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'Ivy Style' celebrates 20th century fashion styles at FIT
08
Jun '12
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presents Ivy Style, an exhibition that celebrates one of the most enduring clothing styles of the 20th century. From its origins on the prestigious college campuses of America in the late 1910s to the many reinterpretations seen in contemporary fashion, the “Ivy League Look” or “Ivy Style” has come to be viewed as a classic form of dressing.

However, in its heyday, Ivy style was once a cutting-edge look worn by young men of means. Far more than a classic or static way of dressing, Ivy style spread far beyond the rarified walls of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to influence the evolution of men's clothing for decades. Focusing almost exclusively on menswear dating from the early 20th century through today, more than 60 ensembles, both historic and contemporary, will be intermingled to illustrate the creation and subsequent reinterpretation of Ivy style.

Ivy Style will present the three main periods of the look: the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s, the post-war era to the end of the 1960s, and the style's revival from the 1980s to the present.

During the interwar years, from 1919 to the onset of World War II, classic items, such as tweed jackets and polo coats, were appropriated from the Englishman's wardrobe, modified, and redesigned by pioneering American firms such as Brooks Brothers and J. Press for young men on the campuses of elite East Coast colleges.

The second period, from approximately1945 to the late 1960s, will illustrate the rise and dissemination of the Ivy look across the United States. The staples of Ivy style – oxford cloth shirt, khaki pants, and penny loafers – were being worn by a whole new, diverse population that included working-class GIs as well as leading jazz musicians. The final section of Ivy Style will present the revival of the Ivy look that began in the early 1980s and endures today.

The ensembles in Ivy Style will be arranged thematically in an environment that evokes an Ivy League university campus. The central part of the exhibition gallery space will be designed to look like a grass-covered quad, or quadrangle, positioned in front of a Gothic-style building façade covered with ivy vines. Archetypal garments, both old and new, such as tweed jackets, khaki trousers, and madras shorts, will dominate this space. Opposite the quad will be a platform devoted to sport.

This area, designed to resemble period athletic clubs, will feature both activewear and spectator clothes. Surrounding the quad and the sports platform on two sides will be typical university environments, such as a classroom, dormitory room, and fraternity house. Each of these “rooms” will present clothing and accessories in surroundings appropriate to their specific use: daywear, outerwear, clothing for sports, and formal wear. A re-creation of a mid-century university shop will pay homage to the purveyors of Ivy style that for decades have been near campuses in Cambridge, Princeton, and New Haven, as well as in cities such as New York City and Washington D.C.


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