Believe it or not, Grandma Katalin used newspaper strips to curl her hair, as rollers were a luxury!
– Eden L’Amour
Meet Eszter Varadi, AKA Eden L’Amour, a Sydney-based vintage beauty with a 1940s flair and a striking portfolio of work, including posing for Lauren Horwood, Bexterity, L’escargot Ivre Photography, Miss Mookie and Sherbet Birdie, among others. Hailing from Hungary, Eden is a regular model for many vintage and retro events, and enjoys taking to the stage for fan dancing. She spoke to Victory Lamour about what draws her to the 40s, and the physical illness that prompted her love for vintage and the rockabilly scene.
Thank you for joining us, Eszter. What initially prompted your interest in vintage?
About 4 years ago I was diagnosed with a serious lung condition. Due to my illness I had lost a lot of weight and I also had scars from surgery. I lost my self-confidence – it was no longer myself looking at me in the mirror, it was only my scars and my frail body. To help my recovery, my partner Stuart decided to take me to the Rock’N’Roll Markets in Sydney. I instantly fell in love with the rockabilly scene. I bought my first swing dress and booked a pin-up style photo shoot. I loved seeing myself with red lipstick and cat eyes in a gorgeous pin-up attire. It was then I visited to the Love Vintage Fair. I bought a stunning 1950s cornflower blue cocktail dress with a matching jacket. It was love at first sight, it felt like it was made for me, and let me say I have never looked back to ‘modern clothing’ since.
You are known for some incredible 1940s vintage looks. Has your family history in Hungary made you more interested in the WWII and post-war historical period?
I have always been proud of my Hungarian heritage. I recall so many, often heart-breaking stories told by my grandparents about WWII and the 1956 uprising. I’ve also learnt of natural remedies from my grandmother and some household tricks I often use. Believe it or not, Grandma Katalin used newspaper strips to curl her hair as rollers were a luxury! She also taught me how to mend my clothes and socks using a mushroom darner. She always looked stunning and stylish even though they were poor. I find the way women took pride of their appearance in that period quiet appealing.
Your modelling photographs are striking, conveying strength and other-worldliness. I have always thought you had a strong resemblance to the beautiful Joan Crawford. Do you get that comparison often?
I absolutely adore Joan Crawford, though I have never really been compared to her. Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot.
Can you tell us how you came to be interested in fan dancing?
In 2012, I took a burlesque class taught by the wonderful Sheena Miss Demeanour in Newtown. After the 8 week course I have decided to try out fan dancing, which she also taught at the studio. Doing my historical research into this sensual and feminine art form, I have discovered the incredible Sally Rand. She is most noted for her ostrich feather fan dance and balloon bubble dance. She used to perform seemingly naked, though fully body painted by none other than Max Factor himself. I’ve performed several shows since.
What was the experience like? Do you feel like you are taking on a stage persona when you model or perform?
For the first time I felt extremely nervous. It is very difficult to put yourself out there in front of a large audience. You are not always sure what their response will be like to your act. The more you perform,the easier it gets. It is a job as a performer to fully engage your audience. You play a role, like an actress. As soon as you put your costume on you turn into a different person.
Can you tell us about the beautiful angel on your shoulder?
Her name is Lucinda and she was created by the incredible Melbourne tattoo artist, Teniele Sadd. My dear mother strongly believed in guardian angels and the supernatural, this piece represents my dedication and love to her.
Thank you for dropping by, Eden.
Above: Image of Eszter Varadi/Eden L’Amour by Lauren Horwood.