Vintage Technology

Here is the guest blog I did for the lovely Linda (abridgetv) of the “Cinemagraph” fame:

What do you write about when you’re guest posting on a technological blog and your field of interest is all things vintage – a conundrum you might think?

Technology and vintage – one at the cutting edge of modernity driving us through to the future, the other reminiscing about times gone by and reveling in all things “old”. Poles apart surely?

Perhaps not. Where would us vintage aficionados be without technology? And, how is technology being led by our desire to recreate the past?

This question came to the forefront of my mind when I was researching images from the Dolce & Gabbana Autumn Winter collection 1996, for a post I was doing entitled “Italians Do It Better”. I had an original copy of Vogue which had one image of the collection, but I needed to see more.

Did I think it would be a problem? Not at all, I immediately thought to call on my usual tools of reference – Vogue.co.uk or Style.com, they’ll have some great close up images.

Only there weren’t, they haven’t been uploaded yet by fashion enthusiasts.

Fashion shows on websites such as Vogue start from Autumn Winter 2001. The 90’s had gone to the elephant graveyard of show reportage because, of course, the internet was in it’s infancy and many images are still waiting to be uploaded.

Which begs the question, would we do without this tool of reference. How could I do my blog without Google images, Pinterest? I couldn’t.

How could amazing blogs likes the Retronaut function, which chronicles all sorts of info from the past – from Blade Runner polaroids from the 80s to the Ziegfield Follies girls of the 1920s?

Ziegfield Follies, The Retronaut

Blade Runner polaroids, RetronautEven cutting edge fashion blogs like The Sartorialist have a vintage photos category, where readers can post their own family style archives.

Technology, in the form of websites, blogs and picture reference sites are keeping the past alive and making up for the elephant graveyard of images gone by.

vintage photograph, The Sartorialist

So what if we turn the tables – how is our love of all things old influencing technology?

Well for starters we have Instagram, where you can select a different “age” of photograph – from today’s high-resolution, to the slightly glowing 1970’s shots, to the brighter than bright 1960s photos. Or take Photoshop, where your photos can time-travel to the 19th century with a sepia wash. (In fact where would we be without Photoshop full stop?)

We don’t just want access to vintage memorabilia we also want to recreate it for ourselves.

Hell, I can even download a 1912 ladies skirt pattern straight to my computer courtesy of the Vintage Lending Library. Now that’s what I call progress. Totally incredible!

Today there is a desire for all-singing, all-dancing technology incorporating retro style. Look at SMEG fridges, Roberts Radios, the endearing Mini and the Fiat 500, for example. (Do feel free to add to this list). We want the practicalities of the modern world but we still want the nostalgia of the past.

Smeg Fridges

Cath Kidston Roberts Radio

Fiat 500 Cabriolet

Initially thinking about these two topics, which I considered to be at completely different ends of the spectrum, I wondered where and what kind of relationship there would be.  And it seems to be a rather symbiotic one. Technology is not only influenced by vintage but also goes a long way in keeping it alive – and I say three cheers to that!

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