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Ivy Style Exhibit

IVY STYLE at The Museum of FIT

September 14, 2012 – January 5, 2012

Admission: Free

Fashion Institute of Technology

Seventh Ave at 27th Street

New York, NY 10001

Hours: Tuesday-Friday, noon-8pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm; Closed Sunday, Monday & legal holidays

Ivy Style celebrates one of the most enduring clothing styles of the 20th century. It examines the “Ivy League Look,” which began during the early years of the century on the quads and in the libraries of elite, all-male, American universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and especially Princeton. Often viewed as a classic, even static, way of dressing, Ivy was a cutting-edge look during its heyday, and by mid-century its appeal was spreading beyond the campus to a diverse population of young men—from working class GIs to jazz musicians. It became codified as “Ivy style” and today, well into the 21st century, Ivy continues to inform the evolution of menswear.

The exhibition focuses on menswear that dates from the early days of Ivy to the present.  The gallery is arranged thematically (rather than chronologically), into sections that create an overall setting evoking the liveliness of an Ivy League university campus. These sections include a grassy quad, a classroom, and a dorm, as well as a library and an area devoted to varsity sports and athletic wear. Another key setting is a “university shop,” the kind of retail establishment that existed in nearly every city in the United States by the mid-20th century.

Each “environment” presents material that is appropriate to it, with clothing that ranges from casual to formal, and from old to new. Daywear, evening wear, and even sports clothes from not only Brooks Brothers and J. Press, but also Chipp and Gant intermingle with work by contemporary designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Bastian, and Thom Browne.

Ivy Style has been curated by MFIT Deputy Director Patricia Mears, along with co-curators and consultants Richard Press, former president of J.Press (which was founded by his grandfather, Jacobi Press), and noted men’s fashion writer and editor G. Bruce Boyer. The exhibition has been made possible in part through the generosity of Brooks Brothers with additional support provided J.McLaughlin.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a book of essays, also titled Ivy Style, edited by exhibition curator Patricia Mears and published by Yale University Press. Content includes essays by Mears; scholars Dr. Peter McNeil, Dr. Christopher Breward, and Dr. Masafumi Monden; leading menswear writer G. Bruce Boyer; and Christian Chensvold, founder of the Ivy Style blog. Because English menswear provided Ivy style with its initial vocabulary, contributors to the book will touch upon British clothes dating to the 19th century, as well as on textiles that were invented centuries. The book also touches upon other equally compelling, though perhaps less well-known, aspects of Ivy style, such as the interrelationship between leading jazz performers and the high-end purveyors of Ivy style, and its international appeal; in fact, Ivy style is now a familiar presence on both high fashion runways and the Japanese street style scene.

What Do You Think?

-Phaon Spurlock, The Southern Gentleman

Follow me on Twitter – @Phaon

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