Sunday, 12 December 2010

What does vintage mean to me?

There has been a great deal of talk about the "modern vintage scene" on the vintage blogosphere recently and at least one troll has come up from under their bridge to attack one of the finest proponents of the vintage lifestyle. Rather than repeat my point of view on half a dozen blogs, I thought instead that I would write a post about it.

"What sparked your interest in vintage?" is another popular question at the moment and for me it started at an early age. Around the age of 8 I started watching Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd comedies. I loved not only the comedy but also the fashions, the cars, the cities and the buildings; in short, I became enthralled with the 1920s and 1930s. By the time I was eleven I was listening to the likes of Glenn Miller over more popular modern music and reading anything I could lay may hands on that was set in or about the period.

Where this fascination came from I have no idea as there's no-one in my family who's shared this interest (in fact I have long been described as "weird", "strange", "odd" - charming, eh?!). I enjoyed staying with my grandparents and going with them to their social club far more than I ever did socialising with my peers, but whether that is a reason or just a product of something that was already there I can't say. I have always had old-fashioned manners and clear-cut morals, probably from my father's side; there is also a slight theatrical/musical history on my maternal family's side that perhaps may account for some small influence in regards to my interest in period fashion and culture, although it's only been in the last 3 or 4 years that I've started seriously looking at proper vintage fashions and ideas for myself.

"You were born in the wrong era" is something I too, along with many others I've found, have been told time and again and this seems to be the crux of the discussion. Now, I'm a scientific, rational kind of chap (although I like to think I keep an open mind) but there have been times in my life when I have seriously wondered about past life, forms of reincarnation, that sort of thing. There have been occasions when a song, a film or a news item from 80-odd years ago has engendered such a sense of affinity in me that it feels like I've lived it and I suddenly feel really out of step with the modern age. That kind of thing and the lack of any real outside influence on my interests sometimes makes me wonder but it is a whimsical theory, nothing more.

What I would not have liked, in accordance with pretty much every other vintage blogger it seems, would be to go back and live in that time permanently. I think the reasons why are fairly clear and have been done to death on other blogs; in my own case having been up and down health-wise in the last couple of years I may not have even survived in the '20s and '30s. Even we vintage aficionados know that we have a lot to be thankful for in the advancements of science, medicine and social mobility. This (finally, you'll be pleased to hear) brings me to the nub of the matter for me and, I believe, the majority of vintage fans: we look back and appreciate from the time what appeals to our tastes - the fashions, the machinery, the architecture, the art etc. whilst acknowledging the bad parts - poverty, racism, war etc., take the best parts and transpose them into our lives today. If that's having your cake and eating it, then all I can say is - YUM!

This is what has also led to my interest in the Steampunk movement and retro-futurism - the marriage of Victorian (Edwardian, 1920s through 1950s) morals and aesthetics with modern technology. It is also what drew me to the Chap movement; although somewhat tongue-in-cheek and self-deprecating behind it all there is a kernel of truth. I think we would all agree that present-day society is lacking something compared with that of 60-100 years ago - manners, morals, politeness, style. These are the things we see in the past and long for again and for me keeps me interested in trying to live the vintage way, in the modern world.

7 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more on all counts! Very well expressed!

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  2. I agree with you too. Very well written :)

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  3. "There have been occasions when a song, a film or a news item from 80-odd years ago has engendered such a sense of affinity in me that it feels like I've lived it and I suddenly feel really out of step with the modern age."
    I do believe this sums nearly everyone who is 'vintage' feels.

    Beautifully said.

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