Glory Days, founded by Hayley Claire Neil in 2012, is a vintage boutique essential for the modern vintage bride. Due to her extensive training and experience in recreating period costume, Hayley decided to expand her skills to cater for the bridal industry.
As well as selling beautiful original vintage pieces in her shop based in York, she can also make you your very own vintage style outfit using vintage pattern cutting techniques and modern sizing. Here Hayley tells us more about her background, her passion and how to get your very own piece of vintage heaven…
Can you tell me a bit more about your background in costume design, where did you study and how you became involved with theatre and film?
I have had a passion for historical clothing and costume design for as long as I can remember; even at primary school I was designing my own fashion ranges and doing photo shoots with my sister and best friend! I made costumes for my GCSE and A Level textiles, then went on to study design at the Leeds College of Art and ended up at the Edinburgh College of Art to do a degree in Costume Design. After my degree I worked making costumes for a costume hire company (anything from pantomime dames to The Beatles Sergeant Pepper outfits!). I did bits and bobs of freelance work with dance companies, individual performers and students at the Leeds film school. Then I was lucky enough to get some freelance work in the West Yorkshire Playhouse costume department which was just wonderful. They are truly the most skilful bunch of people I’ve ever worked with, and lovely too! I learnt so much from everyone there about design, fabrics, pattern cutting and sewing techniques and I often wonder what I might be doing now if it weren’t for my time spent there! In between my stints at the Playhouse I continued to do other freelance work and got a placement on a film from which I made contacts and gained all my other film work.
Where does your passion for costume stem from? Have you always been interested in fashion from an early age? Have you always known that this would be the path you would take?
I’ve always been interested in fashion as long as I can remember, designing and sketching my own fashion ranges in my bedroom and pursuing my own distinctive style of dressing (for better or worse!). But the thing about costume that interested me most was the creation of a character, i.e. clothes that tell a story rather than just following whatever is popular at the time. I’ve always like the idea of constructing a look for a given personality rather than trying to be ‘fashionable’!
Out of all the plays and productions you have worked on which has been your favourite and why?
Impossible to answer! I did a few days work on the This Is England TV series which I absolutely loved because I just love the styles worn by those characters, but I really love the historical productions I’ve worked on like Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse for example. But I’ve genuinely loved most of the jobs I’ve ever done for one reason or another, so it’s too hard to decide!
When and why did you make the move from production to opening your own vintage and bridal shop?
I literally had an epiphany whilst looking for wedding dresses with my sister! I was always going to make her dress which was going to be 1960s style, but she wanted to try on some original vintage ones for ideas, and we ended up having to go all the way down to London to do it. So it just occurred to me that I could provide that sort of service up north! I’ve always been a vintage lover, and along with my skills in period pattern cutting which means I can exactly replicate any historical style it just seemed the perfect job! And when I’m helping brides put together a look from a certain era it’s almost like constructing a character too. Everything I love!
Are you the sole owner of Glory Days? Do you have a team of seamstresses helping out or do you do all the alterations yourself?
I am, yes. My lovely sister and mum help out in the shop when I’m busy with appointments and at wedding fairs, but I do all the designing and sewing myself at the moment!
When brides make an appointment to try on dresses are you the person they will meet?
Yes it will be me hosting the appointment, so I’m able to give advice on how dresses can be altered or for ideas on accessories.
How long has your boutique been in business and do you have any plans to expand into other cities? Have you got any new projects on the go or collaborations with other creatives in the industry?
I’ve been open since March 2012, which has flown by; it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind so at the moment I’m concentrating on running the York shop as perfectly as I can before thinking about expanding! I’m always collaborating with other creatives in the industry though, from accessories designers and florists to photographers and bloggers.
Do you specialise in any particular era?
I mostly cover the decades from the 20s to the 70s, but I am very willing and able to make dresses from any historical period.
Have you got a personal favourite era wise? If so, why?
Very difficult to decide on just one, it changes all the time! I think I most enjoy making garments from the 30s and 40s though, as the pattern cutting then was so beautifully ingenious. Very subtle but very clever, with interesting seam lines and amazing use of bias-cut fabrics.
You must have a fantastic personal wardrobe at home! Do you sometimes have difficulty in parting with any of the gorgeous clothes!?
All the time! But it doesn’t make a very good business plan for my sister and me to keep everything for ourselves! I just feel happy to have been custodian to the beautiful dresses for a short time. It’s a joy to be able to see and touch and be surrounded by such gorgeous pieces of history every day!
Images 3, 4, 6, 9, 13 and 15 by Jess Petrie, image 2 by Andy Wardle, image 7 by Warren Smith, image 1 and 10 by Neil Thomas Douglas, image 14 by Kooky Weddings, image 8 by Mark Newton Weddings, image 11 by James Anderson, image 12 by Georgi Mabee.