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

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Own Your Love In 2015 - My New Year's Resolution

I was at an event the other night where a speech was made that was so earnest that it welled my eyes and it briefly cut through so much junk that people ordinarily carry with them, especially families and extended families.

In the speech this person genuinely thanked each and every person in his life and went on to say how fortunate he felt by all that he had been given and how generous people had been to him in his life. There were some in the crowd that had been sniggering all evening and whilst on the surface they appeared to be amiable, in actual fact they were continually having a dig with a small comment here or a derisive laugh there. It was the continuity of a theme that had dogged them for most of their lives - a feeling of superiority which was founded in insecurity.

That feeling reminded me of two things. One, how I would like to live my life. Two, a scene from the movie 'Adaptation' and subsequently my New Year's Resolution.

My New Year's Resolution is this - own your love. Whatever it is you love, it is your love and you can give it wherever you like to whomever you like. You can love abundantly and freely and some things may not love you back in the same way, some things may not even have asked to be loved. But love regardless, because it's your love, and you can do with it as you please. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Die Welt On Bow Ties And A Lovely Bit On Us - Thank You.

In a recent article titled the Black Tie Optional & Cocktail Attire Dilemma, writer Jonathan Alexander Edwards wrote some lovely stuff on us and we are very grateful for the recognition. Here is an excerpt:

" Australian bow ties

I asked a friend, a young Savile Row bespoke tailor, for advice during a suit fitting. Was I tying it incorrectly? 'No, you need to get the ones from Australia' - 'Australia?' "Yeah, they're the best for the look you want." In an age of mass market production and the race to the bottom for disposable fast fashion, it is nice to discover small scale but successful artisan companies founded by people who are genuinely passionate about their product. Cue 'Le Noeud Papillon', bow tie maker of Sydney, Australia founded by Nicholas Atgemis. Like all the best brands, it began with a deep respect and desire for tradition. Only a few short years since its founding it is now an extremely well regarded specialist maker that has featured in men's style magazines around the world. And the reason it was founded in Australia, not normally known for its high tailoring?: "I'd bought one in Paris and couldn't get one of a similar quality at home in Australia".What better reason? He'd never worn a bow tie before that fateful trip to France. Yet his bow ties now sell all over the world and of course, ironically also to customers in France.
"Go real" - no pre-tied bow
His store makes bow ties in a dizzying array of options from the best silks in Italy - although helpfully, he is there to offer advice on what style will suit which face shape. There are also instructions on how to tie a 'real' bow tie in video format. Trust me, no matter how easy the diagrams and videos make it look, it really isn't those first few times you do it yourself! But it's certainly worth it once you get it right. He does sell the pre-tied versions, although, my own advice would be to 'go real' - you'll get the kudos for doing so. For those starting out with a bow tie for an evening event (like me) or Christmas party he recommends a simple black silk in a butterfly shape. "My two recommends for a bow tie are our diamond point for a smaller man and our 'black majestic modified butterfly' for a bigger man with broader shoulders. If he is very tall and very wide, then he needs to move to our 'wide butterfly' or to have a custom cut jumbo modified butterfly."
For those more advanced in their style, he also offers a bespoke service, designed to your specification - indeed it might be something I need to take up myself if I want to get the look I am after. So let's give a bow tie a go this Christmas party season and check out Le Noued Papillon's excellent blog for even more dapper and dandy men's style discussion. "

Friday, December 19, 2014

For A Man Who Loves A Generous Portion - The Leng Bespoke X Le Noeud Papillon Christmas Window Jacket

There comes a point when the student should listen to the master and be silent. In the world of bespoke garment making I might have gotten one or two things right but when it comes to suits I must say I sometimes gravitate too far left of field. I was obsessed with making a David Beckham styled shawl lapel and I kept pushing Leng for a bigger and bigger shawl and shaping and re-shaping it with him on paper until I was perfectly happy. 

I cannot tell you whether I was definitively wrong or not but what I do know is that when I tried it on I knew I had taken something right to the cusp of being gaudy and, well, I wasn't sure if I had fallen off the edge. We can over-bake these things and although it will still make a wonderful Christmas display for the window of the Le Noeud Papillon Studio, I am not entirely sure it will look as good in situ. 

Always remember to listen to your tailor - you think he might be trying to cut corners on you or that he is just being lazy and doesn't want to push the boundaries - or maybe he's just plain right! Experience over experiments might be the order of the day. Let us wait and see. Meanwhile, the bow tie is on the website.

Le Noeud Papillon Christmas Window Display.

A Glimpse Of The Moth Of Sydney New Range

The first production of Moth of Sydney pop-overs  sold within two weeks and just yesterday we received the next batch of pop-overs which focusses heavily on navy jersey with slight accents in internal contrasting along with re-stocking of the existing models that you can see below. We are live on Sunday for the website once we do a stocktake but in the interim you can purchase the pop-overs directly through the studio, via email on Le Noeud Papillon or through Becker & Minty in Potts Point, Sydney, Australia.

So far we've had exceptionally happy customers and we do urge you to follow the Facebook page as we will be posting regularly to it whilst we are still catching up on our website work and inventory. And then of course there are the stories of Sydney we will weave over the coming weeks. A city we made this product for. A city we are very proud of. 

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The model wears our red pique pop-over with navy oxford contrats

The model wears orange jersey with gingham contrasts and shows the functionality of the pop-over underneath a blazer where it holds structure

The model wears navy jersey with light sky blue contrasts
The model wears navy pique pop-over with navy popelin contrasts. These are Sydney Moreton Bay Fig Trees in the background. 

Navy jersey pop-over with light blue twill contrasts taken next to the famous Catalina Restaurant in Sydney's Rose Bay.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's Not Really Business As Usual

Although the Prime Minister advised us on Monday whilst the siege was unfolding in Martin Place that for the rest of us it should be 'business as usual' - I could not help but feel with the sobering dreary weather and the lack of people on the roads and in the streets, that it wasn't business as usual at all in the aftermath of the tragedy that has really shaken up those that work in the vicinity of the Lindt chocolate cafe, including many of my lawyer friends. Six days ago I said goodbye to an Italian friend of mine out the front of the Lindt chocolate cafe after a Christmas lunch. It is a place which many of us walk past almost every other day. And whilst we have new products that we wish to share with you, we will completely understand if you wish to pass on them until it truly is 'business as usual' again. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Real Cost To Sydney

I was in the city yesterday and so long as nobody was dead it all seemed to be a combination of subdued excitement and anxiety. However, to wake up this morning and to hear the news at 445am that the seige had ended with the loss, at this stage, of two lives and that of an insignificant piece of human excrement, took the edge off any excitement or anticipation of an outcome. To then read their stories reveals the real cost to Sydney. Bullet holes can be patched up, glass can be removed and replaced. It's not the same case for the children that lost a mother or the parents that lost a son this morning.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Designer Behind The Designer And His Main Supplier - The Inaugural VBC Wool Awards In Sydney, Australia

I don't think I had ever actually read anything from the famed menswear writer G. Bruce Boyer. He was more referenced in content I read across the internet, or perhaps he was captured in a photo standing next to some elegantly dressed men, but to have read him - nope.

So for me, the greatest part of the splendid Vitale Barberis Canonico Inaugural Wool Awards in Sydney two nights ago was not the lovely canapes, not the delicious three course meal, nor the display cabinets with wool fibres, not even the passionate speeches or slide point presentations. The real enjoyment came from the luxury of having a free morning two days later to sit and read G. Bruce Boyer's piece on the people from VBC in the most exquisite book that was given to each of the guests titled "The Fabric - Vitale Barberis Canonico - 1663".

The piece was titled "The Designer Behind The Designer" and it could not have been more apt given that VBC is vertically integrated and basically takes wool from a bale and controls each and every process until it is a roll of trouser, jacket, suit or overcoat cloth - ready to be badged by a designer! That is something very unique and in fact there are, from my understanding, only a small handful of companies in Europe that still have similar control over their processes like VBC does. Coupled with that is the fact that the company is one of the oldest in Europe and is still family owned and still emphasises the use of human skills throughout the development stages of the wool from fibre to cloth.

The foundation for good writing, in my opinion, is intention. You must first want to express something which needs to be said. After that, comes craftsmanship. On that basis I believe that G. Bruce Boyer is a great writer for he begins by saying that despite the fact that we know of all the big names and brands in fashion, we know very little about those that most support their endeavours. He writes:

"But unknown to the public there is another creative force at work in the glittering world of the fashion labels, an expert designing force behind the celebrity designer without whom these superstars could not exist. There is an aesthetic force behind the celebrity designer without whom his very ideas could not come to fruition, a force thoroughly essential to what the fashion world produces. There is a presence renowned and venerated in the clothing world almost entirely unknown to the public.

In short, there is a designer behind the designer."

Boyer goes on to talk about the design and construction of wool fabric and the VBC culture. In the article Francesco Barberis Canonico explains that no matter how long he has been in the industry there is always new experiences to be had and that he feels that there is still so much romance and mystery to cloth production. He equates the weaving of cloth to that of poetry. That in the same manner that one word might drastically change the feel or tone of a poem, so too the slightest change in the design or hues of one line of cloth can drastically change the way the cloth appears as a suit.

Today VBC produces some 7 million metres of wool each year and although 80% of this wool is made for bread and butter customers who want to make suits in navy, grey and black in all the most classic weaves and designs - there is an increasingly experimental and directional element that is flourishing at VBC as the team experiments with new fibres and blending techniques and nurtures their relationship with Australian Merino wool which it sources directly in Australia through a buying group. 

Two nights ago VBC commenced an annual awards night with their inaugural Wool Awards being held at the Quay restaurant. The event which was somewhat low key wished to celebrate three exceptional wool growers annually. The event was hosted by both Vitale Barberis Canonico Raw Material Procurement Manager Davide Fontaneto and Head Of Communications Simone Ubertino Rosso. VBC has been collecting information on wool clips for over 20 years and this year's award was given based on exceptional production qualities plus other objectives which include sustainability. Although three awards were given, one was considered to be the winner. The Hawksford family of the New England region of NSW took out the first prize with their property Glenburnie consistently delivering great wool for the people at VBC.

What is to me rather amusing it that beyond the designer is the designer's designer and beyond the designer's designer is a number of family run businesses across New England in New South Wales who are particularly humble and genuine people who work very hard long hours in very harsh conditions to produce a top quality wool top. These producers of the finest Merino wool spend their lives in alternating cold damp rain in the winter or scorching heat in the summer to produce exceptionally fine wool which goes on to become the finest suits sold by the superstars of fashion across the major capital cities of the world. Seated next to one of these couples I enjoyed hearing their story and the amount of pride they had in their work from the breeding programmes they ran to the shearing of the wool which they oversaw every year before they themselves classed the wool. Talking to them made me feel a very big distance between the runways of Milan and Paris and all the vats of dye, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing that goes on in between.

The event the other night served to remind me that there is a designer behind the designer but there is also a hard-working set of predominantly Australian families that are his main supplier. And it was very much a beautiful thing to hear Davide and Simone speak so softly and passionately in support of those wool growers that provide the foundation blocks of a suit made by designers like Brioni, Ralph Lauren or Tom Ford.

The Designer Behind The Designer  - A great piece by menswear writer G. Bruce Boyer

The Vitale Barberis Canonico team are responsible for a great deal of wool you see in designer suits across the globe

Part of the inspirational images inside the VBC book The Fabric

An example of VBC Houndstooth wool

An example of window pane check wool by VBC is used as a picnic blanket in this shot.

The winners of the inaugural award for wool excellence in Australia by VBC. This award went to the Hawksford family of Glenburnie in New England, NSW. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bend It Like BeckHam - Chasing The Perfect Curve For A Smoking Jacket Shawl Collar

In our blog post today about the art of penmanship some of you who may have watched the video accompanying the post would have noted Barbara Nichol's reference to 'The Universal Line Of Beauty'. That line, which one seeks in penmanship, is the same line that a cutter might seek when chalking a suit. After all, much of what we do as human beings, be it making suits, cars or buildings, is to emulate nature or naturally occurring phenomenon.

Recently, enamoured with the proportions of David Beckham's shawl collar velvet smoking jacket in a recent vodka commercial, I went seeking similar lines of beauty for an evening jacket I wished to create for Le Noeud Papillon's Christmas window and to be used for an upcoming event. The jacket was experimental in the sense that we were using a new fabric designed for the application of bow ties and grafting that across into a jacket. The composition of the fabric was both silk and cotton with the fabric giving off a lovely rich lustre with a depthing aspect provided by the warp and weft by the way in which the fabric was woven. I described it previously as having a '3D' or 'raised' effect.

The first step was to see whether one of my associated tailors would take on the work and Leng was my first choice and turned out to be the only one willing to accept the work. The smoking jacket was to be contrasted on the shawl and cuff with a black grosgrain silk we keep in stock. I also had to set about having the buttons custom made with fabric shanks which required taking a trip across town to a button maker.

Today, in stifling heat and humidity I was in the city of Sydney for the first fitting with Leng and I must say, the jacket is particularly stunning. The fabric has a lovely play of light within it and shimmers on certain angles. It will be contrasted well with the muted sheen of grosgrain which will deaden the sometimes over bright jacket body. Leng has used a variety of canvas and felt like materials to build up both the shawl collar and the chest to give some spring to the jacket.

The areas that are not yet convincingly done correctly are the shape of the shawl. Leng and I got a little animated when I tried to explain what it was I was seeking. In his opinion the proportions of the Beckham jacket were too wide but I explained to him that I was seeking a similar 'universal line of beauty' in the shape of the shawl and that if that meant going outside of the proportions he was comfortable with then so be it.

Time will tell whether Leng or I was right and I will be forced to live with whatever comes no doubt; as I am quite sure Leng won't have a great deal of sympathy if I did indeed make the wrong call. Still, as Pablo Picasso did say "learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist".

Let's pray for that Universal Line of Beauty emerging somewhere from that hot and muggy first fitting.

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

Drawing initial inspiration from David Beckham's smoking jacket in emerald green velvet, note the curve of the shawl which looks almost like the shape of a leaf the way in which it meets the button point. This line or curve is what I was chasing and which some refer to as the Universal Line Of Beauty....

Leng awaits me for the first fitting.

Unlined and basted but not yet sewn. Areas to be tweaked were shoulders, to be brought in slightly, and below chest. 

A great shot revealing the shimmy and play of colour in this silk and cotton woven jacquard from an Italian silk mill. 

Not yet happy with the size of the shawl or its curvature but very happy with the overall proportions of this evening jacket. 

The same silk grosgrain that we use in our bow ties will be used in this shawl collar to deaden the brightness of the silk body in both the shawl and cuff.

Principal of Leng Bespoke, Mr. Leng Ngo, and myself. I am wearing one of the new Moth of Sydney Pop-Overs available through Becker Minty currently and soon on the website.

Penmanship - The Distant Cousin Of Menswear Which Ought To Be Included In The Family Talk

There has been so much great content that has been generated around the general discussion of "menswear" over the last 5 years that it is akin to the same period's "Golden Era" of television. Perhaps in some strange way we are in fact celebrating 'men' during this period since most of the great television characters over the same period seem to be male skewed.

A few months ago I bumped into Wei Koh from The Rake Magazine whilst dining in Sydney and we exchanged cards. Surprisingly he knew of me and suggested I ought to write something for the online version of the magazine but to date nothing has come of it and I didn't really know what I would like to write on their website since most of what I turn out here on the blog is based on whim and fancy - ie: on a whim I exclaim 'fancy that' and start typing....

However, I did try to encourage him to take on one subject matter recently and that is penmanship and calligraphy and to focus the article on one particular woman in Sydney who needs to be celebrated - Barbara Nichol.

Barbara is extremely unique in the sense that you really won't find too many women in Australia that have both her skill and the knowledge base behind the subject matter too. Barbara is not only the owner of Penultimate, which we have spoken of before, but she is also considered worldwide to be an expert on the art of hand-writing. The word calligraphy is broken down from two Greek words "kallos" or "beauty" and "graphe" or "writing"  and if you were to watch Barbara write on a page, as you will see below, you will agree that there is great beauty in her writing. Although hand-writing and calligraphy are different forms - the difference is that hand-writing is drawn whereas calligraphy is more based on the flow of brush strokes - there are some basic synergistic skills that occur in both which you will see below.

And it seems to me that with all this renaissance going on by way of menswear content, the distant cousin of menswear, hand-writing, which is the basic tool by which we communicate with one another our ideas in word using our hands and a simple tool, a pen, somewhat now lost in the world of digital content, deserves it's place in a magazine such as The Rake, where it can be discussed in the context of fine pens which belong, in my opinion, in the suite of other products that I adore such as whiskey, cigars (which I don't like but love to read about), watches, leather watch straps, leather goods and motor cars and boats. ( Ideally I should have broken up that last sentence into a series of sentences but my love of commas got the better of me).

I arrive at a point where I now wish to reveal to you a video that Barbara gave me permission to upload for you that I think you will love. The video was made in an impromptu manner with the folks from Online pens in Germany. The video starts with a proposition - would you like to improve your hand-writing ? From there Barbara shows us some revealing aspects of hand-writing but most importantly that the beginning of the characters that we type every day, the lower case of our alphabet, is derived from Charles The Great who asked his scribe to come up with a way to fasten the manner in which they could write since up until that point all information was written in Roman capital letters. Barbara goes onto show the recipient of this lesson that if we study writing in it's most basic form then we will see that most of the shapes that go into the characters that we write are derived from commonly occurring shapes we find in nature which she refers to as 'the universal line of beauty'.

I know quite a few journalists and I know the criteria it often takes to get a piece to be written and I am honestly a little surprised this story hasn't been picked up sooner!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Becker & Minty Now Stocking Moth of Sydney Pop-Overs

For some time now Le Noeud Papillon has had a relationship with Becker & Minty with respect to bow ties and pocket squares as well as made to order velvet slippers. That relationship has now evolved as Becker & Minty sells more menswear and we move into a new space with Moth Of Sydney. 

We have been blogger blagging about these pop-overs for over 18 months now and it has been an extraordinarily long process as we defined and re-defined the product but thankfully now we have finished our first production and after we showed Jason Minty (founder and co-owner of Becker Minty) the product he did not hesitate in taking it on. We received a lovely email on Monday from Jason saying that he'd sold half the stock over the weekend and would be ready to place another order shortly. This was music to our ears. When I say 'our' I refer to the co-founder of Moth Of Sydney, Mr. Raja Farah.

So, whilst we wait to finish our website with a photo shoot and to commence the website formally, you are welcome to shop the first drop through Becker Minty in Sydney's Potts Point. They are located here and can be contacted here. Anything that is not in store can be ordered in the following day.

As many of you that read this blog will know, our Moth Of Sydney Pop-Overs (copyright Moth of Sydney 2014) are a fusion between traditional shirt making and ribbed collared t-shirts or 'polos'. The design is made to ensure that the structure of the garment remains with you all day long and it allows you to wear a jacket without the collar splaying with a lower button point so that when a sports jacket is closed there is an appearance of a shirt rather than a t-shirt. Thus a person can move seamlessly between many environments (restaurants, beach, harbour, golf course, club house, bar, nightclub, office or home) without the need to change from one attire to another. They are designed by Sydneysiders for the dynamic nature of Sydney as a city where you can find yourself in many different social settings in one day. Our initial collection will focus on the summer months in front of us and by April we will reveal our winter range which are designed to be worn in conjunction with cardigans, sweaters, suits and sports jackets. Our focus has been on using the highest quality Italian jersey cottons and fusing them with the highest grade Italian shirting cottons and keeping production in Sydney, Australia to ensure that the product is authentic, made local and something for Australians, especially Sydneysiders, to be proud of.

We encourage you to shop them through Becker Minty whilst we put the final touches on our website where you will see the full depth of our first collection.
Moth Of Sydney Pop-Overs now available through Becker Minty in Sydney's Potts Point

Emerald green jersey with panacotta shirting contrasts

Striped jersey with white oxford constrasts 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Politics, Precedence Or Profile - The Artful Battle For Credits In A Magazine

I don't wish to sound ungrateful to GQ Magazine in Australia because overall I was very happy with the shoot that they did for this year's GQ Men Of The Year Awards. I really liked the photo of the Bondi Hipsters and the creative black tie look of Jordan Stenmark with a wool-silk evening jacket in purple and some mid red wool/silk  blend trousers from Ermenegildo Zegna.

However, I wish to flag a point of which I can totally understand how it happens. In the photo of Jordan Stenmark our company is credited for the bow tie which I think is highly improbably ours. At the same time, I recognise the front cover bow tie of Dave Franco to be our Yves #2 shape bow tie in mogador satin silk and the telling shot is when the tie is undone later in the shoot. The Yves #2 shape came after a Sydney customer who requested us to copy his mid 1960's YSL - it is a fairly unusual shape and one particular to our company. I could be wrong, in fact I am happy to be wrong, but I feel confident to say I know my own product.

Whilst I am not really disturbed by any of this - it does spring to mind the difficulties that I imagine a large photography shoot must have in logistically getting all the product across Sydney and into different set locations and then noting and marking what items were put on where and who gets credit for what. Just last week I had to do a stocktake on our new Moth of Sydney pop-overs and that alone got me perplexed. I can only imagine what nightmares the team at GQ must go through in order to get it right before publication.

Despite the logistical nightmare of documenting all that goes into a shoot - you also have the added dimensions of politics, precedence and how much you value a brands profile at any given time. I will raise my Chivas Regal glass of scotch to the team at GQ for managing to wade through all the bullshit.

In the meantime, enjoy the selection from what was otherwise an enjoyable read I got in a gift bag last night from the new menswear Coach store opening at Sydney's QVB .

Click to increase size. Click here to see our current silks. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

You Don't Have To Buy Patent Leather Shoes For Black Tie But You Do Need To Know How To High Shine Them

The French word 'glaçage' is often translated into English as 'frosting'. It is more of a glaze effect when referred to in French cuisine and is often used, from my limited knowledge, on desserts in the main. Some videos show glaçage in French cuisine as what we might refer to as icing and others show a more interesting technique of merely spilling hot chocolate liquid over a cake and letting the excess drain away leaving a lovely glazed finish.

Either way, one could refer to all these techniques, be it glaçage, frosting, icing, bullshine, high shine or polish all under the loose umbrella of 'the top coat' be it shoes or cuisine.

Essentially high shining in the world of shoes requires buffing in small concentric circles a wax or polish into the shoe which, coupled with small amounts of liquid (be it water, spit or as Madame Olga Berluti used to suggest, 'champagne under moonlight' ) results in a layered glaze appearance in the shoe which in some circumstances can reach the reflective mirror like finish of patent leather.

The reason I mention all this is because patent leather is the standard by which most men will choose their evening shoes but not everyone can afford to have patent leather formal shoes lying around for the odd occasion when we finally get invited to a black tie event. The alternate and somewhat thrifty option is to purchase a black pair of shoes which we can high shine for a black tie event when we need them. Furthermore, there are plenty of options out there for oxfords and slip-ons in black leather than there are in patent leather.

In order to experiment I found a pair of second-hand but unworn Foster & Son shoes with brogue detail in what some would call slippers or slip-ons and others would call loafers. I still have no idea exactly what the difference is but in essence they are a shoe without laces.

Some say that in order to achieve a high-shine you must labour away for many hours. It is true that you need some elbow grease and you will sweat, but in my estimation you can get near enough to a bullshine within an hour or what might be two to three layers of wax.

In order to achieve a high shine you can first familiarise yourself with our old blog post here . Next, you will need to have the following.

1. A pair of black leather shoes
2. A water dispenser or a good amount of saliva
3. Hot breath
4. Fine cotton rags - I use the left over cuts of Carlo Riva from my customer's shirt orders but you can use any old cotton shirting you can find from an old shirt. Just make sure it doesn't product much lint.
5. A brush - preferably from a brand like Saphir or one which makes leather saddles or shoes.
6. Saphir Renovateur
7. Saphir Creme 1925 in black
8. Saphir Medaille D'Or in black

These products can be readily sourced although I do recommend Double Monk in Melbourne which has a ready supply of the full range and usually ships within 24 hours. For the water dispenser I recommend Exquisite Trimmings in London. I estimate that the total cost will be $60.00 AUD but that your shoe cleaning kit will last for 10 years without needing to be replaced and can be used on all your shoes.

The first step is to assess the shoes. What is the condition of the leather? Where are the shoes stretched? Where is the leather firm around the shoe (eg: the toe box) and where is it loose (eg: the vamp). If the shoe has parts of the leather which are aged or look dry, the first step is to brush the shoes and spot mark them followed by the application of Saphir Renovateur.

In order to make things easier on myself I tend to use the same rag for all processes - I just use a different part for each process. Wrap the rag between your index and middle finger and firmly twine around them leaving the excess fabric in a gripped ball in your palm. This ensures that the fabric remains firm from which you are creating friction on the shoe with the rubbing movement.

Apply the renovateur in small amounts. Almost everything in shoes should be done in small amounts rather than generous dollops (especially on a brogue where the cream can clog the brogue detail). Rub the Saphir cream into the shoe until you get an even dull look on the shoe. Allow to rest. Some people recommend 24 hours for full refurbishment of shoes - but if the shoes are in relatively good condition, just leave it for an hour and then come back to the shoes.

Now remove the Saphir by a process of brushing and it way and or using said rag dipped in a tiny amount of water to buff the Renovateur back.

This process will naturally begin to reveal a sheen to the leather. Now it is time for the pomade or what is known as Saphir Creme 1925 in black. Now this product is very good. It appears almost like a viscous black fudge or a dark chocolate mousse. It is loaded up with pigment in it and it will add back some colour to the leather. Apply once again with the rag, using a different part of course. Most people use a brush here and go on liberally but I am not inclined to tell you the same. I find that using a fine cotton rag and going in with small concentric circles tends to provide a tighter finish on the shoe and dries the pomade faster.

Once the pomade is dry give it a chance to rest for a bit. Enough time for it to dry on the surface of the shoe. Then once again go at the shoes with a brush but more gently and then once again use your cotton rag to buff the shoes using small daubs of water or a small amount of spit on the shoe.

By now you should have got it to mostly high shine but it is the wax or what Saphir calls their Medaille D'Or which begins the layered process that looks like 'frosting' or icing and what the French like to call 'glaçage' .

The Medaille D'Or should go on in layers and one should not think to get any results on one later alone. Ideally you should work on one shoe then drop it and work on the other. Keeping a tab on how many layers you have done on each one. You will find that the toe box and heel will get the mirrored effect first, but this is a function of the fact that the leather is most tightly pulled on both these areas which allows this to take place.

Essentially you should apply the wax again in small concentric circles and again and with a tiny about of water or spit each time. The one small difference during this process, however, is hot breath. It might seem strange but nothing quite matches the effect of breathing heavily and up close onto the shoe and then rubbing that hot breath back. Perhaps it is the enzymes in out saliva or the temperature or perhaps the mist our breath creates, but buffing this hot breath off the shoe invariably produces a much more glazed effect than using plain water.

After serveral layers of rubbing this Saphir wax on and off the shoe you will, without doubt, especially if you are sweating, have achieved something. By this stage it is up to you as to how far you are willing to go to get a mirrored finish but no doubt they are now just as effective as patent leather shoes for your black tie event.

This is a very very good way get two uses out of one pair of shoes and of course I have a black tie event coming up and accordingly I look forward to wearing the first pair of black tie shoes I have purchased in almost 8 years.

The only other recommendation I have for you is this - whilst you are purchasing your shoe care products, consider getting a clothes brush at the same time. It will get the lint off your tuxedo and the specks off your silk or velvet bow tie so that when you step out in those brand new shoes you can sheen head to toe.

Use your existing black Oxfords or Slip-On shoes as black tie shoes by high shining them using Saphir products, a brush, a rag and a water dispenser (or saliva). And at the same time, get a clothes brush to make sure your suit and bow ties never get lint on them. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Be Generous This Christmas But More With Your Thoughts Than With Your Money

Across the city of Sydney today there was a real Christmas buzz in the air from the Queen Victoria Building to the Strand Arcade and the Pitt Street Mall. You could really feel that people were starting to get traction with their browsing and shopping.

I also have been purchasing a few small items in the lead up to Christmas but one of the things I am most concentrating on this year is the quality of the paper and inks that I am using on my notes which, against all odds,  I am writing left-handed with a fountain pen. 

If I could offer you one bit of advice this Christmas it's to buy less bulk and give more thought to your purchases. The other day I had my mother and father drop by and when my father was trying things on my mother made a sigh of relief and said 'well, you better get something here then because it's so hard to shop for you'. The truth is, it's not that hard to shop for people - what people lack is the patience to understand what the other person wants. If you listen carefully, most people will tell you - but we are in such an awful rush these days that we give pathetic gifts like gift vouchers to a generic department store. 

One thing that is universally loved though is a hand-written note that tells you how wonderful you are and for those I recommend this website in Sydney for some very reasonably priced but beautiful stationary. Click here to see Papier D'Amour's range.

As for our own range we had a big win this week when the first batch of our English woven jacquard silks came in finished differently to our regular silks with a certain chemical process that gives a very bright and punchy finish. These are very dense, very expensive silks and only 10-20 will be available in each silk and then poof, they are gone.

Shop the new silks at Le Noeud Papillon by clicking here

Monday, November 24, 2014

From Little Things Big Things Grow - Gaziano & Girling Taking Very Large Strides In These Custom Made Chelsea Boots For Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney

The Australian singer/song-writer Paul Kelly who is in my opinion the closest thing to Bob Dylan that we have in this country of ours, once wrote a magnificent song which has been all over the airwaves this last month with the passing of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. The song is dedicated to Vincent Lingiari, an indigenous Australian who fought to get his native land back from a landed English aristocrat named Lord Sam Vestey. The song is now one which will echo through our culture for many generations to come. It is a David and Goliath story.

Gaziano & Girling strike me as very similar in the way that they have gone from working from a small outfit against the grain of what must be an overall dying trade of shoe making in Northampton, against the tide of production that moves to wherever there is cheaper labour and, instead, they turned everything on its head and started an English shoe making renaissance and in the process have opened up the first shoe making facility in Northampton to open in more than 100 years.

If you read Gaziano & Girling marketing materials then one word often pops up frequently when they refer to the English shoe making industry as it was - somnolent. Somnolent, as I did not know until I looked it up, means to be sleepy, groggy or drowsy. And indeed, although many English shoe companies continue to make spectacular shoes in an age-old manner, somnolent does often describe some of the classic shoes that come out of Northampton. The movement of shoes away from this, such as is being done by Gaziano & Girling, is imperative to the survival of English shoe making. This same enthusiasm should be taken up by what remains of Australian shoe making, especially the likes of RM Williams who have been resting on one product for nearly 100 years now.

Today, after a considerable amount of time, I received and photographed the chelsea boots that I worked with Tony Gaziano to create, which were to challenge the idea of how a chelsea should look. I was tired of walking into our own retailers and seeing one of two to three lasts to choose from in one of four colours in stock.... Tony Gaziano completely understood what I was searching for and by the first iteration of photos I knew something quite different was going to appear at the end.

When I opened the box I was expecting to be disappointed. For waiting for these shoes was like a bride waiting for her long awaited wedding and all the work that goes behind it only to sink into post-wedding blues when the whole thing is over in 8 hours. That was my concern with these custom made Burnham boots - a lot of emails, a lot of talk and chatter and blog fodder - would I be content at the end?

Those that espouse Eastern philosophies often say "to journey is to arrive" and I am inclined to agree. Everything that I most enjoyed was, so I thought, up until it actually arrived. I beg to differ in this case. I opened the box to find an exquisite pair of chelsea boots with a beautiful toe box brogued in butterfly with the richest patina in burgundy with black accents on the heel and toe box. They were wholecuts - just like our famed Australian maker RM Williams with only one seam in the rear of the boot and they had such a sleek look about them that I felt they were due more for a museum than for my feet.

To finish off my climactic anti-climax I found on the sole that the team had made a small surprise and finished the boot with LNP nailed into the fiddle back waist.

All this I mention without telling you about how they felt on my feet. Well, as I type this I am seated and it's a sultry muggy day outside in Sydney and my air-conditioning unit is blowing a very cool wind, cool enough to make it bearable to wear these chelsea boots which went on a little tight but after half an hour I feel as snug as a bug in a rug.

I recommend Gaziano & Girling to you without hesitation and look forward to the day when I receive a letter from England with their work being commemorated on a stamp by UK Mail. And it will happen one day.

The design drawing I submitted to Tony Gaziano which worked off their Burnham model. Initially I was wanting to do black and greys on a patina until I saw a burgundy antiqued patina on their Instagram page.
Arriving in a lovely black box with silver stamped logo

The Gaziano & Girling difference - an explanation on the reasons one chooses their service.

The first hint of the great beauties that lay beneath

Sleek and stylish, the Gaziano & Girling Burnham boot with custom butterfly brogue and burgundy antiqued patina is a decided move away from traditional chelsea boots.

The depth of colour and tonality in these shoes means that you spend some time studying them on different angles in different lights revealing different tones. 
One of the few companies that are able to make a wholecut chelsea boot liked our famed RM Williams does in Australia. There are no side seams on this boot which is a stark contrast to most Italian chelsea boot makers who uniformly use a side seam underneath the sided elastic.

The beautiful english oak bark soles finished with the black fiddle-back waist that G&G are famed for. The addition of our companies initials was a wonderful additional surprise.

A New Kind Of Silk - Textured Woven Jacquard New To Le Noeud Papillon

Every year designers around the world put their best foot forward to design a range of fabrics that the consumer might want. Each year there are experiments and revisions; the incorporation of a new weaving machine, the change of composition in yarn or the blending of fibres, changes in dyes and the use of seasonal colours etc etc. Just like Derek Zoolander was once asked to dance like a monkey on a photo shoot - so too weaving mills and print houses have pressure put on them each year by design houses to come up with something different which they can offer their customers according to the season. Something, hopefully, which will give them a competitive edge.

Although we design a great deal of our silks ourselves, sometimes things are put under our nose which are no brainers. One such silk was the one that arrived last week which was new to one of the silk mills we deal with. This particular mill was working with textured "puffy" silks which were a combination of fine cotton 44% and silk 56%. The fabrics are now being cut as we speak into bow ties for evening wear - contrasted on the rear side with our luxury black satin silk which will make them available as a fancy black tie bow tie as well as a regular black bow tie. We hope to offer them to you in the coming weeks and if we're lucky, some of you will have them in your Christmas socks before the big day.

If you would like to know more about these new fabrics, feel free to contact us on 

Adding texture and a 'puffy' feel to the handle of this woven jacquard silk, this blend of silk 56% and cotton 54% will be available shortly as an evening wear bow tie from Le Noeud Papillon .

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Follow Us On Instagram

Lately, unfortunately, we were getting too many young half nude girls from Eastern Europe adding themselves as followers on our Instagram feed. Although purchasing a bow tie is not expensive, it seems the image of life wearing our bow ties does look somewhat ritzy and perhaps these girls thought there was some sort of a gravy train somewhere along the way. How silly, because bow tie customers are rather discerning and don't like giving anything away for nothing!

The short of it is that we've had to turn our Instagram profile onto the private setting to filter out some of the young girls that would be wives to our customers. Feel free to add yourselves on and we'll get to your request within an hour or so.

If It Doesn't Have The Seal, It May Not Be Real

In a digital age where nearly everything can be reproduced by the click of a button - especially things such as patterns for garments, it is harder and harder to tell whether something is authentic or not. Which is why we took the trouble of having our logo carved by hand in Melbourne and then shipped to Sydney where it sits with our printers who apply a significant tonnage of pressure to each instruction card which bonds the foil to the paper and embosses our logo in raised red foil so that when you get a Le Noeud Papillon bow tie, you know you got it from us or one of our resellers and not some other mob with access to a label maker. Anybody can weave a label these days - it's not so easy to carve by hand something this ornate into metal. So if it doesn't have the seal, it may not be real. Shop the real thing here.

Dual sided velvet and satin silk tie your own bow tie in wide butterfly shape custom cut for a groom in Sydney, Australia . Either over email or via our Studio by appointment -

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Gucci Chelsea Boot Given A New Personality With Patina

These Gucci chelsea boots were lying around on Ebay without a home and I could tell that nobody had bought them because of the colour of the leather. It was a light olive that had so little it could be paired with.

Using a bit of elbow grease, some leather dyes and Saphir waxes (which you can get from Double Monk in Melbourne), I decided to embark on the perfect brown patina boot. I am not sure that I got there entirely, but I will let you make that decision.

Firstly, I washed the boots with saddle soap and then stripped them with leather strippers using cotton balls and pads.

Before I begin with the explanation of dyeing I wish to say that the lighter the leather you have as the base, the more options you will have when it comes to patina. This leather was light enough that I made my first layer of dye a brushed on yellow and then orange. Graduating from yellow at the front to orange at the top of the boot.

The next process was to begin bringing the browns in using tan first with a beaver brush that gave a certain stringy brush stroke which allowed the patina to soak in unevenly giving me the beginnings of that patina which is more like old wood. I followed this by using the colour whiskey on the shoes and then finished with a more viscous dye called antique mahogany which was applied with a different, smoother brush. The final act was to use a cotton ball dipped in black to try and give the toe box and heel some additional tonal depth and to 'dirty' up the boot a little so that it did not look too much like a 'manufactured' treatment.

The result was here for me when I arrived this morning. It was a very exciting brown because the colour of the base had allowed me to stay in a rich brown colour range rather than something heavy. This morning, to finish the boots I used Saphir Renovateur to give the leather back some nutrients and then I finished with Cognac and Tabac waxes from Saphir.

NB: These boots are now sold. Thank you for your enquiries. 

These shoes are brand new, they've never been worn before. They are a UK 10, a European 43-44 and a USA 10.5. Since I don't fit the shoes I am offering them for SALE. The price is $495.00 AUD plus postage. If you like the look of them, please drop me a line on 's contact page and I will be sure to respond ASAP.

Stage 1: right is the original colour boot after washing and stripping, left is the beginning of the yellow dye brushed on.

Graduating dye from yellow on the to box and heel to deeper oranges towards the top of the boot.

Adding in brown begins using beaver brushes to streak the boot.

Additions of black to toe box and heel to add some scruffy tonality and to not make the boot look too manufactured. 

The final result is a rich brown patina with hints of orange and yellow through the toe box and heel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some Say The Greatest Rolex Of All Time - President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Datejust With Jubilee Bracelet

The world has become increasingly obsessed with Rolex watches. The company, which started as Wilsdorf And Davis in 1905, changed it's name to Rolex when it moved from London to Geneva. Some say the name was made up, others believe it is derived from the French words for 'horological excellence'. Whatever it was, it has become one of the world's most recognised brands and to own a Rolex is a status symbol.

Rolex has had a long-running and successful ambassador programme - placing product in the hands of people of influence, power, prestige, in the arts, in humanities, in sport, in science and in exploration. The advertising campaigns that have and always will stick with me are the ads I read in the National Georgraphic magazines throughout the 1980's where it seemed to me that if you went out on a limb, if you separated yourself from the pack or did something which was completely challenging the status quo - you wore a Rolex wrist watch.

This is in fact exceptional marketing from Rolex who have spent an enormous amount of time cultivating this Rolex 'idea' which sits in the minds of consumers. Starting with associations with pioneers of motor car speed records on Daytona beach with Sir Malcolm Campbell aka 'The Speed King' - which evolved over time into their current Daytona model - to creating the first waterproof watch which they named the 'Oyster' and along the way creating some extremely unique models like the datejust and day-date watches which went on to become synonymous with heads of state and presidents alike; Rolex wrist watches must be one of the most successful marketing campaigns that has spanned more than a century and continues go from strength to strength despite the logical threat of traditional watches by smart watches and mobile telephones having clocks.

Of all the watches though that have been made by Rolex one is considered to be of the greatest historical importance. In 1950 the then head of Rolex, Rene-Paul Jeanneret approached a close friend of Generel Dwight D Eisenhower, a lady by the name of Nana Rae, and asked her if she would kindly ask the General, who had recently been made the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, if he would do Rolex the honour of receiving their 150,000th official chronometer. In the letter to Nana Rae, Jeanneret explains that the 50,000th had been bestowed upon Swiss General Henri Guisan, protector of the Swiss during WWII, that the 100,000th had been bestowed upon Sir Winston Churchill - would the General accept the 150,000th?

The letter between Nana Rae and Rene-Paul Jeanneret

The General accepted the invitation and had the date that he was made Supreme Allied Commander of Europe by NATO inscribed on the underside of the watch as well as his 5 general stars and his initials which were later also added on the jubilee golden bracelet which was added to the watch some years later by Rolex during a service. Rolex could not have known in 1950 that 3 years later he would be President of the United States Of America - but that is how fate would have it. Rolex was offering the 5 star General the Rolex as a token of their appreciation of his service to Europe by the success of his D-Day invasion and the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny.

The watch that President Eisenhower received was a datejust Rolex in 18k yellow gold. The watch became something very dear to him and over the years he is pictured wearing it in many photographs although some say that depending on the company he was in, Eisenhower use to slide the watch up and down his wrist to hide it behind his shirt cuff.

When Eisenhower died he left the watch to his valet and long time associate Sgt John Moaney who in turn left it to his wife who in turn sold it to Raleigh DeGreer Amyx, a former FBI agent turned Presidential memorabilia collector.

On the 8th of June 2014 the Daily Mail reported that the watch was going to be auctioned off as Amyx's children did not want it and his house in Florida was being clogged with Presidential memorabilia, including Dwight's WWII leather jacket. The watch was sent to Boston to be auctioned off but according to Bloomberg the watch, despite it's provenance and despite what some Rolex aficionados declared was the greatest Rolex watch of all, it failed get a rise above $475,000 USD despite estimates that it could crack $1 million USD.

The watch is of cultural importance, not just because it belonged to one of the most important men of the 20th Century but because it is also the precursor to the phenomenon known as the Rolex 'President'. General Eisenhower's watch was a date-just but the addition by Rolex to it of the jubilee bracelet became known as the 'president bracelet' which in turn evolved into the 36mm day-date model that was given to Eisenhower on his successful campaign for a second term in the oval office. The same watch is said, but not verified, to have been given by Marilyn Monroe to John F Kennedy when he was President and then after Kennedy's assassination, it was the watch chosen by President Lyndon Johnson - who wore an 18k gold jubilee bracelet with a day-date face and fluted bezel. Until this point Rolex had only referred to the bracelet as a President bracelet - having ensured with President Eisenhower that there was absolutely no advertising tie up with the gift - but by the time Johnson was wearing the watch Rolex slowly began including the world President in much of it's marketing to associate the watch with people who had achieved great things or were in the highest office of their company. In one image from the mid 1960's, Rolex uses an image of a hand holding a red telephone and wearing an 18k yellow gold day-date with the caption 'The President's Watch' to convey a strong message that this is a watch associated with power.

The watch then went on to be associated with Presidents Nixon, Ford and Regan also but the genesis of this relationship begins with the datejust Rolex bestowed upon General Dwight D Eisenhower's 150,000th official chronometer gifted by then head of Rolex Rene-Paul Jeanneret in 1950. It is for this reason that some say it is the greatest Rolex of all time - which is why I was surprised to hear that it didn't reach the reserve at auction in September.

For a more in depth history of the Rolex President - read Jake's Rolex blog or read the Daily Mail article on the sale of Eisenhower's watch here.

President Eisenhower wearing his prized Rolex date-just gifted by Rolex to mark the 150,000th official chronometer and as a token gesture of gratitude for the role Eisenhower played in freeing Europe from Nazi tyranny during WWII
The watch was inscribed by Rolex with the date that Eisenhower was made Supreme Allied Commander of NATO along with his initials and the 5 stars relating to his rank as a General.
Part of the marketing for the watch prior to the auction was to show it referenced with the cover of Life magazine where the President wore the watch. 
The watch as it was presented for auction in September 2014.

The face of Eisenhower's watch was fitted later on with a cyclops lense at the request of Rene-Paul Jeanneret . Note also the red date numbers. 
President Johnson wearing a 36mm Day-Date with gold bracelet circa 1964 - it was this watch which became more widely known to be the Rolex 'President'.

A great example of the watch sold in the 1960's - this is an example of the 36mm 18k yellow gold watch with jubilee bracelet. Today the watch is mostly superseded by larger faces of up to 41mm

The first use of Rolex in marketing the watches as a 'President' watch - this ad from 1966 clearly infers that the President, who hold a red phone after a black tie function, wears a gold Rolex just as Lyndon Johnson did. From this point forward the day-date in 18k yellow gold stuck with the name 'The Rolex President'.