It seems like not a week goes by without hearing about another vintage fair or vintage burlesque event. And this week it’s news that Hereford is to host its first vintage summer street fair at the end of August.
There’s a certain quaintness about old things that is charming. We tend to believe (perhaps with some truth) that old furniture or jewellery is made to a higher quality than would be the case today, or that modern clothes and possessions lack the beauty of previous generations.
Harsh modernist styles do lack warmth and not everyone wants to live in a minimalist white box with only a bonsai tree for company. And the failure of the 1960s modern estates is testament to this.
But just at a point in history where the whole world is in crisis and everything we once took for granted is under attack, the love of the yesteryear comes into fashion.
There’s a bizarre romance for the 40s and 50s ‘blitz spirit’ like this was a great period in history. But to the poor family stuck in a bunker whilst bombs rained down or the pensioner living on rations this was anything but.
History should be there to inspire, as a guide for what not to do again and what to improve upon.
Fashions that are blindly copied by so many people today were, in their time, modern and cutting edge. They were a reaction against the boring styles of the previous generations and their designers were experimental and pioneering.
That flowery wallpaper that your nan had, it was modern at some point, and that’s why people embraced it, because it was new and different. The funny old jazz music you hear down the pub was, in its day, dangerous! The people that originally liked this sort of stuff were modernists of their time.
Yet we’re plagued with boring traditionalists that won’t contribute anything culturally to their own era because they’re too busy replicating what’s gone before, like some sort of living, walking museum. It’s weird.
You’d think that as the global economy collapses and people are losing their jobs left, right and centre today’s rallying cry might be an anti-capitalist slogan demanding a helping hand for workers. But it’s not. It’s ‘keep calm and carry on’ and all its 101 spinoffs.
NO! Do not keep calm and carry on! What is wrong with people and this deranged British mentality of forgetting it all and pretending it’s not happening?! It is happening! And no amount of piss-stained charity shop dresses, fucking cupcakes and that stupid little bunting for your front room is going to change that!
What’s going on here is a weird form of escapism, wrapped in nostalgia and the belief that yesterday was better than today. It wasn’t. It was just as horrible. Take off those secondhand rose-tinted spectacles and change something!