As a great believer in the “ain’t no school like the old school” religion, (although not, I hasten to add, to the point of donning open toed shoes and floating around Camden Market plugged into a dusty walkman), I am a big fan of the “vintage to vogue” comeback that has been gaining a steady momentum for the past decade or so. To the extent that I often find myself reflecting nostalgically on bygone eras. The roaring ’40s and wartime glamour, the swinging London sixties and (well of course), Madonna in the ’80s, nonchalantly munching her way through several bags of Cheetos as she walks through the scenes of Desperately Seeking Susan. I basically long for every decade except those that I have physically existed in (soz ’90s. Make it up to ya, noughties.) And I don’t think that I am alone.
Living in an age of rapid technological modernisation and forward-thinking in areas ranging from iPhone number X to bionic limbs, I can’t help but notice the apparent equal growth of interest in all things old. The market for vintage cool has soared in the past decade, from high street additions of antique shops, fairs and ‘boutiques’ to people who actually organise ‘vintage’ parties, comprising of adults of the noughties sitting around clutching cigarette holders, fingering necks draped with pearls with painted red ‘O”s for mouths, in an attempt to recapture the glamour and mystique of the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s that has sadly but inevitably demised in a society rapt with technological obsession.
We all have that one large, dusty and almost intimidatingly old photograph album in our house. The one that’s been pored over countless times but which still, on every opening, brings with it the same feeling of thrill. A photographic tardis, the album uncovers to a Facebook-infected age a more coveted time. A time when one’s single wedding photo would often be the only visual stimulus of an entire decade. When photographs were captured because of something, rather than just because.
For some reason things tend to look more appealing when a ‘vintage’ filter is applied. Is this because we, as a generation brought up surrounded by technology, actually ache for a simpler time? It appears that while technology has given a lot to the world (information at our fingertips. And eBay) it has, is, and will continue to destroy the very beauty of the object, and everything attached to it. Cobwebs and all.
It seems, therefore, that the only possible way of combating the sickness that I shall term Phantom Nostalgia, is to embrace the new. It ain’t all bad, and while Tinder as a dating app is largely less romantic than perhaps meeting a stranger on a misty train platform, and old soup stains and splashes on an iPad recipe book would mean a swift trip to the Genius Bar, there are many good things about the modern world – never-ending bubble wrap has been created in Tokyo (zomg, though) and Norway has brought us the invisible bike helmet (still not convinced).
We must not forget however, that the only true reason we can fully appreciate the vintage movement is because we can admire it from a vantage point – the future. So while we hoard those secret desires to be the object of an iconic ‘summer of ’69’ photograph, we can at least play make-believe with the ‘Valencia’ Instagram filter (a poor substitute, I grant). However it allows us to fall back into the comforting arms of our smartphones while we’re at it. Because let’s be honest, none of us could live without our techno bits and bobs, no matter how cool our granny’s photo album looks, and as my very own grandma Jean would say, “ye cannae have it all”.