Perhaps no other convention has influenced the way men dress today than the style established by the 20th century students of the Ivy League. Yes, military has given us khakis and camo. Workwear has given us jeans. But the Ivy League (taken from an athletic conference comprised of eight privileged colleges of the northeastern U.S.), has informed nearly every aspect of menswear, from retail to design. Ivy Style, the latest exhibition at The Museum at FIT, celebrates this iconic movement, presenting archival looks from the 1920s and ’30s, the post-war ’60s and the influence of Take Ivy, the Preppy Handbook years of the 1980s right up through modern collections by designers like Thom Browne, Michael Bastian and, of course, Ralph Lauren. The space itself has been divided into campus-like environments, from a tidy dorm room to a campus quad and includes many garments as well as objects from the Cary Collection, a New York City repository of rare books, fine art and vintage memorabilia.
The accompanying book presents a more in-depth study of the subject and includes essays by exhibit curator Patricia Mears. Ivy Style includes analysis of the Duke of Windsor’s style by Dr. Peter McNeil; the relationship between the Oxbridge and American Ivy styles by Dr. Christopher Breward; the impact on the Japanese market by Dr. Masafumi Monden; and also excerpts from G. Bruce Boyer’s book, Elegance. Of course it’s also packed with images from the exhibit and other resources illustrating the classic, campus-inspired look.
Ivy Style will also be the topic for the museum’s annual fashion symposium, taking place on November 8th and 9th, 2012, featuring contributors to the book, as well as other scholars and designers.