The Ivy Coed {Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2012}

23/01/2012 § 2 Comments

Taking design inspiration from the mid-century American college student isn’t particularly innovative these days.  In fact, it can sometimes seem like designers are perennially stuck in those hallowed years between childhood and adulthood, where the most pressing matters of the day are studying for a midterm or rushing the right house.  Particularly if said years are spent in one of the more storied institutions, such as the colleges of the Ivy League.  This was perhaps most recently and significantly evidenced by the recent reissue and popularity of Teruyoshi Hayashida’s 1965 book Take Ivy, a collection photographs of Ivy style, and its appearance in bookstores and J.Crew stores alike.

But here is where we shall take a step back, because we should note that the conversation above is truly about men and menswear (and perhaps menswear-influenced womenswear by extension).  When was the last time we’ve seen the college coed honored, and not as a caricature — not as a girl in boy’s clothing — but truly female?  Honestly, I cannot recall, sadly.  Which is why the Jil Sander Pre-fall 2012 collection is so exciting to me.

For Jil Sander, designer Raf Simons has honored the collegiate woman.  Not content to merely reproduce — the quagmire that menswear frequently finds itself mired in — Simons’s reinvention of familiar forms is refreshing and startlingly well-executed, especially in the case of outerwear.  The presentation of the designs in a campaign that echoes Hayashida’s photographs, in group portraits that recall sororities and ladies’ clubs, is a stroke of genius and I couldn’t resist pulling up a few real ones.  You know me.

SMU sorority, taken by John Dominis, 1951.

Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1946.

Vassar College.

Bryn Mawr.  Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt , 1956.

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1939.

Vassar College.

Vassar College.

Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1939.

Wellesley College, taken by Nina Leen, 1949.

Images via Vogue, the Vassar Archives, and the LIFE Archives.

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New Addition: Ivy League Pennants

26/05/2011 § 1 Comment

Was very excited to scoop up two Ivy League pennants on my trip to Brimfield.  Originally flown by knights in the middle ages and still used by warships today to connote their status as commissioned vessels, pennants are also associated with American sports — specifically professional baseball and collegiate teams.  I’m really looking forward to getting these dorm room staples up on the wall and adding a bit of school spirit around the house.

via Claremont Colleges Digital Library.
via Vassar College Archives.

via University North Carolina Greensboro Digital Projects.

Vassar College Archives: 1950s

13/04/2011 § 3 Comments

Another trip through the Vassar College archives…
In case you missed our maiden voyage, check out the 1930s here.

If you’d like to take a wander through the archives yourself, visit Vassar’s Flickr account here.

Vassar College Archives: 1930s

28/03/2011 § 2 Comments

Imagine how happy I was to find out that Vassar College, a small liberal arts college located in Poughkeepsie, New York, recently began sharing photographs from their extensive archive on Flickr!  As the college was founded in 1861 — originally as a women’s college and the first of the “Seven Sisters” colleges — the nearly 1,000 images offer an amazing glimpse at Vassar student life through the ages.  Admission: As I’ve got a few friends who attended Vassar, I’ve also been hoping to find some blackmail material, but haven’t been lucky.  Yet.

For our first foray into the archive, I’ve selected some of my favorite images from the 1930s set:

FDR was the commencement speaker in 1931.

Her shoes!

If you’d like to take a wander through the archives yourself, visit Vassar’s Flickr account here.

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