Graphical Evidence That Vintage Is Hot

Shutterstock, the huge stock-photo house, has put together an infographic displaying the trends in what its users are downloading. Its data confirm what our Vintage Week suggested: the idea of “vintage” is hot. “If you combined all the searches for ‘Cats,’ ‘Dogs,’ ‘Retro,’ and ‘Hipster,’ you still wouldn’t beat the number of searches for ‘Vintage,’” says Shutterstock.

Vintage Week is stretching into this week as well. Stay tuned for more posts.

Shutterstock's Global Design Trends Infographic 2013

Future Glamour: Did George Lucas Read Vogue?

While doing research in back issues of Vogue, I found this familiar-looking ad from 1974, three years before the debut of Star Wars. Of course, unlike Star Wars, which supposedly took place "long, long ago," Quathra is "a luxury fabric from the [oh so glamorous] 21st century." In the actual 21st century, Qathra (no u) is a coffee house in Brooklyn--an institution, not to mention a locale, not envisioned by 20th-century futurists. (The textile company appears to have canceled its trademark in 1982.)

Quathra luxury fabric from 21st century 8:74 ad

DG Q&A: Soolip's Wanda Wen On Wedding Glamour And The Seductions Of Fine Paper


1) Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett? Cate Blanchett

2) Paris or Venice? Paris

3) New York or Los Angeles? New York

4) Princess Diana or Princess Grace? Princess Grace

5) Tokyo or Kyoto? Kyoto

6) Boots or stilettos? Stilletos

7) Art Deco or Art Nouveau? Art Nouveau

8) Jaguar or Astin Martin? Aston Martin

9) Armani or Versace? Armani

10) Diana Vreeland or Anna Wintour? Diana Vreeland

11) Champagne or single malt? Single Malt

12) 1960s or 1980s? 1980s

13) Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds

14) Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell? Naomi Campbell

15) Sean Connery or Daniel Craig? Sean Connery

Font Glamour

MinionPro Earlier this week Apple released an update to the font rendering part of OS-X 10.6 because there had been a problem with rendering some Open-Type fonts. Adobe’s Minion-Pro has become my favorite text font for music notation, and I had been baffled when Minion Pro had stopped working in Sibelius, the music notation software that I use.

As soon as I saw the notice of the update, I became excited, thinking that this might solve the problem, and “hooray!” it did. At breakfast I began excitedly telling my wife about all this, telling her how beautiful the font is, and how it was designed by the same designer who had designed Arno Pro, and that the designer was named Robert Slimbach. I knew I had gone too far when I recalled the font designer’s name off the top of my head, and, sure enough, my wife gave me an OMG-I’m-married-to-a-geek look. 

I had been using Times New Roman in the meantime, but it is hard to explain how much more beautiful I thought the opera score I was working on looked with the text in Minion Pro. Minion has become one of the most popular book fonts since its release in 1990. It is simply beautiful, if not glamorous—assuming you are into fonts.

And it looks especially nice on the 30-inch backlit LED Apple Cinema Display screen I recently purchased because I was so jealous whenever I saw my wife using hers. It was the only choice that she had when she bought a new Mac Pro, but as soon as I saw it I knew that sooner or later I had to have one too. Ultimately there was no justification for my buying a new display, but I did, and now everytime I bring up a music score, and I look at this beautiful screen (now displaying Minion Pro as the text font in all its glory), it makes me happy. And, I want to compose. In this case a glamorous screen and a glamorous font help motivate me to work. 

[Minion image from Wikimedia Commons.]

Early, More Glamorous Version Of Shepard Fairey's Obama Poster Up For Auction

Shepard Fairey Obama Change poster Bonhams auction This version of Shepard Fairey's 2008 Barack Obama poster, one of 200 prints the artist signed for campaign staff, will go up for auction at Bonham's on January 11. The auction house estimates its likely sales price at £1,000-1,500 ($1,546-2,319 at current exchange rates).

Although not as famous as the later versions based on Mannie Garcia's A.P. photo, the image of the candidate is even more glamorous. Instead of the angle spoofed by The Onion as a calculated "looking-off-in-the-future pose," this poster features a closer-cropped semi-profile where the stylized light and shadow work more naturally. It doesn't show the candidate's standard-issue suit or his goofy-looking ears.

Not to underplay the glamour of the famous version, but that Obama looks more like a regular politician or businessman—a dreamy guy in a suit—compared to this one. Here he not only looks less calculated and ordinary but a bit less like a Communist dictator and more like someone you'd find on American currency.

The one false note is the placement of the campaign's horizon logo. On the more-famous poster, where it appears on Obama's lapel, it reads as a campaign button. Here it looks like the artist said, "Oh wait, where can I stick that logo? Here's some empty dark space."

Check out this cropped version to see what I mean about currency.

Cropped Obama Shepard Fairey poster green
Did the campaign make a mistake to reject this image and prefer the later one? Or was that version more appealing?

The Seductive Smell Of Escape

Escape to a tropical island has long been the promise of travel ads featuring glamorous scenes of beaches, palm trees, and hammocks. Now it's apparently become a fashionable promise for mass-market products none-too-subtly selling the way they smell. (To see larger photos, click the images.)

Glade hammock ad spread

And while Old Spice has gone viral with its over-the-top manly man ads, its packaging isn't as tongue-in-cheek.

Old Spice
Note that both Old Spice versions promise to make you smell like freedom.

From The Archives: Travel Posters, Glamour, And Iconoclasm

Reminded by one of Roger Ebert's tweets that yesterday was Philip Larkin's birthday, I thought the occasion would be a good excuse, even a day late, for resurrecting a post featuring one of his poems. "Come to Sunny Prestatyn" is so deceptively plain-spoken that you can easily miss the rhyme scheme: a beautiful example of carefully crafted effortlessness.

Isle of man poster british railways 

This poster, up for auction next week from which sold for $2,160 at Swann Galleries, calls to mind a different (and possibly fictional) British tourism poster from the same era, the one in Philip Larkin's poem “Sunny Prestatyn.” The poem perfectly captures both the commercial glamour of travel posters and the urge to puncture the illusion.

Come to Sunny Prestatyn 
Laughed the girl on the poster, 
Kneeling up on the sand 
In tautened white satin. 
Behind her, a hunk of coast, a 
Hotel with palms 
Seemed to expand from her thighs and 
Spread breast-lifting arms.

She was slapped up one day in March. 
A couple of weeks, and her face 
Was snaggle-toothed and boss-eyed; 
Huge tits and a fissured crotch 
Were scored well in, and the space 
Between her legs held scrawls 
That set her fairly astride 
A tuberous cock and balls

Autographed Titch Thomas, while 
Someone had used a knife 
Or something to stab right through 
The moustached lips of her smile. 
She was too good for this life. 
Very soon, a great transverse tear 
Left only a hand and some blue. 
Now Fight Cancer is there.

With its aggressive cynicism, the graffiti destroys not only the model’s beauty but the poster’s promise of escape to a sunny, joyful world where satin stays taut and white. By defacing the poster, making the portrait ugly and ridiculous, the vandals remind viewers that the picture is an illusion, an image “too good for this life.”

To buy Philip Larkin's complete works, go to Collected Poems on Amazon.

Obsolete Travel Glamour

Berchtesgaden Das Kur-Cafe Kgf Villa 

Notes the catalog:

Situated in the majestic Bavarian Alps, near the Austrian border, Berchtesgaden's reputation took a drastic turn for the worse in the 1920s, when the mountainous area became a popular Nazi high command retreat. Prior to that the region was an upscale holiday destination and resort, as evidenced by this Art Deco image of a couple at the “Königliche Villa” (Royal Villa,) an elegant and popular spa.

Finally, this 1957 poster captures a bit of Jet Age cosmopolitanism: the United Nations building as an exciting New York tourist attraction.

United Airlines New York United Nations 

The building is now undergoing a $2 billion renovation to bring it up to building-code standards and improve energy efficiency. Those repairs may remove the building's asbestos and improve its fire safety, but they won’t bring back that midcentury glamour.

Musei Della Città Delle Belle Donne

Via Delle Belle Donne

Not surprisingly, a city whose ancient streets include one dedicated to Beautiful Women takes the art of beauty seriously--and not just in the gorgeous faces depicted by Botticelli, Leonardo, and the Lippis.

You can buy perfumes and lotions at the Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella, the oldest apothecary in Europe, or spend nothing and enjoy the perfumed air while gazing at frescoes and centuries-old ceramics jars.

The Salvatore Ferragamo shoe museum confirms Andy Warhol's observation that department stores and museums are much the same. It also demonstrates, in the contrast between its historic archives and the current exhibit of shoes from the movie Australia, that the chunky styles of the 1940s look better in larger sizes. (There's another YouTube feature, with background on the museum, here.)

My favorite discovery, however, is the tiny Museo della Ciprie, or Museum of Powder Boxes, really just a special room in a perfume shop on the tony Via de' Tornabuoni, not far from Ferragamo. The museum houses a collection of the decorative boxes in which face powder was sold through the first half of the 20th century. How do you package the promise of beauty? Here's a slideshow of examples.


The Glamour Of Speed

ShowImage-4.asp Even at the command of a skilled typist, an old-time manual typewriter is not all that fast--and it never looks fast. So how is a designer to suggest speed and the modernity that speed represents?

By association, of course. And this one is a clever one. Not only does the poster, up for auction at Swann Galleries, turn the typewriter into a train-by-association, it stylizes the train to make it look faster and more modern than anything you'd actually see on the rails.

The one flaw in the message: Most of us don't want to turn out blank pages. It is faster though...