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

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Warning To All Those Who Ought To Be Cutting Hair And Driving Taxis

There is a great quote from the comedian George F. Burns who said that 'It's too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair” .

Lately that quote has been amusing me as there have been numerous businesses that have sprung from bloggers who build up an audience and then decide that after a few months of traffic that they ought to springboard their way into an online business selling that which they write about. It almost seems soup du jour to go from writing a blog to becoming an authority in that subject matter to then opening a store based on your new found authority.

But, unfortunately, we bloggers are not stores, we are not workrooms, we are not ateliers, we are not weaving mills, not design studios, we're not web stores and we're certainly not bricks and mortar stores. I for one will admit from the outset that there is a HUGE difference between the disciplines and one of the most challenging aspects for Le Noeud Papillon has been to get a grip on the various disciplines involved in a product from concept to designs, to fabrication and to presentation and packaging. And then there are all the numbers that go on behind the scenes to ensure everyone gets paid on time.

My suggestion to those that are late to the blogging sphere is this: know what you are good at. Just like George Burns suggests in his comment, albeit tongue in cheek, that although you might be a well-informed taxi driver or you might be soft with scissors when cutting hair, you may not have the skills needed to be the President.

It's so nice to hear a fresh opinion on menswear and to read a blogger who is not loaded up with product to sell. It's an enviable position, so why not use it to write great content rather than flooding the market with ordinary looking menswear and accessories.

Comedian George Burns Wearing An Oversized Black Satin Bow Tie At The Grammys In 1980 With Deborah Harry
Photo Source: Vintage Clothing About. Com

It Was The Best Of Times ....

There are times when you can see no future in what you are doing, when everything you put your hand to seems futile or meaningless. This can often occur right when you think you are being successful in what you are doing. In fact, often just at the moment I start believing my own hype I know I am a day or two away from a moment of 'but what is it all for? '. It's not a bad thing to feel like this, we are, after all, stuck on a tiny planet rotating around the sun in a universe we don't know the size of nor could possibly ever fathom in a million lifetimes. We are, for want of a better word 'ignorant'. Yet somehow in this bizarre world of ours we have created systems by which we order things and in the meantime we have to get on with whatever is our chosen field of expertise. Some people are good with numbers, some people are good with manipulating systems, some people are skillful negotiators, others are orators, some are excellent with people, others are good for nothing at all and in between you have all sorts of combinations that make up people's characters.

As I have said in the past, some believe that one way to leave one dimension and go into the next is to stare into the negative spaces of fabric. As I said, it is only some that believe, but I choose to believe also. So, as you can imagine, one of the nicest parts to this job is studying and marrying up fabrics together and today our latest silk arrived into Sydney along with a bolt of wool from Holland & Sherry. I think they work so magically together, both the wool and eventually the tie and bow ties too, that it's on days like these that instead of pondering some big existential questions, you feel more inclined just to get on with what you're good at, which in my field is making bow ties.

Yet unnamed, our new rain drops silk has arrived into Sydney, Australia. To be available as bow ties next week. 

Holland And Sherry Cream With Sky Blue Twill Check - This shall make an interesting suit!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Fish John West Rejects Is Not Always Bad Fish OR How I Came Across The Wool That Never Made It To Gatsby's

Every year I like to embark on a few different projects to recreate something I am particularly fond of and these are usually references to popular culture or films. Some of you will have seen on this blog the recreation we did of Sam's jacket from Casablanca using a wool which was commissioned by Will Boehlke with Fox Brothers of Somerset. That was a real treasure. Then of course we've had Michael Corleone's Godfather III dressing robe re-created for us in the exact same cut and silk cloth with the brothers Carta in Milan. The other great jacket we have done is a replica of Count Von Trapps mandarin collar from the Sound Of Music and here we used a Holland & Sherry Harris Tweed with pig suede for the lapel facing and collar. It is after all far more enjoyable to recreate something that is dear to you than to simply cut another navy twill suit - there's very little entertainment in that.

We haven't done anything like this in a while so it was quite a surprise when we stumbled upon our next commission. We went in search of apple blossom pink wool after reading on the internet an article about Hamish Bowle's 50th birthday party. The suit he wore was sublime and in the article it was said it was a recreation of Robert Redford's suit from the '74 Gatsby which was originally done by Ralph Lauren. So team Lauren set about piece dying a wool to recreate the Gatsby look in gabardine for Bowles.

Hamish Bowles' 2013 reproduction of the 1974 apple blossom pink worn by Robert Redford and designed by Ralph Lauren
I was pretty impressed with this so I started rummaging through the bunches I knew of looking for wool in serge in an apple blossom pink but none could be found. So I rang a few people and asked them about piece dying and they said 'forget it, nobody will do it for less than 100 metres'. I kept on asking around until I got something back from Simon Rice of Holland & Sherry in Sydney. He said (I paraphrase) :  'we do have something like that I believe in the New York office, it was made for last year's Gatsby but it was rejected. It's a Victory wool so it's quite fine. Would you like me to see how many metres are left?' . 

For those of you unfamiliar with Victory, it varies between a super 140 and super 160's fine merino worsted wool which is then blended with cashmere and silver mink. For some of you that read this blog you may remember one of the first box checks in navy that I did for a private customer was done using the last remaining metres of navy box check in Victory from Holland & Sherry. It is by all accounts a fabulous fabric, the only issue I have taken with it is that it is too fine.

So, yesterday we finally received the very last remaining 5 metres of apple blossom pink wool that never made it to Gatsby's house and to pay homage to Ralph Lauren's  dressed Robert Redford Gatsby I am going to cut myself a wide notched lapel suit but with a few bells and whistles that you folk might not have seen before. I am also going to lose the vest in lieu of our new silk braces which are entirely made of silk but for a piece of exotic leather in the rear strap junction (coming soon to the website). And, finally, with the remaining cloth I am going to make limited edition apple blossom pink wool bow ties which you can pre-order from our website if you are interested by clicking here

Robert Redford's apple blossom pink gabardine wool from 1974's Gatsby by designer Ralph Lauren

So, fish that John West rejects is not always bad fish or so it seems with the wool that never made it to Gatsby's Manor in 2013. And what is more, it will create something lasting and sweet for those of you who revered the '74 apple blossom pink by Ralph Lauren and would like a memento in the form of one of our bow ties.

Holland & Sherry's Victory wool in pink, rejected for the film in 2013, to be made into bow ties in 2014 for Le Noeud Papillon of Sydney

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview: Ellen Mirojnick On A Career In Costumes

"Every animal, and especially man, requires, in order to exist and get on in the world, a certain fitness and proportion between his will and his intellect."

These are the words of Schopenhauer that I read last night before bed. If Schopenhauer were alive today he would perhaps revise these remarks to be gender neutral, because in the case of the woman below, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, we have those exact proportions of will and intellect.
It’s hard for me not to be a little flattered by the fact that Ellen was happy to be interviewed for our blog. She is, after all, one of those hard-working Americans that I imagine barely has a free moment, coupled with the fact that she’s been the brains behind some of the most brilliant costume design over the last 30 years so I would have expected a fair bit of attitude from her end and, to my pleasant surprise, I got none.
The reason I found out about Ellen Mirojnick is firstly because of her work on Behind The Candelabra and then subsequently realizing that she was behind some of my absolute favourite 80’s wardrobes including Wall Street, Black Rain, Fatal Attraction and Cocktail. Films that resonated with my youth. 

Although I would never want to be a costume designer myself, I have an unbelievable appreciation for what they do. As Mirojnick herself says in the interview ‘ the wardrobe becomes the actor’s second skin – the unconscious element if you will – that will define the character’s persona and place in the story and convey this message to the audience’.  And since those of you who follow this blog love menswear and love to create your own style to convey your own message, you will no doubt be able to appreciate just what kind of work Ellen Mirojnick undertakes every time she approaches a new subject matter. It is with great pleasure that I get to publish the responses she gives below to my questions.

Ellen Mirojnick
Ellen, you’ve had quite a career in costume design. Can you tell us how you first got into wardrobe and what are some of the most enjoyable memories for you in terms of films that you have worked on?
I got into costume design accidentally. I started out at as a ready to wear designer. But, when I went to visit my husband who was working on a film in New Orleans, they were in need of a costume designer, so I jumped at the chance.
Every film is different. Every film that I have designed for holds memories whether they are good or bad. There are many films I am fond of; however, what I am particularly proud of is that I was one of the costume designers that brought a focus to THE CONTEMPORARY FILM, starting with Fatal Attraction and all the way through to Unfaithful.

With regards to the film Cocktail – this is a quintessentially 80’s film, at the time did you know or feel that you were putting together a zeitgeist wardrobe or is it that it just unfolds in that manner over time? For example, the tropical looks in Jamaica, were you listening to Kokomo before you started putting pen to paper?

It was the 80’s when I designed for Cocktail! There was never an intention for it to become the zeitgeist of the time, but that’s what happens when you design a film that reverberates with the audience at a particular time in history. Jamaica was fun – Kokomo was a theme – it had to be a world away from the urban life left behind. Funny, because the film received horrific reviews at the time, but the clothes got good reviews and the audience did not care what the critics said. The film went on to be a hit regardless!

Mirojnick needed to create a 'world away from the urban life left behind' for the Jamaican set of the 80's classic Cocktail

I understand from my reading that Alexander Kabbaz of Kabbaz-Kelly was the maker of Gordon Gecko’s shirts in Wall Street. Are there favoured makers in New York or Los Angeles that work for film and television?

My number one go-to regarding shirt makers is Anto of Beverly Hills. Jack and Ken have become family. They are by far the best in the world! I have used them for all my projects. They create the essence and the quality that is needed for each project, no matter what the subject matter is. You would be surprised what a custom shirt does for an actor’s character development! I have not experimented with anyone else because Jack and Ken understand my design aesthetic and what I am looking to achieve.

Mirojnick was behind some of the most quintessential and revered moments of cinema from the 1980's including the work behind the character Gordon Gecko on Oliver Stone's Wall Street
What is the most important aspect for yourself when you approach a new project?

In approaching a new project I have to listen carefully to my intuition. It is the most important aspect. I ask myself ‘what is the project?’ ‘who is involved?’ ‘what can I bring to it?’ – Sometimes it will be the subject, sometimes the director, sometimes the producer or group, sometimes the need to work and sometimes the need to help a friend out.

Interpreting and revealing the intimate and private world of Liberace to the world in Behind The Candelabra.

Mirojnick says of this particular ensemble that it was inspired by Liberace's lifestyle which he split between Palm Springs, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He had an elaborate style both in clothing and lifestyle so she chose a palette of delicious sherbert colours to accent his sartorial preference. The linen lilac/green/cream check sports jacket was made by master tailor Dennis Kim in Los Angeles. The pattern for the shirt came from the archives of Anto shirt makers of Beverly Hills. Mirojnick was smitten with the scalloped edge shirt front. The shirting is a primo lilac cotton. To complete the ensemble Mirojnick used cream silk trousers and matching cream shoes.  
Is your relationship with the director something that begins the moment the project is green lit?

If the director is someone I know of that I have worked with previously then we connect prior to the project getting the green light. In some instances I have actually designed the project before it is green lit regardless of whether it gets off the ground. There are no two circumstances that are absolutes. For me, the dialogue with the director and the producer is essential to bringing the project to fruition.

Looking back over your career is there a relationship between you and an actor that stands out amongst the others? 

Looking back over my career my collaborations with Michael Douglas have been pivotal. From Fatal Attraction to Wall Street and right through to Behind The Candelabra.

Can you roughly explain to us how you explore a character through wardrobe?

I break down everything by exploring the character’s psyche. I’ll do research, whether studying paintings or present day imagery that is at your fingertips 24/7.
I am like a deep sea diver and a translator. It is my responsibility to translate the visual encryption of the text. Through understanding firstly what the story is about, then what the director’s vision is and thirdly what the actor needs, the wardrobe becomes the actor’s second skin – the unconscious element if you will – that will define the character’s persona and place in the story and convey this message to the audience. The simplicity, for example, of a white shirt can contain the essence of one character whilst a sullied white shirt can convey the essence of another character. It is all dictated by the text, the vision and the imagination of the designer.

Translating the visual encryption of the text, this is the work of Ellen Mirojnick, costume designer for some of the great films of the 1980's right through to the present day.

Casting your mind across all the films that have been made over the last 100 years, can you name three that as a costume designer stand out as hallmarks for the art of costume design?

My very favourite film is Auntie Mame designed by Orry-Kelly, Klute designed by Ann Roth and To Take A Thief designed by Edith Head.

Apart from these films I greatly admire the costumes from Barry Lyndon, Marie Antoinette, Chinatown, The Godfather II and The Damned. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A List Of Bow Ties That I Am Shocked Are Still On The Website

Today was the final day of the SALE and we reached 70% OFF which is usually the most frenzied day of the SALE. Customers just love to get their hands on a great deal and for me it is somewhat a bitter sweet day. Exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.

The beauty of an online SALE as opposed to a retail SALE is that everything still remains composed. The website images do not suddenly slouch off a merchandising table or hang over a change room door. It is actually a rather dignified SALE. Only, if you were to step inside the Studio you might see the carnage of your patronage, plastic wrappers everywhere, seals from envelopes on the floor, bits of ribbon slouched over a sitting couch, ten cardboard boxes stacked at the door. It is very gratifying to know that I don't have any shirt customers booked for the Studio over the coming days so I can enjoy this mess on my lonesome.

Thank you thank you thank you for participating in the SALE and giving our bow ties new homes as well as our La Belle Dame squares which have outsold the bow ties for the first time.

Now, if I can just give you a few little tips because there are some magnificent items still left on the website and I can't believe they haven't been snapped up. I will list them by name:

  • Roger - 1 left
  • Domenico
  • Orange Belle
  • Wilde - a half and half black mogador satin silk with holland and sherry velvet, why did this not sell? It's just a beautiful bow tie!!!
  • Bow button #1
  • Tom - a dual sided tie
  • Maxim  - two bow ties in one - a grosgrain and a satin silk!
  • Damien - a great silk flower
  • Jacques - a grenadine in navy, top notch.
  • Fabien - a brand new bow we released today straight onto the sale
  • Séamus - a really fabulous bow with a kind of playful Carnival theme. I have no idea why nobody bought this lovely lovely bow tie in mogador satin silk. It can be a plain lilac, a plain pink or a pink with lilac twist or a lilac with a pink twist depending how you tie it. I count that as four bow ties in one....
Good luck!!! Time is ticking.... Code Word : HESTIA

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

There's A Pair In There... How To Match Trousers With Blazers With Bow Ties

When we embarked on the design of our most recent silk that arrived, an art deco styled silk in champagne and beige, I was at a loss as to what on earth it could be paired with. I just felt we needed to experiment with champagne. When I was a kid there was a champagne Mercedes Benz that I used to see driving around my neighbourhood and it was such a lovely old timer, an early 80's saloon that had that very pungent leather smell inside and the last of the wind up windows. Funny that automated windows were a luxury not thirty years ago.

When the silk arrived I named it Domenico after a chap I promised I'd name a bow tie after. When I tied it I was reminded of the fact that I had absolutely no idea what to pair it with. Luckily Michael Ferns, a cloth merchant with Hunt And Winterbotham, stopped past and in the course of conversation we came onto the topic of wool, silk and linen mixes from the Portofino range when he mentioned that the John G. Hardy bunches had some very good bang for your buck cloths for jacketings. The bunch below has one in particular that I like which works well with Domenico. It's the first of the bunch and it's suggested to be paired with a taupe but my advice is to disregard the recommendation from the bunch -  and the fair warning from Mr. Ferns that you can't wear the jacket with the pants or else you will wear the pants out after a week. Disregard it all, because the way I figure it, that Domenico bow tie, a full suit in that sandy window pane check and a white shirt would make such a striking combination as one tramped their way down George Street that you would overlook the fact that your pants were shredded in the crotch by the time you arrived at Circular Quay. When a cloth is 255 grams (8.25 oz) 52% silk, 48% silk it's not right to run it through the paces of a full suit, but by the same time, how often do you think you would wear a suit like that without people telling you that you were 'killing it'. 

By 'killing it' I refer to the fact that when one has a very unique piece it must be worn very sparingly for fear you will be remembered as that guy who is always in 'that' suit. You can go incognito in navy, grey and black, but you can't quite do the same in the wool below.

Either way, there's a pair in there, as a jacket and a bow, as a suit and a bow, as a trouser and a bow. Alas, we've found a home for Domenico.

John G Hardy wool bunch - perfect for our bow tie Domenico. He's sitting at home on the top window pane check in sandy hues. A 52% wool and 48 % silk mix cloth. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Carlo Riva Styled Magnifying Glass, A Traditional Accoutrement For The Man In Cloth

The truth is that you can buy a magnifying glass from any Office Depot or Officeworks (Australian) that will do the same job as the little number below. However, you wouldn't be as cool as a northern Italian in the textiles industry. That's because they run around with these little numbers below that collapse and fold neatly into your pocket or wallet. The magnifying glass also has a grid to show 1 square centimetre of fabric. 

If ever you purchase a bolt of Carlo Riva shirting cotton you will note that on one side is the logo of Carlo Riva and on the other is this small magnifying glass on a piece of cloth. My assumption is that the magnifying glass is there to reiterate the point that it comes down to the finest of details that constitutes how a cloth looks and feels.

My first and only one of these magnifying glasses was given to me by an Italian woven jacquard silk specialist in 2010. I oscillate between it, a regular magnifying glass and a lamp lit glass attached to a desk to look at silk and study the weaves but the best of the bunch remains the little number below and my guess is that's why Carlo Riva has it on all their branding. 

Do you know what the name of it is in Italian? If yes, leave a comment below.

Monday, April 7, 2014

And The Winner Of The Portrait Competition Goes To.....

Dr. Grover Holzwarth Of Brazil.

There was little doubt in my mind that I could award the portrait competition to anyone else. It wasn't the best photo (actually a bit grainy), he wasn't dressed as immaculately as Ray Frensham, he couldn't play the guitar like Tomas Molina, he wasn't as well groomed as Andrew Terrett, nor was he riding in a wedding carriage in Mumbai like Jay Mohanka but something about this photo won me over. It is personal, it is original and I believe it was the best of the bunch this time round.

I am however, going to send each and every one of you something in the mail to thank you for your participation but only Grover will take the big prize which includes:

1 x Carlo Riva cotton custom made shirt by Le Noeud Papillon
1 x Limited Edition Le Noeud Papillon woven silk jacquard bow tie
1 x Le Noeud Papillon limited edition La Belle Dame Sans Merci pocket square

Dr. Grover Holzwarth wears our 'Churchill' navy silk grosgrain with white polka dot spots whilst dining at Le Train Bleu in Paris.

Walter Gropius' Bow Tie Collection Reviewed By Harvard Staff Writer Corydon Ireland

I love a good bit on bow ties - and this is a good bit. Corydon Ireland wrote this piece in the Harvard News. You can read it by clicking here. The piece features the skinny batwing bow tie collection of Walter Gropius. Gropius is considered to be the the founding father of the Bauhaus movement of architecture and design. He was an architect that fled Germany in 1934 after being threatened by Nazis after they took control of the state.

After Gropius died his wife Ise sent 6 of his bow ties to Gropius's friend and colleague Chester Nagel and claimed that “these brilliant little butterflies were Grope’s only vanity”.

For many of us who wear bow ties outside of black tie, you will know that half the mission in life is to find your own unique shape and select your own fabrics in order to avoid having the same bow tie appear on two different men at the same cocktail function. Of course, you don't need to be the founder of an architectural or design movement to have your own bow tie collection, you just need to approach Le Noeud Papillon and we will custom cut you any of our fabrics into the 21 different shapes we have on file, or you can send us your own shape. It's whatever you like. Contact us on

Walter Gropius, a big fan of the skinny batwing bow tie

Gropius favoured colourful skinny batwing bow ties with either vibrant colours or vibrant patterns. The bow above is particularly striking.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Was It Made: Part Three: A Custom Made Beaver Felt Hat From Leon Drexler, Toronto, Canada

We arrived today at the final stages of finishing a custom made beaver felt fedora hat with Stephen Temkin of Leon Drexler hats in Toronto, Canada. In the final stages you will see the attaching of the binding, fitting that binding, tacking the edge, attaching the French silk ribbon and bow tie to the hat and finally the finishing of the lining. If you would like Stephen to make your next hat, contact him here: LEON DREXLER

17: Attaching the Binding to the Curl

The ribbon binding for the curl is carefully fitted, the two ends sewn together to form the rear seam, and then basted by hand to the inside of the curl before being securely stitched by machine. Here, the sewing is complete and the whip-stitched basting thread will now be removed. When the binding is turned out, the seam will be completely hidden on both sides.

18: The Fitted Binding

When turned out, the binding snugly conforms to the curl and an elegant piping effect trims the inside edge. Tension in the binding has also pulled up the curl as intended, especially on the sides. The hat will now go back to the steamer to make some adjustments to the overall shape of the brim.

19: Tacking the Binding's Edge

Next, the bottom edge of the binding is tacked by hand to the felt with a series of tiny discreet stitches just a few millimetres apart—somewhere around 150 stitches overall for a hat of this size. This takes pretty much forever, but the result is a stable, elegantly tailored binding with no visible stitch line.

20: Ribbon and Bow

The crown is now trimmed. For this hat, a wide, dark, rich blue ribbon was selected from Leon Drexler's substantial collection of decades-old French grosgrain. The band and bow are separate pieces, invisibly tacked to the crown with matching filament silk thread. For this hat, the bow is simple and classic. 

21: Making the Lining

Leon Drexler linings are made from high-quality silk duchesse and individually tailored for each hat. The dressy character of this hat will be complemented by the nifty detail of a pleated lining. In this photo, a piece of silk has been sewn with a pleated edge and is now being fitted to the inside of the crown. The oval template is used to size the upper crown portion of the lining; it will be cut from another piece of silk which is printed with the Drexler logo.

22: Lining Installed

Once the lining is sewn and the excess material trimmed away, it is secured to the inside of the crown with a line of basting stitches. Finally, a small silk bow is sewn to the back of the sweatband. Now, it's back to the steamer one last time for a final touch-up.

23: The Finished Hat

Et voila! A hat of classic style and construction is ready to meet the street.

Friday, April 4, 2014

To Stephen - With Love And Squalor

For some of us frustrated writers who turn to blogging, writing a blog post title like this is about as close as we'll ever to get to a Salinger masterpiece of short fiction like 'For Esmé - with Love and Squalor'. The title of this blog post has very little to do with Salinger except to say that I felt I looked like something out of Catcher In The Rye when I put on Mr. Temkin's hat this morning to head out to my first appointment.

The hat, which you have been watching the making of, is truly something different to any hat I've ever had the pleasure of wearing. Whereas an Akubra felt fedora is a sturdy workhorse of a hat and rather hot at times, by contrast this Leon Drexler hat, contradicting everything I would have perceived about beaver felt, is actually very light and supple to touch and accordingly the hat is also quite light and breathable. Whereas, given my heavy set and mediterranean complexion, I am used to sweating it up in hats if it's not freezing outside, this hat wore comfortably throughout an at times humid day. 

My concern of course is that I never reached my target. If you recall, I had talked about trying to copy a Tom Wolfe curl in the hat. Although this hat is probably more refined and less confronting, I had actually wanted to chase the gregarious over-the-top look of Tom Wolfe's cream fedora with navy blue trim. However, having worn this hat, I am very much warming to it and I think with time it will come to be one of those unique treasures in life which Mick Jagger once said of 'you can't always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need'. 

Leon Drexler custom made beaver felt fedora hat, I am sporting the new prototype silk jacquard braces from Le Noeud Papillon and featuring silk button ends instead of leather. 

How Was It Made: Part Two: A Custom Made Beaver Felt Hat From Leon Drexler, Toronto, Canada

In the first part of the article yesterday Stephen Temkin of Leon Drexler hats in Toronto, Canada, took us from a basic piece of beaver felt which had roughly been turned into a hood that was ready to be blocked. We then went from a hood sitting on a bench to steaming it, blocking it, pressing the crown and pressing the brim, which brings us to today's next 8 steps. 

Before we begin, let me just say that I walked into my Studio at the crack of dawn this morning and there was Louis Rochechouart, my loyal man servant, standing tall and resolute and holding out Temkin's hat for me to remind me that we needed to soldier on through part II. 

9: Finishing the brim

The pressed brim is given the same finish as the crown. Here, the brim is being sanded or "pounced." When done, the brim will be pressed one more time and then trimmed to the required width.

10: Cutting the Brim

With the band block in place, the brim cutter or "rounding jack" is set to the desired width, then pressed up against the base of the crown and pulled around the hat to cut an even dimension all the way around. However, for this hat, the brass foot at the base of the jack has been adjusted so that the curve of the foot is deeper than the side of the band block, but still shallower than the ends (shown here without the hat of course). This means that when the jack is pulled around the sides of the crown, the blade will be pushed slightly away from the hat, resulting in a brim that is a little bit wider on the sides than it is on the front and back. This is done to balance the visual width of brims which are going to be curled, specifically if the curl on the sides is to be pulled up more than the front and back, as will be the case with this hat. 

11: Printing the Sweatband

A custom inscription is printed on the sheepskin leather sweatband by means of a manual hot foil machine and an old set of type.

12: Sewing the Sweatband

The sweatband is cut to the exact same circumference as the customer's head and securely stitched together at the back. The small piece of linen tape on the back of the rear seam is signed and shows the hat's order number.

13: Installing the Sweatband

The sweatband is sewn into the base of the crown using an old industrial sewing machine designed specifically for this purpose. Once done, it's time to shape the brim.

14: Preparing to Curl the Brim

A key feature of this hat will be its bound and curled brim. Here, antique hatter's curling shackles are heated on a laboratory hotplate. The irons will be used in conjunction with moisture and steam to manipulate the edge of the brim.

15: Curling the Brim

First the hat is given its centre crease to provide a reference point for the variation in the curl, the sides being curled up considerable more than the front or back. Overall, the curl is made smaller than the intended result as tension in the ribbon binding will be used to pull it up further.

16: Basic Shaping

Using steam and manipulation by hand, a front pinch is added to the crown and the now-curled brim is given a fore-to-aft arc. The brim still appears wider and the curl shallower than they will be once the binding is attached.

How Was This Hat Made By Leon Drexler - Click to go to each of the following parts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This Is Amusing, Worth A Read, Dominic Knight On The Yummy Male Phenomenon

Read more here:

The other reason I’m inclined to believe in the ‘yummy’ phenomenon is because I have a friend who is at its epicentre. Several years ago, Nicholas Atgemis set up a company to manufacture Italian silk bow ties and sell them online. It’s called Le Noeud Papillon, which is French for ‘butterfly knot’, and is not only stocked all over the world, but has opened a bricks and mortar outlet in Vaucluse. I interviewed Australia’s foremost bow impresario exclusively for Daily Life.

DK: Why did you decide to start selling bow ties?

NA: At the time I started making bow ties, the men of true sartorial style, or perhaps one could say ‘Old World’ style, were so few and far apart that they were almost covertly operating like a group of clandestine French Resistance operators under Nazi occupied France. We wanted to change that attitude and to celebrate men who dress well.

DK: Have you seen any evidence that ‘yummys’ are a real phenomenon?

NA: The word is just a new buzz word… what we are seeing is young men turning to websites such as StyleForum where they educate themselves on the finer points of menswear before they purchase. Then, empowered with greater knowledge from these forums plus numerous menswear blogs which are all very accessible, they are becoming some of the toughest shoppers in history. They know a lot more about fabrics, cut, sewing techniques and above all, they have learnt to dismantle pricing structures which makes them very dangerous. These guys don’t want to pay off-the-rack prices.

DK: Is there a better term out there?

NA: The ideal word for it is ‘renaissance’ men. Because essentially they are re-generating interest in age-old areas such as tailoring and personal grooming. These things existed for my grandparent’s generation but with my parent’s generation everything moved towards the corporation and ready-to-wear/off-the-rack. Now the buzzwords are ‘custom’, ‘bespoke’, ‘hand-made’ and ‘tailored’ – and corporations have cottoned on so now they are using the same language. But what I like about these ‘renaissance’ men is that they are re-birthing old information but also generating new information at the same time. Another word for this phenomenon is the ‘peacock’ and to appreciate this fully you need to watch the blogs which snap the photos of men who turn up to Pitti menswear in Florence twice a year.

Following Nicholas’ advice as always, I looked up Pitti and – whoa. Seriously, whoa.

Nicholas has also at times favoured the term ‘dandy’, and has directed his army of loyal blog readers to helpful coffee-table books such as I Am Dandy, which like all books nowadays, is based on a blog. It catalogues the phenomenon worldwide and features a gentleman somehow rocking off a light-blue suit on its cover. Nicholas himself, I am proud to report, was photographed by its author at the Waldorf Astoria.

Through his blog, I’ve discovered shops like Mr Porter, a hilariously high-end menswear boutique whose website has a section not just for boat shoes, but espadrilles. Indeed, Nicholas’ most recent blog post is about a custom-made beaver felt hat that he obtained from Toronto, Canada.

So, young men’s interest in fancy accessories is here to stay, it seems. But if you don’t believe that this is really, truly a thing, allow me to introduce further a piece of incontrovertible evidence. King Gee is introducing a range of skin-tight ‘compression workwear’ for ‘industrial athletes’. If even tradies are wearing fancy gear that takes optimal care of their bulging pecs, we blokes really must be becoming dandies.

So make some extra room around that fancy dining table of yours, Crawley family, because the yummies are here. And yes, Mr Carson, of course they are dressed appropriately for dinner at a pre-war stately home.

Photo by Magnus Omme -

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How Was It Made: Part One: A Custom Made Beaver Felt Hat From Leon Drexler, Toronto, Canada

I promised Stephen Temkin of Leon Drexler  that once the hat was finished and landed in Australia that I would accompany the article I wrote with a photo of myself wearing the hat with a bow tie and suit. Fortunately the beautiful hat arrived today and I was very very happy with it, but unfortunately summer decided to have one last hurrah over Sydney and the sweltering temperatures meant that I didn't want to get out of my polo. I am going to certainly post that photo soon but in the meantime, for visual reference I have asked my man servant Louis Rochechouart to hold on to the hat and wear it in the interim - as my muse, as my model. All jokes aside, I would not stow my stunning beaver felt hat with Louis, he's such a fumbly and chaotic little Frenchman that I don't trust him not to crush the sublime work of Mr. Temkin.

Before we proceed with the How To which Stephen has kindly written for us, let me just say that due to the volume of information on this post I will probably spread it over a few posts. Stephen has over 23 steps he has described. Here are the first 8 steps.

Owing to the heat in Sydney today I have employed my man servant Louis Rochechouart to be the interim model for Stephen Temkin's masterful beaver felt hat for Le Noeud Papillon of Sydney. 

STEP 1: Ready To Go

The blank beaver hat body and the chosen block. This is a block from the 1930s, fairly tall and gently tapered. For this hat, the full height of the block won't be used, so white tape marks the lower limit of where the felt will be tied off, a height of 5-1/4 inches with an anticipated finished height of 4-1/4 inches at the front peak of the hat when creased.

2: Steaming the Felt

The felt is made malleable and stretchable with about 20 seconds on the steamer.

3: Blocking the Felt

While warm and moist, the felt is pulled tightly over the block with the help of a curved wooden tool known as a "puller down."

4: The Felt Is Now Blocked

The felt is secured at the desired height with a cord. This forms the break line between crown and brim. It will now be left for a day or so to dry. What looks like staining on the brim is just water.

5: Pressing the Crown 

Different finishes for the felt are possible and are achieved through various means—sanding, brushing, shearing, the application of certain substances, etc. This hat will have what's known as a bare finish—the most typical finish for a felt hat—which provides a matte, smooth appearance with little or no nap. Ironing the crown is the first step.

6: Finishing

Once the nap is taken down and a bare finish is achieved, the crown is cleaned up with a steamy sponge bath and again left to dry. 

7: Pressing the Brim

When dry, the felt is removed from the block and a flat, oval "band block" is inserted into the base of the crown. This provides rigidity in the proper shape and size at the base of the crown for pressing and cutting the brim. The circumference of the band block is the customer's head circumference plus about half an inch to allow room for the sweatband. Of course, the hat body is initially blocked as close to that same measurement as possible.

8: The Brim is Pressed

The brim is pressed perfectly flat with an old 17 pound tailor's iron. The small tool to the right and in front is a hatter's tolliker iron, used to help ensure a clean, sharp break line between the crown and brim.

This concludes Part 1. Come back tomorrow to see Part 2. 

How Was This Hat Made By Leon Drexler - Click to go to each of the following parts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Daniel Smith, Postcards From St. Petersburg

There is an old yarn, urban myth which I have no doubt is true, that someone stole a garden gnome from their neighbours garden then took it all around the world and snapped it in all the famous locations. Something akin to this I felt when I saw the image below.  I felt very honoured when Daniel Smith sent in this photo of the same white marcella bow tie we made for him reported earlier on this blog, now finding its way to Warsaw and now in St. Petersburg. It's nice to know that little bow tie is making a big splash on a global scale. Here is Daniel Smith in Warsaw:

Daniel wears a white diamond point Le Noeud Papillon marcella bow tie from

Dear Le Noeud Papillon,

This time, greetings from Saint Petersburg!

As promised, I'd send you photos, so here is the other tie which I just wore in Warsaw :) They are travelling the world :P


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Portrait Competition Closing Submissions

Dear LNP Supporters,

It is still the 1st of April in some parts of the world. If you are in these time zones you can still submit for the portrait competition.


Ben Pearson: On Pleated Trousers

I asked Ben Pearson, a long time supporter of Le Noeud Papillon and sometime contributer to our blog whether he had anything he had noted of recent in menswear. Ben has raised some concerns regarding pleats, concerns I myself have. It is as though there is a latent fear emerging that pleats are on their way back into fashion and if so, will we as slaves to menswear trends join in or finally take a stand?

 Here is Ben:

There is, of course, a profound difference between style and fashion. Most simply, I’d say that style is timeless and fashion is temporary; beyond that, I offer no value judgments.

Or at least I try not to.

Lately I’ve found myself wondering about the fate of pleated trousers of all things. No one was happier than I was to see them go; my own leg is rather large, and rather than making me look svelte, pleats have the unfortunate effect of splaying out widely, as if they’re hanging on for dear life.

I tried to avoid this fate for years, to no avail. Admittedly I never went the bespoke route, which surely would have helped, but the long and the short of it is I’ve never looked good in pleated trousers -- not once.

On top of that, anyone daring to wear them nowadays has the misfortune of looking hopelessly out of date. Pleats are associated most closely with the ‘80s, and like many other accoutrements of menswear from that time, they are now relegated to the dustbin of history.

Now, all that being said, this is the question that was on my mind: pleats look bad on me, so naturally I hate them, but do they truly look awful on everyone? No, of course not.

And what if they make a comeback? It’s far from impossible to imagine. Low rise trousers are already somewhat passe, and if those waists go back up to where they once were, pleats can indeed serve a functional purpose to cinch one’s waistline in a bit and have an overall pleasing effect (at least in theory).

Would I wear pleats if suddenly everyone else was? I can’t help but think that no, I wouldn’t. I suppose I’d look like the elderly gentleman proudly wearing his Don Draper-style suit of yesteryear, nary a thought of current trends in his head.

Will I be equally proud? I’d like to think so, but more than that, I’d like to think we’ll never find out.

Sean Connery, the last man to make pleated trousers look fantastic...