Nothing quite exudes 1960s collegiate American style like a navy blazer, oxford button-down shirt, chinos and a pair of penny loafers. The preppy style that was once the dress code of prestigious East Coast boarding schools and Ivy League institutions has become fashion’s newest trend. “Take Ivy,” as photographed by Teruyoshi Hayashida, is a quirky art book that typifies the daily life of Ivy League students through a colorful series of animated photos and witty commentaries.
“Take Ivy,” released in English on Aug. 31, explores why Ivy League students dress, behave and think the way they do. Each photo is accompanied by commentary that analyzes the connection between dress and behavior by one of three Japanese writers — Shosuke Ishizu, Toshiyuki Kurosu and Hajime Hasegawa. The team visited all the Ivy League universities, but most of the photos in the book were taken on the Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard, Brown and Yale campuses.
Ever since “Take Ivy’s” original 1965 release in Japan, it has had a major impact in the fashion industry. American designers such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger used the book as a source of inspiration for their collections. Since few copies existed, the book became a rare artifact treasured by fashion moguls and sold for more than $1,000.
The influence and timelessness of the fashion shown in “Take Ivy” can be seen today. The emergence of labels such as Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian and J. Crew proves that “Take Ivy” isn’t simply a collection of photos; it is an important contribution to American culture.
Teruyoshi Hayashida and his team of writers researched the Ivy Leagues in an unorthodox manner. The “Take Ivy” team did more than just wait for the perfect shot; they studied the campus just like how an Ivy League undergrad may study for his exam. As a result, Hayashida’s photography achieves a distinct nostalgic quality that connects readers back to the 1960s as if they were there in person. This feature alone keeps “Take Ivy” from being simply another picture book. Instead, it brings a sense of realism to create the feeling of reading an illustrated, intriguing documentary.
The “Take Ivy” writers provide an outsider’s perspective of what they believe is the average American life. In one instance, Ishizu, Kurosu and Hasegawa explain that an Ivy League student studies outside in the sun because “Ivy Leaguers frown upon students who earn good grades but have pale skin.” However, the writers’ peculiar descriptions do not detract from the allure of the photographs. Instead, it incites curiosity and a sense of wonder. Not only do their whimsical explanations make for an interesting and pleasant reading experience, but they also go into great detail into their rationale of the students’ attire.
“Take Ivy” is organized into four parts: College Life, College Fashion, Elements of Ivy and Take Ivy. After “College Fashion”, the book switches emphasis from the students’ appearances to exploring their ideologies. The structure of the book transitions from the previously lighthearted commentary into a more somber intellectual tone. Here the writers provide another insight into the students’ lives that cannot be shown through pictures and thus brings the book full-circle with the perfect balance of pictures and text. The gradual shift in tone gives the book more meaning as it offers a deeper analysis of the Ivy mentality while imparting a sense of reward and accomplishment.
“Take Ivy” is a well thought-out art book that provides not only picturesque snapshots of what many consider the most stylish universities but also a compelling view into the life of an Ivy Leaguer. Hailed by fashion designers as the “holy grail” of classic American preppy style, “Take Ivy” is a must-have for any fashionista or fashionisto.