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Small-town B.C. pinup model has built 12 million followers on TikTok

Vancouver Island TikToker aims for the stars with ‘retro-futurism’ aesthetic
Bianca Blakney, also known as Pinup Pixie, left, and photographer Sarah Bowman during a photoshoot at Bowman’s studio. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

A Vancouver Island woman has created an “unrealistic aesthetic” and in the process, built an enormous social media following.

Bianca Blakney, 25, known online as Pinup Pixie, is a social media personality and cosplay content creator from Nanaimo-Ladysmith known for her short-form retro-inspired cosplay.

The origins of her platform started roughly seven years ago when she met and befriended Sarah Bowman, of Sarah Bowman Portraits, who offered to hold a free photo shoot for the then-fantasy cosplayer. At the time, Blakney said she agreed to the photo shoot as a way to distract herself from a family member’s death.

Three years later, in 2019, was when she said she really started to push content in hopes of building a name for herself after noticing the rise of other influencers.

“Back then … I had no money in my pocket, like not a penny. Everything was going to my daughter. And so it was just something that I could do. I set up my camera at home and all I had to be was creative,” she said.

From that humble beginning, Blakney has amassed nearly 12 million followers on TikTok and more than 433,000 followers on Instagram.

A significant ingredient to such clout is her unique take on pin-up modelling.

“I initially started just doing blonde pinup. I loved Marilyn Monroe. I loved Doris Day. I loved a lot of these old Hollywood stars. And that’s how I was introduced,” she said. “But then I fell in love with Fallout.”

The TikToker compared her sense of style to that seen in the post-apocalyptic video game series Fallout, which has an ‘atompunk’ retro-futurism feel.

“The certain thing that I do … is the kind of stuff you would only really see in the original Star Trek,” she said. “I’m more of the ‘alternative fashion’ on vintage … People consider what I do as the unrealistic and unachievable aesthetic … because it is,” she said.

Despite its allure to a rising niche audience, Blakney doubts the look will ever become mainstream. Based on comments she’s read on social media, and comments made to her in person, she said she noticed people either don’t like the look because it’s “tacky” or they absolutely love it for its nostalgia.

But for the TikToker, it’s not just the look, it’s also the lifestyle.

When not creating content, pin-up style or otherwise, Blakney likes to spend her time purchasing, and occasionally refurbishing, mid-century vintage electronics, appliances and furniture.

Her sizable collection includes a 1960s Joe Colombo ‘space age’ bar set, a retrofitted 1950s Admiral TV set, wall panels by interior designer Verner Panton for the Visiona 2 exhibit in 1970, Treco furniture from the ’70s, as well as vintage exercise machines and hairdryers. She’s also picked up incidental odd and ends like unopened bottles of Coca-Cola and cans of coffee from the ’60s.

And if she can’t find or purchase what she wants, she has it made, such as her fibreglass custom atomic bed, or space helmet complete with an air filter and cooling fan. Her ultimate goal, she said, would be the have a space-age house.

Beyond her style, the TikToker believes she’s racked up such a following due to her genuine personality and sense of humour, rarely shying away from being the butt of her own joke.

“I’m also very open about my issues in the foster care system and the abuse in the past … I feel like a lot of people can relate, knowing that they can get through it … to be able to see someone who has gone through what they’ve gone through to become successful, I think is inspirational,” she said.

READ MORE: Nanaimo makeup artist’s eye-catching creations also capturing brand attention

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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