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The Importance of Being Vintage

Posted by Jeffrey
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vin·tage
noun \ˈvin-tij\
a period in which something was made or was begun
a period of origin or manufacture <a piano of 1845 vintage>
length of existence : age

This is how Meriam Webster defines the word vintage.

For those of us who consider ourselves “fashionphiles,” vintage clothing was at one time the step child of fashion. It was regarded as slightly less than and looked at slightly askance. The facts are that vintage clothing is and has been the laboratory from which modern fashion has evolved.

Vintage clothing offers a look back, as well as a look into the future of fashion. These clothes are no longer offered in the musty confines of some out of the way second hand or thrift store but in establishments that rival or have replaced the once fabled multi-brand specialty store retailers that rose to fame in the 80’s.

It is an open secret that many of the most ubiquitous brands have staffs that scour many of these retailers for ideas that surface in future collections. The unfortunate part of the scenario is that the original designer is never given proper credit for the look. Further complicating matters is that the “NEW” garment is passed off as an original concept without any provenance. To take things one step further, the original is rarely improved upon, if not severely diluted.

Once upon a time designers were influenced by an art movement or a period in history or per chance even a location. In the present world of style and fashion, so many designers prefer to use verbal esoterica as a means of description or inspiration. Simply said, when YSL presented his homage to the 40’s there was no mistaking it whereas in the 21st century we get philosophical bull that has nothing to do with the clothes, except in the deluded designer’s head, and everything to do with trying to explain away ugly clothes. If you take it down to bare bones it is this: these are clothes, this is not rocket science and there is no need for a treatise to describe a collection. Clothes should speak for themselves and reflect a designer’s inspiration ... no instruction manual required.

Currently, vintage fashion has become a badge of honor for the wearer as it signifies a great respect for fashion, its history and for the once famous designers. The new owner can proudly state that it is indeed “vintage” or perhaps they can say “oh yes this is where so and so got his ideas from.” The dress, jacket or accessory suddenly has heritage and roots rather than being looked upon as yesterday’s news.

If you accept the tenets of vintage clothes in the same way that you do any collectible, then you have reached a higher plateau of understanding. Such acknowledgements have elevated vintage fashion to its current status by removing any stigma that was once attached. So many designers of the past were true innovators, originators and provocateurs while now we have stylists rather than designers. The originators are too often forgotten.

Vintage fashion/designers occupy an almost reverential position in the hierarchy of createurs. Please consider the following names that influenced and continue to influence fashion to this day: Blass, Chanel, Halston, Christian Dior, Hubert Givenchy, Capucci, Adolfo, Mackie, Valentino Garavani, Anne Klein, YSL, Thea Porter, Bill Gibb, Mollie Parnis, Galanos, Beene, Trigere, Scott Barrie, Ceil Chapman, and so many many more. If you aren’t acquainted with these names then it is safe to say that your fashion education is not complete. These were major players who made fashion an international business. Again it would be like offering a version of the Mona Lisa and not giving credit to Leonardo for the original.

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