As a journalist, Julia Marx (45) writes about the latest films. But when it comes to fashion, this native of Munich is inspired by the divas of the past. She dresses from head to toe in the styles of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Julia chats to us about finger waves, the attitudes of the time, and wearing jeans.
Julia, when did you start wearing retro styles?
Just six years ago. But even as a little girl, I loved the fashions of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Even before I could read, I would look at my father’s old Flash Gordon comics and loved the hairstyles and dresses worn by the female characters. But at that time, I didn’t understand they were actively created.
What did you think?
I assumed women naturally looked like that and that the style had died out like the dinosaurs. It was only later that it dawned on me you can still wear these styles. But the knowledge is being lost – how many hairdressers know how to do finger waves today?
‘Every time I wear one dress I have to repair the seams afterwards.’
Is authenticity important to you?
Definitely. I inherited some clothes from my grandmother and have also bought a lot of original pieces. Some of them are very delicate because of their age. For example, every time I wear one dress I have to repair the seams afterwards. Fortunately, there are still dressmakers who use the old patterns. You can also buy beautiful reproductions, such as from Hazel’s Boudoir. That’s why I also own some new clothes.
Where do you find vintage pieces?
I’m always on the lookout. I regularly go to flea markets and household liquidation sales, where I might be lucky enough to stumble upon a great hat or a pretty accessory. Or maybe a little watch from the ‘30s that still works.
Is your home also furnished in ‘30s and ‘40s style?
My boyfriend and I are trying to do that. I inherited most of our furniture from my grandparents. They got married in 1936.
Don’t you ever feel tempted to buy something modern?
No, it just doesn’t speak to me. And it makes life simpler once you’ve discovered your style. I don’t have to ask myself every season whether or not I like the latest trend. It’s like wearing a uniform – it provides me with clear rules.
‘It’s rare for people to make fun of me.’
Don’t you ever pull on a pair of jeans?
No, though I made an exception recently when I applied for a job as an extra. The brief was to dress inconspicuously, so I wore jeans, but it was a mistake. I felt really uncomfortable – and didn’t get the part. It’s funny really – when I dress like other people, I feel like I’m in fancy dress. But other people think my outfits look like costumes...
Do people often come up to you?
Yes, but they’re always very positive. And they love it when I wear a hat. It’s rare for people to make fun of me, though I sometimes get asked if I work in the theatre. One thing I notice is that when people see something that seems old-fashioned they tend to assume it’s from the ‘50s.
Your partner is also a big fan of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Is that a coincidence?
It’s always easier when you share a passion, but of course our interests don’t totally overlap. He loves old aeroplanes and cars, but I’m less fascinated by the technical stuff.
‘Someone once asked me if I was a Nazi sympathiser.’
Are you only interested in the fashions of the age?
No, I’m also interested in the politics and society of the time. Of course, the ‘30s in Switzerland were not like in Germany – where someone once asked me if I was a Nazi sympathiser. But there’s so much more to this decade. It’s like saying: ‘I think all American movies are bad because of Trump.’ Someone once coined the expression: vintage style not vintage values.
What do you mean?
It’s the style that matters to me, not the attitudes of the time. Having said that, I have adopted some of them, such as dressing nicely and decorating the table for guests. But I live very much in the present. My boyfriend and I live a modern life as equal partners.
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