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Monday, October 20, 2014

Green With Envy Over David Beckham's Deep Emerald Velvet Smoking Jacket ? I Know I Am.

Oppenheimer has been very inactive for the last few months. It might be that, as an internet trawling spy, he takes a break between missions. It was a pleasant surprise when he put this little vignette below under my nose this morning. Either that or he is now working for Diageo.

When it it comes to smoking jackets the English tailoring houses make the best in the world in my opinion. I am only guessing here but I would not be surprised if the smoking jacket worn by David Beckham in this new ad for Haig Club whiskey is by Henry Poole and Co or some such house on Savile Row. The generous shawl and classic cut are hallmarks of the older tailors.

This ad is a good thing for whiskey, for menswear, for David Beckham and for bow ties. See more here

Sunday, October 19, 2014

We Don't Spare Any Expense, Why Should You?

At a party last night I was disappointed that despite the expense and fanfare that the birthday boy had put on for the guests, shamefully, most of the men dressed in black tie wore pre-tied bow ties and usually very cheap ones too.

Whilst I have always believed that a pre-tied bow tie is akin to a clammy handshake I have always accommodated for those that refuse to tie their own bow tie by making some of our velvet bow ties pre-tied and by allowing you to unfasten your self-tying bow ties with a set of additional clips in the rear. The hardware for such clips is shown below in silver.

So really there is no excuse for a man to wear a cheap and nasty pre-tied bow tie when making the splendid effort to wear a dinner suit. If there is one occasion for a man where you should treat yourself head-to-toe it's a black tie event and I implore you to search for a brand of bow ties, be it ours or our competitors, that will give you a dignified and plush looking bow tie made of quality fabrics.

Le Noeud Papillon silk and viscose velvet with satin silk strap, silver enamel hardware and hand-stitched label. This model is pre-tied and we call this shape a 'Mayfair'.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Right Amount Of Cuff

It is my opinion that the one occasion when a man should reveal a generous amount of cuff it is at a black tie event. Although there are many wonderful combinations of suit wool and cotton cuffs really popping an ensemble, nothing quite matches the wonderful contrast that the rich blacks of a tuxedo jacket offer against the strong and clean whites of a dinner shirt.

However, one of the obstacles with men who like to cut their jackets with a slim fit is that the tight arm holes and narrow jacket sleeves pull the end of the shirt cuff up so that the cuff no longer protrudes. The solution is to either allow for this in the dinner shirt sleeve length or else to allow a greater tolerance in your jacket sleeve.

For this reason I recommend that you purchase a custom made dinner shirt if you are acquiring a new dinner suit. Whether the suit is RTW, MTO or bespoke, there is a greater chance your tailor or alterations house can alter the jacket sleeve heads and less of a chance they can alter the shirt (especially if the sleeve length is too short).

Whilst this might seem like a rather contrived blog post since there are fewer and fewer black tie events that people attend, there is one group of men I deal with, namely grooms, where this dilemma is faced regularly. Preparation is the key, once you have purchase the dinner jacket, allow enough time for someone to knock you out a shirt (2 weeks) and enough time to alter it if needs be (1 week).

Holland & Sherry black velvet smoking jacket by Le Noeud Papillon, bespoke marcella and diamond weave cotton shirt by Le Noeud Papillon. Beghum Khan cufflinks.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Burgundy Velvet Smoking Jacket With Black Satin Silk Quilted Shawl And Cuffs - Channelling Heffner

There are a couple of reasons that this customer can't show you his face on this blog and it's not because he's a dentist that works for Oral B. It's something a little more delicate. He's not an undercover police agent, nor a gangster on the run, he's just a chap who likes nice things and wanted one of our made to order smoking jackets but doesn't feel his friends all need to know. With the sudden revisit to winter these last two days I think he might have also had two working days of his new jacket before he shelves it until next winter. 

The idea that you must smoke cigars, own an English castle or have a double barrel surname is no longer synonymous with a smoking jacket. The customers we serve are from all walks of life and don't follow a strict pattern except to say that there are a few lawyers who seem to enjoy them more than other professionals we serve.

Honestly, don't be intimidated by a smoking jacket, they are loads of fun to wear around the house and very comfortable for winter film and television nights.

Some Things Do Not Grow Old - We Have Received And Are Cutting New Tie Silks As I Write

I wrote last week and I stand by my statement that a thoughtful hand-written note trumps a DHL parcel or an email. However, that doesn't detract from the thrill I still get by opening a new package of silks fresh from the looms. 

These particular numbers came from the Como region of Italy and once again I started by opening the package gently and with care but towards the end I was as excited as when I eat a hamburger. The difference being that when you dribble and drool hamburger all over your shirt you need a sponge and some soda water whereas with silk you need a clothes brush to remove all the loose strands of silk that stick to your t-shirt, shirt or jacket once you are done. Same excitement, different kind of clean up.

Stay tuned as the first ones come off the line over the next two weeks. Preliminary cutting began today. If you would like to make something bespoke in terms of a tie or bow tie, now would be the time to tell us regarding the new silks as we have a limited number of metres per design.

New woven silk jacquards arrive from Italy, ready to be turned into bow ties in Sydney next week.

Some delightful spots, paisleys, geometrics and neats are part of the next installment of silks for Le Noeud Papillon

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You Don't Have To Be Good At Something To Enjoy It - Patina And Glacage As Therapeutic As Cooking If You Ask Me

I will never leave my current work to pursue a life in patina but that doesn't mean to say that I don't enjoy every minute. As opposed to painting where you are perhaps encouraged, for example in a life drawing class, to paint something that resembles a life form, with patina, the enjoyment, for me, comes from not having any particular goal but to enjoy working with a brush and dyes. 

These boots from Santoni were a steal on Ebay for less than $80 USD and I decided to embark on a project for my old lady. They arrived and were very light tan in colour which was perfect for a patina since you could go any colour you liked. On this particular model I used orange on the heel and toe box and black everywhere else and then once finished with the black I went over the orange with the black to get the contrasts. 

Like I said, it's not about winning any medals or trying to start a new business but merely the enjoyment of having a spare few hours to get to know a pair of shoes a little better and give them a little more character. I know when I get home that she will say she hates them and I know I won't be able to sell them again on Ebay - so if you really like these shoes and on the basis that I am right and she doesn't want them, leave a comment below and perhaps we can arrange a price that means I don't lose any money but I still got to have some fun. Or drop us a line on the link below. 

You Won't Know Until You Put Them All Against One Another

The customer arrived from JH Cutler with his new suit, which was cut perfectly I might add, and he wanted to marry up the suit wool with a bow tie - not the easiest task given the choice of wool. My first inclination is to recommend a solid colour to contrast the check -but in this instance the customer was inclined to choose our limited edition Gaudi print which was on the rack but not on the website. I think he made the right choice. If you have a wool that has a lot of personality, it's worth making an enquiry before you purchase to make sure it works or make an appointment with the Studio. 

This suit was cut by the team at JH Cutler and frankly it was one of the best cut Australian made suits I've seen in the last year or two. 

We Don't Like To See The Great Silks Go To Waste - #Repurpose #Reclaim Your Tie Or Bow Tie

A unique service - we will restore, replicate or re-purpose your tie or bow tie silk into a new bow tie by sending it to our Studio in Sydney. We are a self-tying bow tie specialist - so if you do not want to waste that beautiful old tie you can't seem to wear anymore - consider sending it to us.

I have ties in my collection which are from the mid  to late 1990's when the tie seemed to be having a big day or certainly in my family. I have ties from Nina Ricci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bvlgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Hermes and Vivienne Westwood that are made of some superb silks which I consider such a privilege to own. However, times change, styles change and of all of them only two would I consider wearing at the moment to an event and even then, given the new ties I've accumulated, I am not sure I would favour them over my current collection.

That's why we've got a new service running at Le Noeud Papillon  - an ability to re-purpose that beautiful old silk tie by using it in a brand new bow tie. Why should that silk stay as a 10cm tie if you never wear 10cm ties anymore? Give it a new lease of life by contacting us and we can turn it into a batwing, butterfly, modified butterfly, skinny batwing or diamond point bow tie with minimum fuss and a reasonable turn around time of 4 weeks.

I can only think of the wonderful things that people might do with this service - such as using your grandfather's old silk to make your wedding bow tie or giving your father a memento for his birthday by converting one of his falling apart ties from the 60's into a brand new bow tie.

We are, after all, more than just another bow tie company. Prices start from $195.00 AUD.

PS: Read more about the bow tie we re-purposed for Savile Row tailor Steven Hitchcock here

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

You Must Try Before You Buy - The Benefits Of Touching Cloth

Whilst the world moves more and more onto web shopping platforms spare a thought for texture and feel - the two aspects of fabric that cannot be easily ascertained by a photo. Perhaps some of the reason that businesses such as A Suitable Wardrobe have been successful is that the consumer relies on the expertise of the owner to discern for them what is quality and what is not.

There is something which we web retailers can emulate but never really replicate and that is the experience of being in the hands of a knowledgeable salesperson with product in front of them who can guide you to and fro to help you make the right decisions.

Two weeks ago the customer below picked up his shirts from Le Noeud Papillon. The previous batch had lasted approximately two and a half years according to records and when we met the customer returned with his new wife and child. It was a very nice experience to show him through the new cloths that we were running. We now had two more companies from which we were purchasing shirting from. In the end, and with a little persuasion from myself, he indulged in this beautiful diamond weave SIC Tess shirting cloth with a lovely flowing handle, which, when he put it on, fit like a glove. I could tell he was happy with the fit because of the proud smile he wore.

There are some things which require traditional retailing - touching and feeling your way through cloth and cuts to custom make something that's entirely for you and nobody else. For this we suggest you book an appointment with the Studio

Diamond weave S.I.C Tess cloth bespoke shirt by Le Noeud Papillon

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Antonio From Enrile Completed The Brown Patina Weekend Bag For Le Noeud Papillon

I was on the telephone to a journalist the other day and I was talking about the struggles of a modern world and juggling small business with home life. She offered a small piece of advice which is age old and not new to me, but it hit the spot at this moment. “Nothing of any value in this world comes without patience and hard work”. 

It has been a long time coming but it was worth it. Today I received the weekend bag which was made by Antonio from Enrile in Seville, Spain. I think it’s perfect for the Australian countryside and luckily for me, Antonio’s vibrant and perhaps a little flamboyant gift inside will remain hidden. It’s a blokey hard-working bag with a beautifully rich but rugged brown patina on the exterior. My journalist friend's comments were only bolstered today by my glimpse into the world of Antonio - a man dedicated to his craft.

Meet Antonio and his bag:

My name is Antonio, I’m the father of two kids and I’m happily married. I got involved to the leather being still a teenager. I think I was fourteen or fifteen years old when my father first brought me to buy leather remnants that I used to make bracelets. This turned into a hobby and later on, into my livelihood. No one of my relatives had ever being related to the leather trade before.
I studied marketing looking forward to being self-employed.
So far it has been a long and hard way.

The process of learning about leather tooling, handbags and saddles was almost completely self-taught.

I did an internship together with an artisan but I only learnt hand swing. Further skills were acquired through on-the-job-training.

Later on I completed a three year course in design and shoe making in Elda (EspaƱa) where I luckily realized that what I already knew as saddler could be applied to shoes.
The learning process in this job is a never-ending task since you are always experimenting, finding out and learning new things in the workshop daily labour. Books and online resources have always been helpful too.

I´m 42 years old and I set Enrile up eleven years back.

Antonio, can you tell me how many man hours this bag took to make?

The total time spent on this weekend bag was 8 – 9 hours.

The process begins at Antonio selects leathers for the bag

How did you go about making a patina for the bag? How long was this part of the process and how difficult was it to get the patina right?

Australia inspired us for the patina. It is very likely that at least a 90% of the Europeans think about Australia as a tough country with an imposing wildlife; reason why I chose a patina that evokes the old worn-out leather bags instead of a uniform one and why I mixed different dyes to create reflections.
- Once the leather is selected and cut, I brush it applying two layers of aniline dyes, oak colour.
- Two more layers of light brown dye.
- And a final layer of medium brown dye.
In every case I always let it settle for an entire day before applying the next dye, so that it settles firm.
- Two days more to rehydrate the leather.
I don’t think this part of the process lasts more than 4 to 5 hours but it has to be made little by little.  It is not a difficult task but a laborious one.

Finally the brightness with Saphir and water.

Antonio, after cutting the pattern of the bag, begins to treat the leathers for patina

What kind of leather did you use to make the bag and why did you choose this particular type of leather?

The leather is a 100% national vegetable tanned cowhide. I wanted it to be living leather so that it ages with every-day use as well as gets character.

The vegetan leather swatch above shoes the affects of dyes which absorb well on this untreated leather.
I noticed you cut the pattern for the bag which was then treated for patina before being sewn together – is this the same technique you use for your shoes or do you finish shoes with patina after they have been sewn?

I am far away from being a master at patinas. Artists like A.Nurulaef inspired me, but my learning about patinas is based on trial and error. I use this technique very often, always applying patina before starting the shoe.

What is the most difficult part of making a bag which requires the most concentration?

When you aspire to make things the best you can, you have to stay focused. There are no ‘minor crafts’.

Getting the patina right may take multiple coats to get the tint right, as Antonio says, you must stay focussed, as all leather pieces must roughly hold the same colour and depth of tones. 

I noticed you leather embossed the bag for us – but is this something you can do for all your customers upon request?

This is a technique to turn the subject’s aspect into a more old and rustic one. It can be applied to almost any kind of vegetable tanned leather. I remember that, after having seen his bag ready, one of my clients ordered a pair of shoes with the same patina and relief.

Brown patina with embossed butterfly and initials for Le Noeud Papillon by Antonio from Enrile

In English I would describe this bag as a weekend bag or ‘holdall’ but in Spanish what would you call it and does it have a function outside of being a general holdall?

Here you have a weekend bag, although people also use it as a kit bag for the gym.

Of all the products you make at your studio, which product line is the one which gives you the most enjoyment?

Many things are changing for the artisan trade. Internet has become a source of inspiration and non-stop knowledge feedback. It allows us to be aware of other artisans’ work that otherwise we would never have had the chance to get to know about and likewise, it has proved to be a useful tool to bring your own craftsmanship to the fore in an easily accessible way for clients.

Currently, we are experiencing an increasing demand for shoes that we cannot satisfy. Together with the increasing quality of our shoes, this has made us readdress our production system. We aim to offer a better product and a more effective service.

Within a few months we will be able to tell more about this.

Antonio's surprise was that he lined the bag with a butterfly print which razzle dazzles you when you open the bag. However, given that I was going for an 'Australiana' weekend bag - I'm not too sure how Mick Dundee might take this if I were to set up camp next to him. 

The finished bag - a real beauty and a piece of patience and hard work by the determined Antonio of Enrile in Seville, Spain.

Would you like Enrile to make you a weekend bag or something similar? Antonio is able to pack and send products across the world. Although his English is not perfect, he is able to visually express each component very well and runs a smart phone which makes him available for most times of the day. Visit him on

They Are All En Route

I am pleased to inform you that all but two parcels from the sale have now been dispatched via Australia Post.

For Australian customers, all parcels are sent by express post and you should allow 1-2 business working days for delivery.

For international customers, all parcels will take approximately 7-10 working days to make the journey although in some instances it will take longer, especially to countries such as the Ukraine, Russia, Brazil and Germany. International parcels which run within reasonable time frames are USA, Great Britain and Canada.

Please note that during this period we are unable to answer emails in the same time as we would ordinarily respond but we will endeavour to answer your questions as soon as possible.

The new 2014 Le Noeud Papillon premium gift box features midnight blue case with gold foul writing and matching ribbon. 

It Makes Me Happy And Sad At The Same Time

Having a Dutch Auction brings about mixed feelings for me and in some ways it's a kind of catharsis as I watch that which I built up be taken away. Over the months we receive new silks and experiment with shapes and re-work combinations whilst in the meantime designing new silks to be worked on at the mills in Italy and slowly but surely we build up more and more stock. As you can imagine, our wholesale business focuses mainly on black and white bow ties in satin silk, silk grosgrain and cotton marcella. The reason that we seem to hold onto everything else is that in the main there is not a great demand for coloured and motif designed bow ties in Australia from the retailers. Stocking what they term 'fancy' self-tying bow ties is very risky because, as anyone who knows bow tie customers would know, they are very picky about what they will tie around their neck. And it's not just the colour and texture of the silk, it's the cut too.

Which brings me to the twelve bow ties below. They were ordered by one customer in Texas in the United States and no doubt he carefully weighed up his options and patiently waited for the sale and bought very well indeed. These beauties will soon be dispatched as we slowly wade through the orders but I am left with mixed feelings - it's hard to say goodbye but I know they have to go to make way for the new arrivals. Perhaps that's how grandfathers feel? Time will tell.

A collection of bow ties ordered by one customer who shopped particularly well during the sale at Le Noeud Papillon

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Hand-Written Note Beats Any Email, Fax Or DHL Parcel You Could Ever Receive

I am a ballpoint pen kind of man. Recently I have been forced to move away from my ballpoints onto a stylus in order to improve my efficiency at typing long-winded emails on the fly from my smart phone. The other day I had a pang of regret as I felt the earth was moving too fast in the direction of fast communication and lcd screens. I had spent from 8.30am to 9pm at night looking at a screen until my eyes were squinting and I was not sure whether I was seeing things or not. This coincided with some correspondence with Barbara Nichol from Penultimate in the city, again, via email.

I decided to call in on Barbara the next day and I walked out with my first ever luxury fountain pen. The odds were always going to be stacked against this left-handed spasm-proned would-be author but I decided that it was time I wrote a hand-written note on some nice stationary that had been lying in my drawer since the last time Smythson was on sale and to use the magnificent Banjo Patterson bush ballad stamps I had from Australia Post.

How much has the world changed ay? I recall in the early 1980's that we had those shocking old telephones with long elastic coils which would always get terribly tangled up. My grandmother used to keep hers next to her writing desk where she received both telephone calls and wrote letters. She used to keep pen pals and write to them all the time and nothing seemed to please her more than writing a nice letter and having a cup of tea.

Yesterday I wrote a letter to my mother and then one to my fiance and after I was done I felt good. I peeled off the sticker stamp which no longer needed to be licked and I closed off the fancy envelope and plonked the letters into the red post office box. It was from start to finish a form of a ceremony - the same kind of feeling I get when I take tea with a certain friend who regards tea in the same way I regard writing a hand-written card.

Thanks to the team at Penultimate and to the people who organise the sales at Smythson, I was very pleased with myself yesterday.

Clockwise; Sailor ink, take-sumi ink by pilot mont blanc ink, sailor white barrel fountain pen, an old mont blanc fountain pen I found and my original ball point Mark Twain pen.

Up close with my new Sailor fountain pen from Penultimate. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

In The Vein Of American Hustle - A Custom Made Bow Tie For A Customer's Wedding Day

Whilst the demand for our website bow ties is not as robust as it was the same time last year we are receiving more and more work from customers seeking specific custom or, as we commonly bandy the word around these days, bespoke bow ties. 

Below was a request that came from a customer in Sydney, Australia who was seeking out our Mayfair bow tie but expanded and made in pink twill silk to look like it was in the vein of the over-size bow ties that were seen in the film 'American Hustle '. These bow ties can be made in the tie-your-own variety but in this instance the customer preferred to have the pre-tied look as favoured in the film. 

Such requests are often enjoyable because the customer knows specifically what they want and are able to articulate that very quickly. In the end the customer was very very happy with the work and will no doubt look the part on his wedding day.

It's a shame that most bespoke bow tie customers are looking to fill a requirement for their wedding. Wedding bow ties seem to be about the only time that a man would consider making a concerted effort to find the shape and fabric for their bow tie and for their groomsmen.

In another instance this week a wedding party arrived at the Studio to marry up the shapes of bow ties that best suited the groom and then the groomsmen. Incidentally one of the shapes that seems to be requested more frequently for wedding parties, because of it's universal appeal to men of varying heights and stature, is the diamond point shape we offer. It seems to be a shape that accomodates almost every face.

If you are not interested in taking advantage of the final days of our more than generous sale, consider coming in to see our 22 shapes on file to ensure that you find the bow tie that best fits your face.

Oversize 'mayfair' shape bow tie in 50 Oz pink silk twill made for a customer in Sydney, Australia

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Black Double Diamond Bow Tie - A New Shape From Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney

Every now and then a new shape pops up into my head and I think we ought to give it a try. The double diamond that you see below makes for an exceptionally large diamond point. It is neither 1970's in it's oversize manner nor is it contemporary over-size. In fact, it's hard to say whether it has a genre or whether it has a unique character of it's own which belongs to the year 2014. Time twill tell. Hopefully there are a few people out there with enough attitude to pull off this bow tie, for when it is formed it spans 17cm making it one of the widest diamond point bow ties I have ever seen and certainly it requires a man of stature. 

I have placed two on the website and included them in the SALE line up so that I am sure they will find a new home by Sunday.

Good luck with the remaining days of the SALE - shop them now -

Exclusive to

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Black Tie Guide - Peter Marshall's Gift To Those That Need To Know More About Formal And Evening Wear

Often I find myself referring to the Black Tie Guide when I have some form of question hanging over a particular customer's request. Just six weeks ago I received a commission from a customer to make him a detachable collar wing tip dinner shirt with marcella bib and french cuffs with a single piece diamond point bow tie and a white tie cumber vest in matching marcella. Honestly, these days such an order is rarefied so I immediately consulted the Black Tie Guide for a refresher on white tie. Years ago this information was even more difficult to attain but thanks to Peter Marshall, the author of The Black Tie Guide, it's a little more accessible.

Peter now enjoys substantial traffic to his website each month with an estimated 100,000 people using his guide as a resource for formal and evening wear. He was kind enough to take time out of his weekend to give our readers a few tips on black tie and a brief synopsis of it's story so far and where it is heading.

You’ve now studied periods and cultures of black tie – can you please tell our readers which culture or nation you think gets black tie the best and what in your eyes is the best period of black tie that you’ve studied?

The originators of black tie are the ones who understand it the best.  With a history steeped in tradition and formality, the British seem much more in tune to the unique role and sublime benefits of male formal wear in general.  This is evident in their approach to black tie which they limit to evening functions (as it should be) and execute with refined minimalism.  Rather than the flashy satin facings and attached wing-collar shirts with pleated fronts favoured by North Americans they generally prefer understated grosgrain trim and low-key turndown collars with Marcella accents.  They trust a well-made kit to speak for itself rather than making it scream for attention.

Traditional black tie as per Roderick Charles - barathea wool dinner suit with grosgrain facings

Lord West tuxedo - American styled formal wear.

As for black tie's best era, I believe the inter-war period was the golden age of evening wear due to the skilful balance of tradition and innovation.  This is when the dinner jacket came into its own as standard evening wear rather than just being an informal offshoot of full dress.  The concurrent rise of midnight-blue suits and warm-weather variations - ivory jackets with cummerbunds, double breasted jackets, soft-front turndown-collar formal shirts - made for an impressive array of options that still respected formal tradition.  The fact that these variations remain relevant to this day speaks volumes about the careful thought put into them by the period’s fashion leaders with their impeccably good taste and equally good tailors.    Conversely, subsequent innovations have been led by corporate marketers and vapid celebrities which is why virtually all of them have ended up in the trashbin of fashion history.

Peter Marshall's favourite period of black tie - the inter-war period showing here a peaked lapel white dinner jacket reserved for the tropics and a midnight blue peaked lapel dinner suit with black silk facings. 

I also very much like the Mad Men era because of the way it bestowed a slim, trim, and youthful appearance on men's suits in general and emphasized a slightly more laid-back yet equally elegant interpretation of black tie in particular.  The latter effect was achieved by expanding the Depression-era informal summer variations - cummerbunds and soft-front shirts - to year-round fashionability.  Similarly, there was a strong emphasis on the swank streamline effect of the shawl collar.

Another inspired era for Peter Marshall is the 60's Rat Pack - Photo source: Photo by Sammy David Jnr

Covering the waist is a bone of contention amongst some younger Australian men – can you explain to them why its important to cover your waist and explain to them what some of the options are?

There's no need to cover your waist . . . as long you remain motionless. However, if you choose to wave hello to a fellow guest, put your arm around your date, or reach into your trouser pockets for any reason then foregoing a waist covering will spoil the entire effect of your outfit.  These actions (among others) pull apart the fronts of your jacket and expose a bright white patch of shirt navel underneath.  This in turn breaks the suit into two visual halves instead of allowing the top and bottom to blend seamlessly together into a black column that emphasize the wearer's height, stature, and commanding presence.  It also looks sloppy: think of it as the formal equivalent of "plumber's crack", the exposed derriere commonly associated with bent-over tradesmen.  Technically speaking, there are two choices of waist covering: cummerbund or evening waistcoat.  However, the cummerbund is likely to be the only practical option because proper waistcoats that button down around the midsection (in order not to cover up the decorated front of the formal shirt) are extremely rare these days.

Particular classic dinner suit looks that Peter Marshall recommends although he wishes to note that the far right Brooks Brothers image reveals the pitfalls of not covering your waist line and shows the white gap that appears below the break of the jacket and above the trouser line when the waist is not covered either with a cummerbund or vest.  Read more here

Can you itemise for us what might be the checklist for a man heading off to a black tie event as to what he might be packing?

If a man truly wants to look his best at a black-tie affair, he will need:

tuxedo of black or midnight blue (or a white dinner jacket and black/midnight blue trousers for hot-weather locales, if desired)
formal shirt 
formal studs and cufflinks 
formal hose 
formal shoes 
formal braces (unless your trousers will remain perfectly positioned for the entire evening without anything more than side tabs)
formal watch (if any)

Can you roughly guide us towards a list of places you think we might reasonably be able to acquire these items readily on the internet?

The Buyer’s Guide section of my web site contains numerous suggestions for mainstream and specialty retailers, including A Suitable Wardrobe which carries some very swank accessories such as silk shoe laces.  Also, the same category on my blog contains reviews tuxedos offered by online tailors for those seeking a middle ground between inexpensive but generic ready-to-wear and customized but expensive local made-to-measure.  

Let’s say I set you a budget of 10,000 USD on your perfect black tie ensemble – can you tell our readers who will make your suit, shirt, shoes, braces, socks, bow tie?

To be honest, spending that much on formal clothing seems like a poor use of money; I’d much rather put it towards an exotic vacation.  A well-fitted, well-made dinner suit will look just as good whether it's from Tom Ford or the tailor around the corner.  At a certain point you're just paying for bragging rights.  

Having said that, if I was forced at gunpoint to spend such an exorbitant amount of money on an evening kit (perish the thought) I'd head straight for Savile Row.  The idea of owning a bespoke dinner suit from Henry Poole & Co. - the historic tailors so closely associated with the original dinner jacket - is extremely tantalizing.  It would be midnight blue and feature a classically English matching evening waistcoat along with understated grosgrain trim.  Then I'd probably head over to Jermyn Street for a made-to-measure Marcella shirt and possibly indulge in a pair of bespoke evening shoes, perhaps from John Lobb.  It would be quite something to end up with an outfit of the same calibre as those sported by the British aristocracy for the past century (minus the stifling 20-ounce fabric, of course).

What do you think the future of black tie and white tie looks like?

White tie has been dying a slow death since World War II and I'd rather see it quietly disappear with its dignity intact than to be forced onto life support by inept attempts to reinvent it for a modern age.  
By all accounts, black tie should be following closely on its progenitor's heels as formal attire made redundant by today's extremely informal standards yet somehow it continues to defy the odds.  Sure, it's not the de facto evening attire that it used to be prior to the 1950s but with over 100,000 visitors checking out my web site each month it's clearly still a going concern for a huge amount of people.  Even more impressive, it has survived endless attempts at reinvention for the past five decades and is and has now largely returned to pre-war form.  For all the jokes about penguin suits and the like, black tie clearly remains unparalleled in its ability to transform a man and an evening.    
What's also interesting is that black tie appears to be returning to its 18th century status the attire of the elite.  As the mainstream continue to pursue the lowest common denominator in all aspects of life, society’s most popular formal occasions - weddings, proms and cruises - are increasingly prone to favouring the casual lounge suit over the traditional tuxedo.  Accordingly, hired formal wear is becoming harder to find, as is mass-produced low-cost off-the-peg versions.  The governing classes that attend glitzy galas, meanwhile, continue to have easy access to premium quality evening kits. They may well become the last bastion of black tie, just as they were with white tie.

What’s one tip you could give Australian men for the current wedding season that’s upon us?

Don't outfit your wedding party in black tie if you're having a daytime ceremony.  I may be the world's greatest champion of evening wear but encouraging people to use it out of its proper context does nothing to enhance its prestige.  Rather, it degrades the noble convention into little more than a gimmick.  And like all other rules of proper black tie, its chronological restriction is not an arbitrary protocol but a well-thought out principal: in broad daylight black suits appear washed out and cast an ashen pall on fair skin.  (Apparently, that’s why black suits are so favoured by undertakers.)  Conversely, ebony suits worn in artificial light take on a much darker hue, making for a more dramatic contrast against the white formal shirt and harmonizing naturally with the night sky outside. 
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