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The Syllabus

The on-line ramblings of JP Gaul, co-author of The Ivy Look

In September this year there is to be, finally, an exhibition on Ivy League clothing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I had a few conversations with UK fashion museums about maybe doing something in London. I told them about the extent of the influence of the American loafer, or the button-down shirt, or the natural shoulder jacket, on generations of British youth from the 50s onwards. Eyebrows were raised, heads were nodded but nothing happened. “It’s just too American” they invariably commented. So perhaps it’s right that this show, Ivy Style, is taking place at the historic epicentre of the look, and it’s even more right that the catalogue is being published by Yale University Press ; not just because it’s an Ivy, more because their list is one of the finest in the publishing world. 
From what I have seen of the book, out in September when the show starts, anyone with an interest in the genesis and reach of the Ivy look will find much to enjoy. The show looks far beyond cliches of ‘traditional’ and ‘classic’ to celebrate instead the way the semiotics of the clothes have shifted as they have been adopted and cherished by social groups far removed from the privilege of the Ivy campuses. The book’s subtitle is ‘Radical Conformists’ which neatly expresses the contradiction at the heart of this strangely compelling way of dressing. G.Bruce Boyer’s contributions are, as ever, rooted in a deep understanding for the subject and personal experience. His piece on jazz and Ivy decries the lack of study to date on the extraordinary speed with which the jazzers of the 50s, Miles, Mulligan, Chet and the rest, moved away from the be-bop look to the full on Ivy detailing you see in ‘Jazz On A Summer’s Day’. Perhaps most interestingly is the long and very detailed piece written by Dr. Masafumi Monden on the enduring love affair between Japan and the Ivy look. There is much new material here for the Ivy fan to digest and ponder on.
The little book I co-wrote with Graham Marsh, The Ivy Look, was a big success and we have really enjoyed seeing the pleasure it brought people. But ours was just a taster, an introduction to the clothes. It’s great to see other books coming out on the subject which really get stuck into it, pulling apart the orthodoxies which so often obscure what was really going on. Ivy Style's radical approach is, I hope, the first of many more books on the great, historic and influential, Ivy League look. 

In September this year there is to be, finally, an exhibition on Ivy League clothing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I had a few conversations with UK fashion museums about maybe doing something in London. I told them about the extent of the influence of the American loafer, or the button-down shirt, or the natural shoulder jacket, on generations of British youth from the 50s onwards. Eyebrows were raised, heads were nodded but nothing happened. “It’s just too American” they invariably commented. So perhaps it’s right that this show, Ivy Style, is taking place at the historic epicentre of the look, and it’s even more right that the catalogue is being published by Yale University Press ; not just because it’s an Ivy, more because their list is one of the finest in the publishing world. 

From what I have seen of the book, out in September when the show starts, anyone with an interest in the genesis and reach of the Ivy look will find much to enjoy. The show looks far beyond cliches of ‘traditional’ and ‘classic’ to celebrate instead the way the semiotics of the clothes have shifted as they have been adopted and cherished by social groups far removed from the privilege of the Ivy campuses. The book’s subtitle is ‘Radical Conformists’ which neatly expresses the contradiction at the heart of this strangely compelling way of dressing. G.Bruce Boyer’s contributions are, as ever, rooted in a deep understanding for the subject and personal experience. His piece on jazz and Ivy decries the lack of study to date on the extraordinary speed with which the jazzers of the 50s, Miles, Mulligan, Chet and the rest, moved away from the be-bop look to the full on Ivy detailing you see in ‘Jazz On A Summer’s Day’. Perhaps most interestingly is the long and very detailed piece written by Dr. Masafumi Monden on the enduring love affair between Japan and the Ivy look. There is much new material here for the Ivy fan to digest and ponder on.

The little book I co-wrote with Graham Marsh, The Ivy Look, was a big success and we have really enjoyed seeing the pleasure it brought people. But ours was just a taster, an introduction to the clothes. It’s great to see other books coming out on the subject which really get stuck into it, pulling apart the orthodoxies which so often obscure what was really going on. Ivy Style's radical approach is, I hope, the first of many more books on the great, historic and influential, Ivy League look. 

2 years ago

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