Ivy Style is a lovingly put together exhibition with clever set pieces, like a raccoon fur coat from the late 1920s, donated by former ambassador and old Bush family friend Joseph Verner Reed, that would make a 1970s pimp weep with jealous envy. Other interesting items include a Madras jacket made by Chipp in the early 1970s that looks like it belongs on the set of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Yet the show fails to encompass the look’s few developments: namely its contemporary manifestations and broad appeal beyond white, upper-class America. It fails to properly give credit to the Jewish tailors and business owners (the Press family, Fenn-Feinstein, Rosenberg’s and many more leading up to Ralph Lauren and the creators of Gant), and hardly touches upon the popularity of the look in Japan, save for a copy of the 1965 Japanese photography book, Take Ivy (the book’s cult popularity led to a recent reissue).
But the exhibition’s greatest error is neglecting the reciprocal relationship between Ivy Style and African-American fashion for over half of the last century.