A new list for 2013 – books with ‘vintage’ in the title. I don’t think I will be making choux pastry swans for a Happy New Year party, nor edible keys for a Wedding Tea Party, nor lacy faggots for a Gentlemen’s Tea Party, but I did love looking at The Vintage Tea Party Year. If you like floral china, second-hand clothes and embroidered tablecloths, this is the book for you. It can even help you out with styling your hair for a Tea Party – if you have enough patience (and hair) for a victory roll. Perhaps I could have a Useless in the Kitchen but Willing to try a New Hairdo Tea Party. BYO pastry swans and lacy faggots – I’ll supply the tea and the hairpins.
Vintage Cakes is divided into handy chapters like Everyday Cakes, Little Cakes and Posh Cakes; although there could be a question around where a Victoria Sandwich Cake should be – surely it’s more Posh than Everyday? The photographs are a bit gorgeous; more lovely floral china, beautiful slightly battered tins and cottage garden flowers set off the actual cakes to perfection. For this one I could supply a tea-cloth and a tea-cosy, and, if given enough notice, possibly the lollies for the top of the Celebration Cake featuring pistachio green icing topped with the entire contents of a mixed lolly bag.
Vintage handbags follows the history of the handbag from 1900 until now. Lavish illustrations and intriguing asides abound – apparently after the First World War “the increasing mechanization of cooking and housework… freed women to spend more time outside the home: going to work, lunching with friends, attending a matinee or visiting the local lending library.” Lucky old them, off to the local lending library clutching bags of a “plumper, more commodious shape” than the little reticules and Dorothy bags the Edwardian ladies sported.
Vintage Beauty Parlor was something of a disappointment. Do the ’80s really count as vintage? Perhaps they do if you remember big hair and big earrings only too well. Although this book could be useful if you take themed parties seriously – it really does take you through how to achieve the looks step-by-step. Whether or not you would want to is another matter.