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


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Monday, May 1, 2017

A New Custom Backgammon Board For A Le Noeud Papillon Customer - Made By Geoffrey Parker In England


It is a very rare occasion that I am asked by a patron to make a backgammon board and it is such a privilege to see the result when it's finished. There was a lot of to and fro on this particular board with the end users wanting a board which was thematically in tune with their day harbour cruising boat. The logo and the name of the boat, which included a lyre, which pays homage to Orpheus, a passenger on Jason and the Argonauts boat, who plays music to subdue the sirens, needed to work in without cluttering the board. The story is better told by Wikipedia

Chiron had told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens—the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small, rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ship into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was more beautiful and louder, drowning out the Sirens' bewitching songs.

The embossing stamp was used on the cups, on the doubling cube and inside the right hand side pockets. 

If you would like Le Noeud Papillon to help craft you your ultimate backgammon board or poker set, do not hesitate to contact us on www.lenoeudpapillon.com






Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Interview: Dominic Sebag Montefiore - Creative Director Of Edward Sexton

The story of the Montefiores, as told by my underground informant Carlos Oppenheimer, began when Moses Montefiore, who made a fortune at an early age out of being the stock broker for Nathan Rothschild, began a life of philanthropy which still to this day benefits Jewish people all around the world. He died in 1885 leaving no 'known' children and bequeathed his estate to Joseph Sebag-Montefiore. 

The family, which by Oppenheimer's account is quite large, has never stopped striving to achieve and to contribute to British society and whilst the most famous living member is perhaps the historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, whose documentaries (I've not read the books that form the basis of them sadly) are masterful tales on cities and empires, I recently noticed that another Sebag-Montefiore was putting his best foot forward at Edward Sexton.

Dominic Sebag-Montefiore (DSM) is the 'creative director' of Sexton these days, a title which, in a small tailoring outfit, doesn't really give the total picture. So I spoke with DSM a few weeks back to understand what his role is and from the angle of succession planning. Edward Sexton is now 70 and whilst he looks like a man who might chew his food well and live to 100, the tailoring business relies heavily on eyesight, shoulders, backs, joints and fingers. But finding the right younger blood to take up the slack is not easy, so there must be something rather promising in DSM for him to be chosen.

DSM is very proud of the Sexton history and intends to continue in that vein as Edward Sexton must inevitably wind back his role in the day to day operations. I asked him if he would take the business into a RTW line or expand it like some other more ubiquitous international brands we see today. He said he had no such expectation. Quality was paramount, so too was individual attention. DSM explained that whilst there may be a push in new directions and an expansion of existing services, he had no intention of Edward Sexton turning into a Giorgio Armani or a Ralph Lauren.

I think this is noble and exceptional. Here is DSM in his own words. 

Dominic, you have said that you would never want Edward Sexton as a brand to become a global behemoth in order to protect the quality and integrity of the brand, but could you see the style of Sexton ever being offered in RTW in perhaps the same way that Cifonelli has taken it’s creative and technical skills of tailoring into department stores?

We are proud of the Sexton signature look and want to help people who like what we do enjoy great clothes, beautifully made and a sensible price. We are keen to expand our offering, but at the end of the day we are a tailoring brand and that is at the heart of everything we do. Growth is a great thing but we do not want to get too far away from what we do so well.






The Sexton look is something which I myself have recreated but not to the same technical expertise and without a clear understanding of exactly what it was that I thought defined it. In my opinion, the look is defined by a slightly dipped and then clearly defined roped shoulder, generous peaked or notched lapels which extend near to the chest seams, a double-breasted front as preference, darker tones in blues, a cuffed trouser with pleat and a respect for the drape of fabric. Could you tell me in your words if I am right or correct me where I am wrong?



As what we do is bespoke we treat each customer individually and for that reason our house style is somewhat shifting, and over time our tastes change so we don't favour one thing over another. For example, recently we have been steering some of our more stylish clients to wider leg trousers with17”- 19” bottoms and full pleats, or even Hollywood tops on casual trousers. Shoulders have been moving from square to more pagoda shaped. But what I can say is we like a strong shoulder with constructed chest - with drape. We prefer a roped sleeve head and lapels that are long, low and leafy.

Dominic Sebag-Montefiore left with Edward Sexton right. 




I have always found that with sweeping lapels you require a higher collar stand on your shirt and I notice that you have often high collar stand peaked collars on your website with tie pins through them. Is this the only sort of collar you suggest that marries with the style of suit you make or are there others?

We are big fans of the peak collar as it works well for a formal Sexton look with our broad lapels, but it is not the only option. When choosing a shirt collar (and in-fact tie width and knot) you should consider the length and width of your neck in proportion to your shoulders and chest. That said the pin (and tab) collar can echo the sweep of our peek lapels elegantly and resonate with the 1920s reference of them.



The turtle neck sweater with an ES suit is a wonderful look. In Australia, however, the weather does not permit most men in major cities to wear a turtle neck to work because in the middle of the day, even in winter, temperatures can get quite hot. Can you tell me what you might recommend for Australian men as some light weight alternatives to a turtle neck that might give them a chic way to dress more casually with a suit during the week?


This is difficult because for me this is a classic winter look there are some good fine gage knitwear about with a high percentage of silk in which may wear cooler. If it is for more casual wear we have clients who wear their suits well with an elegant polo shirt or a nice quality t-shirt. A Breton stripe can be a good casual option. For t-shirts, something with a little line can add at bit of texture and make it drape in a way that lends itself more to summer tailoring than cotton. We also have some more flamboyant clients who will wear a soft silk shirt with the collar unfastened with their jackets.




Post Tom Ford and the spread of new MTM programs the oversized peaked lapel suit became so ubiquitous thanks to social media that it almost seemed like some chaps were flopping their lapel over their back before heading out for the evening (😊 ) . But this is not the Sexton way, and somehow your look has been persevered despite imitations. Can you explain what it is that defines proportions for you that makes the quality of your work stand out and why some of those that imitate tend to look tacky and over-stated?

We approach what we do taking inspiration from 1920s and 30s. We look back but don’t stare. Edward is old enough to remember seeing the films from this era before these proportions were reimagined in the 1970s - Edward was one of those doing the reimagining. So, I think we approach what we do with a direct reference to the elegance and style of the 1930s and perhaps others are going via the flamboyance of the 1970s. Don’t forget a lot of our clients are elegant businessmen who exist in a conservative environment so for some of them what we do is pushing the boundaries too far.


Matin Freeman wearing Edward Sexton in The Rake Magazine

You mentioned that you were interested in taking the web business in a new direction. Can you tell our readers about the challenges that smaller companies face when tackling production of stock for websites and about the changing way brands like yourselves have to evolve and change with the times?


The most important thing for us is to find workshops and manufacturers who want to work with us, and to look after the relationships. If I must deal with a shirt maker, for example, I don’t want to spend all day sending litigious emails and hassling them about little details. I want to work with someone who is nice to talk to and fun to work with, someone who gets excited about our new projects and pays attention to detail so I can trust in them and learn from them. Don’t forget I am a tailor first and that is what I like to spend my time doing, so if the business side of the web shop is not pleasurable it will get dropped very quickly. Because we are quite a small shop now, we struggle with managing stock of our shirts and find that we can be out of stock quickly on styles if someone writes about them, and it can take a few months to replenish stock as to make the project commercially viable we have to order quite a few shirts in one go.






What is the greatest piece of tailoring wisdom that Edward Sexton has imparted upon your since you began working with him and what is the most important business wisdom he has explained to you about running a bespoke atelier?

There are two. 1. A faint heart never won a fair lady.  2. Always stick to your knitting.

We spoke briefly about you wearing Chelsea shoes with suits, something which I adore myself. Can you tell us about your shoe and suit collections at the moment and if you are working on any new commissions over the coming months?

My shoe collection, I have a lot, but my tastes have changed recently so I am not that happy about many of them. I am loving my new bitter chocolate monk straps. I am working on for my next suit a light beige flannel suit with Hollywood top trousers.

Bianca Jagger - an icon of style - wore sweeping peaked and notched lapels that were cut by Edward Sexton under the directorship of Tommy Nutter in what is now a golden age of suiting which saw the likes of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Ringo Starr and many more all wear the Nutters look which has evolved into the modern Sexton look.
The genesis of the Sexton look derived from Edward Sexton's days as the head cutter for avant-garde and showman tailor Tommy Nutter who died of complications from AIDS in the early 1990's.

Edward Sexton's relationship to rock n roll continues even today and many musicians still count on him to create the right sweeping look to wear on stage.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Zen And The Art Of Bonsai And Bow Tie Maintenance

Yesterday I bought myself a 'bonsai'  (Juniperus Squamata Prostrata 2005) for the Studio owing to some ridiculous infatuation I am having with the Japanese at the moment. I had a smaller less intense run of it about 12 months ago when, if some of you may recall, many Japanese ancient art references were used as backdrops for our bow ties in a series of photos for the blog and website.

It's grip this time around is starting to filter into my life philosophy and general psyche. Because the more I look at Japanese art the more I see references to other artists and their work. Brett Whiteley, for example, now appears to me as merely an evolved and Australian version of Japanese shunga art. His nudes take on almost the same contours and lines and I believe I read somewhere that he owned shunga art himself. 

Then, on another tangent, the Aesthetic, Audrey Beardsley, whom I had seen before but was re-introduced to this week by a guest at the Studio, it also carried the same references back to Japanese wood block printing.

Which brings me back to my bonsai. The word literally translates from Japanese into English as 'tree in a pot' but the word conjures up so much more than just a tree in a pot. I was in Caringbah the other day for work and I decided to stop into the local Bonsai nursery. I had driven past this business over the last 15 years and never bothered to stop in and since I was so immersed in Japanese culture I thought I might do well to pay them a visit. 

I walked amongst the nursery bewildered by what I saw. Conifers that had been clipped and pruned and maintained since the 1960's were there in pots looking absolutely stunning - a natural sculpture that was evolved from one persons imagination and a great deal of time and care to carefully shape and allow these plants to grow.

The owner, Leon, walked me around. He was Chinese but carried a sort of Mr Miyagi mannerism about him (though his accent was Chinese not Japanese) as I pointed things out. "That one", "that is $8000, I inherited it from my master, who had been working on it since 1972". 

"What?"

"What do you think this is? You are not buying a pot plant, you are buying time, patience and nurture" . 

I took some more photos.

One part of bonsai culture is to make exact replications of larger trees, carefully pruning and maintaining them to be in the exact same proportions. Another part of the culture of bonsai is to create shapes and contours which are conjured up in the bonsai artists mind. Moreover, there is some fluidity to it, because the bonsai is always growing and changing, to the artist must continue to evolve with it by constant clipping and trimming, being mindful of the health of the plant when considering the aesthetic qualities. 

Bonsais are best kept out in the open with as much sun as possible, with the ideal place being somewhere on a garden bench. You can bring them inside to admire them and maintain them, but they need fresh air and sun too. As well as constant watering. Then over time they need to be replanted along with pruning and trimming. 

Something makes me want to make a good go of this bonsai. Maybe it's a metaphor for nurturing your business. Maybe at the end when I have sculpted it to taste it might turn into a silk. Maybe I'll grown bored of it and it will die or it will be too much maintenance and I'll hand it on to someone else. 

Time will tell, but I am certain that there will be plenty of lessons to be learned along the way.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

Rest In Peace Don Rickles, I Miss You Already


Seeing Don Rickles on the tribute they held for him last year was really a good way to say goodbye. He was old and it was actually sad to see him surrounded by none of his peers - he outlived them all. 

His comedy was so good that to this day it doesn't matter how many times I watch him do faux Italian to Frank Sinatra on Johnny Carson or how many times I watch him say 'Reegan or Reagan, what do they call you?"  - I just burst out laughing and can barely contain myself. 

It comes at a time when this week I consumed two comedy specials on Netflix, Dave Chapelle and Louis C.K - both were terrific but they didn't have that special magic that Don Rickles had and his death, for me, marks the last final door closing on an era that has well and truly passed which will never be repeated again.

Reagan, Sinatra, Hope, Davis, Brooks, Martin, Heston - all those wonderful guests on the old Roasts, they're all gone. Now Rickles too.

Goodbye old friend, you never stopped making me laugh. 



Vintage Charvet And The Hidden Treasures Of Ebay


I think if I were to be asked to fill in a questionnaire about myself I would list Ebay as a hobby which was now perhaps something of a process addiction.

Sometimes I find myself unable to get to sleep and so I reach for my phone and check on the price of a Smythson diary. Then I'll do a quick search for Marco Pescarolo jeans or make a search under a luxury seller for everything that's in my size (don't ask). 

Unlike a regular retailer who might stock a small stable of brands and stock one or two types of black oxford shoes, Ebay is like going into some old monastery and being given the key to the library. It is like a tomb, but then it's also not. It's maybe better described as a jungle, where you can forage from the top of the canopy right down to the jungle floor and everything in between. However, unlike a jungle, there is some decorum because nearly all of the sellers are subject to being reviewed for their products and services, so even the hyena and the vulture are perfectly well behaved as they perform their function.

And we, as buyers, are not much different. We are mostly scavengers, trawling through a garbage heap looking for what's been undervalued or under-loved, also subject to review. 

A week ago I found an extraordinary thing on Ebay. As most of you who read this blog would know, my business was founded with a great love and appreciation for the institution that is Charvet of Paris. And even ten years on and having done a lot of great work ourselves, I still find myself having a certain sigh of romance when I think about the Parisian maker. 

Someone, somewhere, had decided to call it a day for this matching royal blue ottoman silk cummerbund and bow tie set and it had been moved to a clearing house somewhere in Chicago. I bought it because I was fascinated by the cummerbund - and I had wanted to know how they had made theirs in what appeared to be an  80's era make. 

When it arrived I opened it up and, as I often do, the first thing I do is give it a smell. This particular item had that smell of having had a long life with many dinner parties, a few speeches, a few liasons and then quite possibly a heart attack. I tried to imagine a larger than life American, possibly a lawyer, raising a glass to his friends at his Chicago men's only club with a spumante style of champagne glass, his stomach swollen and pressing heat and sweat through the marcella bib onto his cummerbund, slightly sweating at the brow and daubing it with his napkin.

We don't know the history of it but it's nice to think fondly that this particular set meant something to someone and had been worn a great deal. 

As I turned over the cummerbund I noticed that the bow tie was attached so I cut off the string that attached it to the the bund, the bow was a little manky looking so I thought I would give it a press and try to re-tie it but as I pulled at the bow the whole thing snapped and unravelled in front of me. It wasn't a self-tying bow tie at all, and that was an even bigger surprise than the cummerbund.

The bow was in fact a piece of batwing silk that had been knotted somehow and then had been attached to the rear strap with a stitch. It was the most unusual and most endearing and natural way I had ever seen a pre-tied bow tie be made and my heart started thumping for Charvet again.

The arrival of the set that day just happened to coincidentally occur when, the very evening before, I had caught up for dinner with a chief executive of a publicly listed property trust who had, as he had lowered himself into his chair at the table, plonked in the clean white linen space between my knife and fork, two Tom Ford bow ties. 

"Can you please re-tie these for me - I don't know who else to ask. Someone untied them on me. I can't work out how to re-tie them".

I looked at him and shook my head. 

There in front of me was a batwing and a very oversized modified butterfly looking shape where the blade on the right ended with a hook which then attached to a very elongated left wing blade. I think the last time I had tied a Tom Ford bow tie, after I removed the foam, was about five years ago. I was up for the challenge.

All three bow ties represented some of the hardest puzzles I have undertaken in the last three years and I would like to explain why.

Tom Ford bow ties, whilst they look exceptional when they are merchandised, were in fact extremely difficult to tie as a standard self-tying bow tie. I have since learned that this is an in-joke amongst some of the well heeled brutes of Sydney, that in fact, when they see someone wearing a Tom Ford bow tie, they walk up and untie his bow tie so that he is then at a loss of how to get the bow back to it's original form. It's kind of like what women do to each other when they throw champagne on the other's dress.... fairly catty, but highly effective. Added to this insult is that there are blocks of foam inside the Tom Ford bows which, once they are dislodged, are very hard to put back into place.

So my morning was spent dissecting and analysing these bow ties and when I posted the two Tom Ford bow ties back to said CEO, I had a sense of relief. They didn't look at good as when he'd bought them and it was quite difficult to even tie them given the placement of the right arm hook, but I got there. 

The Charvet pre-tied bow tie, however, was still a mystery. And it took me another 48 hours to work out how they had tied it. It was as fascinating as if I were playing with a Rubik's Cube for the first time. Did I turn it this way, did I push it that way, what hole did I poke it through, where did you attach the strap from?

My seamstress said to me "you are a twit, you should have brought it to me before you pressed it, I could have told you by the crease marks" , but it was too late and truthfully, I wanted the challenge.

Five years ago on a December night in a hotel room in midtown New York I cracked another secret of bow tie making and presentation, the act of tying a bow tie on a flat surface.  , and not since then had I had such a Eureka moment. 

As I often say to store staff when I teach them how to tie bow ties in different ways, once you master the skill, you can very near guarantee yourself a job in menswear retailing for the rest of your days.

As for how to tie the piece of silk below - I will leave it to our blog readers to work it out. And if you do, make an Instagram video and tag us. I'll send the best knotted one a free Yuzen silk bow tie on the house!



Friday, April 7, 2017

New Yuzen Silks Just Uploaded - And They're Very Sensual


The song goes 'I think I'm turning Japanese' and the more I dabble with Yuzen silk the more I am turning that way. My love for woven jacquard has not subsided and our own 'Great Wave Of Kanagawa' which is etched red on a royal warp is superlative, but it's not Yuzen. Yuzen is something that is unlike any other silks I have worked with in both weight and finish and it's a challenge to find the right part of each panel to create a bow and then select the correct reverse. 

A new batch is now online. They're about as sensual as Japanese shunga art. And perhaps they might lead to that at the end of the night. :) 

Shop them now. www.lenoeudpapillon.com




Barrington Fabrics - For Those Of You Who Still Have A Tailor In The City Where You Live !


Recently I was approached on Instagram by Barrington Fabrics to try their range of wools for suits and jackets along with their range of linings. It coincided with me having had an urge to produce a new suit for the window of Le Noeud Papillon since we had been focusing heavily on art of recent and less on tailoring. In fact, it might have been over a year since I last made a suit which was unusual for us.

Two tones of colours I have recently been enamoured with are both royal blue, which you can see below as a wool and as the warp of our most recent 'Great Wave Of Kanagawa' silk as well as a kind of less than navy blue but darker than royal. That was the tone, which I have no describing word for,  which was first suggested to me by a patron of Le Noeud Papillon which I sadly was unable to keep happy as a customer. He had come bearing an image of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the front page of GQ before he had become PM and whilst he was still marketing for the job. He was wearing a beautiful blue suit, certainly not navy, definitely not royal. 

The customer had come to me to try an MTM suit service I was offered out of Asia which is very low cost and actually quite enjoyable if you know how to navigate their ordering system, which is mostly in mandarin. I had ordered the requested blue but it arrived and looked lighter than the royal below in colour and definitely not the less than navy colour desired. We went back to the drawing board and cut the customer a navy suit at our expense. It arrived, it was not the right fit in the shoulders, though the trousers were fine - how had the factory got the same measurements and made an ill fitting suit?  Then we went on to do a third suit, this time, once again, the jacket was slightly out and I was now very much out of pocket. I drew a line in the sand and the customer and I locked horns.

It is the reason I have never wanted and never will do suits as a core business. My experience is that customers of a bespoke or MTM suit service are never entirely satisfied and even if they love it when they first walk out of the showroom, chances are they'll come back with a list of grievances in six months time.

Personally, I am a lot more forgiving with my tailor. The ones I still choose to deal with I have learned not to spoil the apple cart with. For you never know who will cut your next suit and if you grind your tailor on every aspect of the suit, from wool colour to cut,  to construction, to the fine details,  you will eventually wear thin the relationship. I have trousers from a navy suit I cut with a reputable Sydney tailor almost three years ago that are an inch off on the hips. I never got him to alter the suit - because I knew I had pushed him to change the waist band from his ordinary construction to something I invented and more importantly, I knew I would one day want him to cut me another suit.

Which brings me to one very special point - the fabric itself. Often tailors who make suits don't have the time to become exacting wool experts for you in terms of selecting colours and weaves and usually only offer bunches which are often given to them by fabric merchants who frequent the tailoring house. But increasingly as businesses move onto the web and social media you can find many new businesses which vertically integrate their supply chain straight onto the web. One such business is Barrington fabrics and by speaking to their salesman Aman directly, I was finally able to secure myself some less than navy, more than royal blue wool  - a navy with a royal shimmer if you will. 

Barrington fabrics isn't the answer to all your problems when it comes to tailored suits - but it is one way to take one of the problem areas away from the tailor - by researching and buying a reputable Huddersfield wool directly from a business located near the weaving looms which you can then put straight into your tailors hands thereby removing one more link in the chain that might break your experience.

As for that tone of blue - I have decided to call it 'Turnbull blue' - because on the one hand it is conservative like a navy - on the other it has a sort of establishment blue blood shimmer about it on certain angles. I think that's rather fitting.






The Bow Tie That Sold For $1795 Australian Dollars - A Record For Le Noeud Papillon And Possibly The World's Most Expensive Bow Tie


I have a great deal to be grateful for this week. Firstly, I am alive and healthy and I am still able to do what I enjoy doing, namely the art of self-tying bow ties. Secondly, because something I had invested in some time ago paid off. By inlaying diamonds into an 18k solid rose gold clip for a bow tie, something that would be a hidden pleasure and never seen to the general public under a turned down collar, it was really on a whim or a folly that I could expect one of our patrons to indulge.

When I started considering who might buy such a thing I cultivated an idea of an eccentric billionaire from the Ukraine, an Arab prince or bored Russian. It was none of those people but instead a loyal and long standing customer of Le Noeud Papillon who took the plunge after he fell in love with our Yuzen silk bow ties.

As I write I can cast my head over the screen to the next batch of Yuzen silks that I have just been finished today and were photographed about an hour ago. I won't tell you which ones I love, suffice to say that some of them are almost as wonderful at the three below, which were particularly piquant.

And which bow had the clips? The bow on the far left below. It was just so unusual and such a one of a kind bow tie. 

I am aware that not everyone will want to own one of these bow ties, and I am just fine with that. But for those who are able to wear a reverso, who love the vibrancy of these silks I offer just one suggestion - let the bow tie speak for itself. A solid coloured wool for a suit and a white shirt is all it needs. I've seen our patron D. Meisenburg in the USA wear it perfectly with a grey suit and white shirt, whilst I myself wore one with a pink suit and white shirt the week before. On Sunday when I went out for lunch wearing one with a cashmere jumper, I couldn't help but feel I have crowded out the bow tie with the arglye weave of the sweater. I won't do it again.

Stay tuned. More will be on the website shortly. www.lenoeudpapillon.com 


The far left bow was the one chosen for the 18k solid rose gold hardware and sold to a patron in Texas. 

The solid 18k rose gold with diamond inlay hardware bow tie which sold for $1795 this week of which we donated $400 to Barnardos charity which raises money for kids stuck in abusive homes. 

Our regular 18k rose gold plated hardware on a yuzen silk bow tie





Monday, April 3, 2017

The Products That Can Or Might Go CHAV Very Quickly - Is That Bad Or Good? The Rolex Day-Date President

The truth is I love American popular culture and all those reality television programmes from overweight people repossessing cars to bounty hunters and pawn brokers. It is thoroughly entertaining and in part I enjoy watching the degradation of society through reality television. Probably all these elements existed in society prior to reality television, my guess is we just never celebrated them in quite the same manner.

From the United States, in my experience, there is this often a barely perceptible difference between art and life that is so reflexive that if you don't stop to notice it you can sometimes be fooled into thinking you are permanently on a movie set whilst you go around the country. And indeed, in the land where most of the world's consumed media comes from, you can sometimes feel that the policeman talking to you on the street is perfecting his own persona for when the time comes for someone to document his life in film, or that the guy hustling watches on the next corner looks like he's the next big name in rap. 

Which brings me, rather slowly, to my point. That reflexive nature between art and life can have a negative impact or a positive one. So when you see gangsters  in a US film walking around with gold teeth and 'ice' on their wrists with chunky Rolex 'Day-Date' or 'President' watches for a moment you consider that perhaps this is just a movie character, perhaps not. Then later society begins to reverberate or spread said character into the mainstream. You find yourself in Western Sydney and a Lebanese thug gangster has a full sleeve tattoo with the same watch. Maybe he's Italian, maybe Croatian, might even be Greek.

And as the phenomenon spreads, first by a real phenomenon, then by art which documents life, then life which emulates art and art that goes on to further document and re-create life, you find yourself wondering what was the original thing. 

In the case below I am referring to the Rolex Day-Date President  - a watch which was synonymous with business and political leaders starting with Ike in the 50's who wore a datejust with one of the first ever made President bracelets and continuing on with Kennedy (who got one as a gift from Marilyn so the story goes), Johnson, Nixon, Carter and then all the smaller dictators and presidents who followed suit. We wrote about it here. 

Recently I found it extremely charming that Warren Buffet sported the same watch for decades in his recent HBO documentary, though they didn't discuss the watch. His was, again, like the presidents that served before him, a 36mm version of the watch with the gold president bracelet and a pearl face. Buffet is said to be a big fan of Rolex and at one point has wanted to buy the company (which wasn't for sale). 

However, around 10 years ago now the watch was made into a 41mm version and the Day-Date II (I think that's what they call it) has become a symbol of the newly rich and gangsters and with that the product, which was once the pinnacle of power and prestige, has suddenly become a symbol of status in society that is slightly altered, slightly cliche.

In Sydney, in certain circles, the watch is actually more often seen on the women who do not work particularly hard during the week - their husbands often choosing a smaller less showy watch to wear to work in order to not give off the wrong impression to clients. Whilst the watch itself still radiates a wonderful glow and is immediately recognisable, the 41mm tends to look extraordinarily large on the wrist of said women.

By contrast, and possibly more in a more aesthetically pleasing manner, the 41mm is worn by men who work out a lot, often having colourful sleeve tattoos and tight t-shirts. The watch on these men actually looks to be the correct size owing to the size of their arms, but the cultural impact of this sort of look is that it is not for the gentleman, but for the man who lives on the edge - chasing money, notoriety, cars and women before other aspects of life. To these men it is a symbol of prestige and the arrival of fast money in their life and carries with it a certain reality television tonality. 

Both instances I have just described are in part owing to American popular culture that feeds through Australia and both and then creates it's own sub-culture. And whilst all things must adapt and evolve or else cease to exist, it is perhaps somewhat sad and disheartening to see a watch with such a rich history of some of the 20th centuries most distinguished men and women somewhat blighted by recent cultural phenomenons. 

It reminded me of when Oppenheimer once explained to me the faux pas I had in 2001 by wearing Burberry rain hat. He said to me "don't know know it was overtaken by the CHAV's (CHAV is an acronym for Council Housing And Violent) and the whole thing is dead? " . I had missed the memo it seems.

But more importantly, it took a long time for Burberry to win back it's customer base by doing everything it could to stop the brand being owned by sub-cultures. 

I am not inclined to judge either sub-culture I have witnessed with my own eyes referring to the Rolex Day-Date - because in both instances I have found the watch to look aesthetically pleasing - on gangsters and on ladies who lunch - but I am concerned about how a brand protects the cultural progression of a product. As for me, and as I have often written on this blog in the past - a watch head over 36mm in the age of keyboards and daily typing is both cumbersome and superfluous. I am inclined to believe that the Day-Date 36mm was the watch of choice for those in the know for much of the latter part of the 20th century and I am glad it was Warren Buffet's choice too - a man who loves good products but not over-consumption and eschews status symbols.


When does a product go CHAV? 

Warren Buffet has been wearing a gold day-date 36mm for many years. 

A 36mm day date with president bracelet tried on at The Hour Glass in Sydney Thank you Joan Fan for looking after me. This was the classic most revered shape and size in the history of the watch. 

An example of a blue faced Rolex Day Date at LG Humphries in Sydney's CBD

Even the Rolex Cellini - which is more of a dumbed down formal dress watch - is now in a much larger casing which feels too big for my wrist considering it is supposed to be sleek evening dress watch. 

Rocco Fazzarri Paints David Bowie For The Window Of Le Noeud Papillon

Some time ago we commissioned Rocco Fazzarri to do a series of illustrations for the website and blog which were really so exquisite and I couldn't help but feel like we got something for nothing in that transaction.

He has a wonderful hand and he gets where I am coming from. More importantly, he is able to appreciate that not everyone has the budget for his art so he was more than happy to try his hand at digital for the process.

Recently I bumped into Rocco and he suggested we try something a bit more robust, a painting for the window. At the same time, he said he would work on a 'how to tie a bow tie' video for me that would tie in nicely.

I am pleased to inform our readers that the painting is ready, to be followed in the near future by the video and by Wednesday it should be in the window of the Studio - so if you don't feel like stopping in, you'll be able to do a drive-by day or night (as it is illuminated at night) .

I really am indebted to Rocco for working with us - he has so many years of experience and by comparison we are very much the new kid on the block.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

More To Come - The Schneider Group Moves Its Analogue History Into The World Of Digital

In the 1920's in Australia an entrepreneurial Italian named Giovanni Schneider started a wool trading company that would go on to become a global business sourcing fibre from all over the globe.

I met the current Giovanni Schneider at a wedding some ten years ago. He has helped me a great deal since I began writing this blog and was especially helpful for one of my most important and interesting talks on ABC702 Evenings with Dom Knight, when we followed a bale of wool from the farm gate to the the suit on the peg.

Giovanni, who is a very private type, has recently begun putting their family company history onto the web, something I had always hoped he'd do - and the photos are absolutely fascinating and show not only a trading history with Australia, but also document a cultural evolution from a country that once rode on the sheep's back and survived in very harsh elements.

This country has come a long way and in part it is thanks to those Italians and Englishmen who sought to improve and promote the quality of this country's  merino wool.

There will be more to come when Giovanni answers some questions about the history of the family company but in the meantime you can read more on their website here. 


Vintage photo of merino sheep in the paddock.

A more contemporary photo of wool being classed. 

A vintage stockman with his riding spurs. 

Early 1900's wool classing

Early 1900's shearing shed

Wool trading desks in the 1950's

Yuzen - A Magical Fusion That Makes An Enchanted Bow Tie


You work for ten years on a product to refine it from the types of silks you use, the linings, the construction, the sewing, the hardware, the knots, the shapes - you name it - we've gone over it time and time again. And that includes our packaging and scents too.

Then one day you stumble across an art form of Japanese silk making that brings another dimension to the bow tie - the enchanted story. Yes, we have stories in all our own designs of silks, but there is something very ethereal about our new Yuzen silks or, as it was suggested recently by one of our customers recently: 

"Isn't it like seeing something beautiful in nature? Turning your head in one direction, only to be surprised by an ephemeral glimpse of beauty. You have a gift in choosing and cutting the perfect part of these hand painted silks, revealing this natural balance between selection and chance. Each one is precious. Thank you again for these works."

G. Thomas
Texas, United States Of America


I agree with Mr. Thomas - it's something different. I disagree though that I have a gift. I am just the person that connected all the dots. 

I do hope if you like to own unique bow ties and neckwear, that you purchase one of these Yuzen silks before the well dries up. And it will dry up soon.

Many thanks for your continued support,
Nicholas.








Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Remarkable Documentary - Becoming Warren Buffet


A few weeks ago I was with a good friend of mine who quoted Warren Buffet from a recent documentary on his life, which piqued my interest.

I am not that much into financial stuff despite a degree in agricultural economics and a basic understanding of commodities etc,  nor do I watch the financial markets closely or talk about it over dinner. The thing that interests me about money is how people attain it, what they do with it once they have it and I am fascinated by people who manage to manipulate other people to work for them in order to make more money. That might sound simple and stupid - but to me that is quite remarkable - that one human being might be able to grow a company through sales that is strong enough to convince another human being to come into that business and work for a wage, possibly to take some equity in the business and that they might go on to have a company with thousands of employees by the end of their lifetime. Personally I have a hard enough time motivating myself, so this is particularly of interest to me and I hold these people in high esteem.

Perhaps this was why I wanted to know more about Warren Buffet and how he managed to convince a whole bunch of people to work for and invest with and in him. And it was fantastic to see how he did it, because it made much more sense after the documentary.

In my head I imagined someone that goes to work in an office where hundreds of people dart around and the thought of all that pressure just makes me cringe with anxiety - but what we see is Warren Buffet in a quiet office with 36 employees not that far from where he lives in Omaha, a quaint little drive from his home via the McDonalds drive-thru .

One would expect that sitting on all those billions of dollars you'd be sweating all day long but Buffet is relaxed and reads the papers, gets himself a coke, takes a few phone calls.

I just love this guy and I can understand the cult that has been built around his persona.

And his secret to success, which he repeats many times over during the course of the documentary, is the nature of compound interest over an extended period of time ( which is also explained well by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett here) and the fact that he has kept his expenses down. The second part is very much inspirational for me than the first. Watching Buffet live a simple -  and perhaps comparative to his contemporary billionaire cohorts - frugal existence, is quite exciting and somewhat paradoxical.

For Buffet the accumulation of wealth was no more than a game that some other kid might play on Xbox which he played very well over the course of his lifetime. But the game was all about making or at least relying on human beings to consume. Without consumption and in many respects, over-consumption, Buffet would not have had such a great result from the game. But in order to play the game better, he himself made sure that he never fell victim to consumption. He avoided the pitfalls of the 'hamster wheel' of life, ensuring that his personal costs were at a minimum.

It is nice to know that Warren Buffet is one of the richest men in the world - he seems to be the right fit of character for that role. He carries with him a sort of Bernie Sanders-esque frugality about him from an era that understood what financial hardship was all about. But the game is what I don't understand and will never understand - the endless pursuit of numbers that sit in bank accounts like a score card.

The one thing I loved about Steve Jobs was he had one sole aim for his profits in the early days, and that was to make better products. Make a profit so you can make better products, to get more sales, to get more profit to make another round of better products. Whereas, it seems if Buffet's first wife had not died, the purpose of his money seems to have been nothing more than a game.

If you have a spare hour, watch this documentary on this remarkable human being.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Final Call


We now have to get back to our other work but we have loaded the final Yuzen silks onto the website with a few more to trickle in over the coming three weeks. We have enjoyed this process very much. 

Come see them - www.lenoeudpapillon.com



Friday, March 17, 2017

New Yuzen Silks Just Loaded



If you watch enough videos on the topic of Yuzen silk you can become a little obsessed, as I have become.

Firstly, there is the patience and time that goes into one bolt of say 10 metres that will make up one kimono. It is a process that has artisans using a rice resist in pen like forms and using stencils to create the basic artwork. Then comes the dyeing which is done in house from scratch with sponges and brushes. Once this has been done, the  silk has to be steamed three times then washed in fresh water (often from natural springs that run underneath the factory). Then and only then when the dye is set and the resist washed away, does the artisan apply genuine gold leaf and silver.

It is almost sacrilegious to cut these silks up into bow ties if they didn't come out so beautifully. And I am very proud of them, they merge a number of skill sets, dyed silk and silk painting, the art of a jacquard loom and silk weaving and finally the skills of my seamstress and to a small extent my cutting, selection and design skills. But enough about me - all I did was connect the dots.

Anyone can make a bow tie - and I mean that - it wouldn't take more than a day or two to work out how to make one - you can go to a number of haberdashery stores in Sydney and get a private lesson for the morning and you will be mostly on your way. But these bow ties are something special, they are a search for something unique and different and the refinement of one product over nearly ten years now.

I hope you like them as much as I do.