One-Man Show: Richard Press’ MFIT Tour

Tue 9 Oct 2012 - Filed under: MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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Last night Richard Press debuted his one-man show at the FIT museum to a sold-out audience. The former J. Press president, who used to moonlight as a theater actor, had the crowd from the first line and never let them go during the 45-minute tour of the “Ivy Style” exhibit.

With a lively, reverberating voice that filled the exhibit hall, Press guided the audience through the display areas, pointing out the more noteworthy items and launching into spontaneous anecdotes like a seasoned raconteur.

He began with the Brooks Brothers Number One Sack Suit from the early 20th century, and shared the story of how his grandfather took him to Brooks to get a grey flannel suit for his bar mitzvah, and how all the Brooks sales staff politely bowed to the illustrious Mr. Press.

The first laugh came when Richard reported that several fashion designers have already said they plan to copy the Princeton beer suit.

Speaking of Tigers, Richard went on to talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald and that while “Stover At Yale” was the first pop culture piece of Ivy literature, it was Fitzgerald who put Princeton on the map and first acknowledged the aristocratic style that blossomed at this campus that was “an island unto itself.”

He next shared a story I hadn’t heard and which we’ll have to investigate further. Apparently Yale administrators didn’t much care for the more plebeian (but presumably smart) undergrads who entered under the GI Bill, and created a jacket-and-tie dress code in 1952 as a result. We’ll have to find that dress code and see if it details exactly what kind of jackets and ties were acceptable.

Every time I mention something historic to Richard, he always tells me some story about a personal connection to it. He seems to be separated by only one degree to every person and event of the late 20th century. So I guess it should come as no surprise that he shared the story of the playmate at Dartmouth, who was escorted by none other than one of Richard’s pals. The Life Magazine chronicling the event was one of’s most popular early posts.

Next, evidently food fights a la “Animal House” actually happened.

Unlike the Ivy Style press conference and opening night party, the tour was comprised almost entirely of non-menswear folks. So one could only chuckle at when the first question to Mr. Press at the conclusion of the tour was, “What is a rep tie? And where and with what would you wear those velvet slippers?”

A following question was a tad sharper: Why did Richard, who grew up in New Haven, end up at Dartmouth instead of Yale? Richard replied that he wanted to go his own way and get out of Dodge, so to speak.

But the final question was the best of all: “Is this style still worn on Ivy League campuses now?”

The audience — young and old, male and female, dapper and disheveled — roared with laughter. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Photo detail of a portrait by Rose Callahan.

Take Ivy Style

Wed 26 Sep 2012 - Filed under: MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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During the press conference for “Ivy Style” at the MFIT, Andrew Yamato took video while on assignment for A Suitable Wardrobe. Included in the video above are remarks by Patricia Mears, Richard Press, G. Bruce Boyer and Christian Chensvold.


Ivy Style Opening Night Party

Sat 15 Sep 2012 - Filed under: MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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Last night the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology celebrated the opening of “Ivy Style.” Here are some photos of the revellers.

Above, David Mercer of Mercer & Sons, wearing his Hasty Pudding Club tie; G. Bruce Boyer, Richard Press and Christian Chensvold. (Continue)


MFIT Press Preview Day

Thu 13 Sep 2012 - Filed under: MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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This morning the Museum at FIT held its “Ivy Style” press conference. The exhibit opens tomorrow, and at last photos can be unveiled. (Continue)


Ivy Style Book Sneak Peek

Mon 27 Aug 2012 - Filed under: MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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It’s kinda cool to have your name on a book — especially when you didn’t even have to do anything.

Last week I got a copy of “Ivy Style,” the book, published by Yale University Press, no less, that accompanies the MFIT exhibit. It includes my Q&A with Richard Press from here. Other writers contributed chapters on related topics such as the British influence on Ivy garb, and Patricia Mears, the museum’s curator provided several overview chapters. (Continue)


MFIT Exhibit Sneak Peek

Sat 25 Aug 2012 - Filed under: MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has granted an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse at “Ivy Style” the exhibit as it reaches the final stages of preparation.

Above, passages from Fitzgerald’s “This Side Of Paradise” will adorn the walls. (Continue)


MFIT’s Ivy Style Exhibit For RL Magazine

Fri 17 Aug 2012 - Filed under: Ivy Trendwatch,MFIT's Ivy Style Exhibit — Christian
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Four weeks from today Ivy Trendwatch will shift into overdrive. The developments of the past five years, during which we’ve seen the republication of “Take Ivy,” several Ivy and preppy books from around the world, the proliferation of trad blogs and tumblrs, and of course, will presumably shoot to new heights of public awareness when the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology unveils its “Ivy Style” exhibit.

I got the publicity ball rolling with a story in the latest issue of Ralph Lauren Magazine, which posted on the RL site a few days ago. Head over here to check it out.

It’s going to be a wonderful autumn. I’ll be reporting from the front lines on all the festivities. Stay tuned to these pages for updates on get-togethers, especially for the tours that Richard Press will be leading. — CC

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