Though they described their style as “khaki shorts and a T-shirt,” the Yale men who appeared in a New York Times fashion spread on Sunday were featured in sport coats under the heading “Eli’s coming,” photographed in clothes that fit perfectly primarily because armpits were ripped out and shoulders were clamped to make them that way.
Yalies Marc Michael ’06, Bobby Kennedy ’05, Michael Rae-Grant ’07, Max Abelson ’06, Marcus Ruopp ’06, Stephen Haskins ’04 and Peter Cellini ’04 appeared in T, The New York Times Style Magazine under the banner “Tickling the Ivy: The Yale Man,” photographed by Platon and accompanied by an article by Charles McGrath ’68. Track-and-field athlete Jihad Beauchman ’06 had to be excised from the spread, which was inspired by photos of 1940s sports teams, because including him might have violated NCAA rules on product promotion by athletes.
Conceived with input from Graham Boettcher ’95, currently a residential fellow in Saybrook College and moderately famous as an Eli fanatic — he worked with Vanity Fair on a piece about Skull and Bones, and his collection of Yale memorabilia was featured on CNN — “The Yale Man” chronicles the legacy of the jackets-in-the-dining-halls, Brooks-Brothers-or-bust world of pre-1960s Yale, with anecdotes drawn from the author’s years in New Haven and his son’s experiences here a decade ago.
Drawn partially from Rumpus’ list of Yale’s 50 Most Beautiful People, partially from Boettcher’s scouting expeditions on campus and at New Haven Bars with two fashion casting experts and partially from walk-ins, the models were chosen by the fashion editors out of a pool of 70 Elis who submitted Polaroids.
Boettcher, credited as a production assistant for his 7 a.m. bagel runs and for coordinating all the involved parties, said the models were “troopers, every one,” putting up with hours of waiting between makeup and fittings during the June 22-23 shoots.
Haskins had a different take.
“The shoot made me think about how easy this lifestyle could be,” he said. “I was only active for maybe two hours out of each eight-hour day I got paid $150 for.”
Haskins, who is featured in a $1,795 overcoat over the caption “Skull and Good Cheekbones,” said he had never “felt so silly” in his life.
“Nobody wears clothes like that in the real world, forget at college, where we’re struggling, broke students!” he explained. “That one coat probably cost as much as my entire wardrobe.”
Citing wide-angle lens distortion, oversaturated color and deliberately introduced wrinkles as techniques designed to make the models and clothes look “hipper and more vivid,” Yale photography professor Lisa Kereszi said realism was probably not the point.
The spread wound up being a little like the Yale locale itself, Kereszi said. The photos were perfectly collegiate, if by collegiate you mean unlike any campus since the invention of the Birkenstock.
These days, though, whether their suits are custom or K-mart, Yale men are likely to have in common their high SAT scores at most, rather than the “hint of a lockjaw accent” McGrath describes in his essay.
McGrath did not return phone messages on Monday or Tuesday.
During one interview, a reporter on hand asked the models and production assistant for their take on everything from politics to sexual preferences, and, Boettcher said, their responses could not have been more different.
“I think we’ve got to start talking more about Yale men than the Yale man,” Boettcher said. “Yale’s a pretty diverse place, and I think that was borne out in the choice of models, even if it wasn’t in the fashion itself.”