In 1981 Scarlett Cannon and Helen Carey appeared in a straight-up in Issue 3, The i-Deye Issue of i-D. 30 years on, they’re back again, still up for striking a pose, in very different clothes. Here, cover star and i-D Gardener-in-Residence Scarlett talks through her friend Helen’s holiday retreat ‘Vintage Vacations’, reminiscing about their past and present.
I was a hairdressing apprentice at the newly opened Antenna salon in 1980 when I met Helen Carey. She managed Degville’s Dispensary in Kensington Market and was one of the first people I knew who was also ‘dressing up’, partly inspired as I was by old black-and-white movies from the 40s and 50s. Helen was hugely influential in my life although I’m sure she didn’t know it, introducing me to other like-minded people, many of whom remain friends to this day.
After long and accomplished careers as stylist and photographer respectively, Helen and her husband, Frazer Cunningham upped sticks and moved to the Isle of Wight to start their uniquely fabulous holiday company, Vintage Vacations.
An eclectic collection of vintage American trailers lovingly restored inside and out, this holiday experience is a far cry from British caravanning as I remember it. Made by Getty’s Spartan aircraft factory in super-shiny chrome, these glorious trailers were built between 1946 and 1965, in the days when things were made to last, with beauty as well as functionality in mind. Curved interior walls are clad in wood with endless built-in storage space, all with original tricky little handles that lock shut for when you’re on the move. Detail is everywhere, from the furniture, utensils, curtains and soft furnishings right down to reading material and knick-knacks appropriate to the era of the respective trailer.
I stayed in a 1954 Spartanette, “the Cadillac of the trailer world” then, and very luxurious even now, where I slept like a log in my 1950s boudoir complete with built-in dressing table.
Vintage Vacations also have properties to rent including The Mission, a large Victorian tin building, originally The Blackgang Mission, beautifully restored and a freestanding modern mezzanine area cleverly built within it, seamlessly combining the old with the modern. It has an English Rose kitchen, built by the Spitfire factories in Britain after WW2. My idea of heaven!
The detail, the love and the care that has gone into all of these holiday homes is staggering. I loved my stay there, and if vintage is your thing, or even if it’s not, you might just love it too!
With thanks to Wightlink.
Text and Photography: Scarlett Cannon