Every so often I get these little obsessions. The athletic ones drag out for years, and things like the taste for late 19th-century French chamber music are lifelong.
But every so often something cultural piques my interest, and I’ll spend a month or so furiously reading books and watching movies. I think last year’s was on the concept of cool and hip, for which I read half a dozen critical studies. The latest was triggered by Chris Sharp’s wonderful work this summer during Batik Week. I found myself inspired to revisit America’s pop fascination with Polynesia in the 1950s. Being a native Californian who took a couple of family vacations to island destinations as an impressionable teenager, this wasn’t my first time in these waters.
I stocked up on rum and ordered a big tiki coffee-table book. Then I ordered John Michener’s “Tales Of The South Pacific.” Then I started watching nearly every movie set on an island I could find, from “Mutiny On The Bounty” to “Blue Lagoon.” Once I reached “Return To Blue Lagoon,” things were clearly winding down.
This was all supposed to stop with the end of summer, but there were plenty of warm days in September and the rum and movies lasted until the third week of the month. The finale was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” which I hadn’t seen in many years. Halfway through it I started to get the feeling I knew one of the main actors from something else. It was his voice more than his face. The little grey cells kept quietly cranking until suddenly I got a vision of the actor sprinting not across a sandy beach, but a campus quad.
Sure enough it was John Kerr, star of 1956′s “Tea & Sympathy,” which we wrote about in the first year of Ivy Style.
I did some quick googling and it turns out Kerr was destined to play Ivy prepsters. In “Tea & Sympathy” he’s a prep school kid, and in “South Pacific” he’s a fresh-faced Princeton grad. Kerr just had that look. Then again, the casting was a form of destiny: Kerr had attended Harvard as an undergraduate. But even after roles in films as big as “South Pacific,” he looked on to other things. He enrolled in UCLA law school and passed the California bar in 1970. He died last year at the age of 81.
It’s cool and windy now and the rum is gone. I have no idea what the next mini-obsession will be, but as always I’ll keep you posted of my findings. — CC
In the previous post, the discussion broached the subject of knit ties. Fittingly, I had a post ready for that.
Above is a new tie at Brooks Brothers which I spied in the store about a week ago. I plan to be wearing it incessantly throughout the season. Black flecked with blue (there are other color options), It’s the perfect kind of mixture of Ivy (the blue) and chic (the black) that I’ve been playing with the past year or so. Simple but stylish, blending restraint with flair, this is the kind of item I’ve loved wearing since my twenties, though I keep getting distracted by and acquiring handsome items that alas don’t speak to my soul.
If that sounds pretentiously philsophical, it’s probably because I feel glad to be alive today. Last night I was hit by a car (again), this time while on my bike. I’m only here because I leapt from the bike at the last millisecond in a defiant gesture that asserted, “I will live to dress again!”
A few years ago, menswear omnivores no doubt noticed that knit ties became popular among Pitti Uomo types and their sycophantic followers. Soon polka-dotted knit ties began to proliferate, but I had a strong aversion to them. The one above is more like a birds-eye pattern.
Since someone in the comments section recently opined that knit ties are ugly, it’s probably time for a vote. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Chris Hogan of Off The Cuff has just put up an all-you-can eat photo gallery from the “Rowing Blazers” party at the new Polo store. Spot the guy not in the spirit of things.
I used to have a Ralph Lauren rowing blazer I’d wear to Gatsby parties back in California, but chose to instead continue playing with the concepts of Ivy Chic and Viking Prep. Outfit consists of black Alden cordovan tassel loafers, O’Connell’s charcoal gabardines, pinned club collar with black woven tie, Brooks alligator belt and engine-turned buckle (monogrammed “CC”), Ralph Lauren black/gray/cream argyle socks, and RL glen-plaid jacket, a two-button darted FAIL. — CC
Last Friday I had the pleasure of sitting next to man-of-the-moment Jack Carlson (author of “Rowing Blazers” and fresh off his packed party at Polo) at the National Arts Club. We were watching slideshow presentations on preppy and Seven Sisters style from Jeffrey Banks and Rebecca Tuite.
Meanwhile, unassuming in a corner of the hall, was a display of collegiate memorabilia from Enrique Crame III of Fine & Dandy Shop. I took a few quick shots, then stopped by the shop over the weekend for a few more. Enrique’s been collecting for a long time and the shop boasts only a fraction of what he has, so expect to see more in subsequent posts.
Stop by the store if you’re in New York, or shop online if you’re not. They’ve got a great assortment of accessories, and, after all, the devil (who’s a dandy) is in the details. — CC (Continue)
The first day of fall corresponded with the first Christmas pitch to hit my inbox. It was from the direct-to-consumer needlepoint accessory purveyor Tucker Blair. Their soft-sell advertisement announced that custom monogramed items need to be order by Tuesday, September 30th, for guaranteed holiday delivery.
For those who like to see how things are made, the company has info as well as a video on this page. — CS