Kitten Von Mew, a burlesque dancer from Warwickshire, England, is so in love with the 1940’s era that she has modeled her entire life around it. Along with her husband Richard, she’s spent thousands of pounds redecorating their home with authentic furniture and decor from the ’30s and ’40s. Her wardrobe is filled with hundreds of vintage outfits, retro shoes, vintage gloves, hats, and other accessories.
Born Michelle, Kitten legally changed her name and dedicated her life to the ’40s about 15 years ago. Since then, she’s spent several hours each morning doing her hair in perfect victory rolls and carefully dressing herself in retro outfits. She inherited authentic furniture from her grandparents and combed through many flea markets to find even more 1940’s style decorations. “I love everything about the 1940s – the fashion, the music, the décor – I find it totally captivating,” she said.
But the cherry on the cake came when she met construction worker Richard, a fellow retro enthusiast. They met at the United States Services Organisation, a 1940s convention where they were (and still are) both performers. It was almost love at first sight. “I’ve always liked the Clark Gable type gentleman and it takes a certain sort of man to pull off a mustache like Richard,” Kitten said. “Our mutual love for the 1940s definitely brought us together.”
So they married three years ago, in a 1940s-style ceremony held at an old train station. Kitten wore a parachute silk vintage dress for the occasion, while Richard was dressed in an original World War II British Navy uniform. The couple now live in a small ’40s style cottage in the Stratford-Upon-Avon countryside in Warwickshire.
The couple are now grooming their their two-month-old daughter Betsy-Rose to become a vintage buff as well. She has her own collection of vintage outfits, a 1930s summer pram, a 1950s pram, and a vintage silver cross pram. “This is our lifestyle,” Richard said. “I come home from work and retreat into our time-warp. Kitty doesn’t wear modern clothes at all. I love the way she looks and we plan to continue to dress Betsy-Rose in the same way her mum does.”
“I would never dream of going out to the theatre in a pair of modern jeans,” Kitten added. “I like the fact that in the forties the women were impeccably turned out, even during wartime. Betsy-Rose already has a wardrobe to rival my own. She will have outgrown half of her clothes before she has a chance to wear them.”
Kitten, 35, says that although she loves the material stuff, she also admires the spirit of the people who lived in the ’40s. “It was a time of great austerity, but the entertainers and actors of the time created escapism that lifted everyone’s spirits, whether on the silver screen to makeshift stages on the front line,” she said.
“This is what I want to achieve and bring alive. My whole life is a flashback to the 40s but I prefer it to the mundane modern world.”
Living in a bygone era isn’t as rare as you might think. A while back we covered the stories of Ben Sansum, who lives his life like it’s 1946, and Mary and Gary Jones, a retro couple who fashioned their lifestyle after the 1950’s.
Photos: Kitten von Mew