Wednesday, 8 May 2013

If I'm so Retro, does that mean I'm Cool??

Do you remember Aqua Manda perfume? 

If you were a child of the 60s/70s like me, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.  Aqua Manda was THE perfume of the early 70s, with its little brown bottle and flower-power hippy-chic label.  It went right along with Biba, Mary Quant hairdos, Dr. Scholl wooden exercise sandals, and The Sweet belting out Blockbuster on Top of the Pops.  I loved it, along with everyone else I knew.  If you weren't wearing Aqua Manda, you - well, you just weren't.  Full stop.

If that wasn't what you were dabbing behind your ears, what about Sea Jade?  Babe?  Tweed?  Charlie?  You mention those names now, they're a Bratz-type doll, a talking pig, a jacket your Dad might wear, and a proper one.  (think about it.)  But if they conjure up the hottest summer ever, Davis Bowie and Marc Bolan with their arms around each other ON TELLY, EEK, and dancing around your handbag of a Saturday night down a disco called Mr. Beaujangles, then welcome to what was my world.

Why the rose-tinted-retro nostalgia?  It's because the other day, as I was a-browsing eBay (I am an eBay tart) I spotted a bottle of original 70s Aqua Manda for sale.  Good seal to the lid, still had the original fragrance, so they said.  It eventually sold for £30.

THIRTY QUID!!  It probably cost 2/6 back then!

The same seller had another moment of my lost youth for sale too, but this time, one I've hung on to.  My Learn To Cook-Book.  Here's my original copy:  isn't it lovely?

And yes, I did learn to cook from it, all kinds of exotic things like Hot Dogs, Croque Monsieur and Pizza Pie.  Notice the Pie in Pizza!  We didn't have anything as exotic as actual Italian pizza back then.  It was the 70s, remember?  The most exotic foodstuff back then were Vesta boil-in-a-bag dinners, Mivvi ice lollies and pickled onion flavour Monster Munch.  Anyway, the copy of My Learn To Cook Book on eBay sold for just under a tenner. Amazing!
How things come back!  I remember pinching those wide elasticated belts my mum found in the back of the wardrobe.  She'd forgotten she had them, back in the 50s.  And when 50s fashion came around again in the 80s, I wept hot tears when she spoke fondly of vast collection of full skirts and net petticoats she'd once had and hadn't kept.  She never thought they'd come back into fashion, you see.  And now here I am, just like my dear old mum, finding the things of my youth in more demand than I ever was when I had them.
I used to be a fully paid-up, card-carrying member of the anti-70s brigade, you know.  I was of of those who truly believed it was the decade that style forgot.  But now that it's all the rage and Retro Is Cool, I'm willing to shift sides a little.  Especially as my kids are quickly approaching the age where pretty much anything their parents do is most decidedly uncool.  I'm hanging on to any wee bit of cool I might still have for as long as I can.  After all, I might never come back into fashion again.
There's a Post Script to this article.  I've since found out that Aqua Manda perfume is making a comeback!  I can't wait.  Sign me up for a dozen bottles and stick Starman on the stereo!
But I bet it'll cost more than thirty quid.  Or 2/6, for that matter!
What parts of your (mis-spent?) youth have come back to haunt you recently?


  1. I'm an 80s baby, so I don't have much to say here :( I'm staring at small bottle of Charlie right now. Wish I could use it more, but it's so very strong!

  2. Hi Beth! I remember wanting to BE the girl in the Charlie advert. But you're right, it was a bit overpowering!

    Great to see you. :)

  3. Love the cook-book, Jane! I remember Charlie but could never wear it because strong perfume tends to give me a headache.

    Oh the dance round the handbags! I remember that one.

  4. Hi Lindsay! We never did solve the where-to-put-the-handbag problem, did we? I wonder what girls do now? Probably not bother with a handbag!

    Always lovely to see you. :)

  5. Great post! My children are now obsessed with the same cartoons that I was. It's kinda freaky and cool at the same time!! ;) I guess we can thank Netflix for posting all those "old" cartoons! ;)

  6. I loved your post. I remember Charlie and Tweed. (I actually had a friend who used to dab vanilla behind her ears.)and the clunky mary janes or the colored hose. One thing I'm NOT thrilled to see come back are the low cut jeans. I thought they were ugly then and I haven't changed my mind. I can't believe some of the things that have come around again.

  7. Hi Erin! I hadn't thought of that, but you're quite right! My kids are the same with cartoons, and comic (books) too!

    Lovely to see you here. :)

  8. Hello Susan, I am SO with you about low-cut jeans, I can't bear them either. But I do like the mary jane shoes and tights (as we call them here!) Some things stay in fashion for a good reason!

    Great to see you. :)

  9. I still have a very dark plum Biba lipstick - which is totally dry now. I also have a Biba outfit - a dress with a sweetheart neck and a bolero - I think it's in the loft and has been folded up for so long that even if the mice haven't got at it, it will have permanent white fold lines.

  10. Hi Gilli I bet even the dried-out lipstick container is a collector's item now, people go crazy for Biba still. How lovely to have such an iconic outfit, too. I'd be tempted to have a look at it and see. :)

    Great to see you!

  11. It's great to meet you! Many congrats on your books! Keep up the good work! :)

  12. Nice to meet you too, Lauren! Thanks for coming over. :)

    1. My pleasure! Thanks so much for stopping by the Muse blog and for your kind words when I was a guest on Friday! It was great to meet you!

      Take care, and thanks again!

  13. Ha - I make my own perfume now and usually have patchouli oil in it - wonder who I can attribute that to? :) A nice wee trip down memery lane, Jane.

  14. Talk about another blast from the past! Nice to hear from you, Clare! :)

    Jane x