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

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Understanding Symmetry And Proportion

De-rigeur in the games of menswear is that the bow tie should never exceed the width between the two farthest points of the eyes. Many men, especially smaller gentlemen, who sport the oversized bow ties of strongly defined fashion brands that push an agenda each year, don't realise that they fall prey to looking borderline ridiculous when they walk into a black tie event. That's because if you took a front on portrait and drew lines down the side, the bow tie would be jutting out on either side of those farthest points. Symmetry is of course something very important in the art of the bow tie. For it is the attempt to display symmetry whilst concurrently having a certain amount of asymmetry that effectively makes one bow tie wearer nod to another bow tie wearer.

As a gentleman rattled off to me over drinks last night, there is a certain phallic symbolism in men wearing a tie for semi-formal events, but when it comes to dressing up to a bow tie, the symbolism becomes something even more personal, it becomes more testicular than phallic. And this is perhaps what constitutes the left side dropping lower than the right. Enjoy our limited edition bow ties and chase that symmetrical asymmetry you know only too well for yourself. 

Magnus Omme's portrait of Mikael Winblad for Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney, near perfect proportions and the right amount of asymmetry in a symmetrical way. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When The Rains Fall On Sydney

One of best things I love about a deluge of rain is that it reminds you to listen to music. Suddenly one appointment gets put back, another gets cancelled and for a brief moment you get a chance to do some googling. Recently I have been searching for songs to sing my daughter to sleep. At night she gets restless and by some great blessing of the Gods my vocal cords can sooth her. I need simple lyrics, repetition and a nice easy sing song to it. Here are four I recommend.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blog Donations - Help Us Write Better Content

The aim of the game of writing our blog is to keep people interested in our products whilst at the same time shining a light on things that might interest those that wear bow ties. This could be wool production, tailoring, hat making, silk production, footwear, evening wear, lounge wear, day wear, shirt making, leather goods, board games, art, screen printing, cinema and more.

Many of the commissions we do with other makers are paid out of the profits of the business. So on a slim month we won't be running any projects. And yet it is these items which keep our readers most entertained. So, we put it to you, if you read this blog but don't wear bow ties or don't need any more bow ties, perhaps consider making a donation to the blog. There are between 1000-2000 of you every day from around the world. I can only imagine what sort of wonderful commissions we could do if all of you donated $2.00 Autstralian every time you logged on! Anyway, here's hoping you do want to join in on the fun. For every $1000.00 we receive I will alert you as to what the commission will be and at the end of the process we will auction the item to the highest bidder. Join in on the fun and keep artisans making what they are good at. Donate $2 AUD now by clicking here. Enter the code NOSHIPPING to remove freight. Alternatively, send the money directly to bow at . Many thanks, LNP

2014 Le Noeud Papillon Portrait Competition: Entrant #7, Jay R. Mohanka, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, USA

How could I refuse this entry? Despite being pixelated it is charming, it has character and it comes from someone who loves bow ties. Below is what Jay R. Mohanka had to say about his ensemble.


my name is Jay Mohanka and I would like to submit this photo for the Bow Tie Portrait Competition. I am on the right of this picture and my cousin is sitting next to me on the chariot about to get married.  I love reading Le Noeud Papillon's blog and learning about bow ties, but I can not afford them, so I am entering this portrait competition. In fact, I have bought this whole outfit that I am wearing for a grand total of 185 USD. I live in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, USA, but this photo was taken in Mumbai, India.

Black Satin Bow Tie by The Tie Bar, Formal Shirt by Hugo Boss, Homemade Pocket Square, Double-Breasted Lavender Blazer by Oleg Cassini, White Satin Suspenders by The Tie Bar, Tuxedo Trousers by Nordstrom, Black Patent Leather Oxfords by Delli Aldo, and one of my favorite items I own, my Black Silk Formal Hose by Brooks Brothers.  

I just wanted to thank you for creating such high-quality bow ties and your blog, I love reading it and hope it continues for a long time.  

Jay R. Mohanka

Friday, March 21, 2014

Monticristi Panama Hats Continued - How To Roll And Stow Your Panama

Have you ever bought a Panama hat on a vacation? I have. It was an orange dyed Panama hat I found in the Bassin D'Arcachon in 2012 whilst on a very short vacation in Pyla Sur Mer. It was a sublime little find in a swimwear store called Kiwi. I carted that hat everywhere I went and onwards into my trip through Italy and all my meetings in Como. By the time I arrived back in Australia I did not recognise the hat I bought. It was still a Panama hat and it was still charming but it certainly had lost that first day appeal where all you want to do is send the best possible selfie back to your family in Sydney with a tag line "wish you were here, yes, it's an orange Panama....".

Anyway, today I found out how you can store that Panama so when you get home is looks almost like the one you picked up at the store. Camilo Haffar showed me how to fold your Panama. I had not realised you could do this. But, before you get too excited, Camilo did insist that you are not to pack the hat like this, it's more just for the day. So if you find that perfect Panama on your next vacation, rather than posting it home and praying the Italians actually have a working postal system, you can stow this one in your hand luggage but definitely not in your suitcase.

Here is Camilo showing us how it is done:

Camilo went on to explain a few more things that I did not know about Panama hats. For one, there is quite a big difference between the qualities within the range 'Monticristi'. Monticristi Panama hats are those superfine weaves I reported previously that are monitored by a foundation that used a count system called the Monticristi Cuenta to determine the quality of superfine. In simple terms, if you consider a Monticristi to be a luxury sports car, then amongst them are Porsches, Ferraris, Aston Martins and Bugattis, each with varying degrees of complexity which then add value to the hat.

Below, Camilo shows us that the hat on the left, if you expand and open the image, is not as finely woven at the hat on the right. Both are from maker Delgado Gary in Ecuador but the hat on the right would fetch a higher price from enthusiasts who can tell these subtle differences in quality. The hat that is more finely woven is likely to be more fluid when wearing and will over time mould more gently to the head.

Every Monticristi Panama hat hood is initialled by the weaver as a sign of pride in craftsmanship. This hat could take anywhere from 2-3 months to finish.

The small differences between the Monticristis. All Monticristis are delivered like the hat on the left. It is then for the hat milliner to finish the hat they way they want to. The hat on the left, if you look closely, is less finely woven than the hat on the right. 

Matchy matchy men's fashion. From Le Noeud Papillon: silk braces in our limited edition silk with dual sided tie and matching hat band.

New To Le Noeud Papillon, Tie Your Own Silk Grenadine Bow Ties

For a point of difference I tied these bow ties on the website using our Groomsman's Knot which you can watch on our YouTube Channel here:

I never expected silk grenadine to come out looking so beautiful because of the fact that grenadines traditionally have a much more open weave. Admittedly, our silk grenadines are more tightly woven that one would get in a knitted tie but nevertheless the outcome is something quite astounding and holds a certain conservative or muted tone to it owing to the weave. Despite this, the colours are wonderful on certain angles, especially the Forest model which is a green but has a blue warp beneath the green which changes the light on certain angles. A very limited few metres of this silk has been sourced. Enjoy them whilst they last.

2014 Le Noeud Papillon Portrait Competition: Entrant #6, WB Cavender III San Antonio, Texas

Well, this photo is just about borderline for acceptance as it is very grainy but I thought it was a stellar ensemble so I have let it slip in. It comes from WB Cavender III in San Antonio, Texas. I particularly love the combination of red white and blue which I featured recently in our own LNP Studio window.

Mr. Cavender says of his ensemble that he is wearing:

A Le Noeud Papillon Mayfair velvet bow tie. AnArmani White Dinner Jacket, With An Armani Tux Shirt, A Custom Dave Robertson Tuxedo Pants, A pair of Stubbs and Wooton Velvet Skull slippers  and a Purple Order of The Alamo Pocket Square.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Final 12 Days Of Submissions For The Bow Tie Portrait Competition - Submit Now!



 1 x Made To Measure Carlo Riva Fabric Shirt By LNP ($500.00 AUD), 1 x Belle Dame Limited Edition LNP Pocket Square ($125.00) ; 1 x Limited Edition Silk Bow Tie From LNP ($165.00) = TOTAL $790.00 AUD)


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?

We want you to reveal yourself through your clothes and those things that you love with respect to menswear.
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.
Use a decent quality camera, grainy, distorted or pixelated photos will not be accepted.
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.

It Truly Will Be An Asian Century

Recently I asked Max Parker, the owner of Geoffrey Parker of London, whether or not he had made anything of interest lately. I expected his response would be something to do with an Arab sheik or perhaps a racing car driver but he trumped me by sending me an email describing his latest project for a Chinese private client. It's better I don't explain it because the way Max describes it reminds me of those 90's voice overs on the mega yachts of the rich and famous. Over to you Max:

Encased in beautiful matt Dragon red Ostrich and weighing 45 kilos, a stunning armoire holding a wonderfully hand carved and painted set of Ox bone and Bamboo Mah Jong tiles, by China's foremost carver. These are then encased in gold plated holders engraved with Chinese dragons and inlaid with Ostrich to the underside and set within suede lined Ostrich trays. Then we have installed a Cuban cigar humidor complete with double humidifying units, a cigar cutter and temperature gauge and below stowed safely in suede recesses are British hand-cut traditional crystal spirit decanters with Sterling silver-gilt liquor labels and matching brandy and whiskey glasses. In the top is a brass engraving plaque matching the traditional British Military brass corners and straps. This is the "club" edition, retailing at GBP £29,500. A further enriched edition is available in Alligator with hall-marked Sterling silver-gilt encased tiles (all 152 of them) and fine Parisian decanters and stemware, estimated price GBP £65,000.

The Cake Has Not Baked Just Yet

One of the more recent products we have been working on has been stalled a number of times as we've headed towards production. In the end I keep the prototypes for myself but doing this too often will start to eat into your bottom line. We are on the hunt to make the finest pair of braces this side of the equator. Our mission has sent us all across the globe looking for people to help us make the transition as well as across what is left of the Sydney studios which do small leather goods manufacturing. In the end we have decided not to continue with leather ends on the braces. Instead we are re-designing them to include silk because this will give us a point of difference away from the English brands that pride themselves on contrasting leathers in pig suede and calf skin.

We are now, hopefully, a day or two away from making the final braces prototype in ALL WOVEN SILK JACQUARD so that the only thing not silk on the braces will be our O ring joining the silk to the ends and the metal adjusters which slide up and down the braces. The only other item which will be on the intersection of the front to rear braces will be a piece of exotic skin. In the example below we have used parrot fish in purple. On others we have used kangaroo leathers, Australian salt water crocodile, ostrich and stingray. We feel this adds a little spunk to our braces that goes beyond our competitors and since we don't intend to make these by volume, we look forward to working with customers so that they can have a choose-your-own-adventure.

If you are interested in being a guinea pig as we produce our first run, contact us on 

Prototype  example of Le Noeud Papillon's All Silk Braces using our limited edition 'Kirk' silk

2014 Le Noeud Papillon Portrait Competition: Entrant #5, Dr. Grover Holzwarth, On Vacation, Paris, France

For some time now Dr. Grover Holzwarth has been a loyal customer of Le Noeud Papillon despite the distance between Australia and Brazil. Dr. Holzwarth wears our 'Churchill' navy silk grosgrain with white polka dot spots whilst dining at Le Train Bleu in Paris. I can only imagine what culinary joys followed on after this portrait was taken. The wonderful thing about bow ties is that you would not have to worry about your neckwear falling into the soup.

2014 Le Noeud Papillon Portrait Competition: Entrant #4, Gus Lander, Sydney, Australia

Gus Lander of Sydney, Australia wears a Le Noeud Papillon 'Parisian Nights' limited edition silk bow tie with a Le Noeud Papillon screen printed silk and hand-roll stitched pocket square. The red is a particularly striking contrast in this photo.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A History Of The Panama Hat And Understanding A Monticristi According To Camilo Haffar

It was the most unlikely place to find a Panama hat company. No really. So much so that I almost turned back when my navigation told me to turn right off a street I never knew had a right. I was in the middle of North Shore suburbia of Sydney en route to meet Camilo Haffar of Camilo hats, the branded Panama hats of  The Original Panama Hat Company. Once I stopped my car I was still looking around for my final destination. There was no sign on the street front.  Only when I entered what seemed to be an arcade could I see a sign that said ‘Panama Hat’. There is always a point when one considers whether they made the right choice or not but that was very quickly dismissed as I saw a grinning Camilo Haffar who stood up from his desk to greet me.

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you” he said and I entered into a world of Panamas immediately. It was wall to wall hats and paraphernalia, hat ribbons hanging on the wall, hats stacked up and down on racks, hats in boxes, hats on stands, information on the weaving of Panama hats and books on Monticristi hats. There was a lot of WOW going on.

Panama hats are still traditionally woven in Ecuador by hand.

Camilo Haffar is a wholesaler of panama hats although he hasn’t always been in this game. Born and raised in Quito in Ecuador, Camilo arrived in Australia in the early 1970’s after having been living in London. He’s had a few careers. He owned and operated one of the better Victorian restaurants in the Mornington Peninsula of its day and he was also a hairdresser for some time. It was in the early 1990’s that he began designing and importing panama hats from Ecuador.

Camilo’s job is more like that of a provedore rather than a designer. He works with local communities in Ecuador that weave panamas in order to ensure that they weave the right qualities of straw. The basic straw mould before it is shaped is called a hood. At the same time he works on hat blocks. The hat blocks are the shapes of hats that Camilo will run in any given season. They are made from aluminium in Italy and once approved and graded for sizes they are shipped to Ecuador where the local artisans will use them to shape the hats of the season. The hats are made by placing the hoods on top of the blocks and using pressure, heat and steam to form the shape.

Camilo Haffar holds a traditional woven cream panama hat

Because Camilo is a wholesaler he doesn’t keep a lot of stock on hand (although he does hold a lovely collection of Monticristis). Instead he waits for retailers to send him their orders. The orders are then queued for production and delivery is usually taken in July each year. It is therefore the responsibility of the store to ensure that they only take the risk on what will sell. For this reason, many of the Australian stores selling hats will be extraordinarily conservative in the models that they run for fear of taking on stock which can’t be sold (genuine Panama hats are not cheap) . This is perhaps one of the reasons we see so few coloured panama hats in this country. The stock that Camilo does keep in stock is usually in natural or cream colours and in classic shapes only.

A Brief History

Without wanting to take up much of your time I feel you ought to know a little about the Panama and why it is so highly sought after. The origins of the classic panama as worn by agrarian South Americans today dates back a few thousand years to the Incas. The Panama hat historically is derived from Ecuador where a palm called toquilla  (Paja Toquilla ) , which grows up to 2 metres in height,  is farmed by cutting the stems at an angle (which the farmers say makes the end fibres more flexible). The plant only grows at altitudes of 1000 metres or more.  Once harvested, the fibre is boiled, sulphured, bleached and in some cases dyed to a colour before it is ready to be woven.

Climatically, according to Camilo, Ecuador has two seasons, dry and wet. Production of Panama hats takes place only in the dry season between June and September. It is still very much an agrarian family business handed down from generation to generation. Having contacts within these families is what secures some a better chance of getting hold of stock of the panamas. One such family is that of Delgado Gary (pronounced Del-Ga-Tho Ga-Ree). Delgado Gary is a maker of some of the finest panama hats in Ecuador known as Monticristi. These panamas use only the finest strands of straw panama and contain between 1600-2500 weaves were square inch. These hats all derive from the town of Monticristi in Ecuador where a foundation monitors the grading system known as the Monticristi Cuenta. It is said that a decent Monticristi hat should be so fine that when rolled it may fit through a wedding ring {nb: I was once told a much more crude and vulgar version of this test but I will refrain from relaying that here} . To understand the quality, as Camilo explains, you need to understand the grading system of straw. The scale exists between 1-20+ . Grade 1 straw is very coarse and is used in very basic straw hats. A fine quality panama hat is anything from grade 10-20. All Monticristi panama hats are of the 20+ variety.

Now rather elderly, this is a photo of Delgado Gary of Ecuador in the early 1990's, one of the few remaining artisans capable of making a traditional Monticristi panama hat. 

Delgado's present to Camilo Haffar in 1991, a tradtional Monticristi woven Panama hat featuring a woven inscription of HAPPY NEW YEAR 91 in Spanish. 
Camilo holds a traditonal Monticristi Panama hat. The count is usually 1600-2500 weaves per square inch

Apart from grading of the straw, the other most important aspect of Panama hat making is the craftsmanship and weaving techniques. An average panama hat takes a village worker 1-2 days to make. A Monticristi panama hat will take up to 2-3 months to make and in many cases where the hats are custom made, there will be additional weaving techniques and subtle changes in weaves to express a more refined workmanship. More importantly, there is an enormously different handle change between a standard panama, a finely woven panama and a Monticristi and since most hat stores don’t like customers touching a Monticristi for fear of damaging or creasing the weave, the only way to really find out is to own one for yourself.

Why They Call It A Panama

Of course, we have arrived at that point where I need to impart that classic historical knowledge about the name ‘Panama’ hat. The Western name for these hats came from the Western workers building the Panama Canal in the early 1900’s. These workers began wearing local hats to protect themselves from the sun. Some of these hats made their way back to Europe where they were adopted by all elements of society. The Prince of Wales wore a Panama hat to the races whilst Van Gogh and Monet immortalised them in impressionist art. However, the Panama hat was seen in the United States even earlier during the Californian Gold Rush by miners who collected the hats en route to California via the Isthmus of Panama.
If you would like more information on Panama hats, contact Camilo who is a wealth of knowledge of the subject. 

The Panama hat's dedicated book
French ribbons used to finish the panamas

The traditional weaving straw from the palm Paja Toquilla

The Monticristi weaving process

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why Do Men Prefer Belts Over Braces?

I have never understood why so few men wear braces or suspenders as some call them. I am fed up with belts. I don't mind a belt with jeans but even then, I would prefer not to wear a belt. I find you have to own at least a dozen belts to work with your trousers, from woven and elasticated rope styled belts for your casual looks to your shiny black leather belt for formal wear. They get fairly manky after consistent use and they tend to wear on your favourite punch whole. More importantly, you start to look pretty ordinary when you have a bit of weight stacked on and your stomach starts to hang over. By contrast if you lose too much weight, then your belt tends to come in too much at the waist line making everyone know you are wearing your 'fat jeans' or 'once were tubby' pants.

A number of years back everybody that was getting into the suit thing and especially advocates of MTM such as the customers of Patrick Johnson all started moving from belt loops to side tabs. This was a good thing. There is something more elegant and flowing about a suit that isn't broken up between the jacket and pants by the presence of a large piece of polished metal in silver or gold backed by shiny leather. Especially when you are attempting to have that muted palette or you subscribe to some sort of Northern Italian industralist or Drakes Of London look, a big shiny thing in the centre is the antithesis of good taste and, to some lesser extent, lets everyone know you buy off the rack. 

There is one last thing I failed to mention about the belts - and that is the Sydney real estate agent. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a real estate agent, it's just that those that subscribe to this vocation at the early stages tend to be the types that follow marketing and self-improvement gurus and adopt trends like sheep. Thus they find themselves wearing wrap around sunglasses and a big labelled buckle on their belt without ever knowing why. Moving to side tabs was it's own way of separating the sartorial wheat from the chaff, another good thing.

But there is something that side tabs doesn't offer and that is a permanently and consistently held up pants line. In truth, if you stood in the lobby of a Sydney city building and watch the workers of an investment bank go out to lunch the first thing that they do as they exit the elevator is to tidy up their pants or pull on their side tabs. One of the reasons that this occurs is weight fluctuation. Men can add or subtract a kilo or two over the course of a day and it can affect the way their pants are holding up. Whereas a belt give you plenty of room to move up or down on the scale, side tabs don't give you a genuinely flexible way of tightening or loosening your pants, they are, to some extent, there as a dummy for when we miss the real tit.

There is only one alternative that surpasses all other forms of holding your pants up and that is braces. It is for some people too hard to conceive. 'I have to add buttons inside my trousers?' . Well, yes, because clip on braces are to my mind no better than a pre-tied bow tie. I don't mean to get snotty on you, but if you are going to do something, do it properly. Braces are not for the occasional swinger. They are for the committed, they are for the ones that prefer marriage over an affair. You will be going to the tailor, you will be asking he or she to put those braces buttons in and forever and a day when you go to put your suit pants on you will need to fasten them on and unfasten them off when you get home (unless you are lazy and throw them over your valet). 

But like anything that involves commitment, there are gains to be seen that outweigh the cons. Firstly, when you wear your suit jacket, nobody knows you are wearing braces unless they have superman vision. Secondly, when you wear your braces you are also creating a certain kinky second layer to your dress akin to your underwear. Because, once you remove that jacket, goodness knows how you might surprise your colleagues. Thirdly, and this to me is THE most effective reason you should consider moving across, you will very rarely need to manage your shirt meets pants line again. Yes, you may fix yourself up during the day. Yes, you still may find after sitting for an hour in one position that your waist band has curled, but mostly you will feel securely locked into your suit and you will be a helluva lot less fidgety. 

Below you will see my latest addition to my family of braces, a pair of Albert Thurston limited edition silk braces I got from Henry Bucks in O'Connell Street. I do recommend you try them. I do recommend you consider the switch. 

Albert Thurston limited edition woven jacquard silk braces

Monday, March 17, 2014

Don't Get Around Much Anymore

A customer of mine was recently in the studio and I asked him how his Monti 200 lemon twill shirt was from his last batch of shirts. He said 'you know, I don't wear it much'. I was surprised since he was so adamant about getting it at the time, it seemed to be a concrete decision without any reservation.

The trouble with lemon shirts is that they have been so passé for so long. Along with pink, which used to be much more in mode, the lemon shirt has been having a hard time being showcased recently, overshadowed by baby blues and in some cases light lilacs. So I was really happy when another customer of mine didn't mind if I tweaked their new lemon shirt a little to make the cuff white just to break up the monotony of a solid coloured lemon shirt. The result was visually very pleasing but more importantly, the customer was very happy with the result. I do hope a designer more avant garde than I revisits lemon soon, because when it's done right it has a place, either on a cream suit or with browns, but the right browns of course. Here's hoping lemon and pink have another comeback, they've been on the bench for too long.

Jazz Up Your Outfit With The Smallest Accoutrement

Silk lapel flower buttons, as I like to call them instead of the simple and much easier to say 'boutonnière' , are such a small but infectious little accoutrement this season. They have been gaining momentum throughout the last two years in the #menswear sphere of influence. The charge, in my opinion, was lead originally by Lanvin's Albert Elbaz but since then it has taken on all sorts of different modes from imitation silk flowers to real flowers to pins with all sorts of things on them which push the boundaries, I assume, of what could be considered a 'boutonnière' and what should be given some other name. If you are looking around then I can recommend Fort Belvedere on The Gentlemen's Gazette, Patrick Johnson, Charvet on Mr Porter and Lanvin on Mr Porter.

For something a little different, we do of course offer our own spin. Ours are made by hand in Sydney and are 4.2cm in diameter. They are then fixed at the back to a shank corozo button made exclusively for Le Noeud Papillon. The only problem is you must make sure you open up your lapel button hole which has probably been firmly stitched closed since you bought your suit. Well, time to open it up.  Shop them now. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Prelude Of What's To Come

Currently we are working with a few different companies on blog posts relating to wool weaving, shoe making and hat making. Of those, the one which particularly interests me at the moment is the hat making process of Leon Drexler's Stephen Temkin. Temkin is a custom hat maker that I was introduced to by a very good American customer of mine. I approached Stephen a while back to see whether he might be able to replicate a hat I had seen on Tom Wolfe which I had fallen in love with. Stephen had suggested that there was a hat he made which was similar that could be used as a base pattern. That hat was called a Budapester and it is on the site which I linked to above. The commission was upon the condition that he would take photos along the way to explain the process. So I was really happy to get these first photos in yesterday of the hat being made.

The beauty of having your hat made is not only that it's for you specifically (I had to measure and re-measure my head three times) but you get to be a part of the process as you go along. Here is Stephen at about the 50% completed stage:

The hat is progressing, bit by bit. Actually, I'm now ready to cut the brim and wanted to confer with you about the width and curl. It's a complicated matter, so please bear with me.

To use an example, the brim on the Budapester is cut at 2-3/8" without variable proportions, meaning it is 2-3/8" all the way around, as is the way a standard hat is cut. The curl on the sides is rolled up a little further than the front or back, so when finished, the visual width on the sides is about 2" but the visual width front and back is a bit more, about 2-1/8. 

For your hat, my plan is to cut the brim ever so slightly wider than the Budapester, but also to cut a proportional brim, meaning it will be cut a bit wider still on the sides than in the front or back (a once typical procedure for curled brim hats). This will allow me to create an even greater differential in the roll of the curl up the sides and thus allow, I hope, a more distinctive fore-to-aft arc in the finished brim while maintaining a proportional balance in the visual width. Essentially, I'm using the look of the Tom Wolfe hat as a bit of guidance, although your brim will look slightly different. 

The basic starting block - a bare finish beaver felt in cream. From here the hat will need to be shaped and sculpted. 

The hat must be sculpted and curved into place before finishing the hat with both grosgrain ribbon as a hat band and trimming to the edge of the hat

Because it is a bespoke order, customer's can choose whatever they like to be printed on the inside lining of the hat. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How Violetta Made Your Pocket Square Art

Painting on silk was very popular back in the early 1990's I was once told. At one point it was apparently as popular as those studios where you painted on pre-fabricated plaster. I can recall that as a kid that was a lot of fun. In fact, if I am not mistaken, in one of the bathrooms of my parents house there still exists mounted on the wall a miniature toilet which was painted by my mother. On it reads 'If you sprinkle when you tinkle be a sweetie and wipe the seatie'. That's quintessentially Australian really, to just change seat to seatie if you find your poem doesn't rhyme. By some extrapolation one can therefore estimate why most people get an 'O' on the end of their name in this country. Most likely an early Australian author started out penning a poem called 'Oh no John' but realised it would be much easier if he just changed the spelling of his mate's name and it became 'Oh no Johnno'. But I digress again!

Silk painting evidently died out. Why I don't know. But any treatment to do with silk in this country is, to my knowledge, a cottage industry and often if you do find someone doing it it will carry with it that tie-dye look and have some sort of sea creature on it and you will most likely find it in some coastal sea-village town where the artist is a hippy who gave up on city life after they decided that they wanted a more spiritual journey. Even then, these types usually prefer to paint on a fabric that never hurt any living creature, so hemp and bamboo is usually their material of choice. Again I digress!

Begin 2014. Begin Violetta Kurbanova. I found her art on Facebook after she was referenced by Daniel Jean-Baptiste who is revered by almost everyone in the silk painting world and whom has been interviewed on this blog. Click here.

Violetta has been working on some hand-painted pocket squares for us. Using silk twill we cut her a blank canvas from which she then goes to work on creating a unique piece of art which we then sell as a one off from our website. Given the amount of work that goes into one pocket square she runs these squares at a loss but for her it is about educating people about the process by which they can paint on silk, something which she teaches in her spare time. Silk painting is a very unique art. As I have stated once before, it takes patience, it takes practice and it takes experience to really master the way in which the paints flow and the parameters within which you can work. For example, the moisture content in the room will effect the flow of paint, the gutta lines must be sealed or else they will leak paint and destroy the entire piece of artwork if there is one break in the lines. The paint must be dried in the right conditions. The paint must be fixed in the right conditions. At every juncture of this art form there are inherent problems which can ruin your entire piece. I know this by experience which is why I am so respectful of the work that she does. In a nutshell, here is how it works: 

1. The setting out usually requires the artist to sit down and draw the painting on tracing paper or white paper from which the silk is then placed over and drawing begins. 
2. The silk then needs to be stretched out across a frame in order to paint the silk. The black gutta lines surrounding all the figures form barriers in which the paints are contained from spreading any further. 

3. The silk paints or dyes are applied by mixing and then spreading the paints with a variety of instruments from brushes to sponges and rock salts.

The final results, some of which can take days and weeks to finish, when they work, can be astoundingly bright and beautiful works of art which refract light differently to any traditional forms of canvas cloth. This is an example of one of Violetta's better works. 

Watch Violetta work her brush on a blank piece of silk below. If you are interested in taking up silk lessons, see Violetta's website here: Violetta Kurbanova - If you would like to buy one of the hand-rolled stitched pocket squares that she hand-painted, log onto Le Noeud Papillon.

Every Tie Should Have A Story


There are bow ties, and then there are bow ties. Some bow ties, like a black satin silk bow tie for evening wear, doesn't require a story. It's a pretty standard thing except that one differentiates between them by shape and by quality of fabric and workmanship.

Then there are the cocktail bow ties and day wear bow ties. These bow ties are very different bow ties because they usually tell you a lot more about the owner. A bow tie in itself is a statement. Wearing a bow tie with a story then takes that statement to another level. Our competitors make bow ties, in fact, some make excellent bow ties. But very few of them have a story behind each design. The difference between us and them is that we make every one of our limited edition silks have a story - so that when you make that statement, it's got something to say. Here's a little story about each of the models above.

Bow ties from top to bottom:

1. Gaudi's Family - a limited edition silk which features the stained glass motif of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
2. Aristotle - a rope design silk intended to have a nautical theme reminiscent of the romance of the 60's mega yachting crowd
3. Antoni - a tile I found in Gaudi's bedroom in Barcelona has been translated into a silk motif.
4. Solitude - Borrowing themes from cards and card playing, this silk has been woven on a purple wine coloured warp.
5. Top right, our new double sided tie made using a bow tie pattern. Ideal for cocktail or evening wear, it featured our limited edition on one side, and black mogador satin silk on the other.

The limited edition poker set above was designed by Le Noeud Papillon and made for us by Geoffrey Parker of London.

You can purchase our limited editions online at

Monday, March 10, 2014

Marguerite - A Silk Pocket Square Artwork In Progress

As was promised, we said we would keep you in the loop as we progress on our latest pocket square design. We are now close to the end of the process. We have been working with an illustrator who specialised in cartoons and we have asked him to create for us a belle epoch styled poster of a bohemian siren. What do you think? Would you keep her on the quiet in your breast pocket?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Le Noeud Papillon Portrait Competition: Entrant #3, Daniel Smith, Australia & Italy

Daniel Smith is a conductor and a patron of Le Noeud Papillon bow ties. He purchases from us white cotton marcella bow ties in both our skinny batwing and modified butterfly shapes. He is the only Australian conductor to be invited to conduct the Mariinsky Orchestra in Russia. Currently Daniel divides his time between Rome and Sydney.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Is It?

It's Tom. Tom is not a tie exactly. Nor is he a bow tie. Tom is made like a bow tie but made to the specifications of a tie. On this model, to show you how versatile it is, we've used our two latest silks, one on each side. I have to admit, we need to work on it a little more, it's not as plush as our seven folds, but it's a great way to get two ties out of one and a it ties just fine with a four in hand. Coming soon to

Chasing Onassis

Yesterday I spoke about trying to match your face to a sunglass frame. I was in search of recreating the look of Aristotle Onassis by acquiring a pair of Francois Pinton sunglasses through the web store A Suitable Wardrobe.

Once the glasses arrived I was somewhat disappointed. The quality was fabulous, the shape was almost an exact replication but there was one problem which needed resolving. The lenses that came with these glasses were too dark. They were so dark in fact that I felt they would only be useful on the brightest of days. But, more importantly, the aesthetic value was decreased because a) they made me look too swarthy and too much like a criminal and b) they didn't match my photo reference to Onassis. Onassis's glasses pictured circa late 1960's / early 70's had very light lenses in a sort of browny greeny colour. The beauty of Ari's glasses was that you could see his eyes and I am quite sure that the shipping tycoon wanted it that way. He made a habit of trying to pyschologically overpower people in boardrooms and my guess is his eyes played a big part. My reference picture I will paste below.

So to recreate the look I needed to take out the existing lenses and replace them with less opaque brown lenses. I made a decision to go one step further and try and improve upon the Onassis pair by organising a pair of graduated brown lenses. Enter George Skoufis.

I have been using George Skoufis in Paddington since I was introduced to him by sunglass designer Graz Mulcahy who named one of his models after me a few years back. If you want to know anything about sunglasses, construction of sunglasses, lens properties and manufacturing methodologies, George Skoufis is your man.  After five minutes with George I was given about 5 different sets of graduated lenses and George encouraged me to get the brown graduated lenses to match the frames and to start the lens graduation from just over the middle of the blank lenses down to the light areas. This meant, as he told me, 'you will get the look but I don't advise using them on very bright days'. The price? Just $80.00 Australian and it took no more than 30 minutes to do on the spot.

But you know what? I don't really want them for bright days. I just want to occasionally put them on my face and pretend for a day that I have a mega yacht, a whale foreskin stool at my bar and enough chocolate bars in my bank account that I can set sail without any headaches and relax with Winston on the back of my boat with my new sunglasses. For those of us who sadly missed the boat on being a shipping tycoon, purchasing these glasses from A Suitable Wardrobe is a rather thrifty compromise. 

New graduated brown lenses to improve the look of my Francois Pinton sunglasses from A Suitable Wardrobe

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Florence Broadhurst Limited Edition Woven Silk Jacquard Ties - Buying Into A Little Bit Of Australian History

Florence Broadhurst's life was very mysterious. I have never watched the documentary made by director Gillian Armstrong but I am told it is rather insightful and I am going to make a point to watch it sometime soon. What shrouds that mystery is of course her death. She was bludgeoned to death by a large piece of timber in her Paddington studio in 1977. Her death remains unsolved but she is thought to have been the victim of a serial killer named John Wayne Glover who went around killing old ladies but who was convicted for another spate of murders between 1989 and 1990.

Her life was as vibrant as her work. She was born in rural Queensland in 1899. She became a singer, then a comedian and then moved to Shanghai where she opened The Broadhurst Academy where she taught a variety of disciplines. She then went to England, married, separated, met another man, returned to Australia, pretended she was English, began painting and showing her work and then opened a studio where she began working on prints. Her second husband left her for a very young woman and she went on to produce her work until her death in 1977 from her studio in Roylston Street in Paddington. 

Her collection of work is about 800 prints strong in about 80 different colours. Today the work of Florence Broadhurst is heavily guarded under license. Although she was commercially successful in her own lifetime, after her death there was a decline in use of wallpapers and many of her designs lay in limbo for many years until there was a resurgence in demand for wallpaper in the early 2000's. Today of course designers have begun to realise the cultural importance and beauty of Broadhursts work and some Australian designers such as Akira Isogawa, Nikki Zimmerman and Karen Walker have used her work in their own design collections whilst the designs are also available in home furnishings as bed linen and other decorative items. It's at about this point that I shall explain to you how we have become involved. 

A Sydney based designer began working with the people who own the rights to Broadhurst's work over a year ago. They have been busy since then trying to translate some of Broadhurst's work to another medium - woven jacquard silk. The silk designs were shipped to Italy where they were translated by a reputable mill in Como who re-worked the designs for jacquard weaving machines. The final results are very very interesting. Some of the designs remind me of vintage Charvet ties from the 1920's whilst others remind me of the private collection of President Harry S. Truman. And yet all have never been seen before in tie silks. 

Each tie is 8cm in width. The ties are made with a slip stitch and feature a woven Florence Broadhurst signature in the rear blade of each tie. These designs are limited by design and by colourway and being under strict license the price is also affected by royalty fees. We are offering these first ties at $180.00 Australian each. As we have been able to secure only small number of these ties, it will be on a first come first serve basis. This is a chance to own a piece of Australiana history and, I might think, a collectable that shall go up in value with time. To own one of these ties, contact us here.

Click to enlarge