A Leiter Shade Of Gray: Savile Row Versus Ivy League

Tue 4 Sep 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Film — Christian
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Recently a blog called The Suits Of James Bond paid tribute to 007′s American counterpart, Felix Leiter. The observations are hardly earth-shattering, but it is worth noting how the two tailoring styles relect the characters. “The colours Leiter wears may be the same as Bond’s,” the blogger writes, “but the styles are an ocean apart.”

So are the men.

The Suits Of James Bond cites the example of “Goldfinger,” in which Leiter is given an older and stodgier portrayal by actor Cec Linder. Linder wears an anonymous sack suit — along with buttondown oxford and knit tie — as befitting a middle-aged man working in Washington’s corridors of power. Bond, of course, wears Savile Row. Bond is also sexy; Leiter is not.

Of course clothing ultimately depends on who’s wearing it, and a different man in Leiter’s outfit might look like the kind of fearless hero that men want to be, and women want to be with.

The many anonymous sack-suited CIA agents never captured the public’s imagination like the fictional British spy, but they fought the Cold War dressed with understated confidence that natural-shouldered American freedom would eventually triumph over double-breasted Communist cardboard evil.

“Skyfall,” the next James Bond installment, opens next month. Check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. — CC

Olympics, You Know: Walk Don’t Run, 1966

Fri 27 Jul 2012 - Filed under: Film,Sport — Christian
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Today, you may have heard, is the start of the Games of the Thirtieth Olympiad. Likewise, “It’s the Olympics, you know?” is a running line from the comedy “Walk, Don’t Run,” which is set amid the chaos of the 1964 Tokyo games. The city is so overburdened that stars Cary Grant and Jim Hutton are forced to take lodgings with a pretty young English girl who lives and works in the Japanese metropolis.

It’s a moderately amusing comedy you might want to check out. Cary Grant doesn’t have much to do except be Cary Grant, and indeed this was his last film. Hutton plays a slightly sarcastic collegiate type, though far less goofy than his similar role in 1960′s “Where The Boys Are” (which we wrote about here).

Hutton plays an architecture student who lives in Greenwich Village and is competing in the racewalking competition, which is to athletic competition what humming is to a singing competition.

Hutton’s main outfit for his sightseeing time in Tokyo consists of tapered trousers, desert boots, blue oxford, knit tie, and a natural-shouldered sack jacket, updated with short side vents in concession to the Continental influence.

Warning: Orthodox trads and neatniks may be offended by his shirt, which shows the puckering and character of non-chemically treated cotton, and, as he’s a slim guy, has a slim cut.

I don’t want to go on a nostalgic rant here, and I hope my regular readers have noticed my tolerance — or at least helpless resignation — at the march of time, but one contrast between then and now is worth pointing out. This being 1964, not only does Hutton’s character spend most of his sightseeing time in a jacket and tie, when he goes out to dinner with fellow athletes from the Olympic Village, he wears his Olympic blazer.

In contrast, I’ve seen a number of athletes this week on the morning shows who went on national television, live from London, where they’re representing their country overseas, wearing sweatpants, shorts, t-shirts and even flip-flops.

I can only conclude that it simply never occurred to them, in our take-me-as-I-am/come-as-you-are era, that an athlete would be expected — or want — to wear anything but athletic clothing at all times.

So let the games begin. I’ll be cheering for Denmark’s Boe & Mogensen men’s doubles team in the badminton event, and our own Miles Chamley-Watson, the best foil fencer America has ever had, whom I wrote about last year for Ralph Lauren Magazine. — CC

 

Over The Top: The 10,000th Comment Contest Winner

Tue 3 Jul 2012 - Filed under: 1920s-'40s,1970s,1980s,1990-present,Film,Historic Images,Ivy Trendwatch,Jazz,Lit,Sport — Christian
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Update, 3 July, 10:04 AM:

Last night Ivy Style crossed the 10,000-comment threshold with these infamous words that will echo across America this summer as families pile up the station wagon and head out on the road:

Are we there yet?

The comment was left by none other than regular reader Henry, who will finally be rewarded for years of faithful interaction.

Leave one more comment with your real email address, Henry, so I can make sure the IP addresses match. Wouldn’t want the loot to go to one of your sparring partners pretending to be you. — CC

* * *

Ivy-Style.com is rapidly approaching its 10,000th comment. As a way of saying thank you for the interaction and entertainment that our comments section provides, I’m arranging for one lucky reader to get a pile of loot donated by our sponsors.

Here’s how it will work. Sometime over the next couple of weeks — depending on how worked up you guys get — we’ll cross the ten thousand threshold. The person to leave comment number 10,000 — after all spam and petty nastiness has been expunged, of course — wins.

So you might want to leave a valid email address when you comment, at least for the time being.

And while it’s true that the winner may be one of the usual suspects in our perennial Left vs. Right and US vs. UK kerfuffles, at least everyone has an equal chance of winning, regardless of ideology.

After all, anyone can wear buttondowns and penny loafers. — CC

Update: Here is a confirmed alphabetical list of the prizes so far, which have a combined value of $1,425: (Continue)

 

The Difference Between Ivy And Preppy

Thu 28 Jun 2012 - Filed under: Film — Christian
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There’s much debate about the difference between Ivy and preppy, but it’s really quite simple: they occur at different points on a timeline.

For example, in 1964, when a spirited girl meets a handsome, reserved, all-American, clean-cut kind of guy who gets his clothing at Brooks Brothers, and simultaneously finds herself both attracted and repelled by him, she teasingly calls him “Ivy League.” Case in point, Barbara Eden and Peter Brown in “Ride The Wild Surf.”

And in 1970, after the fall of the Ivy League Look, when this same spirited girl meets the same all-American guy, she mockingly calls him “preppy.” Case in point, Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal in “Love Story.”

So you see, the clothing is essentially the same. It’s just how women referred to the clothing — and the men who wore it. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

 

Literary Voice: The George Plimpton Documentary

Thu 21 Jun 2012 - Filed under: Film,Lit — Christian
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George Plimpton certainly had pedigree. His father was “a successful corporate lawyer who became the American ambassador to the United Nations,” the New York Times noted in his obituary. “The family traced its roots in this country to the Mayflower. He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard and Cambridge.”

This pedigree no doubt accounted for his Plimpton’s distinguished speaking voice, which “came from a different era,” Plimpton’s son Taylor once wrote. “Old New England, old New York, tinged with a hint of King’s College King’s English. You heard it and it could only be him.”

Now the voice, style and the rest of Plimpton’s incredibly rich and varied life are all on display in a new documentary, “Plimpton!” which premiers today in Silver Spring, MD.

The great irony — and the great gift that Plimpton gave to everyone — was that he was so willing to shed “his usual blue blazer, oxford shirt, and tie” in order to engage in the participatory journalism for which he became so well known. As the New York Times noted, Plimpton “believed that it was not enough for writers of nonfiction to simply observe; they needed to immerse themselves in whatever they were covering to understand fully what was involved.”

An avid sportsman, Plimpton variously boxed Archie Moore, quarterbacked the Detroit Lions in a scrimmage, and played goalie for the Boston Bruins. These experiences produced the books “Shadow Box,” “Paper Lion” and “Open Net,” plus at least a dozen others, along with many magazine articles and over twenty film and TV appearances, in several of which he played up his blueblood image for laughs.

Plimpton even did commercials for Oldsmobile, Pop Secret (“leaves fewer unpopped keh-nehls“), and a video-game system called Intellivision.

But the best pairing of all  — for us, at least — was in 1993 when Brooks Brothers asked him to write a six-page tribute in The Atlantic in celebration of the store’s 175th anniversary. For a visit to the Brooks flagship at 44th and Madison, Plimpton tried to outfit himself in Brooks from head to foot.

It was not too difficult, since I have been a patron for years, as was my father before me, and his father before him. I missed out only on the shoes. I have an unnaturally wide foot, a triple E, and their shoe department stops at a single E, shoes that would have caused a wince at every step if I could have squeezed into them. But the rest was all theirs – socks, underwear, tie, a white button-down shirt, and a slightly rumpled seersucker suit, which was appropriate because it was a hot summer day.

Now that’s participatory journalism at its most well-attired. — MATTHEW BENZ

 

Jazz, Surfing And Poetry On A Summer’s Day

Wed 20 Jun 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Film,Historic Images,Jazz — Christian
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Today is the first day of summer. You probably don’t need a calendar to tell you that, as the entire United States is getting scorched with its first nationwide heat wave.

But summer’s aren’t endless, so make hay — or whatever else you like to do from June to August — while the sun shines.

For about five years while living in Los Angeles, my favorite summer activity was surfing. Swimming in a natural body of water — ocean, lake, river — is one of life’s great simple pleasures. Likewise, sitting on a longboard near Santa Monica pier, with the ferris wheel in the background and dolphins zipping by while you wait for the next set to come in, was one of Southern California’s great pleasures. For six weeks of the year I could get by without any wet suit (some wear them year-round), and the alternating feeling on your torso of the sun beating down and the bracing salt water upped the experience tenfold.

Released in 1966, “Endless Summer” is still considered the greatest surf film ever made. It’s a documentary that never fails to inspire a zest for life, no matter how landlocked or water-phobic you are. Check it out if you haven’t.

Though hardly Ivy League, the film does have some cool patches of midcentury style, with suntans and Wayfarers and relaxed sportswear. You’ll see surfer Mike Hynson in penny loafers and white socks and Robert August in a salmon-colored short sleeve buttondown with third button.

But even more radical than the changes that have come to surfing since 1966, with the graceful, harmonious riding of the waves on longboards replaced by the frantic slashing against the ocean that is shortboarding, is what the young Californians behind “Endless Summer” wore on their trip around the world: suits and ties. Below are August and Hynson — who appear at several points in the film in their navy and charcoal suits — and filmmaker Bruce Brown, with sneakers and cigarette: (Continue)

 

Brooks Outfitted Gatsby Cast

Thu 7 Jun 2012 - Filed under: 1920s-'40s,Film — Christian
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Today Brooks Brothers announced that it was the official clothier of Baz Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby” adaptation, which opens December 25.

Under the direction of costume designer Catherine Martin, Brooks created more than 500 outfits for the male principals and extras.

Women’s Wear Daily has an ungated feature on the collaboration complete with slideshow.

Below is the press release in its entirely. No word yet if there will be a Gatsby clothing collection available in retail stores. — CC

(New York, NY – June 7, 2012) – Brooks Brothers, the iconic American brand founded in 1818, partners with Warner Bros. and Bazmark to be the official men’s clothier for Baz Lurhmann’s highly anticipated Warner Bros. film The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 literary classic.

Brooks Brothers, America’s oldest apparel retailer, has collaborated with two-time Academy Award-winning costume and production designer Catherine Martin to produce more than 500 evening and day ensembles as costumes for the male principal and background casts.

Catherine Martin worked closely with the brand’s archivist, designers and merchants to research Brooks Brothers’ history, studying artifacts popular during the 1920s as well as specific merchandise introduced by the brand to America. Ms. Martin has interpreted this historical research to create a look that both encapsulates the Jazz Age but also specifically addresses the storytelling needs of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

“Fitzgerald was a Brooks Brothers customer. It is this most basic and fundamental connection that has made our collaboration so authentic. Brooks Brothers is mentioned numerous times in Fitzgerald’s writings as a representation of the ultimate gentleman’s purveyor of fine clothing to the American man of distinction,” stated Catherine Martin. “Over the years, Brooks Brothers has also defined the collegiate style – the preppy look – which was so close to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton heart. The same look was described in The Great Gatsby by narrator, Nick Carraway, as his look of choice the first time he visits Gatsby’s mansion for one of his neighbor’s extraordinary parties: ‘Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn a little after seven, and wandered around rather ill-at-ease among swirls and eddies of people I didn’t know – though here and there was a face I had noticed on the commuting train.’ For all these reasons, Brooks Brothers seemed the obvious partner to work with on the creation of the men’s wardrobe for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.”

The Brooks Brothers archives from the 1920s revealed innovative designs mixing textured fabrics and patterns that were reinterpreted by Catherine Martin for the characters of Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire) and Tom Buchanan (played by Joel Edgerton). The Brooks Brothers costumes range from formalwear to daywear – tuxedos, tailored suits, suiting separates (sport coats, waistcoats and trousers), shirts, ties, shoes and accessories.

“Catherine Martin’s costumes bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world to life,” said Brooks Brothers Chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio. “She truly has redefined the menswear of the Roaring Twenties with her creativity, attention to detail, and passion for the era. We are proud to be a part of this unique project and to have had the opportunity to work with such a visionary team.”

 
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