Freelance Book Designer

Viva Las Palms


So by now you know we dress a little differently to the mainstream. Our house was chosen for this original era and architectural features. The inside too is filled with old stuff from the period. And yes, we have an old car too albeit in pieces in the garage.

We like the 50s and early 60s.

Coming from separate backgrounds SAH and I were both drawn to Rockabilly music and the culture that surrounds it and in the process we were drawn to each other.

Through this culture and music scene we have forged many friendships with like-minded and equally sartorial people. As we grew older we identified our style less as ‘Rockabilly’ and more ‘Vintage’ (although that word is used a dime a dozen now days and means a little less by encompassing so much).

I found as I got older and wiser about clothes and dressing to suit my shape that I started dispensing with dice earrings, wallet chains, pony tails and girl-quiffs; instead relishing in petticoats, wiggle dresses, capris, play-tops and hot rollers.

This 50s look is not a local trend, it’s a world wide thing and there are many different international festivals that celebrate the music, the clothes, the cars and the general culture of the 50s. I’m not talking Happy Days style diners and poodle skirts either.

One such festival is Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender which is held in Vegas every Easter. It’s a major pilgrimage for a lot of people who chose to live a vintage lifestyle. We have never gone, it’s not a big thing on our ‘to do’ list but many of our friends go and my Facebook and Instagram feed is always flooded with images of plastic cowboy boot cocktail-cup toting finely dressed lads and ladies.

For the last couple of Easter’s friends of ours have held their own VLV style shindig. Which is to say they have a BBQ at their lovely house and invite all our friends and some of the guests get into the VLV spirit and sport many outfit changes over the course of the afternoon.

This year was no different, SAH smoked a side of salmon in his BBQ smoker in the morning, as I packed a suitcase of clothes to take and sell (this year we added imitating the VLV vintage stalls to the list of tongue-in-cheek activities) and headed to Viva Las Palms.

Sue and Marc, the hosts of the event, live in a lovingly restored mid-century modern ranch house in the north of Sydney (You may remember their wedding here) and they have renovated the outside of their house to be perfect for entertaining. It’s such an amazing property it’s been featured in a few magazine spreads and just recently saw it host the boys from Porteño for a photo shoot for their new cookbook.

We spent the afternoon chatting, eating, shopping, child wrangling and of course posing.

A few weeks ago I hosted a crafternoon in lieu of a kitchen tea for bride-to-be Robyn. We made ‘wedding knickers’ for her to wear on her honeymoon. Using a 1950s knicker pattern, amended by Outlaw Kitten seamstress Dragana each craft-lady cut, sewed and embellished a pair for Robyn. They were all so varied and hilarious, but mine took a little extra work after the day and I was finally able to give Robyn the finished product on Saturday (you can see her posing with them above, the blue fabric is sheer so they needed modesty flowers!).

Images 15–18 © Louise Whelan