« Vintage is more that just a quirky concept, it’s a lifestyle »
It’s everywhere: in fashion, furniture, accessories, second-hand clothes. People are not throwing anything away! We have now realised that fashion keeps coming back in, again and again. The Vintage concept is constantly evolving and may even be regarded as the future of fashion. For a long time, Vintage was the reserve of a few people in the know and initially referred to second-hand clothes from well-known designers. But since the nineties it has spread everywhere.
The fashion market is particularly vibrant in the US but Europe is catching up and Vintage is becoming more and more popular. Here’s a quick Q&A on the subject for those who want to make something new out of something old…
What does the word ‘Vintage’mean ?
It is an English word that was originally used to specify the year when referring to spirits or wines such as port. By extension, in the post-war period right up to the eighties, the concept came to describe clothing, older style accessories, collectible cars, photographs and furniture design. From the fashion angle, a Vintage aficionado does not have to be dressed from head to toe in second-hand clothes like someone in a period costume. It is more a case of coordinating a subtle mix of styles so they end up looking like just one style: your own. The same is true in home design.
What is all the fuss about ?
It has always been fashionable to try and pick up a bargain at a flea-market. According to Katy Rodriguez from the store ‘Resurrection’, it is top models like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss who paved the way in the nineties by wearing vintage clothing to big celebrity events. The whole concept rocketed when Julia Roberts wore a 1992 Valentino dress to the Oscars in 2001. This helped Vintage take its first steps into the world of glamour and a craze started. Soon all the celebrities got involved: Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lopez sporting a 1967 Valentino dress previously worn by Jackie Kennedy.
So, is Vintage only about luxury brands ?
ot exclusively. Look at what happened with Levi jeans. In the early 70’s, the brand decided to change the look of the famous label, (tab), that was sewn on the right-hand back pocket by replacing the capital ‘E’ with a small ‘e’. This may seem like a detail to you and me, but it was an absolute revolution for lovers of Levi jeans who dubbed pre-1971 501s ‘The Big Es’. This was the first time an article of clothing that was neither haute couture nor a luxury item had ever been officially dated.
And what about the home design front ?
After fashion, Vintage took over the world of home design. This idea was brought to life twenty years ago by the forward-thinking stallholders of Clignancourt’s fleamarkets and the visionary shopping arcades in Paris, Milan, London and Copenhagen which managed to spark collectors’ attention. The term ‘Vintage furniture‘ often goes hand in hand with the names of well-known designers such as Le Corbusier or Panton. However, here too Vintage does not equal design. This simply means that Vintage pieces are not necessarily antique or contemporary. It is not unusual to find unsigned Vintage furniture at cheaper prices than those charged in large department stores.
Has the craze spread to any other areas ?
It is reflected in all areas of design . The first Motorola StarTac mobile phones are already sought after, just like the first Sony Walkmans, Italian Brionvega televisions and the series of Bang & Olufsen BeoSound music centres. Bang & Olufsen set up their own outlets near shops specialising in Vintage 70’s stuff. Just as Vintage clothing has to actually be worn to be worthy of its name, Vintage design must become part of the decor to be able to fit into the modern home.
What about Vintage and licensing ?
To meet the demands of nostalgic consumers, some clothing labels have hit upon the idea of ‘licensing’. This works by recapturing the popularity of certain trends from the 60’s,70’s and 80’s and making us feel nostalgic, and is a way of keeping Vintage going strong. This is why shops are crammed full of t-shirts printed with old cartoons: Snoopy,The Smurfs and even Japanese ‘mangas’. Nor have the Beatles or other legends escaped the dictates of fashion.
As well as using ‘licensing’, Vintage style has been enhanced by ageing and distressing fabrics artificially.
So today’s Vintage is a nostalgic reminder of the past.
All these vintage pieces are imbued with history like the links in a long and sentimental chain just like furniture handed down from our grandparents. Vintage is a perfect example of recycling. What more could you ask for in the environmentally responsible world of today? Long may the ‘sustainable’ bargain hunt continue.