Here is my friend Heedan Chung on Ivy:
“To me, Ivy means honoring continuity, sharing remembrance of the past, and facing an ever changing life with quiet authenticity. I don’t know of any other way to live. It transcends ancestral origin, race, ethnicity. But as far as the styling that is associated with Ivy, well I’ve worn it all my life, my parents wore it, their parents wore it…from that perspective it’s a dress code of sorts.”
Heedan Chung and I would have been friends in high school, had we met there. We have creative sensibilities, we have a love for the traditional, and the same sense of humor. She would have been able to straighten me out during the salad days, too.
Heedan is a moderator over at the Facebook Group, one of two, selected because my first personal exchange with her was so authentic. This is before I knew she was a master painter. I had seen her commentary on people’s posts and she was kind, insightful, and damn near a purist. I got to know her over time, but let me catch you up, in her words:
“I am a Korean diaspora. I was born in South Korea and have lived in the United States for nearly all my life. We arrived in New York because of my father’s job transfer and I grew up in Scarsdale, New York. Art, music and literature and the pursuit of education were part of my childhood. I took classes with Joan Busing, who at the time had a private community art school. I went to Smith College with the intention of being a Studio Art major and then switched to History. Upon graduating I found my way working in the world of dotcom 1.0, then ultimately going back to school at Columbia. Today I live in Scarsdale and my children attended the same elementary school I did so many years ago. “
But then I started seeing the paintings. Heedan and I live equidistant from the same beach in opposite directions, and unbeknownst to each other, we both go there to get settled. Most everybody who sees the ocean tries to interpret it in some form. Not all of us are as successful as Heedan.
She classifies her work as:
“… Abstract Contemporary Tonalism. Inspiration from my observations of two places close to my heart: Long Island Sound and The Outer Cape. I started consistently taking private art lessons from the time I was 13 years old and continued till the end of high school, and took classes at the Art Students League. Then continued at Smith. I put aside painting and drawing for a very long time, and restarted the summer of 2019 in Provincetown, and have not stopped painting since. Early on, my parents realized my talent and did everything they could to support its development. “
I don’t know much about Abstract Contemporary Tonalism, but I wouldn’t have, at first blush, associated it with one of Ivy’s greatest stewards, yet here we are. I asked her her three favorite pieces of clothing and of course, about the future of Ivy.
“Black Barbour Bedale, tall Bean boots, Norwegian cardigan/s. The cardigans are 30+ years old. I have a collection of Barbour outerwear. The oldest is 25+ years old. If I could I would wear all three of these year round. The future and past and present of Ivy are all the same. Authenticity of expression.”
From there, we turned to the subject of moderating the group. The group is pretty aggressively curated, with two moderators and an admin seeing almost every post. Chung is amazing at it, but it IS the internet, and there have been some bad stories for all of us.
“I love being one of the moderators of the FB group. The worst piece wasn’t something we removed at all. It was something that FB removed b/c it went against their T&Cs b/c it was racist. It was so shocking and it happened so quickly. Generally speaking, being generous, kind and mindful of communication isn’t just an Ivy thing, it’s also a good way to go through the online world on a private company’s platform.”
Such a thoughtful post. Thanks for sharing.
“…facing an ever-changing life with quiet authenticity.”
What a lovely way to live! Raising a glass 🥂 to a 7s sister.
Thank you for this. Superb.
This is an interesting moment for Anglo-American styling, and I’ll include Ivy since SO much of (the best of) Ivy included goods either woven or made in the U.K.
As Richard Press observed:
“The Ivy League Look is not so restrictive, but it was very carefully tuned to English woolen resources, to cottons, and to the quality of materials and tailoring that we specialized in. That was the key to the Ivy League Look.”
Last week, during chit-chat time with friends a hip coffee shop, I watched as a twenty-something walked to the counter and placed her order (“Coffee–black. No room.”) while wearing a brown tweed herringbone jacket, denim pants, Chelsea boots (looked like Blundstone’s), and tartan flannel shirt. Wonderful.
“Excuse. me– you look great.”
“Thanks– I do, don’t I?”, accompanied by ear-to-ear smile.
Such a thoughtful and well- grounded viewpoint. What a wonderful dinner conversation could be had with Heedan regarding Ivy, art and life.
This gave me a Ted Lasso feeling all over.
Great profile. In a blog dedicated largely to clothes, it is striking how Heedan Chung and others profiled here shun consumerism and instead value, cherish, and care for the things that last. Obviously that’s one of the representative character traits of ivy, but it is nonetheless something special in our relentlessly consumerist world.
I’m always interested in the particular items that people in this sphere single out as favorites: Barbours (a Bedale in black! — probably an unexpected choice in these parts), Norwegian sweaters, Bean boots, some of which are well into their third decade of service.
Equivalent favorites in my own wardrobe bring something like a sense of peace, knowing that these reliable, and reliably stylish, garments will last quite a long time and serve me just as well into the future as they have for as long as I’ve had them, and won’t need to be replaced when the next trend, and the next, and the next, washes over us.
There’s a sense of peace I feel looking at Heedan Chung’s paintings, too. A different kind, laced with other emotions and recollections, depending on the particular artwork. Wonderful stuff. Thanks for the post..
…I also really appreciate the point she makes about how ivy-as-a-style and a lifestyle transcend national origin and race. The way ivy so often gets conflated with the condescending privilege of old money White New Englanders with Mayflower blood in their veins is a tired trope and one I know this blog is working hard to dispel. Thanks again for the post.
You are genuinely fortunate to have such an accomplished and talented good friend. I believe everyone can agree that good and true friendship is included in the ivy canon. Regardless of 1/4 zips or no 1/4 zips.
Sometimes I forget we have a resident hall monitor.
With some minor editing, this statement sums up everything for me: “Ivy means honoring continuity, sharing remembrance of the past, and facing an ever changing life with quiet authenticity. It transcends ancestral origin, race, ethnicity.”
I don’t check in on Facebook as much as I used to, so I am not familiar with Ms. Chung. Her opening paragraph “To me, Ivy means honoring continuity, sharing remembrance of the past, and facing an ever changing life with quiet authenticity. I don’t know of any other way to live. It transcends ancestral origin, race, ethnicity.” reminds me of the old HTJ blog. If we ever needed a motto for IS, this quote would fit the bill. I also enjoyed her art, there is something quite peaceful about it.