So, I got to lunch on the weekend with this gentleman and it was quite a treat because after lunch we went to his apartment to have a look at his tie collection. It was like opening up a time capsule. Some of the ties were original Valentino's from Roma circa early 1960's. That meant that about the same time these ties were being sold in the stores Fellini was filming La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2 across town and Onassis was likely dining with Maria Callas somewhere off the Piazza Navone. It was like stepping back in time for a moment and I had to imagine the silks as they might have been presented in the window, not what was now in front of me, with that ghosting tinge of having seen better days. On one particular bow tie, a black silk basket weave butterfly bought from Yves St Laurent in Paris in the 60's before the quality was decimated by licensing in the 80's, the thread was so bare in one part that I guessed it would have been worn and tied at least a hundred times and been to the dry cleaners at least 30 times.
On Monday, like a surgeon performing an autopsy, we cut open the said ties and began to see what was involved in the making process. Like most times I cut open a tie, I was surprised. It's only when you bother to cut a tie up that you can break down it's true constituents. On one of the Valentino ties, for example, 3 interlinings had been used to mask what was an incredibly light weight silk that ought to have been more appropriate for a kerchief or a woman's dress than a tie. Our job was to turn the tie into a bow tie using the silk but there was not enough silk to go around and we decided to use half our black mogador satin on one side and half the Valentino print on the other. But being so light weight the cloth would move too much when sewing so we needed to find the right fusing for this light weight crepe georgette before continuing.
In another tie of woven silk jacquard there were elephants in green and light blue which again had faded with time. The woven jacquard silk was again much lighter than anticipated. The elephants on the tie were pointed with trunk up, and despite the fact that making a bow tie out of this would render the elephants pointing their trunks sideways on each wing of the bow tie, the consensus was that the centre knot would render the trunks up which was enough good luck my father needed to order a bow tie for himself.
The final recreation of the Yves St Laurent bow tie in the black basket weave satin silk was the most nostalgic, it reminded me of all that was elegant in a time now lost. I wonder what Valentino and YSL would make of some of the poopy pants that Rick Owens subscribers walk around in these days. I do see that we need to evolve and change, but that black basket weave bow tie had stood the test of time, held together by attention to quality and the use of great materials. We could now recreate a better bow tie, but for it's time it was just superb.
|Top: Valentino tie circa early 1960's in a crepe georgette styles silk using three interlinings to build up the body|
|The three interlinings used to build the body|
|Cutting open the tie always reveals the secrets to fabrication|
|The Yves St Laurent bow tie bought from the Paris store circa 1960's|
And on that note I leave you with a song recommendation from one of our customers this week which ties in well with the nostalgia of opening up these old flowers above.