Bow Ties Sydney, Australia - Le Noeud Papillon - Specialists In Self Tying Bow Ties

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Friday, September 30, 2016

The Weekend Sale - A Selection Of Items At 50% OFF

A selection of bow ties has been placed on the website with 50% OFF over the weekend. Some of these bow ties have been cut this week and you will be very surprised and happy with some of them. Some real gems. Especially the bordeaux velvet reverso bow tie below right, finished with rose gold plated clips. It's special.

Have fun and keep checking back over the weekend as we might have a few more items to add. Good luck. Good hunting. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Reason For The Death Of The Tie Might Be In The Words Of Honoré de Balzac

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of Sydney's more discreetly better dressed men. He is one of those aesthetes that takes the time to research and know about cloth before he makes a suit, a man who would take the time to know the precise difference between last styles offered by shoe makers. He is meticulous, I was once told by his wife, in every aspect of his life, from how he cooks and prepares his food to how he ties his laces.

We don't always agree on many subjects and to some extent his style is not always my cup of tea. He wears more grey than I like, his choice of blues for shirts is slightly off my own palette, his taste in shoes I find almost polemic. Yet, it is precisely our differences and his knowledge base which fascinates me and why I hold him in high regard. I can hold sartorial conversations with him that I can't with any of my other friends. I can take note of something he is wearing and in three words we both are able to articulate that we both understand the style and the history behind that particular fabric, cut, style or make.

Yesterday he wore a tie I would not do anything other than cut up and throw in the cabbage bin. It was a Drakes of London tie in a shantung silk that to my eye seemed like an old bit of rag turned into a tie. He showed it to me with great enthusiasm, along with some very beautiful silk grenadine ties by Tom Ford and Gallo of Paris. I loved both of the latter ties, but the Drakes I would only use for polishing my shoes.

At that point I made the remark "you know, I do not understand why you guys walk around the city with these drab and insipid ties, as though a plain shantung silk has any character in it" . He knew I had passed a shot across his bow but he was not going to rise to the occasion inelegantly and responded "in a work environment you can't walk around with such vibrant silks that you offer" and he stung me like a bee. I continued on "one of the things I find most appalling is the lack of character in ties these days. Men wear them to try and fit in, to be afraid of actually revealing any of their own personality. It reminds me of what Honoré de Balzac said with regards to the tie being the mark of the man and his individuality. I think he said that if the tie is ever standardized in design or knot then it will cease to exist because it is the only part of a man's attire that is his own creation."

At this point both of us agreed on one thing. Too many men in business and politics lacked any character when it came to what they put around their neck. With respect to that, we were both finally united in an opinion. I told him that I was interested in running for politics just so that I could be the first man to wear a pink suit in the Australian federal parliament. I think he thought I was serious. I think I might have been serious. "Why not?" I suggested. "Harry S Truman was a haberdasher that failed selling ties and accessories in Kansas so he went into politics" I said.

We parted company soon after but not before he picked up a bow tie and a couple of pairs of socks to match his beautiful rich deep blue silk dupioni cloth from Holland & Sherry suit that he was going to pair them with.

In the afternoon as I was serving a wedding party I was thinking on Balzac and that he was right in his conjecture. The tie will die when it ceases to be the individual's. When Balzac was around, people often made their own ties and tied them in their own way. It was before the world of long neck ties, before ties were bow ties even. As he rightly noted, most men did not have a hand in the work that was done by the tailor, nor a hand in the work that was done by the cobbler, nor even, by then, the shirt maker. Yet there was one thing he had a hand in, the tie, and it was up to him to source the right fabric and tie it in his own way. In modern society, we have lost that art, both the fabric, the cuts and the knots are all standardized - most being 8cm neck ties knotted in a four-in-hand in a variety of prints and weaves that are designed to fit in. It is that aspect of the neck tie that might in fact kill the whole art form, for if there is no individual expression in the suit, nor the shoes, nor the shirt, nor the even the tie, what then separates one man from the next?

In the words of Balzac:

“It is neither by study nor by effort that one is successful; it is spontaneously, by instinct and by inspiration that one ties his tie. A tie well tied is one of those traits of genius that is felt and admired but never analysed or taught. I would dare to say, with all strength of conviction, that the tie is romantic by nature: The day that it submits to static rules will be the day that it ceases to exist.

It is true that, of all the aspects of one’s dress, the tie is the only one to belong solely to men, the only one where a man can find his individuality. For your hat, your clothes and your shoes, all the credit is owed to the hatter, the tailor and the cobbler who have delivered these things to you in all their finery. There is nothing in them of yours. But, for the bow tie, you have neither help nor support. You are abandoned to your own devices. You must find whatever you need in yourself. The laundress leaves you with a heavy piece of fabric and you must use what knowledge you possess to make something of it. As though it were a block of marble between the hands of Phidias or those of a stonemason, a tie will only ever be as good as the man that wears it. In all truth, it is the tie that makes the man as it is through his tie that a man’s measure is revealed.”

Honoré de Balzac once predicted that when the tie is standardized  or kept to 'static rules' it will cease to exist. 

The Groomzilla - A Relatively New Phenomenon Which Is In Part Justified

The stress of a wedding and planning a wedding is very palpable just by witnessing the frantic emails, phone calls and in person appointments that build up in a crescendo for all the tailors, alterations houses, boutiques and accessory makers during the peak season. In Australia that time runs between September and November and usually starts to ease off in early December.

The funniest aspect to it all is that grooms are in fact capable of becoming 'Groomzillas' before the wedding, a word I had never heard until a patron apologised by text for what he believed to be 'Groomzilla' behaviour.

The customer was being a little too hard on himself. His concern was justified. He had come to us with a last minute need for a self-tying bow tie in black velvet and his wedding was the following weekend. We put the bow tie in an express post overnight bag but for one reason or another it took 5 days to deliver the package. In the meantime, the customer was becoming increasingly agitated that his needs were not being met and so we offered an alternative solution if the post did not turn up.

Thankfully, the bag did turn up and the bow tie was happily received just in time for the wedding this weekend. However, it did remind me that the way to avoid being a self-labelled Groomzilla is to take the time to prepare for your big day.

Here are some tips for grooms :

1. Write yourself a to do list with variations on the points below and tick them off.
2. Get your suit pressed and dry cleaned a fortnight before the wedding. Get your shirt starched and pressed a week out.
3. Do not leave shoes to the last minute. Shoes are very important, look for them at least 90 days out from the wedding.
4. Buy a clothes brush and make sure you or your best man brushes your suit.
5. Practice tying your bow tie in the mirror a week before your wedding. If you don't want to tie it on your neck, try our technique for tying it on a table.
6. Polish your shoes or at least rub them down with a damp cloth if they are patent leather. Check that the heels and soul are not chipped, repair if needed.
7. If you are wearing studs on your shirt, count your studs and put them into a safe velcro pouch or one that closes securely.
8. Polish your watch.
9. Ensure you have the right socks for your suit - do not wear cheap socks on your wedding day. Over the calf is better.
10. If you are wearing braces you need to get the buttons sewn into your trousers. I highly recommend silk braces or else Albert Thurston evening braces. If you are wearing a cumerbund, make sure it fits around your waist and check it off.
11. Create a man bag or small secure bag in which to place all your belongings that you don't need on your person and give it to your best man, if he doesn't want to carry it, he's not your best man. Also put in your cologne, preferably in the form of a travel atomiser. 
12. Book a hair cut. It's nice to wait in line and get a hair cut and a cut throat shave but if you want a proper hair cut you need to go to a proper hair salon.
13. Keep two pocket squares, the first should be silk or cotton for your breast pocket, the second, for the inside of your jacket, you should use to daub yourself if you get hot or sweaty.

There are no doubt more things to think about than just your kit, but remember, you are on show, not just for yourself but you are there to compliment your beautiful bride or partner to be, so make an effort to look good. Even if you are the scruffy type, look your best kind of scruffy.

Good luck,
team LNP.

Arrived on time... Phew ... To avoid becoming a 'Groomzilla' it's important to prepare yourself before your wedding. Write yourself a list like the points above and tick them off one by one to prevent the pre-wedding sweats. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

One Of The Greatest Perfumes For Men And Women I Have Smelt In All My Life - Bois D'Ascèse By Naomi Goodsir

A couple of months ago I was in the Strand Arcade visiting Robert from Strand Hatters. Whilst I was there I kept on him about an idea which seemingly no retailer was touching.

My idea, which I do hope somebody now does given that I am offloading that idea onto the winds of the internet in the hope that they reach some enthusiastic and hungry entrepreneur who is looking for something new to chew on,  in a nutshell the idea is this... Travel perfume atomisers, which are the greatest invention since sliced bread, are now very cheap to buy, not more than $1 each I believe. If you were to curate a wonderful range of colognes and perfumes for each sex in a small boutique or kiosk, say a selection of the best of the best at the moment, you offer the customer a chance to choose the perfumes that they would like to try, you pump the perfume into an atomiser, then you charge them for the atomiser plus the percentage of the bottle used to to fill the atomiser. 

This means that on scents from companies such as Creed, Santa Maria Novella, Tom Ford and other luxury brands, where the individual bottle is upwards of $300AUD, you can use and wear the fragrances in an atomiser form at a fraction of the price until such time as you are comfortable enough to buy a whole bottle. OR, you do no such thing, and just keep hopping between fragrances.

Robert wasn't thrilled with my proposal, it was too far removed from the superlative fedora and panama hats they sold, but he asked me to take a stroll across the Strand to another business that was selling men's perfumes and colognes, Men'z Biz, which is also a barber. 

He walked over to the shelf and pulled down a tester and said "I wan't you to try this, tell me if you smell a bushfire". 

Well, I'll be damned. As soon as the scent hit my wrist I could already feel the heat and scent of charred smokey embers whilst wild bushfire continued to burn in my peripheral vision. I could sense that dry arid air of an Australian summer when everything wants to burst into flames. I was so taken aback that I had to gather my senses.

"I cannot believe it. I cannot believe what that just evoked in me" I said to Robert.

"I know, it's wild", he said. He added , "She's Australian. Her name is ...... "  - and I promptly forgot what he said, and the name of the perfume.

As fate would have it a few weeks back an attractive stylist who had a sort of Sophia Loren meets New York intellectual look about her came into our Le Noeud Papillon Studio in Sydney looking for clothes and accessories for a television commercial and she brought her friend with her, an eccentrically dressed woman with an extraordinarily unique style and manner about her that instantly caught my eye. Her hair was black and white, finished with a sailors hat in leather, big rings and bangles on her hands, some with beetles trapped in acetate. 

As we talked and talked about all sorts of stuff somehow I came to the topic of fragrance and I asked them if they would like to smell the scent we were currently running. We meandered through that topic until I said "there is an Australian woman who makes this perfume, I tried it once, and it smells like an Australian bushfire". As luck would have it, the very same lady was who makes that perfume was standing right in front of me. "That's my perfume, my name is Naomi Goodsir".

Well, as many of our blog readers will know, over the years we've had a number of coincidences and lucky encounters, but this one had a certain level of serendipity about it that, contrary to all my usual suspicious and negative thinking, I felt was 'meant to be'. 

She promised to stop by and return again and true to her word yesterday I had the pleasure of both women again at the Studio and this time I am now in possession of her wonderful scent Bois D'Ascèse - or what I would prefer to call 'Bois Des Cendres Australienne" ....

I am not much of a perfume describing type, so perhaps I just ought to shoot from the hip when I describe how it smelt for me. I sensed smoke, wood, tobacco, whiskey, amber, dried grass, rust, BBQ, church incense and perhaps some mixed spices. 

Whilst Bois D'Ascèse is most definitely not an everyday scent and may not win over every passer by, it is quite possibly the most charismatic fragrance I have ever come across. If it were an actor it might be a Daniel Day Lewis, if it were a singer it might be a Freddy Mercury. This perfume is something of an outlier and whilst I highly recommend it, I might also add that it might be the kind of perfume you need to wear first before you fall in love. It might be precisely the kind of perfume that would work for my big budding business idea.

In the meantime, for those of you who trust my words - you can buy it here. 

A scent not necessarily designed for Australia but containing a winning formula which conjured up a scent akin to an Australian bushfire - Bois D'Ascèse by Australian designer Naomi Goodsir

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Alarmingly Sad Truth Is - Sex Really Does Sell

For years now I have deep etched bow ties and stood them upright along side one another, like little soldiers, and published those images on my social media to excite men to consider a bow tie but to also offer them a close up and very intimate picture of the silks themselves. What I had hoped to convey was 'yes, these are genuine silk bow ties, they have a genuine design difference and yes, those are expensive materials that we have used'.

It's a difficult game. You wait for a long time in the hope that one out of one hundred prospective customers will recognise the difference and seek out your products. 

In the interim, waiting for the world to recognise this, I walk through the streets of Sydney and I see the same old international brands populating the same old shopping centres selling the same old concepts. Most of it revolves around some central ideas - celebrity, sex, lifestyle and a unique and desirable life - are encapsulated in the products the brand is offering you to differentiate your life from the other men and women shopping the same said mall, witnessing the same branded image.

Personally, we had never tried such a technique to sell bow ties. I was curious: would sex and celebrity help my products too? The truth is, no celebrity ever wearing our product had ever increased our sales. Not local Australian celebrities, not even international ones.

But sex? The final frontier... And I needed to explore it.

Below you will see a selection of images we had done to try and sell a little more sex with our silks. I love them! They are cute and playful and most importantly, sexy. 

I have absolutely no expectation as to whether they will increase sales, but what I do know is this - they have already garnered more talk on Instagram than six months of erect bow ties lined up one after the other.

In conclusion: Sex really does sell.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Highly Recommended Television - The Roosevelets - A Ken Burns Documentary

For all my readers with plenty of spare time and an iPad or laptop, I highly recommend sitting down to watch the superb documentary series 'The Roosevelts - An Intimate History' by renowned documentary maker Ken Burns.

Not only does Ken Burns do a great job of sifting through the content and collating the stories that come from this dynamic family, but he also then magically brings it all to life through the inimitable voice of Peter Coyote in narration with Paul Giammati and Meryl Streep also providing wonderful voice overs for the words of Teddy and Eleanor Roosevelt respectively.

It takes a documentary like this to put all the pieces of a puzzle together in your head. As an Australian you read about Teddy Roosevelt and then Franklin Roosevelt, and you might then bother to make the family connection through a Wikipedia page - but nothing like this. Nothing about the heroes and heroines of the family, where the wealth came from, what education they had, what friends they kept, how they formed their world views etc. This is exactly as it is titled, an intimate history, and I highly recommend it to all our blog readers.

As we head towards another US Presidential Election, it is always exciting to look back on the past and to see what came before us before looking towards the future. The major events of the 20th Century were played out between relatively few characters and can often be whittled down to key relationships, such as that mutual rapport that came between Churchill and FDR.

One of the more jovial moments of this documentary series is when Churchill is staying at the White House towards the end of WWII. Both men are discussing the prospective establishment of the United Nations post the conclusion of the war. One observer remarked that they were like two school boys playing. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, unable to sleep and restless with ideas, wheeled himself across the hall and straight into Winston Churchill's bedroom where a pinkish Churchill was completely nude having just finished with his bath. So the story goes, Roosevelt apologised for intruding to which Churchill responded "There is nothing that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom wishes to hide from the President Of The United States" .

I have ruined one joke this week, I do hope that I just did justice to Churchill's quip. Regardless, this is great television and I cannot recommend it enough.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Winner Of The King's Bow Tie Competition Is P. Carmody Of Melbourne - Congratulations!

Of all the fantastic contributions to the King's Bow Tie Competition in the form of feedback, positive and negative, one really washed well with me and that was the short note sent in by P. Carmody of Melbourne. It resonated with me because I myself would be suspicious of any website claiming us to be the best bow tie maker in the world - and would therefore be sceptical about said business. To turn this Melburnian around is a great delight and that he has kept coming back, is a great reward. 

Every single published piece will receive a silk flower from Le Noeud Papillon but there could be only one winner and in this instance I just felt it fell fairly on this one. Mr. Carmody will receive the King's bow tie, which is set with 9k solid rose gold hardware and inlaid with diamonds. I doubt we will ever see a photo of it in situ, but no doubt it will knock the socks off somebody who chances to see it sparkle.


My fascination with bow ties began last Christmas Eve. Not long after I found a website claiming Le Noeud Papillon the best bow ties in the world. As a Melburnian I was typically suspicious of this claim. All suspicion was abandoned, however, when the first order arrived. Opening the stylish packaging a now familiar fragrance burst forth, setting the scene for the reveal. These ties are seriously classy, one might say decadent. I've ties from around the world, but these silks are set apart by the cut, quality and design, and they keep their shape all day. I wear them almost daily and receive compliments about them almost every day from men young and old, and women too. In formal, work and casual contexts I never run out of an excuse to wear one. They really set you apart. Once you've found the right length and mastered the rather straightforward knot, there's no turning back. 

P. Carmody

Melbourne, Australia


The others that will receive a silk flower are: 

H. Paul, D. Meisenburg , N. Allen, G. Hilton, M. James, J. Kalinowski, S. Campbell, C. McBride, Ahmad D., C. Cullinane and M. Grant. If you would kindly drop us a line on when you get a free moment.

Solid 9k rose gold hardware with inlaid diamonds - won by P. Carmody of Melbourne.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Best Underwear Brands I Have Known - Personally

Today we just added a small range of Bresciani pure Egyptian jersey cotton underpants to the Le Noeud Papillon website. 

I chose to stock Bresciani because I wanted to offer something very different to what all other luxury websites had on their websites. That is, the majority of them were stocking Zimmerli of Switzerland. It got me thinking about the best underpants I have owned and so I am going to write a brief (no pun intended) description of the brands  I love and my experience.

1. Zimmerli Of Switzerland

I have had about four pairs of Zimmerli in my lifetime, mostly coming from A Suitable Wardrobe. They are in my opinion the best underpants in the world. I certainly have never owned a better brand. There is an old adage 'pay once, cry once' and Zimmerli are this brand. The underpants continue to survive for many years despite being light and sheer to the point that you have to wonder what was woven into them in order to survive the long term rough and tumble of so many washes. I highly recommend this brand.

2. Hom

Hom have made some of my favourite underpants but over time they have somewhat declined in quality and I am less likely to buy them these days unless I am in a specific country and they are on sale. What I love about this brand is that they make underpants look cool, they feel good on and they are reasonably sturdy.

3. Emenegildo Zegna 

I understand that its good branding to have your name on the elastic of your underpants but truly I would buy more pairs of Ermengildo Zegna if they didn't have the name on the elastic. They are great quality, highly durable and classic good underpants that you will keep for years. They are quite reasonably priced.

4. Bonds

I love Bonds trunk underpants. In recent years the company has been so playful and spirited with their designs that what they lack in longevity they make up for in design. Gold metallic motifs and prints, silver elasticated bands and vibrant patterns are but a few of the more recent pairs I have purchased. Yes, they will eventually go bad and you will throw them out but you can roughly purchase 3 pairs of these underpants for every one pair of the superior brands mentioned above.

5. Bresciani

For those who know and love their socks, Bresciani have made a foray into boxer and trunk shorts which are superbly made from high quality Egyptian cotton jersey. It made sense for Bresciani to move into this space as they already had a great following for their socks. These underpants are durable and well priced. They are cheaper than Zimmerli but offering a quality near enough to the Swiss brand that will most likely seduce a number of connoisseurs away from their usual choices.

A Pure Indulgence - Who Honestly Needs A Silk Shoe Bag ?

Owing to the incredible amount of fabric these silk shoe bag use up to make, this limited edition Le Noeud Papillon ziggurat silk below is listed on the website for $375 AUD. 

That is not to say that we will get that much for it - that's what we priced it out as. The cost of the limited edition silk to set up the design, split over the number of metres of silk woven, plus the cost of the silk, the air freight, the trimmings, the lining silks and jerseys, the time taken to make the bag and then our margin on top.

Invariably we will lose money on this item. Nobody will purchase it unless it's 50% off or more and sadly the internet has done that to a great many businesses. Where once you could have something unique and expect to get paid for it, these days shoppers know the cash flow constraints of smaller online businesses and will wait and wait and wait and then shop it at a discount.

One particular shopper on a discount website I alerted to our sale made the exact remark mentioned above, "is this guy kidding himself?"  

Well no, we're not. But then, I am in no rush to sell them either. For the wonderful thing is that these shoe bags end up making wonderful travelling sales pouches for bow ties. So when I do my rounds with the shops it's wonderful to reveal the new silks from my magical pouch and to protect them in my leather bag there and back. 

For many men, having a shoe bag is the last thing that's on their mind when they are heading out the door to go travelling, be it on a plane or in a car. But let me assure you one thing, it's better for your clothes and it's better for your shoes that they are neatly separated out. I don't even want to go into the story about the one time when travelling I had stepped in dog poop, nope, I don't even want to go into that story.

Consider a shoe bag. Doesn't have to be silk.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Harry S. Truman - The Second Portrait In The Presidents Series Of Sketches

Harry S. Truman was not necessarily a shoe in for the US Presidency. If Franklin Roosevelt had lived a whole bunch of events might have transpired to to prohibit his ascension to the Presidency but on April 12th 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt died leaving Truman to take the helm.

I have always admired the style of Truman and his personal sense of style was no doubt attributed to his passion for clothes and his subsequent co-ownership of a haberdashery store in Kansas city. Although Truman would fail in this business, which concentrated (just like LNP does) on menswear accessories, he would take his personal style with him wherever he went in subsequent years. 

Although most often remembered as the President who dropped the bomb, Truman was also instrumental in the formation of the United Nations, the overseeing of the Berlin airlift and the subsequent beginnings of the Cold War as well as the rebuilding of Europe through the Marshall Plan and, because he was very sympathetic towards the plight of Jews under Nazi occupied Europe, he was one one of first to recognise the state of Israel.

I have chosen to place on him our Crown Of Thorns silk bow tie named 'Lear'. Because I am quite certain that he would have had a heavy head making some of the bigger decisions he undertook during his Presidency. 

Stay tuned, our next President will be ready in the next few days.... 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A New Sketch Series - If I Could Turn Back Time - Begins With Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Recently I started working on a new portrait series with an illustrator residing in Sydney. I will eventually tell our readers at the end of the series who the illustrator is, but for the time being and until the series is finished, I will keep a lid on it.

Suffice to say she is very talented and was more than willing to take up the challenge. I had seen her sketches and loved what I saw but with the US Presidential election coming up I wanted a segue from her traditional sketches, to delve into that Wall Street Journal style of profiles, the dotted portrait in charcoal and pencil. My hope was to consider US Presidents, living and passed, that I would have liked to have seen wearing our bow ties. I did not care for whether they were Democrats or Republicans, what mattered to me was their personal sense of style and a chance to learn more about them.

Whilst Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were initially thought of as candidates, I decided I would instead start with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

FDR served as the 32nd President of the United States of America between 1933-1945. He won an unprecedented four elections and served as President through both depression and war.

What attracted me to FDR was that there was nothing particularly noteworthy in his formative years by way of natural ability or education that would indicate that one day he might make a good President. He was considered a good student, but nothing extraordinary. His own headmaster at Groton school, Mr. Peabody recalled Roosevelt as "a quiet, satisfactory boy of more than ordinary intelligence, taking a good position in his form but not brilliant". He was no different as a lawyer, either. In fact, at school he was neither bright nor popular. And this theme continued when he went to Harvard. 

FDR's hero had been his fifth cousin Theodore Roosevelt, who was the 26th President of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt was a big character; a rancher on the frontier, an explorer, a formidable hunter, a soldier and a great statesman. It was therefore no coincidence that FDR married Theodore's brother's only daughter, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, who preferred to be called Eleanor.

Though they had many children together, FDR's marriage to Eleanor was a difficult one challenged by the formidable presence of FDR's mother in his life and coupled with FDR's inability to remain faithful. In the end, their marriage was more of a political arrangement and FDR continued with his extra marital relationships until his death in 1945.

As a politician, he was able to pick up the American economy at it's lowest ebb during the depression and begun getting the US economy back on track with both his New Deal plans. In his inauguration speech, during great panic in the economy, he famously noted:

"Primarily this is because rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence... The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."

I still have a lot to learn about FDR but what I like about him is that he was an unlikely candidate for President, with a non linear trajectory just like his cousin Theodore who came before him. And yet, in the face of adversity and in a private life which was less than ideal in many respects, he delivered a great life of service to his people and upon his death was mourned by all.

What If Psychologists Got Together With Facebook For A More Realistic Experience ....

There is something very sinister going on with Facebook. Like all things it started out fantastic. You could connect with people in a way MySpace was not able to. You could share all that was unfolding in your life.

Recently though I had two experiences which creeped me out. The first was when I was writing what some of my friends call my humorous ramblings but which my partner calls my verbal diarrhoea and my lack of containment values.

To be fair to myself, I have so few ways to communicate with friends I have met along the way other that by my private Facebook account. It gives them a chance to laugh with my observations, share a similar experience or just disagree with me. As I was typing the other day though, my thoughts were being categorised for Facebook into subject matters as I wrote "I am looking forward to my early morning walk tomorrow morning when I get a real serenity from taking in the sunrise" , as an example statement, was being whittled into "sport, weather, philosophy" ... Ewww.... when did Facebook start doing this? It was all that disgusting big data harvesting that they were doing, no doubt helping US Presidential candidates, McDonalds and Coca-Cola figure out what to sell you next.

I realised we were not just giving them information there, but we were now grading our emotions for the people at FB too by having additional liking capabilities which told them more about how we felt about something posted in our feed.

I don't know how to get off Facebook. I use it for business. I like it conceptually. I have been able to define more precisely who we market to. But it's all at a cost, and we are all inadvertently paying for it every time we click.

It got me thinking last night about something that Facebook should have done but probably overlooked. Psychologists who believe in the Pia Mellody model of human behaviour believe that human emotions can be whittled down to 8 core feelings. Anger. Guilt. Joy. Love. Shame. Fear. Loneliness. Pain.

Perhaps if we really wanted to harvest good data, they might start switching out the existing emotional panel so that we can all get a little bit of transparent psychotherapy whilst they are harvesting our data....

I guess I feel ... love, joy, fear, shame, pain and anger about that.... 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fairfax And Roberts - Sydney's Oldest Jeweller

Jewellery is a topic that fascinates me because I have a very limited knowledge in this area and when I canvas most of the men I know, they are pretty much in the same category. Men might know diamonds and the price of gold because they are aware of it as an investment class or that it's something safe if the economy decides to go down the gurgler, but how many could name all the precious and semi precious stones there are or what are some of the names of the more intricate workmanship that goes into making a unique piece.

So, I decided to go and see Fairfax and Roberts, which is Sydney's oldest jeweller, in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney's CBD. It has been in operation since 1858. There I met with Kalle Kortelainen, their marketing director.

I went armed with my usual questions but I got lost in the world of jewellery and in the end I don't think I really got the interview I was looking for. So instead, I would like to impart what I did learn.

Firstly, I was curious as to what men buy for their women outside of engagements, weddings and anniversaries. Kalle said that the most popular items that are purchased by men for women are cocktail rings.

What is a cocktail ring? I would assume, like most men I know, you don't know either.

A cocktail ring is a ring which is worn by a woman for an occasion such as a cocktail party or a semi formal event. In a semi-precious form this might have a main stone of citrine or amethyst and these will usually be less expensive that anything which features precious stones. Precious stones, which I needed a refresher on, are diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies.

The hardest of the precious stones is the diamond (which I am sure that most of us know) and the most favoured by consumers. But that doesn't mean that the other stones are not more expensive than diamonds. Jewellery is quite an intricate art form which comprises the colour of the stones, the grade of the stones, the quantity of stones, the metals used to set the stones, the type of precious or non precious metal chosen and the quality of the workmanship in the metals. For example, in much of the stunning art deco pieces that I was shown, there were examples of saw piercing, millegrain and filigree workmanship, which are not abundantly clear to a naked eye like mine. This intricate workmanship increases the number of man hours taken to create the piece, forming not only the labour cost component, but the level of skill that is displayed by the resident artisans which adds its own value.

I do hope I am not boring my readers, but I really knew very little about jewellery until yesterday, so bear with me whilst I continue.

A pair of earrings usually takes a resident artisan between 80-100 hours to complete. By contrast, a ring might only take 16-20 hours. As a general guide, Fairfax & Roberts will custom make designs for customers from a price tag of $5000AUD upwards. This is often done for men who present the jeweller with their own stones or, in many instances, where jewellery and or stones that have been in a family for generations are re-configured or re-set to achieve a more contemporary look.

Whilst many of the pieces I saw and which I post below are more than $40,000 AUD per piece, Fairfax & Roberts does cater for tastes that start from as low as $4000.

When I asked Kalle what would be the top 5 items that a man might consider to purchase for a woman (or man depending on the couple) - he said that the most popular items he would suggest purchasing for a woman outside of weddings and anniversaries are as follows:

1. Diamond stud earrings - a classic that will never not be appreciated by the recipient.
2. An art deco ring - a classic piece which shows off the artisan's skills, from a period that is timeless and in a style that is always elegant.
3. The tennis bracelet - also known as a diamond line bracelet - was called a tennis bracelet after Chris Evert who wore them when playing tennis and whose bracelet fell off during a match in the US Open where she asked the umpires to stop play until she found it. Tennis bracelets are a classic which every woman desires to own. They usually consist of diamonds but in more elaborate forms feature unique chain designs and contrasting semi-previous and precious stones.
4. A 'Shamballa' style bracelet. Whilst 'Shamballa' is a branded item stocked by Fairfax & Roberts, the popularity of this style increases each year owing to the versatility with which it can be worn. Shambala styled bracelets and necklaces are often made using materials other than metal, such as leather and rubber, to set the stones so that they are can be worn with less formal clothes as consumers tend to dress down more than up these days. See more of that style here. And here.
5. A cocktail ring - whilst cocktail rings I viewed were more than $45,000AUD and included emeralds surrounded by diamonds, the cocktail ring is a great entry point for a man and will always be received well by a woman because it can be used for so many occasions. Kalle recommends semi precious stones as a wonderful entry point for gift purchases.

My world of jewellery is only just opening up and I hope that some of my new found knowledge helps other novices learn more about the art form. Kalle explained to me that the level of workmanship and artistry shown by their resident jewellers in the form of art deco pieces is becoming some what of a dying trade, with more and more brands making mass production pieces marketed to consumers who seek out trend, not craft. The story was a familiar one - one this blog well recognises.

One of the wonderful discoveries I made whilst at Fairfax & Roberts was not in fact jewellery. The Australian artisan David Boucher (no, not French sounding, more like couch) has on display at Fairfax & Roberts a considerable amount of his furniture, boxes and trays which feature his inimitable lacquered shagreen which is inlaid into exotic timbers such as ebony and American redwood. If you are stopping by Faifax and Roberts it is well worth your time asking the staff to show you the intricate nature of Boucher's work, the secret compartments, the drinks cabinets and desks. Boucher's work is world renowned and some of you might have seen recently the work that he has done with Rolls Royce on their Phantom range of cars. See more of Boucher and Co's work here. 

For more information on Fairfax and Roberts go to:
Instagram @fairfaxandroberts (link for inspiration) 

Boucher and Co lacquered shagreen with Fairfax and Roberts Tahitian pearl necklace

Boucher and Co drinks cabinet valued at over 200k AUD

Art deco rings are a specialty of Fairfax and Roberts

Emerald encircled with diamonds

Inclusions in emeralds are normal and often add character to the stone. 

Intricate workmanship is a cornerstone of the Fairfax and Roberts offering

Tennis bracelets, the name coined after Chris Everet lost hers during play at the US Open - make for a universally loved jewellery gift between from a man to a woman.

David Boucher's 17k AUD waste bin. Only for the most important rubbish!

A strong seller in the gift market for jewellery - Tahitian pearls and black spinel longuard chain.

Superb moving jaw solid gold cufflinks for men on display at Fairfax and Roberts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beyond Earning A Living, There Is Something Else That Propels You

There was a time, about thirteen years ago now, that I was driving along in my silver hatchback in the traffic and I was wondering how I would ever afford to live a life independently of my family and pursue my dreams. 

If you asked me back then what constituted my dreams, I would probably say that it was to be a writer of sorts. More specifically, a novel writer. I had developed a man crush on a few key writers and all I ever wanted to do was to be as talented at them in describing the world around me.

I wrote a novel and I discovered that it was a lot harder than it appeared and more importantly, it took a lot more courage, knowledge and experience that I had first assumed. I would not say that I reached my limitations as a human being, but it gave me perspective of what a writer's life must be like, to repeat that process over and over again - well, the first one seemed like a catharsis, I didn't feel like I had anything left to give after it, not then anyway.

So, I pursued a variety of other jobs. Some more glamorous than others. I was the general manager, at a young age I might add, of The Sydney Comedy Store at Moore Park, Australia's largest comedy theatre. I learned there that I hated the life of a comedian. It was one thing to be hosting the Oscar's, it was another to rote learn a 45 minute piece and tour with it up and down the comedy circuit each week along the eastern coast of Australia. Then I went into garbage compost waste systems, which was my first experience in web sales and web marketing. Then I learned how to code websites, which I did on the side whilst improving my compost system business and learning the ropes of the wedding DJ market. Then I dropped the waste systems in favour of DJ'ing and web development. Then I sold timber floors. Then I travelled overseas and wrote my first novel, failed, and came home. Then I opened a nightclub. Then I sold my share in it. Then I started making bow ties and writing a menswear blog.

I am probably not done just yet. But for the moment, I am getting to do two things I really enjoy, communicating, in the form of this blog, and creating, well, it's perhaps not art, but it's my kind of art - silk bow ties and accessories.

Yesterday, my accountant came past and delivered some bad news - we weren't making enough money. We didn't lose money, but we didn't make a profit. 

Ordinarily I am trained to consider this a tragedy - what kind of man works up to 7 days a week and stays up late every night either engaging or entertaining his customers for no money? What sort of idiot is this man?

But yesterday, I decided to change my tune after seeing a bank's television commercial the other day which said "it's more than money". I tend to agree with them. If I focused solely on profit each year we would not have nearly as much fun with our silks, most of them would be solid colours, devoid of anything different, afraid of experimenting, staying within the confines of what we know would sell, never offering discounts, rarely doing giveaways, not putting exotic perfumes in our boxes, always trying to cut corners. If I wanted a business like that I probably wouldn't cut my own bow ties but pay some chap in China to produce me 1000 of them for a dollar each and mark them up to $20.00. 

I could do all of that, yes I could  - and maybe one day I will sell out exactly as I just described - but then I wouldn't get sent the photo below and the feedback - which is just as that bank said  - 'more than money'. It's the thing that propels you long after bow ties are no longer on trend. Long after you are out of favour with the magazines, when your fellow bloggers no longer respond to your emails on time, or the world is holding up some new dandy to admire.

If I can continue to write my blog for another year and have customers buy our bow ties for another year - well, that's success to me, and thankfully, this year at least, I didn't lose any money.

"Dear LNP,

Your bow ties are the ROLLS ROYCE of bow ties.
Bow ties are exceptional in every way, they stimulate human special senses. For myself when I wear them (daily), they give me the feeling that each bow tie is made exclusively for me.

Best wishes,
H. Paul,
Western Australia."