Whether she’s wearing a flirty, form-fitting wiggle dress, a swing dress with full crinolines or an elegant evening gown, Audrey Monroe embraces her own style — a style she’s adored since she was a child.
Growing up, Monroe was fascinated with 1940s and 1950s’ fashion and glamour, due in large part to both her mother and grandmother.
Her grandmother “was a huge source of inspiration for me. She gave me crinolines, her jewelry and her platform shoes when I was eight years old. I could play dress up in 1950s’ clothing when I was 8, so that also was another reason that I was already attuned to the fashions because I was given them to play with,” said Monroe, a vintage model and social media influencer who didn’t always follow her heart when it came to her fashion choices.
She and her mother often watched Turner Classic Movies, and there, she saw actresses and fashion icons such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn on the screen. Rosemary Clooney, in particular in her role of Betty in White Christmas, a film Monroe first saw when she was six, made a huge impact.
“To me, her body and her vibe, her energy and the way she looked was the epitome of glamour and beauty,” said Monroe, who moved to Columbia County several years ago when her husband was assigned to Fort Gordon.
At 11, she asked her mother to make her look like Betty.
“She put my hair in sponge rollers. I slept with them overnight, and the next morning, I had the exact hair. My mom did the whole thing. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. I felt so beautiful and then I realized — I can’t go to school like this. I will be laughed at,” she said.
She brushed the curls out and went to school. She left the dressing-up to days such as Halloween, but that earlier moment stuck with her.
Because beauty and glamour called to her, she went into a career as an esthetician. She couldn’t, however, escape the allure of Hollywood’s Golden Age of Style.
In 2018, she reached a turning point after meeting burlesque performer and businesswoman Dita Von Teese in Atlanta.
“I’d already read her book. I’d been studying her five years before meeting her. She’s cultivated and honed her image and brand. She was a major source of inspiration for me,” she said.
Von Teese’s determination to become her own woman, embracing her own style, forced Monroe to examine her image and how she wanted to portray herself.
“There was a moment of ‘Here’s your line in the sand. Step over it,’” she said.
That caused her to make the decision to wear what she wanted to wear regardless of what people thought, and she hasn’t looked back. It was then that she coined a new motto.
“Wear the style that makes you smile,” she said.
Not only does her style make Monroe smile, but she’s found it brings a smile to others as well.
“I realized showcasing and sharing and glamour was a strength of mine. It seemed to inspire both men and women and bring about a sense of joy whether it was for the nostalgia, learning something new or just seeing something different,” said Monroe, who has cultivated a following of more than 125,000 people on Instagram.
On social media, she creates fun reels as well as instructional ones on how to do vintage hair and makeup. And she hopes that as she’s found her own voice, she can inspire others to find theirs.
Caren “Ooollee” Bricker, who owns Vintage Ooollee on Broad Street, has been one of Monroe’s biggest supporters. Monroe said she’s learned a lot about vintage and vintage reproduction clothing through Bricker.
After her decision in 2018, Monroe spent 2019 researching not only clothing but hair styles and makeup trends for multiple decades in the early part of the 20th century. And in 2020 and 2021 despite the pandemic, Monroe worked to create a niche for herself and became a model for several vintage reproduction clothing companies.
Monroe’s platinum blonde locks, her deep red lips, winged eyeliner and false eyelashes have become part of her signature style.
Many of her photo shoots have taken place in downtown Augusta. Buildings such as the Marion Hatcher Center, the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, the Miller Theater and the Imperial Theatre have shown up in her social media posts. The middle of Broad Street is a great place to shoot photographs especially on a Sunday morning, she said.
As she established her brand, she’s gained new confidence in herself and her abilities. She’s also learned to set boundaries and the power of making the word “no” a sentence.
Monroe said she’s looking forward to what 2023 holds.
“This year is the year to trailblaze,” she said.
She plans to go to New York in the spring and is cultivating new relationships with other vintage reproduction clothing companies. She’s tight-lipped about details now, but she’s working on her own line of accessories.
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at email@example.com Subscribe to the newsletter here.