I became a fan of vintage early in my adult life. This was as much from necessity as preference. With a limited budget but an eye for craftsmanship, I naturally gravitated to the thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores that offered up pre-owned goods. The hunt for great finds was exhilarating. The finds themselves were even better. Imitations of old designs are plentiful, but the materials, craftsmanship and artistry that went into original Art Deco jewelry or Shaker furniture, for example, are unique. They can be copied, but rarely replicated with exactitude. There is a reason they are coveted by collectors.
Construction aside, vintage items also can transport us to different times and places. Their distinctive styles evoke bygone eras and all the associations they carry. A 1930’s dress can make us Ginger Rogers, at least for a little while. A piece of jewelry from the 1920’s may inspire a hint of flapperish attitude. We wonder who owned and wore these pieces before us, and our shared attraction to them connects us with those predecessors in a palpable way.
Not surprisingly, my love for vintage is reflected in my own collection of jewelry and accessories. Our Diana bag, its drawstring and embroidered fabric, was inspired by a vintage purse I found in Newport, Rhode Island. Our Phoebe earrings are reminiscent of the Empire State Building’s magnificent silhouette and the Art Deco furniture that shares its architectural lines. There are more such pieces, all enriched by the influence of vintage pieces I have found and seen over the years.
I don’t seek to replicate those original designs. But I like to think that I can capture a little of their magic, and to honor them in the process.