Ivy League is an inherently American style. My only access the preppy look growing up was through American tv shows in the 80’s and 90’s. Saved By The Bell, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and John Hughes movies ,to list a few, name checked those distant places of Harvard, Yale and Princeton. A pretty exaggerated representation of what was really happening, I know.
”It examines the “Ivy League Look,” which began during the early years of the century on the quads and in the libraries of elite, all-male, American universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and especially Princeton.”
But the Ivy League exhibition at the FIT, New York put that to rights. Entering the exhibition, framed illustrations and handbooks were on display in a small room. Two books of note that are authentic representations of Ivy Style are F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side Of Paradise and Take Ivy by Shosuke Ishizu (Author), Toshiyuki Kurosu (Author), Hajime Hasegawa (Author), Teruyoshi Hayashida (Photographer)
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘This Side Of Paradise’ is the debut novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Published in 1920, it examines the lives and morality of post-World War I youth. Its protagonist, Amory Blaine, is an attractive Princeton University student who dabbles in literature.
Take Ivy was first published only in Japan in 1965, documenting the menswear style of American campuses, starting an American influenced ‘Ivy Style’ amongst fashion students. A small reprint came out in 2006 and instantly sold out. A sequel called ‘Take 8 Ivy’ was released in 2011 and, like its predecessor, is just hard to get your hands on.
This exhibition brought you from the origin to modern day interpretation of Ivy League style. Compared to the colorful version I was familiar with, this had more of a gentleman’s club vibe. In the main room, I was met with a life-size facade of a college and its grounds. Instead of chronological order, it was divided into themes; Grassy Quad, Classroom, Dorm Room, Chemistry Lab, Library, Locker Room and University Shop.
The requisite pastels, madras checks, plus fours and khaki were on display but not in an expected way. Labels like J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Chipp and Gant were mixed with Tommy Hilfiger Ralph Lauren, Michael Bastian and Thom Browne which was refreshing.
I was particularly excited to see a Thom Browne piece in real life. Sometimes zooming in on www.vogue.com is not enough.
I didn’t think the exhibit would resonate with me as much as it did.