“The Importance of Being Preppy”

Hello-Hello!

Today we have a mish-mash (a highly technical journalistic term) of tidbits, many relating to topics recently chatted about in this space. The first is a story from our friends on the far side of the pond, “The Importance of Being Preppy“. The piece first ran in Saturday’s Guardian and has been picking up traction online, it profiles Tommy Hilfiger while also looking at the style many refer to as “preppy.”

Tim Know for The Guardian (UK)

Writer Hadley Freeman begins her story with a description of Mr. Hilfiger’s office.

“Even the designer’s office is American to a nigh-on parodic degree: on the top floor of an unassuming building in midtown Manhattan, Hilfiger has tricked the place out to resemble the inside of a chi-chi beach house, replete with white painted floorboards, beach chairs, antique mirrors and striped awnings, where waiters in white buttoned-up shirts tote around goblets of ice water with slivers of lemon.”

Some readers might already be speculating the story is pegged to the recent announcement from Mr. Hilfiger of Prep World, a capsule collection he is launching with True Prep author Lisa Birnbach; such speculation would be accurate. (For our tedious in-depth post on the topic and photos from the line, click here.)

Courtesy Image via Daily Front Row

Back to the story and Ms. Freeman’s description of the preppy aesthetic, it may surprise some readers.

“It is also, incidentally, a look that denotes wealth, or at least aspiration to it. Its nearest equivalent in Britain is the Sloane, but preppiness has less to do with old systems of class and more to do with new money.”

We suggest this might be surprising because of the general presumption that “preppy style” is attached to old money, not new. You know, back in the olden days when such things were not discussed?  (To be candid, any discussion of finances, be they rooted in relatives who floated over on the Mayflower or as new as this year’s hottest hedge fund, is vulgar and really not appropriate, we generally avoid the topic if at all possible.) Back to the Guardian story.

“…in lieu of having a centuries-old class system, America has a profound fascination with money. Along with Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren has long loved the preppy look, and many others – from up-and-coming designer Tory Burch to US high-street outlet J Crew – base their entire labels on the look. Hilfiger suggests its popularity now is a reaction to the global recession. After all, he says with a merry laugh, it’s a way of looking “not poor”.

The story’s timing also relates to Fashion Week, starting this evening; Mr. Hilfiger has been heavily promoting his runway shows via the company’s Facebook pages.

Via Facebook

Ms. Freeman’s story also offers detailed background on the brand:

“By the beginning of the 21st century, the Hilfiger brand had lost much of its fashion lustre, due to overdistribution and an overfondness of branding. “There was a bit of a backlash,” Hilfiger concedes with understatement.”

Understatement indeed.  Without commencing a yawn-inducing retrospective, we shall only say that we have long struggled with Mr. Hilfiger’s penchant for logos the size of canned hams.  Or bigger.  The designer’s recent move toward designs without his initials splattered everywhere is promising; we are intrigued to see the fall runway looks as well as the Prep World pieces.

Mr. Hilfiger is no stranger to the UK’s fashion faithful, during last fall’s London Fashion Week he appeared in a “My Week in Pictures” feature for the Guardian’s sister publication, The Observer.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage via The Guardian

Above, a photo from the feature shows the designer and his wife Dee with Jennifer Lopez.

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Next, another story looks at the style, this one from The Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student newspaper. “Through pink-and green-colored glasses” provides a student’s view on “U.Va.’s preppy identity in popular culture”.  A snippet from the story by Caroline Massie:

“So where exactly does this reputation stem from? One may look to the year 1979 when alumnus Tom Shadyac (College, 1981) created the “Are you a preppie?” poster as a fundraiser for his fraternity, Sigma Chi, which needed money to pay off a debt.”

Mod Culture

“Shadyac said preppy attire was not unique to U.Va. at the time. Rather, it was prevalent among traditional East Coast colleges.

“Pink and green could’ve been our national colors,” he said.

To read Ms. Massie’s entire story, click here.

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One item that would have better fit in yesterday’s post with all of its bridal buzz, word that Isaac Mizrahi is doing a limited bridal line for Aisle New York, the online members-only (ahem) site offering flash sales of discounted gowns and accessories.

Courtesy Image via WWD

Here is more from Mr. Mizrahi’s site:

“Isaac’s capsule collection of gowns and accessories will be available for six months, launching at the end of February 2011. According to Isaac, “the best place to shop for your wedding gown is the privacy of your own computer.” Hooray for all you blushing brides!”

(If in need of an invite, just click here.)

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The other mention that would have been much more appropriate yesterday, a look at House Beautiful’s March issue, the cover highlights the upcoming Lilly Pulitzer Furniture line in a feature titled “The Power of Pink”.

House Beautiful via Lilly Pulitzer blog

For those who haven’t yet seen the issue the Lilly blog offers a look at the story, while the House Beautiful website carries a number of wonderful pink tie-ins, including a delightful look at “Pink in Unusual Places” from The Accessorator, Judi Roaman.  Below, Ms. Roaman’s picture of the pink roses sculpture on Park Avenue.

Judi Roaman/The Accessorator via House Beautiful

Pop over and visit the Lilly blog for more, or click here for our post on the furniture line.

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Our final two images are quasi-timely, the first involves a new movie and the other, Fashion Week.

Alberto E. Rodriguez for Paramount Pictures

Above, Justin Bieber last night as he arrives at the premiere of “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” in Los Angeles.   Next, Anna Wintour arriving for the Armani couture show in Paris last month.

Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

Why haul out the pictures? Because we just had to do a little side-by-side comparison.

And Young Mister Bieber.

Not bad at all IOHO, the finger puppets are from Mullish Muse on etsy, we thought they were cute as could be and couldn’t resist sharing.

On that wacky note we say goodbye until next time.

 

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7 Comments

Filed under Collaborations, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, True Prep & TOPH, Updates

7 responses to ““The Importance of Being Preppy”

  1. Erin

    I want that velvet pink chair on the magazine cover!

  2. I love those finger puppets. Hilarious! This issue of House Beautiful is one of my favorites!! Thanks again for what you did for me re: Pink Swap. Oh my – I think I’ll post the pics of what you did for me!! Thank you – you’re the BEST! XOXO

  3. Ok, I fell out laughing when you said..”Mr. Hilfiger’s penchant for logos the size of canned hams.” You are beyond hilarious!!

    The finger puppets are too cute!

  4. I hope Mr. Tommy H can do well with his line. Staying away from the very large ham logo. 🙂 I think he has promise.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Wendy

    Bulldogs are so adorable! I love the photo of all of them in the back of the car.

  6. The new line is an improvement, although I question the craftsmanship and longevity. Where is it all made?

    As for the idea that prep is new money or a fascination with money… The authors have missed the mark because of their own biases as Brits. Discussion of money may be verboten in the WASP and therefore prep tradition, but its undeniable that an undercurrent of reliance on money always being there is a fundamental component of the underpinnings of these styles. The main issue I see with the authors is that since most of their gentry, especially landed gentry, have hundreds of years of tradition, affluence, and wealth, all American money is “new” by comparison. Vanderbilts, Kennedys, Rockefellers, Morgans, etc are all, at most, three or four generations of affluence and wealth. New indeed when you can trace your direct line back to the Norman Conquest in 1066.

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