Museum at FIT Debuts Timeless Ivy Style


            The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is joining the Ivy League.

            The classic style of Ivy League campuses comes to FIT in the museum’s Ivy Style exhibit, which debuted on September 14.  The looks from the exhibit pay homage to the preppy trends worn by Yale, Harvard, and Princeton students from the early 1900’s to current day, presenting Ivy League inspired daywear, formalwear, and sports clothes from designers such as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Thom Browne, Perry Ellis and Michael Bastian.

            The looks highlighted in Ivy Style are organized by theme and styled in various environments traditionally found on Ivy League college campuses, such as a classroom and the university store. Accompanied by a Yale-Glee-Club-esque soundtrack playing in the background, one scene depicts a traditional dorm room, featuring 1920’s décor and Harvard banners on the wall. The basic dorm room is contradicted by the formal and stiff wardrobe of collared shirts, ties, and wool trousers worn under robes—practically the antithesis of male college students’ attire in 2012. However, popular big rimmed “hipster” glasses that many students wear today make an appearance on many of the mannequins, showing just how classic Ivy League style is. Another collegiate scene displaying J. Press pastel colored jackets and oxford shirts from the early 1900’s matched with lobster print ties will lead viewers to have flashbacks of last spring’s collections on the runways. 

            The most impressive part of Ivy Style is the recreation of a campus courtyard.   The image of a gray stone Hogwarts look-a-like university building serves as the back drop to (fake) grass and side walk engraved with the words “Class of 1959”, which set the stage for Ivy League fashions. One mannequin dons a fashion craze of the 1920s—a raccoon coat, taken straight from the closet of Princeton alum Joseph Vermeer Reed (Class of 1926). Next to the mannequin is an ensemble demonstrating a contemporary approach to Ivy Style. Straight from Michael Bastian’s spring 2012 collection is a pairing of gray jeans with a white and red striped oxford.  The mannequin also wears a skinny tie, a comeback from the 1920’s, and a crested wool blazer, which was first popularized by the St. John’s Rowing Club in 1825 England.  Bastian’s interpretation of the classic Ivy League look is tweaked by rolling up the shirt and jacket sleeves, reducing formality and stiffness and adding a modern coolness.  What is most interesting about this particular scene is how the clothing on the courtyard ranges from the 1920’s to 2012 but each piece is so timeless and classic that when pieced together, they create a vivid illustration of Ivy League style.

            In addition to the successful entwinement of new and old garments to express Ivy League style as a whole, the props, décor, and music ranging from Jimmy Rushing to the New Varsity Quartet of 2012 featured in Ivy Style transport visitors to Princeton’s campus. The design of the exhibition by John Esposito married with the graphics and backdrops by Mirror NYC bring the entire exhibit together harmoniously.

            Ivy Style was a collaboration by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, Richard Press, former president of J. Press, and G. Bruce Boyer, menswear writer and editor. The exhibit made possible by Brooks Brothers, as well as the Couture Council and J. McLaughlin. Ivy Style is free admission and will be on view at the Museum at FIT until January 5, 2013.



Taylor Giancarlo, October 2012