Midnight In Paris, Golden Age Thinking & A Real Life Vintage Meet-Up
Recently I took some time out to rewatch a movie I had loved when it first came out: Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris. It was as enjoyable as I remembered (although hopelessly corny at times). But it also was conductive of some reflections on the nature of loving the past, and why some of us look back at it with a sense of longing.
It struck me that 'golden age thinking' might be a condition that overwhelmingly affects many of us vintage wearing, vintage loving time-travellers. Not that I think it's a bad thing - not at all. Life can be one emotionally demanding business, so I support any (non-addictive, non-harmful!) ways of getting through it with ease. And if the worst you can do is dress up in beautiful handmade clothes, put on some 30s jazz and read a couple of musky-smelling first editions, I am all for it (in fact, I do.)
"Everything goes so fast here." Marion Cotillard's character, Adriana, laments of her 'present' - the Paris of the 1920s - while dreaming of the Belle Époque. Of course, rationally we know this is also fallacy thinking, since the Belle Époque had its fair share of horrific poverty and discrimination, not to mention an impending World War (on this topic, I recommend the excellent archive documentary La Belle Époque by the Met Institute, available for free on YouTube - Diana Vreeland is one of the talking heads and her quips alone are worth the watch.)
But do any of the objective check and balances of history matter, when time travel can feel like being home? What if the past does feel like a better, more comfortable fit for your soul - whether by temperament, by taste or interests? Nothing wrong with indulging that a little.
Realists will call it 'escapism', but I dislike the word and its subtle implications of cowardice, when the exuberance of the imagination is everything but - it's a running towards life, it's using your gift and alchemizing it into real life. What could be more extraordinary, what could be braver?
And just how much better it is when done in company, finding those rarest of people you can share your love of the past with? Meeting and recognising each other can be a beautiful thing. (Even in the movie, the lead character Gill get paired off with a girl who sells vintage records - in other words, a fellow lover of the past.)
So no, I don't believe that 'escapism' is bad. I believe that we are creatures of the imagination and dreamers for a reason. I think that if you can make your present feel more beautiful, more glamorous, more fun, you absolutely should.
Some will try to convince you to 'face reality' by consuming and conforming. I say create instead, and follow your own unique instincts.
All of the above is why (if you follow the shop on Instagram you will already know about this) I've decided to test out some in-real-life meet ups with our little online community of vintage dreamers, to bring some of those connections out of the ether and into the wild.
Our first one will be this Saturday 17th September: we will be meeting at the National Gallery of Ireland here in Dublin for a very special tour focused on Costumes from the collection. Afterwards we will share a coffee & a chat to discuss what we've seen and to (most importantly) get to know each other a bit better. I genuinely can't wait.