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

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Andy Murphy Of Foster And Son - The Jermyn Street Shoe Maker With 430 Years Of Experience

You hear a lot of people talk about 'heritage' brands on the internet. I certainly don't claim to be one and if I were to trade for another five years I would be more than grateful for the experience. On the internet a number of more prominent voices throw rocks at those brands that claim they are 'heritage' but have been around for no more than thirty years. Foster & Son is NOT one of these brands. They are the ones that should be bragging but with that English sensibility they don't have the time nor the inclination because they are too busy getting on with the job. Which is probably the reason why with over 430 combined years of trading, they are still a going concern. I managed to speak to the manager, Andy Murphy, on the business of shoes both bespoke and ready to wear.

Andy, I have asked a number of people, including Xavier De Royere from Corthay of Paris as to what was the main difference between a British and a French or Italian shoe. I have always found English shoes to be far more sturdy and bulky than their continental counterparts but this does not always hold true. Can you tell me about your thoughts on the matter of national identity of shoes through manufacturing methodology?

A very interesting question. The majority of fine English shoes are Goodyear welted, with a proportion being hand welted at the semi-bespoke and fully-bespoke end of the marketplace. It does create a distinctive silhouette in most cases and I can see how you come to that conclusion.
French and Italian shoes are often Blake or Blake-Rapid in construction which does tend towards a sleeker line but has some potential drawbacks with regard to repair and water ingress and that sort of thing. Having said that the French and Italian makers are also producing Goodyear welted shoes and from my reading of the situation they do so for sound reasons.
There are a number of other factors to take into consideration, not least of which are the desired aesthetic outcomes and the effect of British weather, where our inclement climate makes a waterproof sole essential. If you look at all of the quality English makers they are capable of making refined shoes, with the welt cut close to the upper; sturdier shoes, typically for a country style; and all sorts of variations between the two. So if you compare the shoes in the photographs below both have what might be called a British sensibility even though one is a sleek city shoe and the other is a country boot.

When, in fact, they’re both classically English and the sleekness, or otherwise, reflects their purpose. When English shoemakers get this right I think that they make the best aesthetic in the world. And, to come back to your original question, yes the manufacturing process has something to do with it, but so have British weather conditions. Many, many fine pairs of shoes come out of Italy and France but I believe that we’ve got the edge.

At Foster & Son you seem to concentrate on bespoke shoes. What is your proportion of bespoke to ready to wear in terms of sales? Are all of your shoes made on site or is this only for the bespoke shoes you make?

We were first and foremost a maker of bespoke shoes. Foster & Son and Henry Maxwell (founded 1840 and 1760 respectively) have over 430 years in the business. The shift towards offering ready to wear in addition to bespoke shoes started about 40 years ago and since then we’ve carried / made both.
The market for ready to wear shoes is much larger than that for bespoke and that is reflected in our rtw sales which run significantly higher than our bespoke shoes. I would estimate that we sell twenty pairs of rtw to every pair of bespoke.

All of our bespoke shoes are made on site in our workshop at 83 Jermyn Street by our team of craftspeople who have, for many years, benefitted from the tutelage and support of Terry Moore who has been with the firm for nearly 50 years and is, in our opinion at least, the best last maker of the last half century in the whole world.

Our rtw shoes are made to our specifications and under our supervision at a number of the best Northampton workshops. Northampton is the home of English shoemaking and we have been working with companies there for many years. Our bespoke shoes have been an inspiration for many of our rtw models and will continue to be so.

We have recently developed a new set of lasts which will form the core of our new Heritage rtw shoes.

In Sydney there are so few shoe stores which offer great shoes and there is possibly one or two shoe stores that offer a bespoke service. Is there a way for international clients to order Foster & Co bespoke shoes without having to travel to London?

We’d love to come over to Sydney to see our friends in Australia, many of whom visit us in Jermyn St when on holiday or business. We’re certainly aware of a strong interest in men’s clothing and accessories in Australia, an example of this is the Styleforum thread for Australian members, which has been read over 1.7m times.
It would be great to build on the success of Double Monk by having trunk shows where we can show our Australian friends our rtw and bespoke shoes and take bespoke orders. I travel with Jon, our lastmaker, to North America [link here for details], so Australia would seem to be a logical step from there.

I recently saw a shoe that was advertised as ‘triple welted ‘. Can you explain what this would entail in terms of production and can you please explain to the average person what it means in shoe manufacturing to have a ‘Goodyear welt’? I am quite certain that most people assume that it was invented by the tyre people and involves rubber. 

[By triple-welted I think it may mean Goyser stitched which is primarily, though not exclusively, an Austro-Hungarian shoemaking tradition. The welt is split and stitched to the sole in the normal way and then twice more to the shoe at the point at which the upper and the sole meet then further up the upper so that it looks a little like a reverse storm welt. It’s actually very tricky to get right and more complex to repair.]
The image on the Wiki page you’ve quoted above is actually quite good in explaining the basics of GYW, which is not, in any way related to tyre making. In GYW the sole is connected to the upper via a strip of leather called a welt which in turn is sewn to the insole. This makes for a very clean line, a strong shoe and a repairable product. In principle a GYW shoe can have any number of re-soles and, providing that the uppers have been properly maintained (and that means shoetrees as well as polishing/conditioning) a GYW shoe can outlast its owner.
The reason why it is known as Goodyear welting is because the chap who invented the first machine was a Mr Goodyear. Many machines are made by other manufacturers but the name has stuck and it’s become a generic term.

Since you have taken over as manager of Foster & Co, can you tell us what is the most interesting shoe you have seen come through production?

What a question, there have been so many. I suppose I’d have to say the semi-brogue Oxford shoes in the picture below. They are an absolutely classic pair of Foster & Son shoes and I think they’re marvellous.
In my opinion no-one in the world does this shoe better than we do.

No Brown In Town – does this still hold in London? If it doesn’t, can you give us a rough idea of what sort of staples of shoes a man ought to own if wished to be a great ‘all rounder’?

It really does depend on where you are in London. In the City the rule holds up pretty well, though elsewhere it seems to be going out of favour.

In terms of staples, the following could work very well.

Black calf plain captoe Oxford (will also work with evening wear at a pinch)
Brown calf punch cap or semi-brogue Oxford
Brown calf plain Derby
Brown Chukka boots, suede or calf
Brown suede penny loafer
Brown double monk

Do you offer a patina service and how do the English feel about patina as an art form of shoes? Does it wash with English conservatives?

That’s a very interesting question and I suppose it depends on what you mean by patina. We see a lot of shoes on blogs that have been worked on by people known as ‘patina artists’ and they’re often very striking indeed. We don’t tend to see people wearing them on Jermyn Street or in the more conservative parts of town.
We offer a service to our bespoke and rtw customers to ‘fade’ their shoes (in addition to our high-shine service that anyone can take advantage of). This replicates the effect of sunlight on leather and came out of our experience when sample shoes were left in our shop window over an extended period of time (see shoes in answer to Q1 for an example). This is a very popular request, but whether we would call this patina or not I don’t know.
The ‘art form’ element is interesting. I can’t see that we would ever offer the kind of patina that patina artists apply and it’s most definitely not in the English conservative tradition. But things change and maybe there will be a distinctly English take on this.

 Out of the Savile Row tailors, who stands out from the rest for you? And in saying that, can you tell about a dream outfit you might put together between the suit, the tie, the shirt and the shoes?

I’ve worked in the West End for over 30 years and have many friends in Savile Row. I have had suits, jackets and other clothes made by Huntsman and Henry Poole. They are both excellent tailors and I have many compliments while wearing them. But they are expensive.

Andy Murphy, Manager Of Foster And Sons, the historic London shoe maker

More recently I have found a tailor called Sam Oppong from Sobespoke. Sam worked for Hackett as their in-house tailor for many years. At the moment I am wearing a classic blue 3piece from Sam.

I have around 100 shirts from:

Turnbull and Asser
New and Lingwood
Sean O'Flynn
And more recently rtw from Henry Arlington.

Ties the same as above

My favourite shoes are classic brown wholecuts and brown full brogue derby boot for the weekend

I don't own any black or navy socks ... I only wear colours, spots, stripes, argyles.)

And my next purchase will be the brand new rtw foster's double monk.

There Is Nobody Who Understands Evening Sleep Wear For Men Better Than Corky St Clair

During my university days there were one or two movies that somehow bonded a whole group of men and gave them endless lines to quote. I am going to boast here and say that I certainly was the first to discover Waiting For Guffman. I can recall I was in the Verona cinema in Paddington with my then girlfriend Bianka when the shorts to Austin Powers and Waiting For Guffman came on the screen and I knew then that neither of them would slip me by. I believe I attended the film alone as none of my friends would go with me. My dear friend and underground source Carlos Oppenheimer once recoiled when I told him it was the funniest film in the world months later. He said I had poor judgement in films at the time. Years later, quietly I might add, he said to me on the side 'You did discover Waiting For Guffman and Corky St Clair'.

It has served to make many of us, by us I mean that group of friends at university together, still have a close connection to one another long after the movie has subsided and we've all gone separate ways. There are at least four people I know that I can call on the phone and say 'People don't like fire... poked, poked in their noses' and it will cause an eruption of laughter followed by a much easier than usual conversation about life.

Corky St Clair is one of the great comical characters of the 20th Century in my opinion and he is seminal to the movie and to the genre of the mokumentary. It is, in my humble opinion, Christopher Guest's greatest character.

So when today I got an email titled 'Sweeping Hat' I knew almost immediately from an old friend that it must be indeed a Corky reference and without further ado, here is the link to the video that was linked.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Product Of My Past - Menswear Fashion Trends Of The 1940's And 1950's

I spent the public holiday initially upset because I had intended to go to work until in the morning, after I had prepared my To Do list, I realised everything was closed. It turned out to be a blessing because I took a coffee with my father and he asked me how he might back up some old photos he had possession of after my grandmother passed away. A whole array of emotions sprung up from the photo album as I turned the pages. There is first that rush of curiosity as you can't believe your eyes with all the visual stimulation you get. "But who was that?" "And how was he related to us?" "But we don't see them any more?" "Is he still alive?". As my father and I went through the pages I showed him that he could take photos with his smart phone, in my case a Samsung S4, and then synchronize it with your drop box. It was a great moment shared and I hope to go over there again over the coming days and give him a hand taking pictures of all our old photo albums.

Fashion wise, seeing the old photos reminded me how much Australian's had lost their way in terms of elegance of dressing. My grandfather, Con, was by no means a wealthy man but his passion to dress well is evident in every photo. Particularly close to my heart was to learn that this man, whom I did not know well and who died when I was very small, was in fact a bow tie aficionado and had, according to my father, a great deal of bow ties in his wardrobe. Although I believe my grandmother, pictured below, was constantly in her twilight years hanging all sorts of insults on his memory, the photos serve to discredit those insults. She always felt she had married below her station but I feel that the photos reveal a woman who was rather happy with him and a man who did not seem to be as uneducated and rough around the edges as we were all lead to believe. 

If history gets around to record the stories of many of these migrant Greeks who came to Australia seeking a better life, I hope it records their passion to dress well regardless of their circumstance. 

Con and Mary Atgemis circa late 1940's

A Finnish Review Of Le Noeud Papillon Bow Ties Of Sydney

You will need google translate for this one for sure!

A Day In The Life Of Master Tailor Steven Hitchcock

I had first heard of Steven Hitchcock when I began watching and reading the Dandy Portraits. Rose Callahan had shot Steven during a trunk show in a New York hotel room. He was a meticulously dressed man and his open face and charming smile only served to add more charisma to his ensemble. Steven Hitchcock is a London tailor and he is the first English tailor I have interviewed for this blog, so it is quite nice that he took the time to answer our questions. 

Steven, I have always wondered about the daily functions of a Savile Row tailor. Can you attempt to describe to us what might be the daily routine for the staff at your tailoring house? 

My day starts the night before I go to bed. Before I go to bed, I choose my shirt, tie, shoes and suit for the next day. In doing this, it makes me ready for the new day. As I enter the shop, I check my window display is still looking good, I scan the shop for anything out of place, or for improvements.  My Girlfriend Celia, is also a tailor and works with me. Celia usually goes straight to the laptop to turn it on and to check the emails. While she is doing that I check the diary for the day’s upcoming appointments. We perch on our boards with a morning coffee and discuss the appointments, suits being made, what we are going to cut and what needs to be done by the end of the day.

Steven Hitchcock's tailoring house, located at 11 St. George Street, London, W1S 2FD

I base my lunch around my appointment diary and work load. On a busy day, it is a sandwich at my board. A good spare hour, sometimes Celia and I will go around the corner to the pub. On a really organised day, I will go for lunch with one of my tailoring friends to somewhere rather nice!

After lunch, it is back to work. There is always someone coming in to see me whether it is a customer, tailor, finisher, cloth rep or a curious by passer. I get interrupted while working a lot throughout my day, so this is why I have to be organised.

I understand that sometimes you do fittings in New York. It must be very alarming when you depart for the airport to make sure that you didn’t forget anything from fabric books to measuring tapes. Can you tell our readers some of the ins and outs of trunk shows and what goes on behind the scenes? 

I travel to New York three times a year, and have been for 12 years. I keep a trunk at the hotel that I stay at. The trunk has all the tools that I need, so I don’t need anything to forget!! A week before I travel to NY I contact the cloth reps to send their travel bunches. I always take any new cloth ranges and a good variety of cloths.

I stay in NY for 5 days. My American clients make appointments to see me for their fittings and also to commission a new suit. My diary always gets very full and I spend all day in my hotel suite meeting my clients. To relax in the evening, Celia and I like to explore Manhattan, meet friends for dinner and find a smart bar.

Of all the British mills still producing wools, do you have a particular favourite and can you tell us what wools stand out for you amongst the British bunches?

All wool used in suiting is sourced from Australia, and then milled in Huddersfield, by the various cloth houses. I favour H. Lesser and sons, this is because they have consistently produced a high quality cloth, in classic weaves and colours. They have found a formula that has worked and made it their own. I also like to use Harrisons of Edinburgh because they have a wide range of varying cloths.

We here in Australia don’t much understand winter weight wools because there are so few times of the year and in so few places that they are necessary. Can you tell us the differences in wool weights and types that one might choose for a Londoner between the seasons?

A summer weight in London is from 9oz to 11oz. It is always good to choose an open weave, such as a hopsack or even go for a fresco. This is so air can pass through the cloth, keeping the wearer cool. Linen is always a good option for summer, as linen conducts body heat away from the body, again, keeping the wearer cool. Winter weight is from 12oz to 14oz. Birdseye’s and twill’s are good winter cloths. This is due to their tight weave, which creates a good barrier to keep body heat in. A lot of people think that having a percentage of cashmere in the cloth helps with warmth. That is true to a certain extent. However, cashmere is a very soft fibre, and is not very hard wearing. Blending a percentage of cashmere in with wool feels good, but the cashmere weakens the cloth in terms of wear. Flannel is always good in winter, as it comes in good heavy weights and also has a ‘woolly’ finish, creating warmth. Spring and autumn are similar in London, so 11oz to 12oz would be a happy medium.

In the last five years you must have seen some trends change, can you tell us what are some of the things that have shaped that period in terms of styles, cuts, lapels and wool choices?

My cutting style never changes, that is my way of cutting. Clients come to me because they do not want to look like everyone else. They know that they can have a soft drape cut, be comfortable and feel confident in what they are wearing, as they know it will not let them down.

There has been a trend for ‘skinny’ lapels and super tight trousers. I am not a fan. It all looks ill fitting, tight, over styled. Where is the elegance in tight ill fitting clothes? It is a trend, and when people look back on it they will say, ‘what was I wearing!!’

I have also noticed a few of the cloth houses are producing ‘superduper’ lightweights with a high sheen finish. Again, I am going to put that down to trend! I think it is great that there is the technology to produce such fine and milled cloth, but it is not necessary for everyone to think the cloth is great.

Steven Hitchcock with girlfriend Celia admiring his English  'soft tailoring' work

In your opinion what is the most difficult aspect of a suit to get right in terms of the customer’s experience and what would you as a tailor consider the most difficult aspect of a suit to finish well?

When a customer or a new client visits me it is important for me to make them feel comfortable and assured in my company and my work. Commissioning a bespoke suit should not be a scary or nervous process. I like to make customers aware of various cloths and styles. I am happy to learn a bit about a person, what they like, what they do and what they are looking for in a bespoke suit.

As a tailor I am very passionate about all the aspects of a bespoke garment. I do hone in on the fit of the collar, shoulder and sleeves. It is important to get it all right, but some parts of cutting and making are trickier than others. My advice to anyone is, if there is something you are unconfident about, make it your business to learn more and become confident in bettering your weakness.

Is the British shoulder getting softer or does it remain much more V shaped than the equivalent in Italian suiting

I have seen an increased interest in my soft tailoring, and I think that people are becoming more aware of my soft shouldered silhouette. I have also noticed that more women are becoming interested in my way of cutting. They are seeing my suits on their husbands and deciding they want to try it too.

There will always be that ‘V’ shape, because it appeals to people. In a society obsessed with weight and health, having a small waist and accentuating it seems de-rigor. You don’t have to be slim and small waisted to give the illusion of waisting and shape, my suits are a testament to that. It is all in the cutting and tailoring.

Steven Hitchcock at work on the cutting table inside his London workroom.
I recently cut a suit and I did a full canvas in it to humour myself and much to the chagrin of my old Italian tailor who says that full canvas in the Australian climate is stupid. He was right, it is much too heavy for my liking. He showed me a new fusing which he said works a charm and never bubbles. Which brings me to my question for you – do you always insist on full canvas as a Savile Row tailor and if you do, are you always working with wool and horsehair canvas or do you experiment with other materials?

Full canvas without a doubt! The whole fusing lark is a waste of time and energy. It is a cheap short cut, to avoid canvassing. There is a good selection of lightweight canvas, you can use a light weight wool canvas in light weight suits. With fusing, you are simply re-enforcing the cloth that it is being glued to.

I always use a wool and horse hair canvas in my suits. If I am using heavier weight cloth, I will use a heavier weight canvas and vice-versa. Canvas is important as it helps shape the chest, it has to be worked and treated carefully. Always use canvas!!!

If you would like to know more about Steven Hitchcock, please contact him directly on:

Steven Hitchcock, Master Tailor
11 St. George Street, London, W1S 2FD, England
Tel: +44 (0)207 287 2492 or visit

Friday, January 24, 2014

It Is After All, However You Like It

A satisfied shirt customer recently chose a woven spot in a Canclini fabric for one of his new shirts. The customer was a barrister and this shirt, one of his five, was his mufti day shirt. He chose a white shirting cloth with a woven sky blue dot. It was sublime. Unfortunately, I don't have photo to show you right now but it got the wheels in motion for another shirt to be made. This time, a woven deep pink on a pink shirting cotton again by Canclini in a pop-over shirt with a contrasting sky blue collar, placket and cuff pictured below. It is about as loud and fanciful as any shirt I have ever made and as to whether it will get any use, time twill tell. By contrast, the opposing shirt on the left, is about as conservative shirt as one could make. It has the same foot stitched super cutaway collar with high stand as the pop-over, but it is a conservative slim striped Bugatti limited edition 200 2 ply shirting cotton from S.IC Tess, that famed branch of Monti that is renowned for supplying the great shirt maker of Paris, Charvet. What does it cost to own either one of these spectrums of the shirting world? The Bugatti is priced at $500.00 from Le Noeud Papillon as a custom made shirt. The Canclini fabric pop-over is $315.00 from Le Noeud Papillon. As to what kind of shirt you cut, it is, after all, however you like it.

To book an appointment, please contact us on

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Silks Just Dropped Into Sydney

Take a look at the latest silks that have just arrived. They are now on the website and there are more silks that will be released over the coming weeks.

The Bow Tie Portrait Competition 2014 - Submissions Now Open

The Bow Tie Portrait Competition 2014

The Rules Of Engagement
  1. All portrait subjects must be wearing a bow tie.
  2. The photo must be in the format of an image no less than 200kb in size and not in excess of 2mb.  The image must be submitted as a JPEG or PNG file. 
  3. Entrants can come from any part of the globe and prizes will be sent to their home address provided it  can be delivered by Australia Post's parcel service.
  4. Entrants must be willing to have their photo published on www.lenoeudpapillon.blogspot.comand in the various other mediums with which Le Noeud Papillon of Sydney communicates with it's customers and fans. These include: email marketing, website, twitter and facebook pages as well as Instagram. You can also feel free to post your submitted entry to Instagram under the # tag #lenoeudpapillon 
  5. The image must be labelled with the name of the entrant and the country and city or town of origin.
  6. All photography must be submitted to bow at 
  7. Multiple entries must not be submitted, the onus is on the entrant to choose their favourite photo, please do not ask us to select from a batch.
  8. Please include in your description the brand of the products you are wearing. We are happy to support other brands - this competition is not exclusive to Le Noeud Papillon customers.
What Are We Looking For?
  1. We want you to reveal yourself through your clothes and those things that you love with respect to menswear. 
  2. We will reward ingenuity in both photography and lighting conditions. So think about how you wish to display your neckwear and in what light and in which setting. The best portraits we have received in the past are ones which show the person's style as well as the culture from which they come from.
  3. Use a decent quality camera, grainy, distorted or pixelated photos will not be accepted.
  4. Let us see things we may not have seen before - those items that might be particular to you personally - a suit you had cut, a shirt you had made, some shoes you polished etc.
The Prize

The winner will received a Made To Measure Carlo Riva fabric shirt by Le Noeud Papillon ( valued at $500.00 ) as well as a limited edition bow tie ($165.00) and a La Belle Dame pocket square ($125.00)  (TOTAL: $790.00 AUD).


Yours truly - I am wearing a pink herringbone Hunt & Winterbotham jacket, a La Belle Dame pocket square and an Emilio cream serge wool tie all by Le Noeud Papillon. My shirt is a Canclini white Oxford shirting cloth by Le Noeud Papillon. Photograph by Magnus Omme - see his blog

The Winner Of The Silk Design Competition - David Lee Meisenburg, USA

Although all the silk designs submitted were fantastic and I would like to reward all of those that submitted, there was one silk design that understood the simplicity of jacquard woven silks better than the others. This design came from David Lee Meisenburg in the USA. 

One of the other designs I loved what the Magritte styled pipes from Yoann Durand, but the design, which I will show below, relied on four colours which in woven silk design can cause too much clutter. This would mean potentially one colour for the warp and three weft threads. 

Thank you to those that participated and we look forward to expanding the number of entrants on the next competition. David Lee Meisenburg has won $200.00 AUD in cash and 3 of his bow ties once they have been turned into a silk. Congratulations.

The winning silk design by David Lee Meisenburg

The runner up - Yoann Durand's pipe silk design.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Calypso Is Back In 2014

Here is my hit prediction for 2014. The Calypso is back! I have been listening to the beat of this kind of music and it is just really sitting well for me. I think it someone like Vampire Weekend were to make a calypso album it might set the trend running. In the meantime, here is another great calypso sound.

Finding The High Society Calypso By Louis Armstrong

One of the benefits of my recent acquisition of Spotify was the ability to synchronize my playlists through my bluetooth connection with my car. Actually let me expand upon this. The benefit of Spotify is much greater than I ever anticipated. Spotify has meant that I have access to all my playlists no matter what device I am on. I can be at a party and play my music through my phone on my friend's stereo, I can do the same with my laptop and my iPad. I can research and add music whenever I like on whatever device I like. I can Shazam it on the fly and then have it in my playlist moments later. No downloading, no synchronizing, no dragging and dropping. I cannot believe I was not aware of this earlier. And, even when a friend complained 'but it's in the cloud, what happens when you are out of radio range' and I had the answer 'you just press a button and it downloads to your device'.

Although Spotify doesn't have absolutely everything you would ever want on their library (eg: I can't find all my favourite Italian popular jazz songs by artists such as Claudio Villa - eg Stornelli Amirosi ), it allows you to indulge in layers of obscurity that you can't find on main stream download sites like iTunes or BigpondMusic. One of the great songs I found on my first day of searching was Louis Armstrong's 'High Society'. What a victory that was. After years of searching online to find it back when Shazam wasn't around and YouTube didn't have it all on video, I let the search for it go. But with Spotify, I was able to shine light where once there had been darkness.

I cannot recommend this app enough. And as a result, have a listen to Louis Armstrong and admire his style as he prepares himself for Newport's Jazz Festival by singing the High Society Calypso.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On Collecting Bow Ties

A customer, mentioned in an earlier post, prompted me to frantically run around my apartment looking to see what bow ties I did still indeed have in my own collection. As was mentioned earlier, I rarely keep any of my own work, preferring either to give away the bows I kept for myself out of my own collections and also giving away those that I had collected from other companies over the years. I gathered all my bows up and took them to the studio to tie them against the mannequin and it was a really interesting experience because it gave me a new perspective by tying each of the bows up individually. I am going to tell you a few things that I learnt.

1. Charvet - my first ever bow tie is the black satin silk batwing bow tie from Charvet pictured at the base of the image. It was the biggest surprise of the lot in terms of tying the bow tie. I always wondered why I had struggled so much the first time I tried to tie a bow tie. The problem with this bow is that the satin silk is too slippery and not structured enough so it didn't make a nice bow. Looking back now, it's not the bow I thought it was. But on the other hand, the other two Charvet bow ties in this image, the deep blue mogador with sky spots and the black and white ropey styled bow are both amazing examples of woven jacquard silks and in my opinion the deep blue with spots is possibly the best bow tie I own, surpassing our own mogadors. Hard to admit but true. Weight, handle, finish - it's all there in that particular bow tie.

2. Tom Ford - the great disappointment. Both bow ties from Tom Ford, the printed silk on the top right and the woven natte silk in the centre with the houndstooth have problems. Once the foam inserts were removed the volume of the bow disappears. There is an issue with the hook system used too, this particular hook, when you tie the bow, often gets jagged when you make the first knot. As a tie your own bow tie, these bows are a let down. As pre-tied bow ties they look sublime, but, more with the natte rather than the printed silk, the natte silk frays quite dramatically after wearing it even just the once. I will actually write another post based on this observation to show you how to trim and repair this if it occurs on your bow. There is, after all, nothing worse than paying $325AUD for a bow tie and not having it look top shelf.

3. Leonard of Paris - Great looking bow tie, not particularly well executed. Love the print, don't love the construction. As such, never worn it much.

4. Turnbull and Asser - love the velvet bow tie and the paisley bow tie from them. Love the ribbed red grain for the adjustable size strap. Don't love the shapes and don't love the materials in terms of quality.

5. Hermes - not a great bow tie. They basically have taken a tie silk and made a bow tie. Which is fine, but the shape is pretty ordinary and the bow lacks body so it doesn't make a great centre knot.

6. Le Noeud Papillon - Sevi limited edition and Mio Capitaine. At Christmas this year I gave away a stack of my own bow ties to my partner's brother and a handful of friends. Because I am always working on the next silk I tend to want to wear my next work and don't hoard enough of my own stuff. I will have to work on siphoning off a few from each limited edition silk and not giving them away. Of the two featured, the Sevi I have kept because it is named after my cousin's first child and because I wanted him to have a playful silk. The Mio Capitaine I kept because I love my Greek heritage and the fact that once upon a time, so I am told, we used to own some ships in Greece before the first world war.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Highs And Lows Of Mr Porter - A Customer Review Of The Service And Experience Of The Top Web Retailer For Men

There is a feeling you get when you log onto Mr. Porter. The feeling is always one of 'yes, that's why you're top dog'. It happens the moment they load up on your screen some young dude who has just been elevated by the clear typing of his prefix before his name. If he was John to his friends, to Mr. Porter readers he undertakes a metamorphosis into Mr. John G Citizen....

I don't bother to read the Mr. Porter Journal very much. It's not that I don't like the fact that they are intertwining story with the sale of their clothes, actually I really respect the way they do this,  but I often feel they are not interviewing anyone I particularly want to read about and sometimes I abhor the selection of men they hold up to be 'cool' or more importantly 'in'. What I am on Mr. Porter for is their brands. They are smart enough to have a winning trifecta - content - brands - product. And, when it's 70% off time, they have a 4th dimension - price.

I shopped Mr. Porter last week and I wanted to take a few moments to let you know what I felt of the experience.

The SALE was on so I took advantage of the price reductions and I went for my usual pickings. For the most part I will never order shoes online (because you have to wear them every day so you must be careful not to make a mistake on sizing) and I will rarely order a suit ( I prefer to use the service of a tailor). I tend to purchase smaller less risky items. The ideal ones are standard sized accessories such as scarves and pocket squares. Then the little more risky, t-shirts, jumpers and casual shirts.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the shopping experience of Mr. Porter. In fact, I would say it is the best website in the world for buying menswear. It is thorough, interactive, it offers content that surpasses any other website that I have found. There is nothing wrong with the placement of orders either. This was done very effectively as an email confirmed the order. The money was debited from my credit card and not more than 24 hours later I received a confirmation of my tracking number.

The truth is, the only time I felt a little let down was once the parcel arrived. It came in a standard cardboard box. Once I opened the pack there was tissue paper laid down across the base and then a series of those rather cheapish looking Mr. P bags with drawstrings. The ones that look like they bought 100,000 of them at 2 cents each. It was a far cry from the first time I had used their website and the items were sent in one of the most exquisite boxes of it's time.

I opened each of the bags and pulled out each item. There were Pantherella socks - these were great. Then there were Corgi socks - not so great in quality - then the Anderson belt - looked nothing like it did on the website (ie: not as good). The stand out piece was the Turnbull & Asser pocket square which delivered a better result than the website. It was outstanding. Then I opened the Smedley items and put them on. This was where I came undone.

The problem, as I said in an earlier blog post, is that sizing represents the biggest obstacle to Mr Porter in my opinion. You can publish as many charts as you possibly want on a website, but generally speaking if you are a man , you have an idea of what it is to be Large, Extra Large and Double Extra Large. In my case, I ordered one item in XL (a t-shirt in Sea Island cotton which mostly fit), my usual size, and in another I ordered it in XXL just as a backup in case the first item didn't fit. In fact, when I order any item for Mr. Porter I am already thinking about who might it suit and fit if it doesn't fit me. Which in itself says something about the state of internet shopping. Fit, after all, is one of the biggest driving factors between whether you keep something until it is thread bare or whether you turf it after two wears.

The item I wish to complain about, which in hindsight, had I read more of the website instead of indulging in the greedy side of fast impulsive SALE shopping, is the John Smedley Striped Merino Henley Sweater that I purchased. On the website the first image that you got of the sweater was as follows:

Mr Porter John Smedley Striped Henley Merino Sweater

Having purchased a John Smedley sweater before through Permanent Style's limited edition offer - I felt that given I had an extra large sweater from the same company, then what was the harm in ordering this particular XXL, if anything, the only risk I ran was that is might be roomy.

What I did not check was the second image on the website, which is perhaps the 'tell' in this particular incident. Here is the second image that gives away more about the fit.

The second photo of the John Smedley Striped Henley Merino Sweater

Had I bothered to check this image I would have been able to tell from the waistband that this jumper makes even a man of a V shaped body look like a little girl. This did not become evident to me until I put the jumper on. The moment it went on I realised that with my corpulence and ability to flange as the waist, I was turned not just into a little girl, but into a little ballerina girl....

This is case that I made earlier. I won't show you that traumatic image of when I tried it on. That image will stay inside a folder on my computer with a twelve digit and letter password. What I will say is that fit is so bloody damned important that what looked to be a sweater I intended to own and love for years will now sadly be the object of a new search for the right person I can insult by giving it to them as a gift. Because no matter what recipient receives this jumper, almost invariably, unless they are female, it will make them look like a girl.

My long winded anecdote now reaches it's conclusion. Before you shop Mr. Porter I recommend the following. Read their instructions on sizing carefully. Make sure you look at every image to ensure you understand the shape and contours of the garments. Don't shop impulsively during sale times. Make sure if it's not a standard sized item like a scarf or a pocket square, that you read the sizing charts and if you are not certain that it will fit, if you are unfamiliar with the brand or the style of the item, don't buy it until you can ascertain this information. In the meantime, my best recommend is to enjoy shopping their website for accessories and items which don't involve size so much because once it arrives, most people don't have the time or the energy to send it back.

Always check the sizing when shopping for clothing items on Mr Porter and don't merely trust the S-XXL tags

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Will Still Take If As A Compliment, Even If It's Only When You Are Bored - A Testimonial Of Sorts In Praise Of Le Noeud Papillon Bow Ties (Review)

One of our newer and rather interesting customers is a college student from the United States. He wrote in after the sale to pay us a compliment for the quality of the bow ties we produced and said that he reads our blog but only when he is bored. I still take that as a compliment. In a world where we have access to so much media to consume, from your apple tv to your cable television and the millions of blogs out there that we are competing against for your ipad time, it's an honour for you to give us the time of day.

I am now trying to coax the same customer to tell us more about his bow tie collection. Not only has he amassed his own but when his grandfather passed away he inherited his 300 plus collection. When I heard this I was very jealous because my own collection had dwindled. Before I started making Le Noeud Papillon bow ties I had collected quite a few. Even over the first years I kept collecting bow ties from other companies as I refined my own identity. But over time I had given away so many of them and I had hardly kept any of my own limited edition silks. It reminded me that I ought to start collecting some of my own work in case one day I pass away - I should at least leave something behind.

Below you will find the email with respect to our customer's view on bow ties. I re-post it here with permission from it's author, Seldan, who I hope to keep as a connoisseur customer over the coming years. I consider it, for the most part, a testimonial.

....I also got as Christmas presents two Tom Ford bowties from family members, but not only are they large with foam in them, they are also pre-tied! I think your firm, Ralph Lauren, Dunhill and Marwood in UK make the best bowties that I have seen. The others are pricey because they are made in Italy or France but terrible quality. I really don't like Gucci and Cinabre bowties, they are so thin and do not tie well. 

I'll be keeping an eye for your next big sale. I also told my professor, the one who introduced me to your products, about your sale but he missed it. Enjoy your summer.

By the way I love your blog, read it when I am bored.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Best Gift You Could Give A Man Who Loves His Clothes

The problem with buying men's gifts online is sizing. Once you can visually see something up close and personal, such as the zoom functions do on so many websites now, the final problems are usually 1.  'I can't touch and feel it' and 2.  'I hope the size fits'.

We can't solve the problem with regards to touch and feel on our website but we can tell you that the size will invariably fit 90% of men's necks. And with respect to the former problem, don't worry, we touched and felt it for you the moment it came in from the looms in Italy. In fact, it's better that our customers can't touch and feel your bow before you get it; trust me, you don't want to know twenty people have had it in their hands before you.

At Le Noeud Papillon we pride ourselves on making sure that what arrives is a great gift. One you can pass onto your colleagues and friends. On the rear side of our instruction card is a TO and FROM section so you can write a personal message. It comes tied nicely in a dedicated bow, tie and pocket square box and it makes an amazing little travel box when you have to head out of town and don't know what to put your accoutrements in.

All in all, we think our bow ties, squares, ties and accessories are just about the best gift you could give a man. Made from the finest silks from the Como region of Italy, then sewn by machine and hand right here in Sydney, Australia. That's got to be a conversation point to start with. 

You could of course give him a bottle of wine. That's a great gift - but then he'll drink it and throw out the bottle. You could give him a massage - and maybe he'll come home relaxed. But with a bow tie like ours, you're sure to find him coming back to it time and time again.

Looking for the right gift for a man in 2014? Look no further than 

Our limited edition 'Antoni' bow tie. The silk design is based on a tile I found inside Gaudi
s bedroom in Barcelona. The pocket square, bottom right, is our Limited Edition Red Belle. 

Shoe Blogger Come Designer - Justin Fitzpatrick - Really Great Stuff

You may recall Justin Fitzpatrick who writes the blog The Shoe Snob. We interviewed Justin some time ago in 2012. You can read that interview here. Justin has gone on to start his own label - J. Fitzpatrick. The shoes look magnificent and I am looking forward to reading about his continued success. In the meantime, here are some of the first results. See for yourself here:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What A Pity About Pitti

One must wonder how much some of these men must prepare for Pitti Immagine. I can see them getting ready in their shoe box bedrooms laying everything out and snapping it for instagram and then loading it into luggage they probably bought instead of getting a mortgage on an apartment. Then they close the door, snap a photo of the weather outside, load that up onto instagram, add a hash tag a few more times, think about a great hash tag that they might be missing then press send. Then they trawl Luca Rubinacci's account to see what he might be wearing and take a taxi to the train station. We're en route for Florence....

I am new to fashion. I didn't spend my life in magazines. I never had much time for models and I don't like the hoo-ha and fanfare that is often attached to people who work in this business. However, when I first started watching Pitti on the blogs a number of years back I was totally enamoured. Perhaps I was already late to the party but I felt that a number of these guys were genuine, original and fresh. The difference between fresh and old hat is perhaps a very short walk these days with the way in which we consume social media. Sadly, I found Pitti this year to be truly pitiful. Most of the of photos I consumed were either of original icons who sadly had not evolved - like a magician with one trick. The balance were lost little lambs following the latest trends.

What can we assume from Pitti this year? Well, if I were to interpret some of the images I had seen, then by a process of very quick free association, here are some things that spring to mind.

* Luca Rubinacci has earned himself a following. His skivvy, long trench in herringbone, muted colours, colourful scarves and wide brimmed fedora was mimicked a number of times. 
* Smoking a cigarette and talking to another iconic Pitti subject is the portrait that will win you a place on a blog.
* Looking like you are not that self-confident and just wanted to turn up to be a part of it is 'soup du jour'
* Try to make friends with other guys that are snapped up in photos, this will garner you respect from the photo bloggers who are already your mates.
* Artisan is the new RTW
* Muted colours are in and nothing shiny is cool anymore for winter. 
* If it looks like it has mothballs and needs to go to the dry cleaners to be rejuvenated, you are on the money.
* If you are black and you look rather austere and skinny in your suit, you will get photographed. Have a beard and you don't even need to ask. Snap snap.
* Wearing fur or faux fur will draw attention to yourself if your outfit is rather dull and muted like everybody else.
* A beard is a sign of what?
*  If you are Nick Wooster, please stand next to my stand so I can get a hash tag on you.
* If you are Japanese, have slicked hair and look like it's 1942 - we love you. Snap.
* Some of us are starting a trend to wear capes - afterwards we're going to go running naked into the quad... come join in if you're a follower on my Instagram account. Once we start running, use the video tool....

This rather cynical manner in which I viewed this year's blogger entries comes at a time when I had been most looking forward to seeing the styles at Pitti. It is after all a time when creative souls are supposed to come together, show people what they are working on, admire each other, celebrate the new, revisit the old etc etc.

I don't feel that this year - there is too much reflexivity in Pitti at the moment. Too many men are going merely to keep the white heat of their internet profiles burning - rather than doing what they are good at - keeping design innovative and interesting for the rest of us that sit on our arm chairs waiting to see what's going down in Florence.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wet Weather, Overeating And Fusing Your Jacket

On the day that I wore the outfit pictured below I sauntered across the lawns of Centennial Park regarding myself as one of the better dressed men in the field. I am glad I held that countenance, because had I taken the time to look closely at this photo when it was taken I might have noticed the following:

1. I must have had a very big lunch because my top button is pulling very tightly on my jacket which in effect makes me look even larger. 
2. The rain drops have splashed against my front hem revealing a jacket which is not full canvas but has been fused down the front. This gives the impression of a cheaply made suit (even though it is not).
3. My suit needed a press on the sleeves.
4. My cuff has been sucked up under the sleeve (it should be showing about a half an inch past the sleeve end).
5. My shirt has splayed too much under the weight of the jacket and scarf.

My point being - be careful when you think you are killing it. Chances are you overlooked more than a couple of things.

One For The Hall Of Fame

When you specifically make bow ties and everything else is second to that core product, you hope desperately that you won't be forgotten or you hope that your products will one day be as revered as brands that came before you such as Charvet. I have always and will probably always hold Charvet in such high esteem because in effect my journey begun when I walked into their store many years ago. The little triumphs you get in this game, especially since we focus with online sales, is either a lovely email that comes in unexpectedly in praise of your products or else a photo where somebody really shows off your work.

For those of you who read this blog, the man above and to the left needs no introduction. Suffice to say he is one of the few people who knows how to wear clothes. And to see him work our limited edition (now out of stock) Il Gattorpardo into his Prince Of Wales Check Tom Ford 3 piece suit is just a real treat. See more:  . Photos like these makes me feel like it's all worth while.

Now Stocking At Henry Bucks

Henry Bucks is now stocking Le Noeud Papillon bow ties. Since we are closed and since many of the models we were previously selling are now out of stock, my suggestion is to contact Henry Bucks. The majority of the stock is residing in their flagship Collins Street store in Melbourne, but they can organise bows to be dropped to their Adelaide and Sydney stores quite easily. Good luck and we will be back on deck on 22.1.2014.

Just off the bench and ready for packing. Henry Bucks takes delivery of their first range of Le Noeud Papillon bow ties

When Is It No Longer Fashionable To Be In Fashion?

I recently came across an article on Terry Richardson, the famous portrait photographer who has snapped the likes of President Obama, Ben Stiller, Lady Gaga and blah blah the list is endless. Basically think of anyone that Lorde might consider 'Royals' and then apply the list to Terry Richardson. The article was attacking Richardson because he keeps a blog where he gets young wannabe models and less famous models to perform sexual acts on Richardson or else receive sexual acts from him. The photos are very graphic and the argument is whether they are or can be classed as art or just plain pornography and it discredits Richardson's character after it is revealed that many of the women are victims of Richardson after they were plied with alcohol and drugs. You can read one of the articles here: 

I downloaded many of the images which makes me part of the problem I would say. But after having viewed them, I must say, there is nothing enjoyable about them in the least. Even the cheesy thumbs up photos at the end of each shoot seem contrived and suggest some form of mockery of those who have been photographed. I am quite shocked that these women allowed themselves to be manipulated like this, but equally I am surprised that someone like President Obama would want to be photographed by someone with this kind of character. When you are supposed to hold a great deal of deference towards the office of The President Of The United States, it puts a certain kind of slippery feel to that position when it is compromised by a man who stands diametrically opposed to Obama's world view. I would almost venture to say it adds a little too much Berlusconi Bunga Bunga to the White House.

The Red The White And The Blue

I have always loved red white and blue. Mostly because it is working with primary colours which are so so bold ( ) with the white breaking it up to give it even more emphasis. On this particular midnight blue Thomas Fisher wool in a  peaked lapel tuxedo with white piping, we have added our recent 'Derek' bow tie which is half cherry red velvet (Holland And Sherry) and half navy satin silk. The pocket square is one of our early days digital prints of the Eiffel Tower. The scarf is a satin silk in white with hand fringed tassels. Although this is perhaps too much for most people it is, in my opinion, quite fun and rather bold. One thing is for sure, you will not go unnoticed at your next soiree.

If all else fails then it will certainly be enjoyed on Australia Day, on Quartorze Juillet or on Independence Day!

Join The Mailing List

Our email list subscribers are treated with preferential treatment as customers. Over time they are rewarded with condensed information from the blog. They are alerted as to when we have just cut new silks in the workroom and they are rewarded, very often, with additional discounts for the website. What we are trying to tell you, with very little subtlety, is that we want you to join the newsletter and we want you stay in contact with us. It's very simple to do and in turn we promise not to bore you and to reward you for your loyalty.


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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some Things You Don't Tire Of - The Work Of Sign Writer David A Smith

You may have heard of David A Smith when I wrote about him in an earlier post after he completed the work for John Mayer's album cover. Now he is at it again, creating the cover for Kings Of Leon's 'Beautiful War' album cover. Enjoy this video and perhaps it may inspire you to take up a craft. It's almost meditative watching it all come together. See more: