Every interview that is a part of this delightful ongoing monthly series is equally near and dear to my heart, but I'd be lying if I said that there aren't certain bloggers in particular whom I secretly hoped would volunteer to take part in it, simply because I'd admire and have been inspired by them so incredibly much for years now.
Absolutely, bar none, hands down one - or, I should say, two - of those people are none other than the dynamic European vintage loving couple that is Laurence and Sylvain. Chances are, if you've been a part of the vintage blogging scene for any length of time, you will have discovered their fantastic vintage fashion filled blog, Lost in the 50s and have come to know these two friendly, stylish, travel loving people who call France home.
Not only are Laurence and her husband Sylvain incredible dressers and passionate fans of the vintage lifestyle, but one has only to spend a little time watching them (online) to instantly recognize just how truly in love and devoted to one another they are. As a lifelong romantic, this has always made me adore the two of them all the more and was part of the reason why I was so keen to involve them in this interview series.
Recently I chatted via email with Laurence, who answered the slew of questions (it was tricky not to ask her and Sylvain dozens more, as I find them to be such immensely interesting people!) on behalf of her and husband. Though the answers are all hers, she speaks of Sylvain's tastes, interests, wardrobe, etc often throughout this exciting interview and one really senses both of their presence in these awesome answers.
If, like me, you've always wanted to know more about Laurence and Sylvain - or if you're meeting them for the first time here today - settle into a cozy seat and read on. I promise you, you'll be as enthralled with the details of their huge wardrobe, their time warp home, their vintage cars, and their joie de vivre as I am!
You guys are arguably the best know vintage lifestyle couple on the planet and it is a sincere honour to chat with both of you today. For those who may not yet have discovered your wonderful blog and social media accounts, could you please share a bit about yourselves?
I'm Laurence, a French woman in her mid-thirties. I’ve been a vintage addict for 15 years now and am married to an other crazy addict, Sylvain. We live in France a few miles from Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany, where we live a mid-century retro life in the heart of Europe.
What drew you to vintage fashions?
We have always loved vintage movies and old music. Perhaps it also came from our childhoods, when I was a huge fan of Back to Future and Sylvain never missed an episode Happy Days on TV. When I met my husband, he already had a vintage car, and we started going together to flea markets in our area. One day I found a box full of vintage ELLE magazines from the 50’s and really fell in love with all those glamorous models! I bought my first vintage dress a week after that and I was hooked. Sylvain followed me immediately in the quest for more vintage treasures!
In particular, what are some of the elements of the decade(s) that you each prefer that really adhere you those years and their wonderful fashions?
1945-1955 is my favorite era. I like most of the things from this time period: clothes, music, cars, decoration, movies. That was a joyful era just after the war. I’m a huge fan of Dior’s New Look, when women really dressed like women, complete with hats, petticoats, nice accessories, and great make-up! I also like the 30’s, but art deco era fashion doesn’t suit my curvy body.
My husband really likes to wear 1930s styles though and he can switch easily from a 30’s suit to a early 60’s Hawaiian shirt. Ultimately, he is a crazy vintage car lover at heart, preferring US cars from the late 50’s.
How has the vintage lifestyle scene changed since you both began taking part in it?
When we started dressing in the old fashioned way, we didn’t even know what the word "vintage" meant. I didn’t have any friends or relatives who liked old stuff and the internet was not what it is today. There was no social networks, almost no blogs yet, and so we had to learn for ourselves how to be able to recognized original items of clothing, as well as furniture, home decor pieces, dishware, etc.
In the beginning, I bought all the vintage clothes that I could find in thrift stores from the era that I love, even if they weren’t actually my size. A few months later I discovered eBay and as if you imagine it, back then a lot of auctions still didn’t have photos!
The vintage scene didn’t exist either where we lived, but the rock’n roll scene had been around since the late 70’s, so some events like Hemsby, the Rockabilly Rave, or Rhythm Riot in England were already popular. Our first vintage event was the Rhythm Riot in 2003, what a nice souvenir!!!
Kustom culture quickly became more and more popular, with a lot of pin-up girls, a lot of tattoos and custom cars emerging. It’s not the style that I personally like, but a lot of new events were created because of that and so I can certainly appreciate it all the more because of that fact.
I can honestly say that it’s easier to dress in a vintage wear now than it was twenty years ago, as there are a lot of repro brands out there these days, and with the internet, it’s so easy to buy vintage from all around the world at the click of a mouse!
What have some of the biggest perks and/or highlights of living a vintage filled life been for you?
I think that it’s the fact that you can choose the best parts of the era you like. Some people ask me if I would want to live in the 50’s. No, it’s great to live now and having the best of a modern life and the best of the 50’s.
I’m well aware that life back then was not always a bed of roses. There were bad conditions still for many women, racism, poverty, and many other serious social concerns. Today we can live now a 50’s life, but with the advantages of a modern world. I think it’s important to be aware of history in order to have a better life in the present (Jessica’s note: I agree with you completely!).
It must be incredible to each be married to someone who is as in love with vintage as you are! Do you have any advice for new couples who are both into vintage and just starting out their life together?
It’s really nice to share the same interests. I cannot imagine living with someone who didn’t like vintage. We discovered so many things together and I love that fact. Even in the context of vintage, you can have your own interests. For example, we usually don’t buy the same things as one another at flea markets.
My husband became interested in vintage clothes because of me and I in turn bought a 50’s car because of him. It gives you a great deal of motivation to have a fellow vintage lover right there with you as you go through life. I’m sure that we would have never have come far on our own.
In addition to wearing vintage, you also live in a mid-century vintage filled home and drive vintage cars, which is awesome! Are there certain areas of your life that you've intentionally chosen to keep modern and others that you couldn't fathom not being vintage?
Yes, our house is fully furnished with vintage items and we own four vintage American cars from the 50s. I'm not personally fond of repro/modern clothes (except for some shoes and a few accessories), as I find that I'm always disappointed with quality, cut or fabric, so for me vintage cannot be compared to modern designs. But of course we use some actual commodities like computers and a modern car.
We cannot drive all year long with a vintage car due to our cold snowy/rainy winter and the price of gasoline. Moreover, I really cannot live without internet! But those kinds of items where there is not a big difference between vintage and modern (one being far superior to the other, I mean), we turn to the vintage choice with great pleasure. Some of these things include dishes, lamps, small appliances, for example.
You each have wardrobes that are flat out incredible! What are some of the main sources that you acquire your vintage fashions (and household items) from?
We have 3 main sources:
-Internet: chiefly sites like Etsy or eBay.
-Flea markets: where we mostly find accessories, as vintage clothes from the 40’s-50’s are quite rare at most European flea markets.
-Vintage shops: we like to travel a lot and we always visit some vintage stores in the main cities that we’re staying in.
How large, roughly, would you say that your wardrobe is at this point?
It’s a big problem, when you are addicted (to vintage), you cannot stop buying more! :) It’s becoming harder and harder to store our collection of vintage clothes. I believe that at this point, I would be able to dress for a full year without wearing the the same outfit twice. My wardrobe in about 5 times bigger than than Sylvain’s!
Do you ever sell or giveaway pieces that you don't wear/don't like/don't fit you well anymore?
Yes, we try to sell on our Facebook page at least twice a year, but it’s a lot of work because I want to take nice pictures to present each item at its best. I try to sell at the price I paid for items myself. I have a few suitcases full of clothes (men and women) for sale, just ready and waiting for my next sale.
Have you two ever thought about opening up a vintage shop of your own?
An online shop, I would say yes, but not a real shop because you need to live in a large city to be able to open such a business in Europe. But it’s so much work and as pre-60s vintage is so hard to find in Europe, I would want to 80’s stuff just in order to keep my business going. I think that I like to work outside of vintage and be able to enjoy it all the more on weekends and vacations because its not my day job.
You've travelled for the sake of vintage many times, including to Viva Las Vegas in America. What has been your favourite vintage related trip so far?
About all our travels were related to vintage… not only for vintage, but if we are planning a trip in a city, we always search for flea markets or vintage shops before we leave. It's also a good way to discover a city, and meet local people – plus in looking for those shops, you can discoverer some non-touristy areas, which is one of the best sides to traveling!
For vintage, the best destination is of course the USA, the heaven for all vintage addicts! A lot of shops are way cheaper than here in Europe and as such we make a point to go to the US at least once a year. My best memory of our trips there so far has been when we were part of two different vintage style weddings in California a few years ago. But I also remember those road trips we made with our ’59 Cadillac to England for events like the Rockabilly Rave or the Rhythm Riot, which were a lot of fun as well.
Our next trip will be to Bavaria, Austria, and Hungary… vintage is not our main goal for this road trip, but of course we’ve already looked into all the flea markets and vintage shops there!
Are there any cool vintage related events that you'd like to attend, anywhere in the whole wide world, that you haven't been to yet?
I would like to England for the GOODWOOD Revival. The best vintage events take place in the UK for sure and I think this one is quite unique, even there. Sylvain would love to be able to go with one of his cars to the Power Big Meet in Sweden for the biggest US classic car show in the world!
Two other destinations that I would really like to visit one day are Japan and Australia.
Do you enjoy cooking vintage recipes as well? And if so, do you collect vintage cookbooks and recipe booklets?
My husband collects vintage cookbooks, even if he doesn’t know how to cook! :) I must say though, that he loves to collect almost anything from his favourite decades. For me, I can cook some nice French recipes, but never from vintage books. If you are reading a few vintage recipes, they can sometimes be quite funny. For example, I read one a few days ago about how to make a MONSTER egg with 16 classic eggs.
You are both master accessorizers, do you have any styling tips to share when it comes to adding those perfect finishing (or in some cases, starting) touches to an outfit?
For me colors are really important in an outfit. So I choose my accessories mainly because of their colors and also perhaps their era. I would not wear a 40’s hat with a 50’s dress.
For jewels, I usually wear a watch, earrings and bracelets. I love to wear brooches, but most of the time no necklace. If you are wearing both, I think it’s too much. I don’t know why but I feel naked without anything on my head: snood, flowers, hats, scarves.
My husband is sometimes more bold and mixes unexpected colors! For him, the border between very good taste and bad taste is really thin and he wants to get close as possible to it without cross over to the other side.
What are your very favourite kinds of accessories?
My husband would definitely say 1940s ties and vintage tie bars for him, whereas with me, it’s more complicated. I LOVE accessories: hats, purses, shoes, jewels, umbrellas, gloves, eyeglasses. I think that even with more basic outfits, you can look like a real princess if you chose the perfect accessories! So if I must pick, I would say brooches and purses.
When I first start wearing vintage, I was focused on clothes and I was often disappointed with some outfits, than I came to understand the importance of accessories! Moreover, they have a huge advantage compared to vintage clothes: they always fit!!! (Except for shoes, of course.)
With such great wardrobes, successful storage must come into play for you guys. Do you have any great tips for storing large vintage collections?
Of course having a dedicated room for your clothes is a must have, but it’s hard for us to give advice because storage is really one of our biggest problem. I would say that you will have three enemies when you are collecting vintage clothes: light, dust, and moths!!! So you must protect your wardrobe from all of them as much as you possibly can.
Do you have any so-called holy grail/unicorn vintage items that you've been hunting for now for many years, but haven't yet found?
Hard to say! What is good about the hunt for vintage is that you never know what you will find next. In many cases, you don’t even know that an item ever existed until you find it in a local flea market for next to nothing and it become like a real treasure to you. Really, again, you never know with vintage hunting and that’s where so much of its appeal lies.
Are there elements, even if you don't usually wear them yourselves, that you like of modern fashion?
The only advantage of modern clothes for me is their ease of care. You can usually wash them without worrying about if they’ll hold up in washing machine, and thus you don’t fear if something gets a stain or if laundering them will damage them, as you need to keep in mind with vintage. Some are more comfortable for sure, but that’s it. Modern clothes are not our cup of tea!
I'm sure that the safe answer to this question, would be a resounding "yes", but do you see yourself wearing vintage and living a vintage filled life for the rest of your lives?
I would say "yes", but we never know. I have seen so many people (friends, bloggers…) leaving the world of vintage lately, even if they wore vintage clothes on an everyday basis previously. I feel quite sad about that, but life changes: a new baby, a divorce, a new job, a change of interests… you cannot be sure of what life will be made of!
What are some things aside from vintage that you're both passionate about?
I would say animals. We don’t have pets anymore because of our full time jobs and the fact that we travel a lot. But I would love to adopt a puppy! In particular, I would like a cute “wiener” dog one day. We are not big cat people, but we do love various types of rodents cats but we are also fan of rodents, from guinea pigs to capybaras!
What inspired you to launch your fantastic blog, Lost in the 50s?
A lot of people asked me but why don’t share your unusual everyday vintage life with others? We were interviewed for a French vintage car magazine called POWERGLIDE (where we now write two articles for each issue) and the article was called “Lost in the 50’s”. The feedback that get received from it was really amazing and it was clear that people were keen to learn more about Sylvain and I.
So as I was already following a few blogs I said to myself, ‘You know, why not?” Moreover, I wanted to have more contact with people from all around the world in our vintage scene, and that’s why I chose to write the blog in English, even if it’s not my mother tongue. I also wanted be able to help people who were just entering the vintage world first time, while also creating a diary of our daily lives.
You're active on social media. What is your favourite social media site and why (is it such)?
My favorite social media site to stay in touch with my friends from all around the world is Facebook, but for being in touch with the vintage scene in genereal, I prefer Instagram. I have a page for the blog on Facebook but I don’t like their policies, they want you to pay for everything there.
I discovered Instagram less than a year ago and I feel that it's the future, as it’s so mush easier to use than a blog. In only a few seconds you can share what you like with thousands people. Unfortunately, I think that because of the rise of social media, less and less people are taking the time to read blogs any more.
What are some things that you wish your readers and fans knew about you, that they likely don't already?
There is one thing that I have almost never spoken about my blog and that’s our jobs, which are not vintage related. Sylvain is a real estate seller and I'm engineer. Nothing glamorous in that, but it helps us to make our dream life come true!
And last, but certainly not least, where do you guys see the future of the vintage lifestyle community and the wearing of vintage going?
I think that less and less people will wear true vintage (as in pre-70’s styles) as time goes on. It’s becoming harder to find and much more expensive when you do. In the last 15 years, prices have more than double. In addition, as repro is so easy to find and a lot easier to care for usually, a lot of people choose to wear vintage inspired clothes instead of genuine vintage - even if repro is sometimes more expensive than the real thing.
Often young people are more interested with 80’s funky clothes than girly 50’s fashion. Soon looks from the 90’s will become vintage. I think that designers will always be inspired by the past and as such vintage will never be outdated. The 50’s were themselves inspired by the XIXth century, the 70’s had a 30’s touch, the 80’s highlighted the 50’s, and so things will likely continue in much the same way as time goes on.
Connect with Laurence and Sylvain:
Their blog: Lost in the 50s
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Thank you so very, very much for your marvelous, thorough, informative answers, Laurence, and for speaking on behalf of both you and Sylvain. It was truly an honour to chat with you and to have the chance to share so much about you guys with my lovely readers.
You are unequivocally one of the best known and most inspiring vintage lifestyle couples of all time and I am certain that there are countless old school fans around the planet who look up to, and delight in knowing, you (through your blog and social media).
Next up for August's exciting vintage blogger post, we'll be waltzing our way back to North America to talk with a stylish vintage and rockabilly loving makeup artist from the Eastern shores of the good old USA of A, who has lead, and continues to lead, a full life that will touch and inspire big time. I can hardly wait to chat with her!