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Showing posts from May, 2010

The 1960s Bundeswehr (West German) Greatcoat

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Fashion and the military look: it’s a permanent fling.


Classic lines, authenticity, distinctiveness, the whiff of romance… and let’s not forget function. These clothes keep their promises. Swoon.



Hidden in the inside pocket, this coat’s fabulously utilitarian label indicates it’s West German, 1960s. My good friend and German to English translator Adam Ramsey tells me "Altenkessel – Saar" is the location of the manufacturer “Werner Mahlberg”. 

I picked it up at my local Oxfam shop for £5 (in international currency, the price of two Starbucks lattes). Yes, I am rather smug about that.

I have spent some time imagining a colourful history for it, but I suspect it was army-surplus. Un-issued. No derring-do has been done.



In soft grey wool with a full satin lining, it’s tapered at the waist and surprisingly small. Eye-catching on a boy but jaw-dropping on a girl, especially one with an hourglass figure and pepper-red lipstick. The enemy will surrender; willingly.

At the back is …

The World War I Embroidered Silk Postcards

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Embroidered by hand, silk thread on silk organza, these vivid cards whizzed across Europe to the loved and the missed during World War I. 

Stitched at home by French and Belgium women, they were created as a batch on one silk strip, then sent to a factory for cutting and framing.  




Look closely: many are actually envelopes. Inside them, another envelope; a translucent, onion-skin one. Inside that, a tiny printed card to write on, coloured by hand.


To the sender it's about wrapping your message again and again in something bright, pretty and precious. To the recipient it’s about glimpses of what's within; the handwriting you’re aching to see.



Propped on a mantelpiece or bedside table, most of these cards became sun-faded, yellowed with nicotine, torn and discarded.


Fortunately this collection was kept in an album so those silk dyes hold true. I find the past much more tangible when you see things as they did.


Forget-me-knots feature heavily, as do the words ‘love’, ‘kiss’ and…

The 1980s Black and Red Earrings

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Purchased from a stall in Covent Garden in 1985, these hand-made earrings distill the look of a decade into sharp, Perspex triangles.

Drizzled with enamel paint on both sides – but not the edges - there’s a slight parallax at work in those glossy squiggles that draws you in. Very close.

Add a white leather jacket for that holy trinity of 80s tones: black, red and white.

DI Alex Drake, eat your heart out.

Invitation to comment: Are 80s items not old enough to be Vintage yet? Are you enjoying the 80s revival or wincing at the memories and the reminder that it all happened THIRTY YEARS ago?
My Next Post: The World War I Silk Embroidered Post Cards 

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Welcome to Vintage Copywriting

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Vintage Copywriting is taking my day-job as a copywriter and grafting-on my two obsessions: beautiful old things and photography. 

I should first explain that most of my copywriting work is for mail order companies. I describe beautiful new things for catalogues and e-commerce sites. In Vintage Copywriting I'll be describing the same kind of beautiful things, but they'll be old. And I'll not be persuading you to buy. I'll just want you to share my enjoyment.   

What kind of old things? Follow this link to my Picasa album to be smacked between the eyes with what it's really all about. If you like the look of these, then you could be my Ideal Reader.

It all started with Twitter

I started tweeting about a year ago with great reluctance, but soon found it intoxicating. I love sitting on my bottom in England and holding a conversation with someone in Canada about Alphonse Mucha.

I was commissioned to write an article on my Twitter-Love at The Copywriting Blogspot, and pou…