• New England: Icons and Inspirations

    Music & Books  

    No preppy’s coffee table collection is complete without an oversized art book about New England. As Americans, it’s a place we look to for its history, its landscape, its inimitable style, its cuisine. I just added New England: Icons and Inspirations to my burgeoning collection. If I have one guilty pleasure, it’s stockpiling luxury tomes from the likes of Rizzoli, Assouline, Taschen, and teNeues. This lavish tribute, guided by Tommy Hilfiger, distills the essence of the region through stunning photographs of Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Whether a classic weather vane, a barn, or a lighthouse, the diverse images that make up this beautiful book are a stunning reminder of the inspirations and influences that are New England.

    “In New England, style is never about what’s ‘in’ or ‘out.’”

    —Tommy Hilfiger

    Apr 26, 2012 | Permalink (16) Total Comments

    Jack Carlson left a comment on 5/17/2012 at 4:24 AM:

    Hi Max—I’m the author of the rowing blazers book Fred’s been shooting for.  Glad to hear your excited.  No fixed date yet, but will keep you posted!  As for the clubs/teams/athletes featured: many of the usual suspects in terms of American universities and schools, but also a lot of British and international clubs and university teams.  Quite a few Olympic rowers and world champions among the athletes featured!  That’s all I can say for now! - Jack

    damenfrost left a comment on 5/12/2012 at 4:38 PM:

    i like penny loafers and tassel loafers, i bought some from delicious junction for chicks.
    Have you had any luck finding a good pair of black penny loafers? I’ve too been looking for a while.

    Soren Yace left a comment on 5/6/2012 at 12:23 PM:

    I believe the title of the book should convey that Tommy Hilfiger doesn’t need to know anything about New England to be inspired by it.

    Max left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 9:00 PM:

    Whoa guys.. heated !  heated ! .. so… Fred.. when is your rowing book coming out?  Now THAT is something to get excited about !

    Perchance can you give us a teaser of locations/ crews/boat clubs you shot? 

    Also.. was wondering if you ever got a chance to check out the 80’s rowing coffee table books “Regatta” by Ivry and “Rowing” (rather Canadian centric) by Peter King (not the SI writer :) )  for inspiration?

    emjkmj left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 6:00 PM:

    I thought TH has spent the last decade in Greenwich, during his fashion exile.

    Madras left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 3:18 PM:

    De Tocqueville didn’t have any insights on American either since he was French . . . I haven’t read the book nor do I own very much TH . . . maybe a tie or two, and I’m not really a huge TH fan.  But should I throw away my button downs since I don,t play polo?  Or my polos since I don’t play tennis?  I hope you don’t have a madras jacket or pants or shirt, because that really needs to be used only in a sari or salwar kameez.

    I don’t see anything wrong with an “outsider” producing a book of images and icons from an area that he likes.

    K left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 1:08 PM:

    -Fred is a “prep”.
    -Fred posts what he likes (be it gifted or bought, who cares anyway).
    -He likes this book.
    -This book happens to be written by TH.
    -TH likes New England.

    I see no sin or wrongdoing in the above line up, because there /is no/ sin or wrongdoing.

    k left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 12:48 PM:

    Would you like to come shopping with me? His pants are too tight in the calf but large at the waist. I have a long waist, his polos are short and barely cover my midriff. Try again.

    If you continually dislike Fred’s posts as above, I don’t know why you waste so much time disapproving. Sometimes you’re on the dot about a fit of a garment being too tight, etc, but posts like these—Fred likes it, it’s his blog, so be it.

    K left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 12:41 PM:

    New generation? I’m probably your age and don’t own a single TH item. Not that I dislike it—it doesn’t fit me well. I’d hardly call his appeal to urban youth disastrous. What’s so disastrous about street artists wearing what they like? Or is wearing the same polo shirt an urban guy is sporting below a proper prep’s value of self esteem…. I smell snobbery.

    AEV left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 12:38 PM:

    K - Nothing, at all, is wrong with a clothing company endorsing hip hop artists….assuming the brand/heritage/looks/lifestyles make sense and work together. The point, again, is clear - Tommy Hilfiger attempted to start what he hoped was a ‘preppy’ clothing company back in the late 80s. Instead, urban, street artists and kids latched onto the aestetic (mostly because the clothes were anything but classicaly preppy and were flashy, cheaply made, gaudy, etc.). Facing flagging sales, Hilfiger briefly embraced the urban music/lifestyle scene. It didn’t help, and the company was forced to sell to a bank. The bank coulnd’t do anything with it, and sold it again…this time to the company that sells Van Heusen shirts. Now, TH is back….trying to refurbish his brand on the back of a neo-preppy trend (and the blogs that largely sustain it). TH is hoping that a new generation (you?) will ignore/forget the brand’s disasterous history and that he can try again to manufacture his namesake brand’s heritage as one tied to New England and based on a traditionally “American/prep” style and lifestyle. It’s neither - the brand strikes me as a desperate hobby of a confused man who’s trying to fit in, aggresively social climb, and prove that his blood runs blue.

    If you think it all works just fine, go right agead and dress like The Royal Tenenbaums grab that is TH’s current attempt/campaign at redemption….

    K left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 11:55 AM:

    What’s wrong about a prep endorsing a rap artist? Just because he’s preppy, he’s only allowed to endorse chinos with lobster print and Smirnoff raw tea? I find this conversation amusing (here’s hoping Fred doesn’t delete it (; ) , that because someone wasn’t born or raised in that area, than they apparently know nothing of the culture and whatever they design/sell is only a farce. And he’s not claiming to be from New England, he’s showing his love for it, so therefore I see nothing wrong with the man producing a book set in a place he likes. Whether or not he bows to “the man”, the guy likes boat docks and lighthouses. He doesn’t have to be from there to provide commentary next to the snapshots.

    AEV left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 11:10 AM:

    K - in this instance, TH is a brand….so, yes, I do feel it’s fair for me - as someone who’s been subjected to his marketing nearly my whole life - to comment on the brand.

    If you don’t feel TH’s brand/clothes/etc. are forced, that we’re simply not approaching this from the same universe. You do know that TH officially endorsed the hip-hop/R&B artist Aaliyah in the 1990s, yes?

    TH - the brand - has nealy gone bankrupt twice, first being saved by a private quity firm, and then being sold again to Van Heusen. So, no, TH doesn’t just “design what he likes” - he makes what his holding companies believe will sell…and it’s cross marketing like this book that continue to develop the myth that the brand is somehow tied to New England and the decades of New England style that TH has been bastardizing his whole career.

    k left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 10:52 AM:

    “So, this book - from TH’s perspective…”

    Don’t think anyone can use those words except T.H. himself. ;)

    It would be quite dull, reading books written only by people from there. And TH has plenty of experience in New England. I think the chap has visited there more times than we can count. I don’t find TH’s clothing empire forced. He designs what he likes. You can tell he loves the preppy aesthetic, not as if he’s sitting in his flat pinning away for the day he can be his true self and design goth clothes.

    AEV left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 10:38 AM:

    K - My general point is fairly simple: people who write books on specific subjects should have experience with those subjects. An American can certainly write a book about Paris, but unless that American has specific, significant experience with the city, most Parisians would probably question the credibility of the information contained therein.

    Beyond that, TH brings to the table a very unique background - one based on a business that was built on an exaggerated, forced sense of New England style (owned by a private equity firm and largely produced in overseas sweatshops) and that continues to churn out hyperbolic copies of traditional styles. So, this book - from TH’s perspective - is about marketing and continuing, rather desperately, to connect his brand to tradition, geography, and lineage that simply doesn’t exist. If you want to read a book about New England written by a guy from Elmira, NY - go right ahead….it sounds about as useful and informative as a book about Las Vegas written by someone from Birmingham.

    K left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 10:18 AM:

    I think it’s wonderful T.H. has taken an interest in an area he has not grown up in. What a thing to say… that a person must be from there to avoid being tacky. Following your line of thinking, an American can’t write a book about Paris, a Southerner can’t write a book about Las Vegas, a white person can’t write a book about the persecution of Indians… because they weren’t born into it…doesn’t make much sense. The literary world is not divided into categories, those categories being only the ones you yourself have grown up in and have experienced. Usually I agree with you, AEV, but not on this one.

    Fred, where did you obtain your copy?

    AEV left a comment on 5/4/2012 at 9:57 AM:

    This looks to be nicely produced, but - as a New Englander - I question why Tommy Hilfiger has any unique expertise or experience with the subject matter. He spent his early life in west central NY (Elmira, not New England) and has spent most of his adult life in NYC (not New England). It just strikes me as tacky that a guy who didn’t grown up in New England and who’s spent his professional career creating a caricature of traditional American (largely New England inspired) clothing would edit/write a book like this….