[Alfred "Aldo" Ciongoli, UPENN class of 1964.]
[#75, Co-captain lightweight football.]
[Beta house secretary, wig, tie twist, no socks, in 1964.]
A well-designed garment can tell a story. I have been fortunate in my career to work with people who want the clothing they make to say something about where it came from. The designers behind Rugby Ralph Lauren consistently excel at translating moments from American and English history into contemporary clothing with an authentic feel. I am drawn to the familiar stories they tell of classic collegiate style because I grew up listening to the real thing.
My father was a storyteller. Throughout my adolescence, I was constantly begging him to recount the memories of his. Pop’s youth seemed to revolve around his corner - where 13th met
Wolf Street - in southern . It was here that he traded his 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card for star Phillies pitcher Russ Meyer and a stick of gum. It was here that he developed his physician’s steady hand from surgically bissecting “pimple” balls in two for half ball games across the street. It was here that he discovered he had been accepted to the Philadelphia ’s class of 1964. University of Pennsylvania
Pop’s college stories were my favorite. At PENN, he took out a small student loan, not to pay for classes or books but to pick up the tab on dates with “Candy” Bergen. “Aldo” was pre-med, co-captain of the lightweight football team and a member of two prominent honor societies; but if you asked him what he was really proud of he would have told you he was the secretary of the Beta house. His fraternity was the stuff of legends, a mélange of mahogany and pipe smoke, backgammon and beat-up leather club chairs. Beta was famous for their “shipwreck” parties with waterfalls running down the house’s main staircase, sand dumped from wall to wall, and elaborately rigged nets that were the only way to move - or climb - from one room to the other. They stole trolley cars and dropped live mice on unsuspecting female passersby from their roof. They wore coats and ties to meals and boatneck varsity sweaters and bowties to classes. For
Rugby’s fall/holiday ’10 collections, we tried to weave this vivid portrait of the Ivy League experience in the early 60s – filled with tradition, tweed and sockless weejuns – into the nooks and crannies of each garment. You can see the best manifestations of Pop’s own stories in two pieces – his red and blue striped boatneck letter sweater and a reinterpretation of his football jersey in rugby form, complete with his tackle twill number “75” on the back and a hidden interior felt ID patch reading A.K.C. “Aldo” ’64. I hear his voice every time I put one on.
Thanks to Lee Norwood and John Yang for telling a story of their own every season and allowing me to incorporate the memory of my father into this fall’s.
I'd like to thank Antonio for not only contributing this story to Sart Inc, but for being a continuing source of inspiration himself. Whether he knows it or not, he has help shaped this blog and me as a person. And for that I am truly grateful.