On a suitably cold and stormy April evening, I attended the Gant press day for A/W ’12. We might be headed toward summer, but viewing the tweeds, corduroys and knitwear didn’t feel at all premature.
There were a few recurring themes over and above the staple sweaters and shirts of mainline Gant. Something we’re starting to see more of are ‘Critter Pants’. Gant showed corduroy trousers embroidered with pheasants and hunting dogs at quite a large scale.
Michael Bastian for Gant also had corduroy trousers embroidered with smaller scale shamrocks as part of his Boston/Irish themed collection. The collection explores the preppy/Ivy League side of Boston (with Harvard located in Cambridge, part of the Greater Boston area) inspired by Bastian’s own college days in the 80’s at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, as well as Boston’s rich Irish culture.
See more photos of the collection on the Preposity Tumblr here
Himself a Harvard alumnus, Cappello provides valuable insight, particularly on his experiences at his alma mater.
What becomes clear over the course of the book is that each university has its own personality and place in the group of institutions that comprise the Ivy League.
Each university has its own chapter charting its history and development, and as you’d expect from an Assouline book, the pages are filled with wonderful archive photography, some more familiar, some a rare glimpse at historic moments.
While it’s easy to approach this book from a fashion perspective – it’s full of great inspiration for any Ivy style enthusiasts – I think more interesting are the Ivy League schools’ place in history and culture. To read which US Presidents attended which school, and how circles of influence develop.
It must be for these reasons, the implications of dressing a certain way, that the look of Ivy League students was something the rest of the population felt was worth copying.
As Cappello states in the book:
“Today the term “Ivy style”—often (though somewhat erroneously) equated with the more encompassing “preppy style”—is bandied about in an almost generic or reductive way, as if this style were attainable by some sort of formula, such as pink pants, lime cashmere sweater, club-collar shirt, ribbon belt, and scuffed calf penny loafers. Those things are preppy indeed, and quite possibly an Ivy sort of style, but not necessarily. There is an understated element essential to authentic Ivy style that can’t be gleaned from a look book or a style guru.”
Also something that’s strangely easy to forget when looking at the Ivy League purely from a stylistic point of view is the academia. These are institutions where some of the greatest minds set about their work, most of whom were never famed for their sartorial elegance. I have just finished reading Marcu Du Sautoy’s The Music of the Primes which charts in some detail the work of a group of mathematicians at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, a department where both Einstein and Oppenheimer developed some of the most important science of the 20th century. I’m sure neither of them did so whilst wearing a lime cashmere sweater.
At almost 200 pages The Ivy league is a satisfying tome, where Take Ivy was merely a group of Japanese outsiders peering in, The Ivy League, having been written by an Ivy Leaguer himself, feels more like an insight into college life, as well as covering the differing dress and style of each institution. Since you’re reading this review on my site, I know you’ll already have an interest in this book, so can’t help but recommend it.
Leafing through the pages conjures up an idealised vision of life at an Ivy League school, much of it firmly rooted in the 50/60s heyday of classic Ivy Style. As someone outside the US looking in, I get a feeling that I imagine is akin to what US Anglophiles must feel when visiting Oxford and Cambridge or Eton. They have a vision based on books, films, old photographs, of what life at these institutions must be like, even though we’re living in the 21st century. The buildings remain, but the culture changes. It’s important to remember that Ivy Style in the 50s was actually the student body attempting to become more casual (where now it looks like dressing up) and this trend has continued. Where Mark Zuckerberg was famed for wearing his Adidas flip flops whilst on campus at Harvard while creating Facebook, one could argue this is simply the continued shift towards a more relaxed, casual student body. Although let’s not pretend the we wouldn’t like to see more students revive the classic Ivy look.
Last night I attended an event hosted by Ralph Lauren Double RL at their Mount Street store here in London.
Double RL hosted a film screening of Dexter Fletcher’s Wild Bill in aid of Film Aid International, a charity that travels to areas that have been devasted by war or natural disasters, to screen films and bring entertainment and hope in ways that aid agencies are not able.
The evening started off at the Double RL store. I had visited once before and each time was stunned by the incredible attention to detail, the visual merchandisers (those that dress the store and displays) at Ralph Lauren really are second to none. Double RL has a very distinct feel as a brand, part vintage, distressed blue collar worker’s clothing, part cowboy, part ’20’s white collar worker. Everything feels authentic, the garments feel like exhibits in an exhibition of period clothing, right down to the smallest details of the wear and tear.
Guests were then transported by old double-decker London buses to the Soho Hotel for the movie screening.
If you’re a fan of British gangster movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (a movie of which Director Dexter Fletcher is an alumnus) then it’s definitely worth a look. Taking the now well trodden genre and injecting a new found warmth and humanity that always seemed to be lacking from earlier films.
It’s worth having a look at both Double RL and its roots at Ralph Lauren’s own ranch of the same name in Colarado. See below for a video of Oprah’s tour of the ranch and tell me you don’t want to stay in one of those teepees.