Later this year Reel Art Press will release a lavish photographic coffee-table book full of rare images of Hollywood icons wearing Ivy garb. It will surely be a delight to behold. Reading it, however, may be another story.
One should never judge a book by its cover, but we’ve had an Ivy book by this author before, and it missed the mark by a mile. London-based Graham Marsh is also one of the co-authors of “The Ivy Look,” our review of which holds the record for most comments on a post not involving free sweaters.
In addition to the daffy notion that Porsches, midcentury furniture, French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Zippo lighters belong to a style genre called “Ivy,” and are therefore intimately related to Bass Weejuns and oxford-cloth buttondowns, the book’s inexplicable error in judgment was its inability to articulate the origins of the Ivy League Look, as if the style suddenly appeared on album covers, movie posters and cigarette ads out of nowhere.
Geographically and temporally removed from the epicenter of the Ivy League Look during the heyday (New Haven, according to our own Richard Press), and given the bohemian sensibilities of UK Ivy fans, it’s no wonder the authors were reluctant to credit the style to privileged students at elite universities.
With this new book, Marsh evidently turns his attention once again not to the source but the simulacrum, finding his Ivy mecca not in suburban Connecticut, but the film studios of Hollywood. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
In “This Side of Paradise,” F. Scott Fitzgerald called Princeton “lazy and aristocratic.” How times have changed.
In the age of meritocracy, sloth is hardly a helpful quality in gaining admission to the elite university. And anything “aristocratic” would have to be an individual eccentricity as the school is seeking to discourage “exclusivity” by banning freshmen from joining fraternities and sororities.
The announcement made national news.
“We have found that [fraternities and sororities] can contribute to a sense of social exclusivity and privilege and socioeconomic stratification among students,” said Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey and Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan in a statement posted on the school’s website.
“A major concern is that they select their members early in freshman year,” they continued, “when students are most vulnerable to pressures from peers to drink, and before they have had a full opportunity to explore a variety of interests and develop a diverse set of friendships. We hope students coming to Princeton will want to expand their circle of acquaintances and experiences, not prematurely narrow them.”
Citing drinking and targeting freshman sounds like a ploy for a bigger agenda of social engineering. Attempting to legislate students’ social lives in the interest of eliminating “exclusivity” and promoting “diversity” is political correctness run amok, and I say this as a guy who was never in a fraternity or any other college organization (or college, for that matter) that could be considered exclusive, and whose friends are as diverse as they come. But this levelling effect in the interest of equality is obscene. — CC
Last week Women’s Wear Daily ran a feature on the upcoming book “Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style,” by Jeffrey Banks and Doria de La Chapelle.
Among other things, the story includes the great photo above of Deerfield Academy’s class of 1961. The story’s author, David Lipke, goes on to note preppy style’s relative imperviousness to change in the 50 years since the photo was taken.
Princeton gets mentioned as the leading artiber of the Ivy League Look in the following passage:
The book traces the origins of the style to the Ivy League universities of the East Coast, where, following World War I, a privileged set of young men developed a new style centered on a greater amount of leisure time and athletic influences. Princeton, in particular, was fertile ground for the cohesive new look, as it was among the more homogenous and isolated of the Eastern schools, with a student body largely compiled from just a handful of preparatory schools.
“Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style” is due out October 4. — CC
The Ivy trend has officially reached the cash-grab phase: Abercrombie & Fitch — which once sold tweed sportcoats and other authentic Ivy-style items — has released a new collection for teenyboppers entitled “Elements of Ivy.”
The web copy reads: “Distinguished from the rest and exceptional by every standard, Elements of Ivy is a collection of collegiate classics.”
“Distinguished from the rest?” Certainly not from the rest of the brand’s clothing. — CC
Yesterday The Sartorialist ran a photo of “Take Ivy” author Shiro Itoh and announced the publication next month of “Take 8 Ivy,” which was touted as a sequel to the seminal Japanese book chronicling American collegiate style.
I was able to flip through “Take 8 Ivy” here in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago. Basically it’s nothing near a true sequel to “Take Ivy.” It’s a collection of short photo essays about each Ivy college — with most of the photos taken of buildings in the 1980s.
Photographer Teruyoshi Hayashida did an incredibly boring book in the ’80s consisting of just architectural shots, and I suspect some of these photos come from that. There are some student pictures, but it’s mostly late ’70s/early ’80s style — far from the classic Ivy League Look everybody so idolizes. There are a few ’60s photos scattered throughout, likely outtakes from “Take Ivy” or alternate versions of the same pictures.
But overall this feels more like something they would sell to tourists at Harvard’s Coop than a book for style aficionados. — W. DAVID MARX
A few days ago someone who goes by the sobriquet “Andover Hotchkiss” posted the above image on Ivy Style’s Facebook page. It’s an ad for a book entitled “Prep 101: The Battle of Status and Social Rank,” by Dr. Charles Walker, Jr. and Cedric S. King that is supposedly due out next month.
The tome is written from an African-American perspective; the image above carries the following debate-inspiring (hey, I know you guys) quote from Andre 3000 of the band OutKast:
It will be interesting to see how prep style is interpreted by other cultures and future generations that have no association whatsoever to the original pedigree from which it came. Ironically, this “new blood” may be the very thing that keeps the “blue blood” aesthetic relevant.
I went on Google to do a little research. Now this is going to sound self-congratulatory when it’s merely meant to sound droll, but after seven years of blogging, I can’t tell you how many times I go to look something up only to find the answer on my own website.
To wit, one of the search results was this comment left by one of the authors on the About page last summer:
Thanks for your scholarly work and passion for mid-century garb. I am an African American, and I am releasing a book called “Prep 101.” It’s a historical preppie fashion guide that reveals secrets of the wealthy, and the cultural diversity that exists within the ranks. Prep 101 provides an in-depth review of those that are PREP-pared for Power and the battle for social rank and status.
I would love to discuss the book, and how we could share information that will reveal how smart dress has influenced the “great unwashed- those that follow ‘the crowd’ and don’t have a mind of their own. Please have someone contact me. Thanks.
I will do as the author requested and report back the findings. — CC