As we move at a steady pace towards the season of linen, Birkenstocks and Cherry-Mint fizz pops, has anyone also noticed that Mad Men-style floral frocks with belted waists from the late 1950′s, Tulip skirts, polka-dots and the ubiquitous ‘ditsy prints’ are well, everywhere?! Pvc bags, farm-friendly prints on heavy ceramic mixing bowls and porcelain flour shakers which have been the bedrock of corporate success finally seem here to stay! Accompanying it is the very unfortunate return of Pinball! (I must coyly admit that I own a fair few retro-chic embellishments that are now relegated to shelves populated with other kitsch that once caught my whim -I have an increasing stash of hot-water bottles, tea-towels, bold patterned bags and neon yellow ’70′s cloggs!)
I’ve been thinking recently about the rising appeal of vintage, the return of preoccupations last popular in the ’50′s and ’60′s. Homeware and fashion might be the flagbearers of the movement but technology hasn’t been spared either! (The word from within Volkswagen on it’s latest release of the iconic camper is that the design will be extravagantly sixties-inspired.) Despite countless mobile phone apps offering retro filters, there’s a resurgence of film – Polaroid is back with the Impossible Project, and new instant film to boot! Who remembers hurray’ing at the arrival of digital point and shoot?? I did as a teenager – no more wasted film or bad photos that cost a pretty penny! But with my recent interest in film photography, life in some small sense seems to have come full circle for me!
Have any of us stopped to think why? As a mum, I find an increasing need to instill old-world values in my children. Strong work ethics, balanced view of technology-based entertainment, the vital habits of eating good, nutritious food. Waste less, respect your enviroment and the social ecology within which you function is a daily lesson; the irreplaceable role of family is never to be played down, something that resonates very deeply with me having lost mine as a teenager! I realise that I’m not alone in this, though I may approach certain ‘homeward bound’ trends a bit more vociferously than most of my more balanced peers ! :p What is this cult of neo-sobriety that we hanker after? The need that propells us from within to simplify, pare down, return to some form of well-being and control that we assume our forebearers had? Our need to ebb capitalism’s fast and slippery spiral!
My husband and I often get into discussions like this (because he’s the steady rock to my otherwise floundering imagination) over a cup of freshly-brewed coffee in the evenings, no – not on a reclaimed wooden table – well not yet anyway! Is it the lasting impact of a recession that won’t turn it’s back on us? I see so many of us, either through need or hobby turn to DIY thrift projects, from-scratch recipes and homemade gifts. With getting on the property ladder increasingly becoming a dream, more millenial children continue to stay home rather than leave the nest- has there been a considerable rethink about closer commitment to family and friends as a result? I often question if we’ve all ended up ‘connected loners’ – wandering along the hillsides eating homemade granola… by-products of a world that curates the best of our lives as milestones against which not just others, but we judge ourselves too!
My family is a bog-standard example of social dislocation…we move every few years and start life afresh. In many ways, it’s an unending cycle of new beginnings and there’s a certain comfort in that apart from the big challenge of ‘change’ itself! We don’t see family for years, we make new friends, we fit ourselves into the fabric of their more established lives about as much as they become part of our wandering chronicles! As the world shrinks, our need to connect with other human beings deepens, despite or probably as a result of having designed a ecosphere of digitized, insulated living.
A friend who lives in New York recently invited me to a “Kinfolk” gathering, Kinfolk’s a lifestyle magazine that encourages living simply with “articulated, intentional hospitality!” They seemed to recognize that the art of hospitality was becoming more of a performance and less of a meaningful time spent amongst friends. Well, it got me looking at the magazine, and whilst I must admit, their visual aesthetic got me totally hooked; I just realised I didn’t have the right ratio of hemp skirts to strappy sandals to truly be “Kinfolk”! And only knew the one way to make Quinoa, (apparently there are about 16 ‘simple’ ways, and I suppose countless complex ones!) It’s just that little bit too ‘intentional’, too many well arranged twigs, well orchestrated moss and the severe disability to respect the invention of the humble tumbler…Mason jars have their place, I swear by mine, but enough already! The Kinfolk lifestyle apparently attracts a few million each year – each endeavouring to live better, more meaningfully. Well, if trends are inevitable, this is a more benign one!
I’ve only just begun watching Dowton Abbey, talk about being late to the best British party in years! A lot of my friends who watched it said that the most alluring bit about it or any period drama is a sense of ritual and tradition! There was a well established order to the day and a “right way to eat dinner”! How many of us have risen with arms against eating dinner in front of the tele?! Perish the thought!! ( unless, it’s Eurovision and you submit to the obsessive compulsiveness to be part of something that’s nothing short of a variety- gimmick-carousel!)
Whatever the reason we look back warmly on tarnished spoons, or reclaimed canoes – it’s heartening to see the focus return to the family unit..(I use ‘family’ loosely!) There is an unfathomable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, sounds… and to seek to walk away from that ‘humanness’ is probably our deepest naiivete! If ‘Vintage’ and ‘Retro’ remind us of our connectedness to the past and present, may it reign!
Well, I’ll leave you here while I return to my drafting board and meal plan for the coming week, and do a sneaky Google to see if somewhere out there is a store that’s reduced prices on my Danish washing-up bowl! It would end in divorce if I indulged myself – the fact that it’s made of flexible rubber, can be used multi-functionally (storing books, art supplies) and most importantly - safely goes in the dishwasher fails to impress my husband! Blokes…they know nothing about finding your way “home”! x
If you like the writing and photographs you see on this blog, could you please *nominate* me for the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards? I’ve been shortlisted in categories 1 and 8! Many thanks!! xx
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