Social Primer by K. Cooper Ray, a line of neckwear (and one blazer) made its… (Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles…)
NEW YORK -- The Collection: Manners and style blogger, prepster and all-around Southern charmer K. Cooper Ray has parlayed his collaborative capsule collection of neckwear with Brooks Brothers into his own standalone line -- Social Primer by K. Cooper Ray -- which debuted Friday at the University Club in Manhattan during New York Fashion Week.
The inspiration: "I saw local college kids in Charleston polished and groomed and bow-tied and then they turn around and they've got their camo on and shotguns over their shoulder, heading off to the marshes of the low country to go duck hunting," Ray wrote in his presentation notes. "I’m intrigued by these seemingly opposing ideas of masculinity."
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The look: A dozen versions of the reversible bow tie (suggested retail price $75) and an equal number of long two-tone neckties (suggested price $125) which, though not reversible, when properly tied result in an eye-catching contrast-fabric neck knot. In addition to the neckties, the debut collection includes one jacket -- a red, two-button, peak-lapel, double-vented blazer with gold buttons ($1,200). Ray's wares were presented on two dozen model "pledges" of the faux fraternity ΣΡ (a play on the initials of his Social Primer brand), styled in clothes and accessories from Lands' End, Dockers and Mojo Ware, with shoes by G.H. Bass and Co. and slippers from JP Crickets.
The scene: A faux fraternity pledge night -- complete with Greek letter T-shirts, walls strung with pennant flags made of necktie fabric, and handout copies of a 115-page softcover etiquette manual titled "Pledge Rites: Code of Gentlemanly Behavior for Fraternity Pledges" (actually special-cover editions of Ray’s 2011 book "Bill of Rites for the American Man").
Among those on hand for the presentation were a microphone-wielding Fern Mallis, who interviewed Ray for her Sirius XM radio series; the grande dame of prepdom Lisa Birnbach ("The Preppy Handbook," "Total Prep") appropriately attired in a navy blue dress with a pink cardigan draped all Muffy-like across her shoulders; L.A.-based fashion designer Magda Berliner and a grab-bag of Brooks Brothers executives (Ray's neckties are not only made in the good old U.S.A., they're manufactured in the same Long Island City factory that manufactures Brooks Brothers' neckwear).
The verdict: While he certainly isn't the first designer to try his hand at adding a modern, two-tone twist to traditional neckwear, Ray's dash of clashing paterns and colors combined with his tongue-in-cheek but oh-so-stylish thematic presentation -- faux fraternity and all -- make us think that once it reaches retail, the Social Primer by K. Cooper Ray collection is one pledge with the potential to rise to BMOC (as in Big Man On Campus) status.
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