The meaning of "vintage" depends on usage. For our purposes, we won't be discussing wines from a particular harvest, apologies to our vintner readers. Instead, the term, via Vintage, will be used to showcase, per Dictionary.com, "the high quality of a past time." The goal is to explore the impact of history on our current culture. This issue addresses the art of haberdashery and a salute to Peggy Olson, the proto-liberated woman of "Mad Men." Hopefully in future, it will include art deco radios and the beauty of film noir. It won't include the Tea Party, which strives to uphold ignorance and hatred, two things that, sadly, never go out of style.Vintage is inspired by Fleur Cowles' Flair, a short-lived '50s pub that celebrated font, color, photography and texture -- while exploring art, music, fashion and travel. The magazine is consciously artistic, boasting an open magazine spine bound by ribbons, pop-up art and a pocket-sized sketchbook stitched into the binding. The effort may sound quixotic in today's publishing climate. Then again, art is a singular pursuit.
Any magazine that opens with a poem, "The May Earth," typed in a classic pica font on crinkly paper, signals a slower, more deliberate pace -- although the first line sounds suspiciously nouveau: "Once again, earth's on the verge of bursting." Someone's been watching too much Weather Channel.
To date, Vintage has produced two limited-edition issues. The status is not surprising, given the design flourishes and high-end paper stock. Translation: a hefty printing charge. But that's part of promoting visceral pleasures -- and why it's sold at places like Rizzoli Bookstore and The Brooklyn Museum. Two particular stories illustrate its focus: The Carlyle and Grimond La Reynière.
Moses Ginsberg, an immigrant businessman, built the Carlyle Hotel during the Great Depression. An Upper East Side stronghold, it's where Ludwig Bemelmans, in exchange for free rent, painted his Central Park murals on the walls of Bemelmans Bar. Perhaps you know him better as the author of the beloved "Madeline" books. It's also where George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers hit the ivories. In their heyday, celebrities of every stripe paid court. Granted, it's hard to imagine Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton listening to such composers. Then again, prison isn't known for promoting the American Songbook.
The quirky tale of Grimod de La Reynière, the founder of French gastronomic writing and the world's first restaurant critic, was a decadent delight. La Reynière, who coined the phrase "gourmand," was born to an aristocratic family in 1758. Sadly, he had grossly malformed hands. His horrified parents, who refused to accord him royal status, claimed he had fallen into a pigpen and the beasts chewed off his fingers. Some 30 years later, at one of his lavishly controversial dinners, he dressed a live pig in his father's clothes. Kudos to this wily Parisian for his early understanding of form and function.
But La Reynière's lasting gift to the culinary arts, aside from transforming the French table, was his "Almanach," which rated restaurants. (Apparently, Michelin was listening. A three-star Michelin ranking is so rare that as of late 2009, only 26 three-star restaurants existed in France. No doubt La Reynière would approve.)
Such attention defines Vintage's mission. Previous articles on LP jackets or Barbie dolls, current pieces on a 1957 Royal typewriter and the New York Titans, underscore how, to quote Shakespeare, "the past is prologue." For "Mad Men" fans, the quiet feminist evolution of Peggy Olson is laudable. Admittedly, some may find Vintage a bit precious. It isn't standard fare, nor is its audience targeting the Twitter generation, seemingly comprised of teens and a wayward Congress, whose tweets sound suspiciously like seventh-grade girls. Perusing Vintage is like sipping a Tanqueray and tonic at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore -- a pleasurable blast from the past.
Published by: Vintage Magazine Ltd.