Black & white and the Belle Epoque / by daintydora

I love the vibrancy of colour and the impact it has in everyday life, and in the world. It is a pleasure and a warning, a way to differentiate from others, as well as a way to blend in. But I'm also very much drawn to the brilliance of monochrome. Black and white.

It's the filmic quality, the vintage connotations of a 'bygone' era, and the sense that black and white (and all the shades of grey in between) is so ultimately enduring; unfazed by the passing fashion and fad of the colour du jour.

So today I'm celebrating the beauty of black and white and sharing some monochromatic images of random finds that I love.

B&W VW Beetle
B&W VW Beetle

This is an image I shot on my phone, in Berlin, a few years ago. I applied a fish-eye filter to it and love the distortion of the VW Beetle and the framing of the trees beyond the road. It was a beautiful sunny day in February, and I had just turned 30 years old.

B&W Cash Register
B&W Cash Register

This vintage cash register was for sale in an old church in the north of Scotland. It is a known antique place and there were some amazing pre-loved items to be had. Furniture and record players and clothes and fire surrounds and books. I couldn't resist taking this shot of the cash register.

I would have loved to buy it but really it deserves to be on display somewhere wonderful.

B&W Lace Necklace
B&W Lace Necklace

I made this necklace and it is currently for sale in my Folksy shop. It is black lace on silver lame with little pearls and a vintage button. It would be so chic as a Christmas accessory, or gift.

B&W Pavement Etching
B&W Pavement Etching

I saw this etched into the pavement in Glasgow's West End, years ago (though it's probably still there). I had to take a photo of it as my Mum's name is Yvonne. I filed it in my 'randoms' image folder and rediscovered it today.

I love this kind of unofficial street art/graffiti. Although it's not meant to be there, it injects personality into the 'concrete jungle' of the streets and shouts out to anyone called Yvonne. How nice.

B&W Prague Street Scene
B&W Prague Street Scene

I can't remember now if I took this image with my phone or my camera, but it is a street in Prague. I went there on my first wedding anniversary. I love the term 'Belle Epoque' or 'beautiful time' as I studied that period in Paris for my final year dissertation at university (I was analysing the first 'advertisements' in print; posters etc, many of which were created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec).

I was obsessed with the artists and writers and designers of that time and the idea of everything being so beautiful, joyous and carefree; the collective creativity of people coming together to create the art and books we know and love and rejoice now. Those artists may never have made money from their art at the time, but I can imagine the fervent atmosphere of living life everyday and immersing in the creative melting pot. That to me is worth so much more (than money).

Perhaps it is a personal naivety to think that it really was so 'beautiful' and carefree, but who can argue with a term like 'belle epoque'?

B&W Record Player
B&W Record Player

This image is of a vintage record player that my husband restored for me. This particular one is also wired up to play my iPod. I love the nostalgia of vinyl because it reminds me of growing up and has connotations of 'the swinging sixties' which I always imagine in black and white. Black taxis and Big Ben in the background and models wearing Biba with bright white faces and fabulously patterned dresses.

There is so much more I could say about black and white. About the associations of black and how it is a subtractive colour, dark, evil, noir, gothic and final, while white is an additive colour, pure, light fresh and angelic. Yin and yang.

Monochrome is the epitome of classic chic.

Long live black and white and monochrome and the Belle Epoque!