Vin­tage style for this mod­ern pin-up girl

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT - KELLEY TANTAU

Monique McLen­nan has a mantra of: If you don’t try, you don’t know.

The Hamil­ton pin-up model wants to chase ev­ery opportunity, no mat­ter how ter­ri­fy­ing, and the next has come in the form of Miss Viva Las Ve­gas.

Viva Las Ve­gas is an in­ter­na­tional pin-up girl com­pe­ti­tion run as part of the 2017 Rock­a­bil­lly Fes­ti­val.

McLen­nan, also known as Miss Monique Sweet, was cho­sen as one of 12 fi­nal­ists from 190 world­wide en­trants.

But her op­por­tunis­tic out­look and love for the 19th cen­tury style was spurned on by one dev­as­tat­ing event: The 2011 Christchurch Earthquake.

McLen­nan was work­ing in the Pyne Gould Cor­po­ra­tion Build­ing on the first floor when the 6.3 mag­ni­tude quake hit.

She dis­tinctly re­mem­bers look­ing at the clock on her com­puter which read 12.50pm.

She was de­lib­er­at­ing whether she should go for a run at 1pm, but her hun­gry stom­ach beck­oned her to the lunch room.

At 12.51pm, the first quake hit.

McLen­nan was trapped in the cafe­te­ria with a small group of col­leagues and wasn’t res­cued for more than four hours.

There were 18 ca­su­al­ties and after­wards she was told those in the build­ing had a 50 per cent chance of survival.

It’s a story she gets asked about of­ten. Peo­ple look at her in awe for be­ing one of the sur­vivors.

But McLen­nan said the in­ci­dent made her stronger.

‘‘If you don’t take a pos­i­tive per­spec­tive on life and don’t use try­ing cir­cum­stances to move for­ward, you’re go­ing to stay in limbo,’’ she said.

‘‘That hor­rific earthquake ex­pe­ri­ence has given my life per­spec­tive,’’ she said.

‘‘You have only one life to live and no one else is go­ing to live it for you.’’

‘‘You have only one life to live and no one else is go­ing to live it for you.’’

Be­fore the earthquake, McLen­nan said she used to be quite self-con­cious.

‘‘I wanted to be a part of the so­cial norm and fit in. Af­ter the earthquake I thought, you can’t let oth­ers dic­tate how you live your life.’’

Now, as a pin-up, peo­ple look at her awe for other rea­sons.

Her bright red hair is curled and adorned with a sun hat.

Her dresses are vin­tage, some bor­rowed from her grand­mother’s closet.

‘‘It’s be­come what we call a cir­cus at­trac­tion,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s nice be­cause we’re dif­fer­ent. We’re wear­ing the brighter clothes and em­brac­ing the fash­ion.’’

McLen­nan said pin-up is be­com­ing pop­u­lar.

In April, she’ll aim to wow the crowd and judges to bring the ti­tle of Miss Viva Las Ve­gas 20 back to New Zealand.

If she wins, McLen­nan plans to use the ti­tle to be­come a mo­ti­va­tional speaker and to give back to the New Zealand rock­a­billy, pin-up and vin­tage com­mu­nity.

Monique McLen­nan, at the Mod­ern Amer­i­can Gar­den in the Hamil­ton Gar­dens, show­ing the style which will take her to an in­ter­na­tional pin-up girl com­pe­ti­tion.

Monique has turned her hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ence in the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake into a tool to help oth­ers.

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