I’ve been a fan of Deadly Is The Female for a while. I discovered them early on last year when I was pleased to find they were a UK stockist of my favourite brand, Pinup Girl Clothing, which is a pretty rare thing, as well as a stockist for many other of the best quality repro clothing brands, such as Stop Staring, Tatyana, The Pretty Dress Company and Trashy Diva. I had already been following Miss Scarlett Luxe, the first ever Miss Pinup UK and member of Team Deadly, one of their favourite models who’s been working with them for years. Around the end of last year I began to really want to go visit the store itself rather than merely perusing it online, but when a quick google maps search enlightened me to the fact that it was 3 hours away I knew I had to put that daydream on hold.
So, imagine my surprise and delight in early March when I got an email from owner Claudia Deadly asking if I wanted to model for them at their next photoshoot in April. After some squeaking and much capslock messaging to my friends, I told her, YES, YES, I WOULD LOVE THAT OMG.
The weekend of April 11th-12th came and I awoke at 6am ready to drive from my home in East Sussex to Frome in Somerset, where Deadly is located. That’s a 3-ish hour drive in good traffic and I had high hopes that an early start would ensure that smoother and quicker journey. My mum, Mumma May, was going to come along as she had a friend she wanted to visit in nearby Bath, so off we went with our snacks packed and my hair still in pincurls.
Frome is lovely. (It’s pronounced Froome, by the way, as I was ardently corrected by the entire Deadly Team over tapas when I inquired.) It’s a small town featuring lots of select boutique stores and small restaurants. Deadly is the Female is located at the top of St Catherine’s street, a narrow cobbled street that boasts more than one vintage store and a very steep gradient. I am not gonna lie, y’all, when I stopped by to visit Deadly on the Saturday to meet the team I had to take refuge in a nearby boutique first to catch my breath because I was way too embarrassed to totter into the store huffing and puffing after my hike up the hill. Claudia thought it was sweet of me when I declared they must all be incredibly fit from walking up and down that hill everyday, and I like to think that I charmed them by telling them the story about my unfit shelter seeking as I attempted to regain my breath. I know. You’re not supposed to tell people the story of the embarrassing thing you were trying to hide from them. I’m not very good at that. I also told them that I had used the fitting rooms of a nearby store to take out my pincurls and style my hair before I came to find them because I hadn’t wanted to meet the team with my headscarf still on…Was I supposed to keep that a secret too? Whoops. To be honest I was quite proud of myself for coming up with such an ingenious solution to my problem of no public mirrors and a very great hair need.
Once I saw it, Deadly instantly became one of my favourite stores. It’s just so cool. The window displays feature little white bunnies amongst the dresses and accessories, and in-store there’s a half-bedazzled cattle skull called Godfrey and a taxidermied deer called Cedric. When I walked in Claudia was in the middle of helping a customer, something she spends pretty much all her time doing because the Deadly staff are really hands-on and serious about wanting to find you a dress you feel as fabulous in as you look, but I was still met by the exclamation ‘I recognise you from Instagram!’ It was Mumma Deadly herself, sat behind the til and ready to greet me as I shuffled in with breath in tact and cheeks hopefully not pink.
I probably spent two hours in store that afternoon, trying on PUG, poking all the pretty things and chatting away with Claudia and Mumma Deadly like I considered myself part of the shop team. Everybody who came in the store was lovely, and it was wonderful to see women complimenting one another on how great they looked as they stepped tentatively out of the changing room, that tentativeness easing as they caught sight of themselves in the mirror, straightened their shoulders, turned this way and that, accepting the pair of heels Claudia would swiftly fetch for them to try so they could get a proper idea of the outfit in action. This was my kind of place. My kind of people. My favourite thing about the pinup community is how inclusive and happy to help it is, and here Claudia was obviously a leading example of that. It made me even more excited to meet the rest of the team and to shoot with them the following day.
That night Claudia introduced me to everyone else over tapas. There was Lauren, Lolita Noir, our hair and makeup artist. Gayle, her sister, our behind the scenes photographer of Porcelain photography. Tori, sass queen extraordinaire and pro-orderer of cocktails. And finally, Sarah, Miss Scarlett Luxe herself, who arrived late straight from being in a dance show and looking fabulous nonetheless. If I didn’t already suspect I was in good hands I knew that much to be confirmed when Claudia told me texts had been exchanged earlier that day double checking that they were all wearing different PUG pieces so as to avoid matching outfits. Ah, these women. After my own heart!
It was a wonderful evening, full of food and drinks and endless chatting. I felt right at home amongst the ladies, in no way conscious that I was the lone newbie amongst a group of women who had known, loved and worked with one another for years. We left at a sensible time for bed and I slept maybe 3 poor hours, total, because I was so excited. 8AM arrived and it was here. It was here. SHOOT DAY.
I arrived to the shoot in my pincurls and with a tummy full of bacon sandwich. Soon Gracie Winks arrived, my fellow model for the day who I fell in love the moment she gasped upon hearing I am soon turning 29 and told me she thought I was like 20 or something. Oh Gracie. Gracie, you babe. That had to be a lie but I’m going to have it printed on a t-shirt anyway.
I’ve had my hair and makeup done only one other time in my life, for a shoot early last year, so it felt fun but super weird to sit in Lauren’s makeup chair. There was a lot if talk about hummus and cocktail sausages–and shock that I won’t eat the latter–but time seemed to fly and suddenly I was on set, meeting our photographer Kevin and getting into my first outfit.
Claudia and I had decided to keep the secret of my new Deadly model status in the run up to shoot day, so I was crazy psyched to find out whether our cat would be let out of its bedazzled bag on shoot that day or only once the images were ready. It was exciting to see Claudia Instagram her first sneak peek that I was with them, and for me to share that on my IG too.
We were shooting 13 outfits on me that afternoon so there wasn’t much time to check my phone. The couple times I was able to get onto Instagram while Gracie was doing her (incredible, inspiring, WERKin) thing it warmed my heart to see so many people telling me how happy and proud they were of me. I had stood there the day before watching women lift each other up as they emerged from the curtained changing rooms, and now I was standing there in brand new PUG watching women all over the world lift me up through the magic rectangle in my palm, women who had never met me but were proud of me for what I was doing in that moment. I can’t express what that means to me.
What I can express though is that modelling is tiring, y’all. We’ve all heard that before but turns out it’s true. I had a cold that was laying dormant only because of the adrenaline from the shoot, truthfully I hadn’t hydrated properly for the entire weekend, and by 4pm I still hadn’t eaten since 8am, so 13 outfits in 4-ish hours was a lot. It was. But it was fun, so much fun.
Claudia saved some of the best PUG until last as a treat, the new turquoise Birdie that I was yearning for and a few outfits featuring the black capri pants which, surprising to no one more than myself, appeared to release a side of me we will forever be referring to as Bad Girl Amy. Once I was wrapped I got to sit to watch Gracie do her thing, mentally cataloging some of her favourite moves to steal for myself (ha, sorry Gracie, your own fault for being such a lithe and glamorous giselle.)
The end of each Deadly shoot is wrapped with the Deadly Lipsync. Models and staff alike get to choose a song they want to lipsync to and it’s recorded for Deadly’s social media. My youngest niece has been obsessed with Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off since it was released, so it was my natural choice. Side note: Shake It Off becomes the longest song in the world when you are pretending to sing along to it and dancing in a room full of people sitting and watching you as it’s recorded to put online. Just so you know.
Mumma May arrived back from her Bath adventures in time to watch my lip sync and to meet the team. It was so nice to be able to give her a glimpse of something I had been so excited about for a month and something she was proud of me for. I packed up my massive suitcase of every conceivable underwear and shapewear option that could possibly have been required that day, also packing up the new Birdie I could not resist, and said goodbye to the team. It was awesome my mum was there and able to take her turn driving to get me home because as soon as I got into the car I became a sneezing, dreary snot monster of dehydration and cold. I felt travel sick in the car and bone tired from 3 nights of excitedly not sleeping, but the next morning I woke up on a Deadly high that lasted for days, and still fizzles a bit for me now, to be honest.
Seeing the images hit the site and Instagram outfit by outfit has been so fun and amazing, and it’s exciting knowing there’s still a bunch to go. The whole experience was just wonderful. The fact that I can go onto the Deadly Is The Female website now and see my dopey mug smiling out at me is surreal–and super cool. My oldest niece is going to give me at least 50 cool points for this and I intend to cash those in as often as possible.
From my wonderful experience working with the Deadly team to the beautiful warm response I’ve received online from everybody congratulating me since, this has been one of my favourite things I’ve ever done. Thank you so much Claudia and everyone from Deadly Is The Female for having me and taking such good care of me. If you ever again need someone who swears too much and doesn’t realise she’s singing along to the background music between shots, you know where to find me ❤