ABOUT ME - WHY VINTAGE?
Dr Lois J E Barnett (SOAS)
Vintage helped me discover who I am now and who I wanted to be, after years of disappointment with fast fashion. My entry point was the cinema, what my grandfather called "real films" - the very best examples of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. One figure jumped out at me even more than the other incredible women I saw onscreen - Marlene Dietrich in her tuxedo in The Blue Angel. I was never ultra "feminine" growing up (whatever that means - I'm so delighted we're finally starting to redefine these terms). I was always "too much" of something that was rewarded in men but criticised in women. I felt particularly self-conscious about my voice, which is a bit deeper than you might expect. But I still longed for glamour. Marlene was the first woman I ever saw onscreen who embodied the duality that I so keenly felt, with her strongly accented, deep voice and her androgynous but still glamourous sense of style. I wore a top hat and tails and a corset to the equivalent of my school prom and it was the first time that I truly felt like myself.
That process of self-identification with media and fashion imagery informed both my PhD research and my entry into the modelling world - I genuinely believe that all bodies deserve representation and the right to be clothed in a way that makes you feel like your true self. Vintage helped me to make peace with the things that make me "me" on the inside and generate an everyday appearance that reflects this on the outside.
This is a process that took me about ten years - I really want to help others to achieve a manageable sense of personal vintage style for themselves a lot quicker than that, for the benefit of their self-esteem and wellbeing.
Fashion is not a stick to hit yourself with; it is just another tool for your own empowerment, one that you can use every day if you wish. Am I on a mission? Absolutely.