Vintage & Classic Style Guide
With the dawn of the Digital Age comes the onslaught of a fast-paced consumer society. Cue accelerated social mobility, rapid change, excitement and uncertainty. Destabilised as such, we are forced to cling onto objects of the past – which, in its Barthesian combination of image, music, and text, is exactly what Vintage & Classic Style Guide does for us.
Much like a museum, this latest offering from Edel’s earBOOKS series takes the reader on a journey through time, with its curation of vintage artefacts. From toys to timepieces, bicycles to boats, the catalogue is divided into thematic categories, with each category being prefaced by a quote from historical greats. Particularly enchanting is one from Coco Chanel:
“A man can wear what he wants – he will always be a woman’s accessory.”
With 190 entries in total, each A3 page presents the viewer with one or two images of a specific historical artefact. The visuals are bright and bold, while their accompanying texts, in both English and German, are brief but edifying, and in no way detract from the artefacts themselves. There could be more information on the individual object in question (where did it come from? Who did it belong to? Where is it now?), as opposed to merely describing the history of the type of artefact it is. However, that might remove the reader’s ability to attach to it his or her own personal memory or imagined story.
Somewhat reassuringly, most objects – the Coca-Cola bottle, the Burberry trench, the Barbour International jacket – have stood the test of time. Today, one sees Barbours on flower-clad hippies prancing around at Glastonbury just as clearly as those worn on hunting weekends in the 1930s. In the hurried reality of the modern world, one takes comfort in the fact that some things never change.
Other objects are rooted firmly in the past, their significance or charm being their ability to stir memories, and conjure warm pangs of nostalgia. In a time before the iPod, iPad (iEverything) there was the Sony Walkman. Brick-shaped and bulky, having a Walkman when you were younger gave you a sense of independence, a sense of identity, a sense of cool. The idea of going to a shop and buying the cassette you’d been saving up for, as opposed to downloading any song, by anyone, at anytime, was a rite of passage.
Overall, the presentation is slick, the text well-informed, and the artefacts varied enough to captivate the reader from beginning to end. But it is the accompanying record, with classics by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Coleman Hawkins crackling and fizzing as you turn the pages, that sets Vintage & Classic Style Guide well apart from any other generic book about vintage objects. Without any underlying narrative, the viewer can dip in and out at their will, making this the perfect book for any coffee table, vintage or modern.
The editorial unit
Vintage & Classic Style Guide is published by earBOOKS at the hardback price of £29.99. For further information visit here.