Rising star from Raglan set to shine at Miss Vintage Australasia

Jo Tweedie, a rising star in the vibrant 1950s pin up scene, is poised to take the stage representing New Zealand next month at the prestigious Miss Vintage Australasia pageant in Australia. 

With childhood roots in Raglan, Jo’s journey into the 1950s-inspired world of vintage pin up pageants began with memories of her dad crafting elaborate floats for Raglan’s New Year’s parade and a passion for fashion. 

“Because I was born on New Year’s Day, my Dad used to make a big float every year,” says Jo, now 25, who has vivid memories of parading through the streets of Raglan on a big pink castle for her fifth birthday and inside a huge purple shoe when she turned six. 

“We won almost every year because the floats were incredible,” recalls Jo.

For her seventh birthday, Jo was gifted a sewing machine and – with dreams of Paris catwalks and 1950s fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn – she’s been channelling her own creativity into crafting fabulous costumes ever since.

When she was just nine, Jo had her first taste of success as a 1950s pageant queen when she created her own costume inspired by Sandra Dee from the movie Grease as part of a rock and roll festival – and won!

“I had the tight leather pants and a white shirt and matching hair and neck tie, which I made myself,” she says. “I always wanted to be a fashion designer and then I put my little outfit together myself. I was so proud! Because I was quite an introverted, shy child, it made me feel very brave being on stage and getting recognition.”

Over the past year, Jo has been making waves in the pin-up community under her stage name Stella Moon, taking part in events like the Whangamata Beach Hop and Miss Deluxe in Auckland. Her incredible talent has not gone unnoticed as she continues to rack up accolades, including winning Miss Southern Belle in Christchurch for her Halloween-inspired outfits in October, the Best Dressed Gal at the Power Cruise Pop Up Photo Pageant in Paeroa, 2023, and the face of Frankton Thunder in Hamilton in March 2024. 

“I guess I’ve caught the bug and I’ve been doing pageants ever since,” says Jo, now based in Auckland. “I love meeting all of the other pageant goers because the pin up community is really close in New Zealand. Everyone is really kind and encouraging, even though we are technically competing against each other. I’m not a very competitive person so being able to have a sportsmanship around it all is really important to me. It’s a really lovely, wholesome community.”

Stepping onto an international stage

Now, Jo is gearing up for her biggest challenge yet – heading to Australia next month to represent New Zealand in her first international competition, which will see her competing alongside contestants from Australia, America and Southeast Asia in Miss Vintage Australasia. 

“It took a while for it to sink in that I was going to be representing New Zealand against all these incredible worldly pin ups,” she says. “I’m very excited that I’m going to be representing New Zealand talent and the positivity that comes from the pin up community in New Zealand.”

Jo is now busy sourcing lots of different fabrics to make the designs for her costumes come to life. Inspired by the reduce, reuse, recycle ethos that has informed all of her creations since her childhood in Raglan, Jo is committed to making sure all of her costumes are made as sustainably as possible – sourcing as much as she can from op shops and vintage stores. 

“I love the idea of using vintage fabric because it has a story, it has a past life,” she says. “It makes it much more special, I think.”

She can’t give too much away about what she’s wearing when she steps onto the stage in Australia, but she can reveal that her first dress for the day-wear section will be fashioned from a tablecloth, and the evening dress a pair of curtains! 

With sponsors like vintage fashion brand Lana-Rose Fashion and a network of small businesses including Starburst Stone, Splendette, Belbina Lee, Mrs Dodge, Blue belle vintageclothing, PIYIN, catch a thief, erstwilder and Beauty School Drop Outs supporting Miss Vintage Australia event, Jo is ready to shine on the stage in the elegant setting of the historic St Patrick’s Cathedral Hall in Ballarat on 26 May.

So what would it mean to her if she came back to New Zealand with the Miss Vintage Australasia crown next month?

“It would be an incredible opportunity to encourage others to pursue something that makes them happy, whatever that might be,” says Jo. “And also to promote sustainability and conscious consumerism.”

Follow Stella Moon on instagram @missstellamoon for a closer look into what it is to be a pinup.

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