A Good Read: Take Ivy’s Take on Ivy League Prep

AN INTERVIEW WITH WES DEL VAL, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER AT POWERHOUSE BOOKS

Take Ivy

Originally published in 1965 in Japanese, Take Ivy is very much about outsiders looking in, imbuing Ivy League campuses – and the style found there – with exuberant romanticism. While the wide-open spaces of the campuses were likely liberating to wide-eyed photographers accustomed to the Tokyo grind, it was really the confidence of the men on campuses that captured Japan’s eye. Once the photographs were published, Ivy League style took off in Japan, in part due to the book, which saw a re-issue this year with a long-awaited English translation. Coinciding with the current prep revival, it’s on the shelves of stylish stores, ready for a new generation to pick up and become enthralled. We were privileged to sit down with Wes Del Val, associate publisher at powerHouse Books, to probe deeper into the wonder surrounding this period in style history.

Rue La La: There seems to be a fascination both with the fashion of these American students - madras pants, collegiate sweaters, yellow rain slickers, etc. - and also with their activities. How are the two intertwined?
Wes: I think it depends on the activities and whether or not girls were nearby. As with many young men for many years on college campuses, if it’s just guys partaking in something physical, style is amongst the last things on their mind. If girls might see them or there is a chance to impress them, style, in all its varied forms, has suddenly gained in importance.
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January 4, 2011