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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Best Bespoke Shirts In Sydney Can Be Got At A Discount


A customer of mine's shirts were finished on the bench today. He had gone for a diverse range of fabrics which really reflected the changing tempo of Australian business. He was a builder, but not the worn hands type, the modern builder who spent more time pricing up tenders and analysing gross margins on a computer than pouring concrete over a footing. He came to me with the dilemma of not knowing what he wanted this time around. We found a mix of denim (left) for client meetings on site, a Carlo Riva fabric for more impressive business lunches, a check in light blue for similar settings and a white herringbone Canclini Villa D'Este fabric for a Friday night cocktail party. Then we repaired his old shirts and made sure the try-on shirt he paid for fit him almost as well as the shirts he ordered. Is he happy? I don't know yet, I am waiting on his text.

In the meantime, if you want to create something similar, consider booking an appointment at our Studio to run your hands over our shirting bolts and fabric swatch books and then tell us what are your current needs - we will most likely be able to help you. And, if you are ordering enough, we are always open to a negotiation on the price. Prices start from $275.00 a shirt.

www.lenoeudpapillon.com

It's Delectable, It's Delirious


One of my favourite things is to fan out my etched bow ties on the screen to come up with something which shows off the silk but also shows you the various textures. My favourite method is the bow tie soldiers which you so frequently see on the blog but every now and then you have to give something different a go. This fan reminds me of the swatch fan of silk threads I saw on the desk of Otto Mantero, the owner of the Carlo Riva cloth brand when I was visiting him a couple of years ago. You can really appreciate the colour, texture and tonality of silk when you place them next to one another. Shop the new collection on www.lenoeudpapillon.com

Pocket Squares Sydney - Where To Buy .....

What was once such a rarefied thing to see in Sydney, a roll stitched pocket square, is now common place. Every menswear and branded boutique in Sydney now offers them but there is a striking difference between some of the brands who choose to use machine hemmed chained stitching and those that use hand-roll stitching. As a general rule the hand roll stitched variety are favoured by those brands that genuinely design and print their own silks, companies such as Hermes are one such an example, and it is for this reason that they command anywhere between $190 and $275.00 per pocket square and it is my belief that for this quality and attention to detail you should pay this price.

If you are paying less than $90.00 for a pocket square you should check both the quality of the print (it's most likely digital and you can tell this by flipping the square over) and/or it's machine hemmed. Machine hemmed is easy to spot because the stitching technique is quite different and looks more like a chain stitch than a roll stitch. The roll stitch is very time consuming and it takes one seamstress between 20 and 40 minutes to complete one 42 x 42cm square depending on the silk quality. Woven jacquard silks are usually more fiddly and require more time. Rumour has it that in Italy the nuns used to do this work because they were the only ones with enough free time on their hands. The Italian workrooms then used to make a donation to the church. 

Below you will find three new printed silk twill squares from Le Noeud Papillon - they are printed in England in the traditional screen printing techniques you would normally associate with prestigious silk fashion houses and then once the silk arrives in Sydney they are hand-roll stitched using silk thread. There is a difference so perhaps try ours and you can make your own decision. Shop now: www.lenoeudpapillon.com


Friday, July 25, 2014

How To Restore An Hermes Bag Using Some Leather Dyes And Polish

On my self-appointed sabbatical from bow ties and silks I have been tinkering with so much leather and dyes that I thought I might try my hand at something which might please my woman. 

Browsing Ebay last week I came across a dilapidated Hermes bag residing in South Australia where the woman would take $100.00 plus $16.00 in freight if anyone wanted it. Until now I have concentrated solely on shoes and patina but I asked my lady what she wanted of it if I purchased it and she said "just make sure it's black".

Well, I undertook this without the faintest idea of what I'd make of it and with no experience with Hermes leather. 

Here is what happened.


Step 1:

The bag arrived and I assessed the damage. I then began by nourishing the leather for 24 hours with a mink and lanolin oil from Saphir known as Renovateur. I purchased this from Double Monk in Melbourne.



Step 2:

After letting the oils soak I then scrubbed the bag with a brush. Then I stripped the leather using leather strippers. Then I commenced the dyeing process using black dye only on the bag's exterior. I applied this with various forms of cotton, cotton buds and brushes.



Step 3: 

Unfortunately I stripped off the Hermes logo which is probably the only part most women would want to save but in my eyes the part worth saving was the leather which was so supple and just needed a nourishing overnight with Renovateur. Step 3 was to dye the internals of the bag. Again I used cotton and brushes. The cotton buds are excellent for crevices. 



Step 4:

After burnishing Saphir creme in black colour into the bag on the outside and neutral on the inside using a bit of shirting cloth we arrived at the finished bag below which is being held by my man servant / assistant Louis Rochechouart. (Unfortunately there is no Australian Government grant available for statue assistants in fashion and textiles R & D so Louis is unpaid labour or perhaps I should call him my 'intern' .)

Now if I was a woman I would not sell my old Hermes bag on Ebay because with a bit of a nudge and an apron you or your husband could salvage the bag for another few years. I am not saying this is perfect but I am an amateur in this leather dyeing business and I would happily wear this bag on me if I were a lady. 


Louis is happy and so am I. 

Join The Mailing List

Yesterday our newsletter readers received a condensed email regarding all the recent people we interviewed plus tips on patina, glacage and shoe polishing at home. And then we gave 5 of them the chance to get our products at 50% OFF for 24 hours on a time limited code. That's because we love those that keep in contact. Why not join the email list and be spoilt like they are?

Here's a clue to that code - if you can crack it, you can get the same deal! It's made up of a word and 3 numerals.

Here is the clue:

If I were in Tanzania and I walked to to the highest point in the country I could tell people that I had climbed ?

The number twenty five is made of two Chinese lucky numbers on either side of the guy who lost his seat number in a James Bond classic. (See Thunderball)  

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Come Take A Quick Peek - Some New Printed Silk Twills Have Landed In Sydney


The first of our new English printed silk twill 50Oz is now on the website and it will be followed next week by another light pink silk twill 50 Oz which is exceptional not only as a bow tie but also as a tie to contrast a navy, grey, green or cream suit. We have a limited amount of this fabric so I would make the most of the English printed twills whilst they are in the store as I have a sneaky suspicion that even our most discerning customers will be wanting some of these. Shop now: www.lenoeudpapillon.com

Monday, July 21, 2014

Oh You English - You Have Something Over Us Australians For Sure - The Timeless Beauty Of Foster & Son Shoes

Waiting - that is what defines my business. It's all about waiting. Patience is so important because if you rush anyone with their craft there will always be mistakes and yet we all want to get from A to B in the fastest possible manner.

I patiently waited for the courier to come. I was impatient though. My patience was feigned and there is a difference. I have also been impatient with learning the technique of patina and bull shine. Real patience, like our friends in England at Foster & Son who have been making shoes since 1840, renders very different results from the rest of the pack. There is also something organic and timeless about the act of making a shoe which flows through into every detail of the product. Something as natural as the leather with which the shoe is made. People talk about a brand's DNA but with Foster & Son it seems to be more earthly than a subject of DNA, it seems to me more soulful (no pun intended).

The box that arrived was a dulled green which took me back to the early 1980's when I first hid myself under a billiard table in a friend's house. The billiard room contained that same earthly English sensibility of greens and browns in felt, carpet, timber and leather that when I opened the box I felt a soulful sigh of "ah yes, this is English" as I reconnected to something in my youth. The shoe bags, the gold braid, the felt cloth, it all felt like something I had seen before.

Andy Murphy at Foster & Son had sent inside the box a catalogue which opened with the following:

"The tools of our craft are very simple. An awl, flax thread, beautifully naturally tanned leather, a hammer, pliers, sharp knives, beeswax, punches and marking tools. 

These simple things, unchanged for centuries, we transform into practical and often beautiful objects, perfectly adapted to the human foot and the aspirations of the wearer".

But I did not write this post to wax lyrical about Foster & Son, I am writing to continue in the vein of glacage and bull shining. Andy Murphy had followed up a request I made to have the shoes high-shined as  they refer to it. He had then instructed me on the process the shoes undertake. He explains it as follows:

Just a little run through of how we polished your shoes. It takes us 5 days. We have a couple of polishers that work for us off site. With your shoes the first thing we do is brush coat black wax polish (Saphir). We leave that to soak in overnight . Then for the next 2/3 days we use the same wax polish, slowly polishing with a slightly damp cloth  (we use well worn yellow dusters - the older and holes in it the better- if you have a brand new one, wash it in the washing machine to get the first layer of fluff off) rapped over 1/2 fingers.  We call it the spit and polish ( the army method ). We use a small amount of polish and water going in small circular motions over the leather. It takes time to get this right. Too much force and you will take the polish off -  not enough and nothing really happens. 
We repeat this many times, until we are really happy with the shine. Basically the more you repeat these steps the more polish you will add and the more shinny it will become. Usually this is only done over the the toecaps only. You can add neutral polish too over the toe caps, thus can give a black shoe a slightly different hi-shine look. Hope this is helpful to your readers.

But Andy also had another funny story to tell me about the art of shoe shining.
When I was an apprentice shoe maker at New & Lingwood in the early 80's .... While our in house shoe polisher was on his day off, I decided it would be a good idea to tidy up his polishing room because it was a real mess. I set about tidying up and threw away all his old  well worn polishing dusters and replaced them with nice new neatly folded yellow dusters! The next morning I was so excited to see our polisher Jimmy get to work and see his nice clean tidy room..... Oh dear.  He went bananas!!  

This is perhaps the best bit of information I could add to in my humble experience. In my attempt to perform glacage over my self-prescribed 'shoe sabbatical' I have found that the by using cotton shirting left over from old bolts, over time those rags that I used become increasingly softer with the motion circular motion of glossing the shoes to the point that they become much more fluid massaging the polish into the shoe. Below I will post the Foster & Son shoes and a recent attempt I made on a pair of RM Williams boots.

High shine Foster & Son Black Cavendish Oxford shoes. Made in England by shoe makers that have been operating since 1840.

Quality English made shoes by Foster & Son with wonderful packaging. 

Left, RM Williams Glacage I attempted, right, the high shine perfomed on a pair on a pair of Oxford brogues by Foster & Son. Don't mind the Hermes shoe brush, it's there for a point of reference to matte black.

Rewarding Loyal Customers - A Wonderful Testimonial For Le Noeud Papillon From A Long Term Customer In The USA

Very rarely we bungle up an order which happened today with a customer in Switzerland for which there was no excuse on our behalf. By contrast, some of our long term loyal customers find that we continue to look after them even when we are in the middle of a SALE. The customer below now owns some forty odd bow ties from us and it seems only fitting that once in a while we should make sure that one is on the house.

Dear Le Noeud Papillon,

Thank you so much for the BEAUTIFUL bow tie and lapel flower.
You have been incredibly generous. 
I am grateful to have discovered your website while surfing the web a year and a half ago. 
I wouldn’t even consider another brand.... You have spoiled me !
Keep making the best bow ties in the world !

Sincerely,

E. Shepherd,
USA


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Offers - A New Way To Get Something Very Special Without Paying Retail

I have decided to embark upon something which is a bit of a segue from our discount codes that we offer from time to time. I was on an English website for shoes when I noticed that they had seasonal "offers" which seemed a much more dignified way to sell English leather shoes than to write SALE in red.

So, I will package up products from Le Noeud Papillon and I will make an "offer" and I am not going to tell you what the total offer is worth, I am just going to let you sit on it. The second offer will not be made until the first is sold.

In the first offer you will see a white satin silk scarf with hand fringed tassels  - this was made in Italy by hand from a very prestigious workroom. Then you will see a black grosgrain silk bow tie with white polka dots. Below that you will see a very light woven jacquard silk pocket square in black with silvery polka dots. Then to the left is a pair of Bresciani black ribbed Egyptian cotton socks in size 12 and above a mogador satin silk lapel flower. What do you think that is worth? I know, but do you?

The price we have put on this offer is $340.00 - if you would like it you can purchase it now on www.lenoeudpapillon.com - it is the perfect way to spruce up some creative black tie. I will leave it to you to decide as to whether it is for you or not. 1 only.

The Offers - made 1 at a time - exclusive to Le Noeud Papillon's website

Friday, July 18, 2014

Leng Bespoke Part 2 - The Divinity Of A Hand-Made Full Bespoke Suit

“Quite right, a blue suit is the most versatile of accoutrements.  More important than the suit itself is the man who fits it for you.  Once you find a good tailor, you must never give his name away…not even under the threat of bodily harm.” 

These were the wise words of Uncle Harry in the Ridley Scott film A Good Year starring Russell Crowe. The trouble with these words is that most men who are inclined to seek out a tailor are also inclined to be secretive about that tailor if they are happy with the product. The problem then becomes, how does the tailor get more business? Below is the suit finished for me by Leng Bespoke which I spoke of last week. The result of 60 man hours  and two fittings is a wide notched lapel sort-of-navy hopsack wool suit with the wool coming from Bateman & Ogden. 

Am I happy? Yes I am and I wish to share this with you so that you too can visit Leng Bespoke and order your own custom made piece of clothing, be it a suit or a jacket, so that you too can know what it's like when something is sketched by hand from your measurements, cut by hand, sewn by hand and pressed by hand (well, using your hands to do the work) . There is almost no sewing machine work that is used in this suit - even the trousers are made almost entirely by hand. I know a lot of you out there are purchasing suits from MTM programmes that operate out of low-wage paying countries and I understand the economic rationalisation of this - I too work to a budget, but I implore you to make an enquiry with Leng just to know what it's like and to see his service and his workroom because there is such an art and a craft to what they do that it's worth a visit regardless of whether you decided to proceed. 

The word divine is often used liberally and loosely by women to describe hand-bags and gourmet food or a celebrity they aspire to be like but the word really means 'of or like a God' and in my humble opinion a full hand-made bespoke suit is from the Gods because it is a pursuit by a man to use his God-given instruments to elegantly create a garment from naturally produced fibres to make a suit to the measurements of another human beings body. There is divinity in that. 

Leng Bespoke: Tel: 0430 388 528 Email:  Address: Ground Floor 20 York St Sydney 2000


Disregard the mirror which needs a clean - this is perfectly beautiful navy wool. I am sporting a scarf from A Suitable Wardrobe and a Le Noeud Papillon shirt, pocket square and silk lapel flower. 

Leng worked on a pair of trousers to include my recent fascination with Luca Rubinacci inspired high waist band with in built belt. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Beginners Watch Guide - How To Buy A Watch With The Help Of Siddarth From Bridge & Barrel - To Help Novices Get A Head Start

Honestly, sometimes I get so self-absorbed in whatever I am doing that I forget about so many other aspects of menswear, one of which is watches which I have never really delved into. I was in Brisbane last week trying to find new stores for Le Noeud Papillon when I stopped into a beautiful boutique of watches on Edward Street in which I got lost completely having so little knowledge on the subject. To watch enthusiasts this is a world as fabulous as wine or of suits but for me, ever since they put clocks on mobile phones and made us addicted at looking at the screens, I've felt less and less inclined to worry about what was on my wrist. Despite all this I do enjoy watching watches on Instagram and recently I came across Siddarth Padmanaban of the blog Bridge And Barrel based in Melbourne. I managed to get him to answer a few questions on the subject of watches and I am now much more interested in watches than I used to be. 

A short conversation with you the other day already improved my knowledge on watches – it’s not an area I have paid a lot of attention to – can you tell me, if I were to delve into watches more, what are the main aspects of horology that a novice might want to learn about before their next purchase?

For those seriously considering getting into the world of watch collecting, and horology in general, there are definitely a few things to learn, especially before spending big money on a watch. In no particular order, here are a few points that people should consider before buying a luxury watch:

 - Brand and brand history
 - Specific model, and rarity
 - Movements (automatic/manual-winding/quartz)
 - New or pre-owned



There are a lot of words I see on Instagram to describe watches that I don’t really have much of an understanding of – words such as tourbillon etc  - if you had to form a glossary of say the top ten common words that are used in watch terminology, what would they be?

1. Movement - This is what powers a watch and makes it tick. It can be mechanical (automatic or hand-wound), which is the traditional way of watchmaking, or quartz, which uses batteries, and became very popular in the 1970s. Almost all luxury watches are mechanical.

2. Automatic - An automatic watch is mechanically driven, meaning it is powered by the unwinding of a spring. To keep this spring wound, and therefore keep the watch ticking, there is usually a rotor that winds the watch with the movement of the wearer's wrist. Theoretically, if you wore an automatic watch every day, it would never stop.

3. Chronometer - A chronometer isn't really a type of watch, rather, it's a grade of timekeeping that is given to a watch with particularly good accuracy over time. A true chronometer is certified by COSC, and organisation in Switzerland that tests watches under a variety of conditions to ensure their accuracy down to -4/+6 seconds a day over several days and under different positions and temperatures.

4. Complication - A complication is a feature of a watch that does something extra than tell the wearer the current time. For instance, a date function, chronograph, 2nd time-zone, and power reserve are all complications.

5. Chronograph - As distinct from a Chronometer, a chronograph is basically a watch with an integrated stopwatch function. This means you can time events, usually up to several hours duration.

6. Tourbillon - A tourbillon (which I understand is the french word for 'whirlwind'), refers to the construction of the movement so that the balance spring (which is the component of a mechanical movement that regulates timekeeping) is not affected by gravity pulling it in one direction and distorting its shape. Many high-end watchmakers like to display the tourbillon through the dial, so that the owner can see it in action. You'll often pay quite a high premium for this.

7. Quartz - a quartz powered watch is one that is operated by a battery. The watch does not have a spring to make it tick, rather a battery sends an electrical signal through a tiny quartz crystal, which regulates the timekeeping and advances the watch hands forward. A quartz watch will usually 'tick' every second. These movements are relatively cheap to construct and not particularly technical, therefore do not usually command a high price. Brands like Seiko however do some amazing things with quartz watches, so they shouldn't be written off altogether.

8. Power reserve - the power-reserve of a mechanical watch, is just that. It tells the wearer how much the mainspring (which powers the watch) has unwound, and therefore roughly how long the watch will work without being wound, either by hand or in an automatic watch, with the rotor. Bear in mind that most automatic watches can also be wound by hand as well.

9. Stock movement - This is a movement that has been made en-masse and is used in another company's watch. Many watch brands do this (even some of the higher-end ones), and there's nothing wrong with it, although purists prefer in-house construction, and brands will demand a premium for that luxury

10. Manufacture - a Manufacture is a brand that has the capability to make their own watches from scratch. This means using almost entirely their own fabrication and construction, from cases, to dials, to movements (most importantly). Not all watch brands can call themselves a Manufacture, but the ones that are, tend to be on the higher end of the spectrum.

I follow a chap called WatchLeo on Instagram and I see brands that seem to be held in high esteem from Roger Dubuis, Richard Mille, Patek Phillippe, Audemars Piguet  and of course, Rolex – can you tell me why there is such a strong following for these brands and can you tell us some others that we might want to follow?

Brands like Patek Philippe, Audemar Piguet and Rolex have been making watches for a very long time, and to extremely high standards, which is part of what gives them such high esteem. Watches are all assembled by hand, in-house, meaning none of the parts are outsourced, which gives a very high level of quality control over the product. The finishing on these watches is usually all done by hand and to impeccable standards. All Rolex watches are COSC (chronometer) certified, which gives them very high levels of timekeeping accuracy.

The other part of the high perceived-value of these brands is their marketing, whether it be overt or not. Many celebrities are seen wearing these brands and therefore they are given an incredibly high perceived value. This might not necessarily apply to all watch brands, but Rolex for instance is one company that has definitely benefitted from having A-listers wear and talk about their watches.

In terms of value for money – can you tell me the kind of watch you would choose for your first watch with the following budgets:

When spending big money on a watch, much of it can go into the material chosen. For instance, precious metals gold or platinum watches will cost much more than a steel version of the identical piece. For this reason, I'll try to keep my choices in steel, and where I can, modern watches, as vintage prices for certain pieces tend to vary wildly. The following choices are more about value than desirability, so please take with a grain of salt.

a)         $500
Tissot 1853 range - Tissot is a great starting point for anyone who wants a swiss-made mechanical watch and isn't sure if they want to spend a lot of money. These watches are very well made and use Swiss movements, along with a recognisable brand name.

Tissot 1853 range- recommended by Bridge & Barrel as an entry level watch


b)         $1000
For around the $1000 mark there are dozens of micro-brands that are making very good watches. Although not many of the names are recognisable worldwide, these watches are usually fairly sturdy diver-style timepieces that use good stock movements and won't break the bank. A popular brand is Steinhart, who use Swiss movements and high-quality manufacturing to make solid, functional dive watches.

Steinhart, design aesthetic that won't break the bank-  a good entry level watch recommended by Bridge & Barrel


c)         $6000
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso - This classic rectangular watch is basically the perfect dress watch. Originally developed for polo players who kept breaking the crystal on their timepieces, this is a watch that belongs in everyone's collection.

Timeless elegance, for around 6000 dollars Bridge & Barrel recommends this Jaeger Le Coultre Reverso


d)         $10,000
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak - time only. This classic piece will never go out of style, and looks great with everything. Audemars Piguet is one of the most recognisable watch brands in the world and this is their most iconic timepiece. A great watch that suits just about everyone.

Audemars Pigue Royal Oak - a timeless classic recommended by Bridge & Barrel


e)         $100,000
It's hard to call a $100,000 watch 'value for money', but there are some that are just spectacular. Here is where I'll make an exception to the 'no precious metals' rule, and perhaps slightly blow the budget by choosing an A Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Striking Time in white gold. The amount of watchmaking talent that has come out of this German powerhouse manufacture is unbelievable, and rivals that of the highest-end Swiss brands.

A Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Striking Time  watch - the all on the table watch recommendation by Bridge & Barrel


What is your most prized watch and can you tell us how you acquired it and what sort of investigative work you did before the acquisition?

My collection is not huge at the moment, as I'm still a University student and most of the watches I have on my wish list are out of my reach, financially. However, from the watches I do own, my favourite is probably my Heuer Triple Date from the late 1950s. I love vintage Heuer (before they became TAG Heuer), and while the vintage chronographs like the Autavia and Carrera are very desirable, a Triple-Date (Day, Date, Month) is quite rare from the brand from that era, and I immediately fell in love with it. It's got plenty of scratches and dents, but that just gives it more character. I managed to pick it up for a very reasonable price, and I think it's a watch that I'll always keep, and hopefully hand down someday.



I love Rolex watches and I am ashamed to say it because I feel like one of those mindless iPhone users that can’t see the benefits of Android. Can you tell us why the world seems to be transfixed on this one brand and why it has been so successful in keeping the public interested in their products?

Like I mentioned earlier, Rolex make excellent watches. Every single watch that comes out of the factory is Chronometer certified, and stylistically, its very easy to wear a Rolex with just about any outfit. It's not a crime to be fascinated with the brand, or even want one of their watches, although many so-called watch aficionados will try to convince you otherwise.  It's my firm belief that every good watch collection should include at least one Rolex, whether it be vintage or modern.

Rolex has been very successful for a few more reasons, and we'll outline them here:

 - They do not have a particularly extensive product line. This means they don't release a brand new model every year, meaning their designs stay around for a long time. This gives people a bit of confidence when buying one, that it won't go out of style any time soon. They do tend to change colours here and there, but the models remain essentially the same for years.

-They don't do anything too wild: Rolex tends to play it safe when it comes to product design, and while some people don't like it, this is another confidence-building aspect of the brand to potential buyers. A person will not often get criticised for their choice of watch if it is a Rolex. If you DO want to get a solid gold, diamond-encrusted timepiece though, they've got you covered there too.

 - They have a watch is basically every category: a dive watch, a GMT (two time zone), a chronograph, a dress watch, etc. There is a Rolex watch to suit just about anyone, whether it is vintage or modern, which broadens the brand's appeal. The functions are useful, and not over the top.

- All watches are made in-house: Rolex has stringent quality control standards that mean that they are able to control every single aspect of their products, and new innovations trickle down through the models very quickly. They even have their own gold foundry for their precious-metal timepieces.

 - Marketing: apart from perhaps Nike, Rolex arguably has the best marketing department in the world. They make sure they are seen on the wrists of the right people at the right time. Rolex is very selective about who they sponsor to wear their watches, and which events they are linked to. If you ask 10 people on the street to name a luxury watch brand, my money is on 9/10 saying Rolex.


Do you buy vintage watches and can you recommend to us some things to look for when buying vintage? Is there a particular brand that’s more bang for buck than the others?

I almost exclusively buy vintage watches. This is for a variety of reasons:

Size: Vintage watches tend to be on the smaller end of the scale, which is easier for more people to wear. Newer brands tend to go for the flashy large cases which doesn't work with everyone, and is tough to wear day-to-day.

Cost: If you know where to look, you can pick up pre-owned and vintage watches for a fraction of what a new model would cost. Be careful with sites like eBay, as there are plenty of scammers about selling fakes or sometimes selling nothing at all. Always be sure the seller and product exists, and if possible, check out the item in person before purchasing.

Collectibility: some vintage watches are incredibly collectible and if you get the right ones, your purchase could appreciate in value as you have it.

Things to look out for:
 - As I mentioned above, look out for scammers on sites like eBay. Forums tend to be a better place to buy and sell pre-owned pieces, and they are better regulated. Sites such as Chrono24 and Timezone are highly recommended.

- Condition: be careful when buying vintage as the watch you bought may not actually work, or may require a lot of servicing before being functional. If you're prepared to pay for that, it's fine, but make sure you know what you're getting. Also look out for re-finished dials, re-polished cases and replacement parts, as they tend to lower the re-sale value of a watch..

Can you tell us about your dream watch?

I don't really have a 'dream' watch, but I do have a list of watches that I would love to own if money were no object. One of these is an A-series Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The shape and design of this watch is timeless and works beautifully with any kind of outfit, whether it be a suit and tie, or jeans and polo. It's not so gaudy that people will always comment on it, but those in the know understand how good this watch is.

Designed by the legendary Gerald Genta many decades ago, this watch (or some iteration of it) is probably on everyone's wish-list, but for good reason. A-series (meaning the earliest examples) models fetch a pretty penny now, and are becoming more and more expensive by the day, but it's a watch I would wear proudly and I would gladly have it be the only watch I wear.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to me, and listen to what I have to say about my experiences in horology. I don't profess to be an expert, as I'm learning new things every day. It's a terrific (albeit rather expensive) hobby that Australians are just now taking more notice of. The best way to learn more is like with anything, research, read, and spend time talking to people who are in the know. Go to a watch store and try out one or two timepieces. It'll cost you nothing, and most stores are more than willing to let you put one on your wrist to see how you like it. Go out there. Explore.

I try to appeal to a broad range of watch enthusiasts on my website - Bridge and Barrel, and I'm more than happy to answer questions if people have any. Please email me through the website contact form at Bridge & Barrel.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Three Amigos Of Leng Bespoke - Part 1 - Indulging In Full Bespoke

Lengo Ngo is the kind of man that you would expect to find on the ABC’s Australian Story one Monday night when you come home from work but for one reason or another you have not heard about him. His story starts in Cambodia where he lived under the Pol Pot regime before fleeing to Vietnam in 1975 just as the Americans were pulling out of Saigon. In 1984 he managed to leave Vietnam and make his way to Australia where he began a new life as a tailor.

Leng has done a lot of great work, mostly under the names of leading tailoring houses in Sydney, but today he stands alone in a studio on York Street in Sydney’s CBD where he operates a very Spartan operation which tells nothing of his skill and nothing of his notoriety.

It is at this point that I wish to divulge how I met Leng. Recently some of you might have seen the beautiful suits I made for the window of Le Noeud Papillon’s Studio window. After completing the suits I was unhappy because I felt that the suits did not fit exactly as I’d have liked them. In some respects they were sacks of potatoes. It’s nobody’s fault but I must admit that when you become too familiar with a business they sometimes over time begin to fall short of your expectations. So I had enquired with a knowledgeable source in Sydney on tailoring and he passed on Leng’s details. Then, almost serendipitously, I should pass a dry cleaning business that had a sign in the window advertising Leng’s services. I am a superstitious type so I decided that this was a talisman that I ought to follow.

My first experience of Leng is that he is short. Short like an Asian martial arts specialist. Short like a man who uses speed, dexterity and agility to thwart his foes. And it was true. Leng darted around me showing me all that was wrong with my suits and then convincing me, without too much convincing, that I needed to move away from made to measure off a block and onto full bespoke. Now, that’s something I rarely admit to but it’s true. I have always worked off tailors blocks because I have never had the money for a full bespoke suit but Leng showed me the differences blow by blow and I was left with little or no alternative other than to delve into complete bespoke for the first time.

Leng’s service so far has gone through one measure and one fitting. In fairness, I had thought that I had known about suits until I met Leng. Not that he was telling me anything I hadn’t already read about on the internet, but it was the first time I was experiencing things in the hand. For example, they don’t use a waist band in their trousers, the entire trouser is cut by hand by Leng in the same space occupied by old Gennaro, the jacket maker, one of those stalwart Italian’s that has a tailoring background that pre-dates the Second World War. And then there is the congregating of three pairs of eyes as the three amigos go over your suit with a fine tooth comb and identify every single aspect of what might be wrong with the suit. I am used to having many Italian’s look on whilst one Italian argues with me. By contrast Leng Ngo is one of those cool Asian guys that never raises his voice and actually cares to admit where the errors are from the outset rather than wait for you to ask a question.

Three sets of eyes on your work. The team of Leng Bespoke study the suit together to agree on what changes are to be made. From left to right: Sandro, Leng and Gennaro


Completely hand-made trousers from start to finish - something I personally have never experienced yet. Even the waistband is made by the team of Leng Bespoke.





For this particular suit I have chosen a honeycomb weave navy wool from Bateman & Ogden, a company which Leng says produces great quality wool with less emphasis on branding. He has shown me the wadding, the canvas and the horsehair that will be used. I have seen Gennaro’s hand work throughout the process and there is little that you can ask for with Leng that you can’t see the process of by stepping another six feet away into the workroom.




If you are interested in going down the path of full-bespoke-made-in-sydney then you need to visit Leng. He's so approachable and that is one of the things I most liked about him. I have always found that the one thing that prohibits me from meeting tailors is when they look down on you or they don't take you seriously until they see the money. This was not the case with Leng, in fact, just this evening they were finishing up and I had a couple of beers with them in the workroom over a handful of cashews and we had a good yarn. 

The truth is I worry about the future of our tailoring workrooms because not enough Australians seek them out - with Asia on our doorstep it's too easy for companies to run MTM services out of China or neighbouring countries. You never see your suit being made, you are not a part of it's process, you don't have any hands-on time with it before it becomes yours. I do not blame customers for choosing the MTM option, in many respects it's more economical to do so with not enough value in the customer's opinion to warrant the additional cost. But if you saw what I saw today, if you saw the handwork, the dedication, the spirit of the workroom and it's stakhanovite approach to the workload, then perhaps the seed would be planted to seek out the difference and experience a very unique experience. There is no branded image, no fanciful website, no philosophy page, no heritage aspirations, no videos of pretend tailoring - it's just the real thing. 

Leng Bespoke: Tel: 0430 388 528 Email:  Address: Ground Floor 20 York St Sydney 2000

Up to 60 hours of hand workmanship goes into every suit made bespoke by Leng's workroom. Here Gennaro is preparing for the second fitting.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Restoring Edward Green Shoes

There are few things I find more difficult to stomach than buying second hand clothes and yet what I am about to tell you has changed my opinion to a certain extent. Obsessed with patina I have been on the search for some new items that I could potentially work with and in the process I stumbled upon a pair of Edward Green shoes in Mosman, Sydney of which the owner on Ebay seemed to think they were in good shape. 

I would say that my interest to start with was merely academic but of course I did purchase a pair in my own size so perhaps I did want to own a pair of second hand shoes. In the end I was delighted when these beautiful numbers turned up and I have spent a day using the advice from Christopher from Double Monk in Melbourne, coupled with his Saphir products which I purchased from him last week, turning these old Edward Greens into something which resembled a worn but almost new looking shoe. 

If wearing another man's shoes turns you off, look away from the screen now, because I have something to tell you which I ordinarily would find particularly distasteful myself, they not only fit but they are delightful to wear and whilst I was going to on-sell them once I had done some tricks to them, now it looks like they will be staying put. 

It is quite remarkable what you can find on Ebay. Good luck hunting.



Bœuf? The Slow Declining Service During Sale Times

The French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord or just Talleyrand as he is often referred to, was once notorious for ranking his dinner guests from most revered to least important personages around his dinner table. The story, which was told to me by a Sydney lawyer, of which I have never been able to verify the source of it by way of google, roughly goes like this:

The hot and steaming fillet of beef would arrive on a mobile carving board which would be placed next to Talleyrand. He would then begin by making a very theatrical and verbose speech about the quality of the beef, where the animal came from, how it was prepared, the ingredients used to season it, the manner in which it was cooked and the people who cooked it. At the end of this speech he would then begin with the most revered guest who would be offered the first and most choice cut as Talleyrand waxed lyrically on the particular morsel of flesh on which he would strum together endless superlatives before placing the meat on the plate. Onwards he would go, slowly shortening the superlatives and relaxing the prosaic until he finally reached his final, most least important guest, with whom he would simply say "Bœuf?" ?

I don't know if I could ever do this story justice, for starters I imagine it would have sounded so much more enticing in French, then you would have to add Talleyrand's malicious and capricious intent and of course the subtle intricacies in the characters and their respective positions that were seated around Talleyrand's dining table. Needless to say it will most likely make a great film scene one of these days.

I was reminded of Talleyrand this week when I shopped a few sales on the internet after my own sale concluded. The truth is that we retailers value more the clients that pay the recommended retail price regardless of whether we admit it or not. I can recall that when I purchased Mr Porter at full price I remember feeling like a little prince when my delivery arrived whereas during sale time it's never quite as dignified.

Sale times are great times to mop up bargains and squirrel away that which you think is bound to be snapped up if you don't but there is something to be said for the more sober and more dignified experience of shopping retail. It's not for everyone, but it does garner you more attention to detail and often a more personalised experience than that which you get during a sale. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing my sale items arrive in my post box and I look forward to seeing some of you over at www.lenoeudpapillon.com for a beautiful, most exquisite, delicate little piece of silk that was woven in Como, Italy before flying into Sydney, Australia on a jumbo jet where it was carefully crafted into a unique papillon which was made in limited numbers for only the most discerning customers and which I offer to you, first and foremost, my most revered and esteemed customer.

Or, "Boeuf?"

I leave you below with a description by which Talleyrand described the dish Turducken:

The following for instance, is Talleyrand's fanciful and somewhat roundabout way of roasting a quail. On a day of "inspiration gourmande" at his hotel in the Rue Saint-Florentin, he composed the following recipe: Take a plump quail, seasoned with truffles, and made tender by having been put into champagne. You put it carefully inside a young Bresse chicken; then sew up the opening, and put dabs of butter all over the chicken. Again, you put the chicken inside a fine Berri turkey, and roast the turkey very carefully before a bright fire. What will be the result? All the juice of the turkey is absorbed by the fowl, and all the juice of the fowl in its turn by the quail. After two hours roasting the fowl, which in reality it composed of three fowls, is ready, and you place the steaming trinity upon a dish of fine porcelain or chiseled silver. Then you pull the chicken out of the turkey, and the quail out of the chicken. The quail? Is it correct to talk of the quail, when this delicious, perfumed dish is indeed too good for any name? You take the quail as you would some sacred relic, and serve it hot, steaming, with its aroma of truffles, after having roasted it to a golden yellow by basting it diligently with the best Gournay butter.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bryan Cuero - Another Patina Artist Enters The Foray

In fairness to Bryan, he asked to be interviewed in French so I will publish his answers in French and then you can see the translation below. Bryan is another rising or emerging talent in the world of patina. Here is his story.

S'il vous plaît dites-moi un peu de votre vie et comment vous êtes venu à être un artiste de patine. Alors pouvez-vous répondre aux questions suivantes? 

Né en Équateur à Guayaquil le 22 septembre 1991. J'ai quitté mon pays pour venir en Suisse plus précisément à Genève.
Après une scolarité suivi, j'ai pris la décision d'entamer un apprentissage en tant que gestionnaire du commerce de détails. C'est alors que j'ai  pris goût à la chaussure et est né une passion. J'exerce  dans une boutique qui se nome Brogue.
Ayant fini mon apprentissage je me suis lancé dans une école de graphisme et de design, IPAC Design à Genève, pour pouvoir créer un mélange a partir de mes deux connaissances.

1. Selon vous, quelle est la plus belle couleur de base pour une patine?
Selon moi, la plus belle couleur de base pour pouvoir créer une patine est une couleur clair comme le beige ou du blanc cassé.

2. Après avoir enlever la chaussure, vous ne sable ou gratter le cuir pour créer des contours?
Je décape grâce à de l’acétone et  au coton. 

3. Combien de temps passez-vous à peu près sur une chaussure du début à la fin d'un processus de patine?
Cela dépend de la difficulté de la base. Si je dois effectué un décapage, je prendrais plus de temps que si c'est une base clair. Mais je prends environ une semaine avec les différentes étapes.
1 jour : Décapage  2ème jour : première couche 3ème jour : deuxième couche  4ème jour : patine  5ème jour : crémer 6ème  jour: glaçage et lacets


4. Offrez-vous un navire et un service de retour pour patine et si oui, y at-il des chaussures ou des couleurs de cuir, vous ne pouvez pas travailler sur?
Tout d'abord, je travail avec la meilleure teinture que l'on puisse trouver sur le marché ( SAPHIR ) et je n'ai pas vraiment eu de retour de patine. Mais si un jour cela m’arriverais, je le ferai avec grand plaisir. Je ne travail pas sur le semi-cuir et le veau velours. Dans les couleurs, je ne préfère pas travailler sur une paire de chaussure tanné noir. Mais si un client me le demande je le fais ce pendants je ne garantie pas le résultat car avec une paire de chaussure noir après le décapage on a toujours des surprises.  

5. Avez-vous déjà fait une patine gris et noir?
Oui, j'ai déjà eu l'occasion d'en effectuer. Voici une photo d'une paire de chaussure gris foncé avec du noir, faite sur une paire de Carlos Santos de couleur beige de base.

6. A votre avis sociétés que de chaussures font les meilleures chaussures pour patine?
Pour moi, les meilleures marques sur les quels je peux patiner sont : Carlos Santos
Crockett & Jones
Gaziano and Girling
John Lobb
Berluti
etc...


7. Quel est votre morceau le plus prisé de la patine que vous avez fait sur ​​une chaussure (s'il vous plaît envoyer une photo)
J'ai pas vraiment de préférence pour mes patines, mais j'ai eu beaucoup qui ont été plus compliqué que d'autre. Voici une de mes patines avec toutes les étapes.

8. Aimez-vous les tendances de la mode masculine qui ont émergé de Pitti à Florence cette année?
Malheureusement j'ai pas eu l'occasion de m'y rendre mais je n'ai entendu parler en bien pour cette année. Surtout de la mode masculine et de sa tendance vu qu'il y a les meilleure designer du monde entier.

And as Lou Monte once said in Lazy Mary...

" (And now for you nice ladies and gentlemen out there who don’t understand the eye-talian language, I’d like to do two choruses in British) "





Byan Cuero In English:


I was born in Guayaquil Ecuador September 22, 1991. I left my country to come to Switzerland specifically in Geneva.

After schooling followed, I made the decision to begin an apprenticeship as a commercial manager for details. It was then that I took a liking to the shoe and a passion was born. I work in a shop that nome Brogue.

Having finished my apprenticeship I started a school in graphics and design, SCPI Design in Geneva, in order to create a blend from both of my knowledge.

Bryan Cuero - Patina Artist



In your opinion what is the most beautiful base colour for a patina?

In my opinion, the most beautiful color base to create a patina is a light color like beige or off-white.

The best base to start with according to Bryan Cuero - white leather shoes



After you strip the shoe, do you sand it or scratch the leather to create contours?

I etched with acetone and cotton.

Acetone and cotton - the beginning strip to a pair of shoes embarking on a patina

How long roughly do you spend on a shoe from the start to finish of a patina process?

It depends on the difficulty of the base. If I have made a scraping, I would take more time than if it is a clear base. But I take about a week with different stages.
1 day: Stripping
2nd day: first day
3rd layer: second layer
4th day: patina
5th day: creamed
6th day: frosting and laces


Do you offer a ship and return service for patina and if so, are there some shoes or leather colours you cannot work on?

First, I work with the best dye that can be found on the market (SAPPHIRE) and I have not really got back patina. But if one day it would arrive, I will do it with pleasure. I do not work on the semi-leather and suede. In colors, I prefer not to work on a pair of tanned black shoe. But if a client asks me what I do I can not guarantee pending the outcome be-cause with a pair of black shoes after stripping it always surprises.

Have you ever made a grey and black patina?

Yes, I've had the opportunity to perform. Here is a picture of a pair of dark gray shoes with black, made a pair of Carlos Santos beige base color.

Making a patina in black and greys


In your opinion what shoe companies make the best shoes for patina?

For me, the best brands on what I can skate are: Carlos Santos
Crockett & Jones
Gaziano and Girling
John Lobb
Berluti
etc ...


What is your most prized piece of patina that you have done on a shoe?

I have no real preference for my patinas, but I had a lot that were more complicated than others. Here is one of my patina with every step.

The light vegetan leather prior to the embarkation on a patina process
Dyeing to the initial base colour
clouding the shoe with dyes diluted in alcohol to achieve a a lighter colouration effect


Glacage in French or bull shine in English, the final stages of a patina


Do you like the menswear trends that emerged from Pitti in Florence this year?

Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to go there but I have heard good things this year. Especially in men's fashion and trend seen that there is the best designer around the world.

For further information contact Bryan directly by clicking here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Antonio From Enrile Starts Work On The Next Blog Project - A Patina Bag Made By Antonio In Sevilla, España

Two years ago I was rummaging around Al Bazaar in Milan with Lino Ieluzzi looking for something apart from a number 7 tie so that I could say 'and this I found at Al Bazaar ' . After a while I decided there was nothing I could fit into my luggage other than a tie except for a brain storm that I had when I looked up towards the ceiling and saw the bag below on the shelf. It was the last one. Well, I had no more room in my suitcase but then I hadn't brought with me a travel on bag - now I'd have one.

The bag is beautiful and over the last two years I have received many compliments but it's a summer weekend bag and it lends itself to a beach holiday on the South Coast of NSW or perhaps Palm Beach north of Sydney but I don't think anyone in the countryside would take me to too seriously.

So, I just happened to reconnect with Antonio from Enrile last week and it coincided with my foray into patina and the two of us came up with an idea to make a purple and brown patina bag made by Enrile in his studio in Seville, Spain. Antonio sent some photos overnight for the selection process of leathers. From what I understand he is using the yellowish leather as a base patina from which we will dye the finished leather to the colour we choose. If you are looking to create leather goods from scratch, be it shoes, boots, belts, trays or bags, Antonio's business caters for people exactly like you. Almost 90% of his business is made to order.

I will post more as Antonio progresses.


A weekend bag from Al Bazaar, lovely but not necessarily a serious countryside weekend bag for an Australian

Antonio from Enrile begins to select the leather for the project.

A finished bag sits beneath the leather swatch we've chose as the base for this project. 



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