Vintage is a word which has become a phenomenon in the last few years. It used to be second-hand or used, but change the word to vintage and suddenly the price rises to the same if not more, than brand new products. Vintage markets, vintage tearooms and clothes shops have replaced car boot sales, granny teashops and charity shops.
Growing up we watched a lot of TV. Almost indiscriminately, but with access to TCM, my sister and I gobbled up all the old MGM musicals. I see Frank Sinatra as a young sailor more than an old Las Vegas crooner. Doris Day and Carey Grant were the swoon-worthy dream couple. Bogart and Bacall were feistier than Brangelina ever will be and Elizabeth Taylor was the most beautiful woman in the world. I used to think everyone kissed with the girl’s one leg pinging into the air; that people ran alongside trains; and that spontaneously bursting into song was entirely normal (I tried to perpetuate this at home to little effect). And it genuinely did surprise me that people of my age or even older, had such little respect for the easy listening MGM days. Bob Dylan, the Beatles, even Elvis garnered begrudging respect but the fluff of early Hollywood was seen as unrealistic, overacted and silly. Only OAPs seemed to like the rat pack as much as me. My peers had barely heard of Cher never mind artists 40 to 50 years previous.
Then Michael Buble popped on the scene and easy listening was somehow acceptable again. And this vintage revival made the 1940s, 50s and 60s utterly wonderful. I see girls dressed top to toe in what appears to be their granny’s best outfits, complete with scarlet lipsticks. In a way I love it because it’s the world as I dreamed it would be when I was young. I wouldn’t chose to dress like them however, mainly because I don’t have that much time, effort or money to spend on the details like hair and make-up. But in a way it bothers me.
For me the by-gone era was similar to my love of fantasy. It is a idea of escapism and the stepford wives existence of domestic happiness. I have never seen as many cake stands and floral teacups as I have in the last year. The aesthetic is very pleasing and people tell me it’s eco as they are recycling clothes and furniture. Eco my ass. It’s eco to raid your granny’s wardrobe but to buy something from a vintage shop is dubious. I’v been in a few of these which have vintage items which are Primark’s last season. At 150% of the Primark prices. A friend who genuinely loved to wear waistcoasts and braces when that was only for the over 60s is traumatised by being seen as in the know and fashionable.
And the 1940s, 50s and 60s, at least the one portrayed on our TVs and films is not realistic. For the most part it ignores or glorifies the war, the cold war that followed and the lean years as countries rebuilt their economies. Is that why we are so drawn to it? To pretend the recession isn’t happening by paying for £15 afternoon tea?
I would much rather we follow the path of homemade goods. I enjoy markets with homemade jewellery, accessories and homeware. It’s so lovely to see creative minds at work taking the world in a new direction. And I don’t mean people melting LPs into bowls or putting scrabble pieces onto necklaces, I could do that and I wouldn’t have to pay £10 for the pleasure.
As Woody Allen portrays so well in Midnight in Paris: we all have our Golden Age, but we should really live in the now.