The Rita Sue Team: Featuring Briar Engel Posted on 17 Jun 18:00 , 1 comment

Over the next few months we will be bringing you a series of blog posts to introduce the wonderful models at Rita Sue as well as some other important people, who are also dear to our hearts!

Introducing: Pin-Up Briar

Recently, one of our favourite models has decided to make some pretty huge life changes by leaving her job and planning to travel overseas. Before she takes off on her adventure, we asked Briar if she would be willing to share some of her thoughts and experiences about being a modern pinup girl in Auckland. Instagram: @pinup_briar

I’m 5’9” and my measurements are bust: 100, waist: 80, and hips: 105. I’m usually a size 12-16 depending on whether it’s my top or bottom half and what store I’m buying from. I’m a “L” or “XL” in Pin Up Girl Clothing.
My favourite lipstick is “Ambition” liquid lipstick from LUSH – a beautiful classic red.

Briar modeling our peasant top and leopard print capri pants!

What does being a pin-up mean to you?

To me being a pin-up is all about self-expression and confidence. I never felt like I had much style or felt that confident in outfits until I found pin-up.
The fashion is amazing, but the community is what makes pin-up so wonderful! The pin-up community in both New Zealand and overseas is so supportive and inspiring. I think people assume us pin-up girls have a 1940’s/50’s mentality as well as a 1940’s/50’s fashion sense, but from my experience, most pin-up girls are kick butt, body positive, Feminists with the most fabulous outlook on the world.

How did you first enter the pin-up scene?

My love of pin-up started with an interest in the makeup style and progressed from there. I made an effort to attend events and to meet other people in the pin-up/Rockabilly/Vintage community. My first Very Vintage Day Out four years ago, I went by myself and knew no one there. This year’s VVDO I knew heaps of people there and an amazing time because of it.  
Having you wonderful ladies at Rita Sue take me on as a model was a great turning point for me too. I gave me the opportunity and the confidence to meet so many great people in the pin-up community. Thank you again Cathy and Alicia!

Who are the international and local pin-up models who inspired you and how?

Bettie Page was my first pin-up love. One of the first big pin-up style moves I made was cutting myself a Bettie Page fringe a few years ago. And when I say “myself”, I mean I literally cut it myself. Let’s just say I didn’t have to best looking fringe around haha.
I also love Dita Von Teese. I love that both Bettie and Dita were rebels in their own way – society said a woman should behave a certain way or look a certain way, but they disregarded that and did what they wanted.
Locally, I can’t choose. All of my pin-up friends are amazing and so inspirational. Spending time with these strong, beautiful women inspires me to be a better person.
Some of my amazing friends
– photo credit, Soda Fontaine

My beautiful friend Samantha Keen and I at the Very Vintage Day Out
– photo credit, Fran Robertson.

My friends Lawrence (Mr. Lola Fondant), Miss Lola Fondant, Luci Luxxe and I at my birthday party earlier this year.

Your hair always looks amazing… how do you colour and style it?

Well thank you :)
Growing up my thick, curly hair used to make me feel self conscious. I didn’t know how to care for it properly and as a result I always had a big bushy ponytail hanging off the back of my head. I felt like my hair never looked glamorous and always let my look down if I got dressed up. I never felt I could achieve a “polished” look.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to take care of my hair and now I totally embrace my curls. Turns out my natural hair is great for doing vintage styles. The only part of my hair that I ever set in curls is my fringe, the rest is my natural curls. I curl my fringe with a curling iron and pin it in place with pin curl clips. This technique I learned from watching Cherry Dollface Youtube tutorials. I never have “perfect vintage curls”, but am still happy with the look I can achieve. I use coconut oil and “Dirty” hair styling cream from LUSH to de-fluff and smooth my hair.
Because my hair is so dry and curly and because there is so much of it, I have always stared away from traditional hair dyes. I’m worried about the damage traditional dyes may cause and the amount of dye I would need to cover my hair would make maintenance of my colour unaffordable for me.
I use “Caca Rouge” Henna from LUSH to give my hair a nice deep, red colour and the cocoa butter in it leaves my hair soft and shiny and a lot more manageable (my curls look much smoother and less Hermione Granger haha).

What piece of advice would you give to young aspiring pin-up models?

Be you! I see a lot of girls who are insecure that they don’t have the perfect pin-up hair or makeup or clothes. Don’t worry about being the “perfect pin-up girl”, just rock what you’ve got. I admire girls who are unique and rock it! If my job had allowed it, I would’ve had more facial piercings. Piercings and tattoos aren’t traditional pin-up accessories, but who cares! Do what makes you happy!

How do you think other people see you? And how would you describe yourself?

I hope people see me positively. I struggle with my self-esteem sometimes and have been described by people in the past as “intimidating”. I’m not sure what to think of the description of myself, because it is definitely not how I see myself or intend to present myself to the world. I wondered if it was because of my job…?
Anyway, I would describe myself as a compassionate person with a big heart. I’m also a proud Feminist, an animal lover and a bit of a geek.

If you could meet an idol, (currently alive or not) who would it be and what would you ask them?

Neil deGrasse Tyson. For those who haven’t heard of him, Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. I’m a bit of an Astronomy nerd and Neil deGrasse Tyson has this way of teaching people about the universe that is interesting, funny and easy to understand.
What would I ask him?... why are you such a badass? Haha, I don’t know, I think I’d be too star-struck initially.

Who (family/friends) have been the strongest influence on your life growing up?

My mum was very sick while I was growing up, but I am very proud of how long she was able to stay strong despite her deteriorating health. Mum always encouraged me to do my best and made me the strong, independent person I am today.
My dad has always been my rock and someone I can always relay on to support me and take care of me, especially after mum died eight years ago. I’d be lost without my dad.
My dad and I last Christmas.    

What made you choose to have a career in the police?

Without sounding too cliché, I wanted to help people. I also wanted something a bit more exciting than your average job. Sitting in an office didn’t appeal to me.

What have been the most rewarding/challenging aspects of your career?

The most rewarding part was when I was able to help people and make a difference. This was also the most challenging part sometimes, as the limitations of justice system and a lack of Police resources and funding meant that I couldn’t always make as much of a difference as you would like. Also, some people just don’t want to be helped.
I have a small collection of thank you letters that I have received from members of the public over the years, and that I will treasure forever.

Last time ever wearing my uniform.

What have been some of the challenges of marrying a tough career with your pin-up lifestyle?

My Police career was eight years and my pin-up lifestyle started about five years ago. Pin-up has actually helped me with my work life balance. It’s so liberating after wearing a uniform all week, to be myself and get all pin-uppy on the weekends. It’s amazing how refreshing a coat of red lipstick and some flicks of eyeliner can be to a troubled mind.

What are the three most important things in your life right now?

Starting a happy, healthy life away from the Police, my Dad and my fuzzy, old cat.

What are your goals moving forward?

As mentioned above, getting myself happy and healthy is my main goal. I have suffered from Depression and Anxiety for several years now and ending my career is a big step in my recovery. 

After my overseas trips, finding a new flat and a new job will be my number one priorities.

Finally, if anyone out there would like someone to talk to about a career in the Police, coping with Depression or Anxiety, advice on pin-up stuff or any other issues I have mentioned, please feel free to contact me via my Instagram: @pinup_briar
Though please remember I am no way an expert on any of these areas.
Youthline - Free phone: 0800 37 66 33, Free txt: 234
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland.