeup and deportment to help vintage lovers establish their own authentic look.
“I also love compering vintage fashion shows,” says Sheila, who is compering this year’s Vintage and Retro Festival at The Brunel shopping centre on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March.
“I have a team of make-up artists and stylists and we work within any era, from the 1920s through to the 1980s. We adore bringing vintage to new audiences, and showcasing the glamour and drama of times gone by.
“Vintage is wonderful. It’s so much more than just the style. It’s literally walking history. I’d encourage anyone to come and look around . You’ll be hooked!”
The Vintage and Retro Festival’s theme being held on Saturday 14 March and Sunday 15 March at The Brunel arcade and plaza is the 1950s era. Boswells café will be transformed into an American Diner, and there will be a vintage motorcycle stunt show on Wharf Green., when The World Famous Demon Drome Wall of Death will see daredevil riders perform stunts on a vertical raceway. On Saturday evening vintage beat blues band Excellos will be supported by rockabilly band Lew Lewis and The Twilight Trio in the centre.
All events and displays during the daytime are free. Tickets for the Saturday evening performance are £8 each and available from The Centre Management Offices, and Carry On Vintage, or by telephoning 01793 525857. Find out more here
Lady She’s top tips for becoming a Retro queen:
- Lippie is your best friend. Buy a bold lipstick – red, amber and pink all scream out Vintage – and you’ll already start feeling part of the Retro scene.
- Google is your next best ally. Google the different decades to see how ladies actually dressed and wore their hair and makeup.
- Get your inspiration from stall holders and other visitors to the many Vintage Fairs around the country. Or pop into vintage boutiques and charity shops for ideas.
- Visit Carry on Vintage, in Swindon’s Brunel Centre, who sell men and women’s clothing for all sizes and will give you some great advice.
- Learn from the experts. Signup to Sheunique’s Styles School where you will learn the tricks and techniques for getting that authentic look. Tel: 07787507112 or email Sheunique@talktalk.net