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

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Monday, June 30, 2014

How To Make A Patina - Step By Step

The title of this blog post is somewhat misleading because it presupposes that I know what I am talking about when it comes to patina which is not true. I am however beginning to manage the patina process and not by chance I met my first guinea pig on StyleForum who was willing to hand over his pair of Cheaney shoes in tan in order to see if I could 'Berlutize' them. 

We met for coffee and this particular gentleman was very well dressed and very well versed in shoes. He even knew the particular differences in lasts offered by John Lobb and Edward Green which is to say, you would first need to care about mens shoes to know those two names, then you would need to have read a lot on each company to know the subtle differences between their lasts.

I offered up an invitation to any person on StyleForum located in Sydney to a free patina service on the basis that they were willing to give up their shoes and accept whatever came of them at the end. My guinea pig, Nabil, made only the slight suggestion that he would prefer browns over reds and already the patina artist became a little hot under the collar....

I went to work on the shoes chasing as inspiration the pair of Berluti's below that I found on Ebay. I was hoping to get an 'old wood' feel to the shoe or perhaps what Corthay calls 'vieux bois' - which as I said earlier, sounds so much better in French!

Berluti, the bench mark worth chasing after, the elusive Old Wood burnishing treatment of a patina

Before I proceed I will tell you the steps I undertook in order to achieve the result (of which you may judge of it as you please, I make no representations).

1. Strip the shoes

This involves using thinners to remove whatever is existing on the leather. For these shoes I chose to use cotton wool balls to begin the process of stripping. Once the cotton ball was laden with brown I threw it away and grabbed a new one.

Cheaney 'guinea pigs' for a patina

2. Dry the shoes

I then applied some pure alcohol to the shoes and then let them dry. Someone might tell me this is no good but I wanted something to continue to distress the leather before drying and re-nourishing the leather.

3. Sand The Shoes

After the shoes were dry I very lightly sanded the shoes with a very fine sand paper.

4.  Paint to the toe box

I painted the toe box by hand and using masking tape to define the area so that whatever we graduated to was at the end quite dark. I used a small brush for this work and also cotton balls. 

5.  Create a tray of dyes and mix with alcohol to dilute to taste.

Mixing the dye with alcohol can dilute the dye further so that you can apply layer after layer to achieve what in patina is known as 'depthing' whereby you start to see a 3rd dimension to the glaze. This is no different to how artists use paints layer after layer to create depth on a canvas. For this stage I used paint brushes, sponges, cotton balls and cotton pads. Once finished allow the shoes to try.

6. Re-nourish the shoes with a dubin

In this stage I used a Saphir high gloss dubin and worked into the shoe this very fine dubin using a cotton shirting rag which was quite fine. You need a lot of elbow grease to get the shoes to soak up the dubin but to also burnish the dubin into the shoe so that there is no residue dubin on the surface. For this I chose to use small circles with the shirting cloth wrapped around my index and middle finger. Once finished allow the shoes to dry for about half an hour.

7. Brush the shoes

Once the shoes were finished I used a brush and vigorously set about brushing the shoes until I was sweating like I was playing basketball. Back and forth until your arm almost comes off and then keep going.

8. Shine The Shoes 

I finished the shoes with a high gloss cream. I did not have Saphir so I used Collonil "Super Creme De Luxe". Once the cream was well rubbed into the shoes using a shirting cloth I then used a 12 denier stocking to buff the shoes to high shine although I fell well short of my Berluti mirror reference.

You can start to see the Old Wood finish in these shoes

Graduating the patina to the toe cap is something very cool but it can require additional work to set up

Ready for pick up

Don't Complain, Don't Explain

One of the hardest things to do in this business is convince someone in Ontario, Canada or perhaps someone in Brooklyn in New York that despite all the other companies that are out there in the world offering various forms of bow ties, that yours are worth the wait and the trip from Sydney, Australia. The most effective way to entice these potential customers is through SALES. Sometimes it upsets my retailers that we have sales on the product but then our retailers don't wish to take the risk of some of our more unusual designs and accordingly, since the Studio is a Studio and not a retail shop, our website is the only place from which we can give these papillons a fighting chance to find a new home.

Someone once aptly said to me when I was having a whinge about how hard my life could sometimes be that I ought to "harden the f--k up" . That's a very Australian way to put it. A more refined person once said the same thing much more eloquently when they told me their life maxim was "Don't Complain, Don't Explain".

But it would not be me to deny myself both of these aspects of life. I am going to complain and I want you to listen up.

There still remains on the website some exquisite bow ties that deserve to find new homes. The SALE has now moved to 55% Off or the inverse if you like, they are now 45% of their original RRP.

We know you can't fondle our bow ties and we know you can't tie them up in front of you but rest assured that if they made it to the website then they are worthy. Worthy in the sense that the silk is woven jacquard silk from Como, Italy. Worthy in the sense that our bows are made right here in Sydney, Australia (#madeinaustralia !) and that in many instances you cannot find these bow ties, pocket squares, lapel flowers, lapel bows and cufflinks anywhere else in the world.

Not that I should be giving any of you more reasons to join in on the fun but here are some names of items that really are exquisite and some of my personal favourites:

* Marlon, Kirk, D-C, Jerry, Howard, Hudson, Grover, Valentino, Red Belle, Hayden, Churchill, Francis, Yves, Wilde, Jasper, Lapel Flower #15

In conclusion, let me complain, let me explain - because I am trying to tell you something!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Just Sterling! Gaziano & Girling - English Quality Fused With European Design - Some Of The Best Shoes Around

Oppenheimer, my trusty covert internet trawling source, once said to me that a common friend of ours who belongs to a notable Italian fashion family, once said to him in conversation that there was no better shoe in the world than Edward Green.

Both Oppenheimer and I, amateur fashionable types stuck in the Antipodes, both found this intriguing because the Edward Green website gave very little away about the true scope of work they could make and, being Australian, we were very unlikely to fork out the big money you needed to join the EG Club nor did we travel often enough to the other side to get fitted for shoes.

That has partially changed since Double Monk emerged in Melbourne but needless to say that by the time Double Monk emerged both Oppenheimer and I were starting families and neither of us had spare coins lying around the house that our other halves didn’t have a greater purpose for. Our feet would have to wait until either we became extraordinarily successful financially or our wives left us so that we could pursue the life of a Yummy with gay abandon….

Recently, however, my interest in shoes has piqued again, due in part to an interview with Foster & Son and then later with my pursuit of an RM Williams patina. My attempts remind me of Samuel Beckett’s quote on failure “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better” . Had I known how difficult patina is in terms of man hours and dedication I might have given it the same attention I gave quilting after my first foray…. NONE!

But it was patina that spurred me on looking for shoe companies that could do that which I myself was not able to quite achieve. And that is what brings me to Gaziano & Girling.

Gaziano and Girling ( “GG” ) is a footwear company that was started in 2006 by Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling. Tony was the man behind the development of shoe ranges for a variety of quality brands, Dean was the shoe maker that had made shoes for some of London’s most prestigious bespoke houses. This is the foundation on which GG is built, design and craftsmanship.

Left: Shoe Maker Dean Girling - Right: Designer Tony Gaziano

For some GG will stray too far from an English aesthete for them to consider GG but for me they are so charming precisely because they take English craftsmanship and then throw into the mix a certain Italian style or flair that leaves the older styled English brands for dead. And where a shoe like Corthay can be too tricky, GG instead prefers to offer a charmingly classic sense of flair holding back from going too far in the perfect manner and proportions.

The other reason I have become smitten with GG is because of their bevelled fiddle-back waist with a stained V-styled design which gives the sole of the shoe that much more personality. And whilst I have been watching and admiring the loyal and loving enthusiasts of Edward Green on both Style Forum and Instagram, I must admit, I find the look of some of their shoes too ‘clunky’ for my liking and I am more inclined to veer towards GG because I am not looking to ‘look English’ and I don’t need to dress ‘heritage’. I understand that some men want the English look of soft muted colours and conservative tradition but that look does not work for everyone and I am more likely to want to try the new kid on the block than to pursue a company steeped in tradition rather than evolution.

Some of the other features I enjoyed reading about on GG is that on their leather soled shoes they only use English oak bark soles that have been procured from a tannery in Devon where the tanning pits that are used today are the same tanning pits used by the Romans over 2000 years ago. The reason English oak bark is selected, as Tony Gaziano tells me, is because the oak bark process protects the natural fibres of the leather but it takes up to 12 months for these properties to absorb. Further, their upper leathers are sourced from Swiss and French calf leather hides which are then sent to some of the finest Italian leather finishing houses to be treated. Some of the leathers are then sent half-finished to England and they are antiqued to order in the GG factory in Kettering in Northampton.

I do not normally get passionate about shoes these days because I’ve seen so many come past my computer screen that it’s much harder for me to get excited than it used to be. However the GG website is a refreshing and relaxed way to enjoy their art and craftsmanship and it’s not in the slightest bit stiff or intimidating. I recommend viewing their models Bates, Corniche, Antibes, Biarritz and Burnham as well as their Savoy Evening Wear range. And, if you can’t find anything you want on their site you can always go down their comprehensive MTO and bespoke service which by September will also include a patina service from their Savile Row store.

Finally, I would like to say, that, from my understanding, they are also offering a Chelsea with no side seams and a patina which might have to be my next indulgence since I am not sure I have the time to spend my weekends trying to do home-made patina, not when I envisage it might be ten years until I reach the quality of their Burnham model.

See their website:

Elegance and timelessness of English shoe making coupled with a European infusion. 

Gaziano and Girling's new Savile Row shop. If you are in London, take a visit. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

#Snap Them Up - One Of Each As A Prelude

We have added one of each of the new bow ties to the website slowly so that you can really get a taste of the new collection of silks. At the same time, we have a whole bunch of silk lapel flowers which we think are just beautiful. Shop them now 

Silk and wool lapel button flowers and mini bow ties. Small but effective ways of brightening up your suit for your next weekend event.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Testimonial From A Long Standing Loyal Supporter Of Le Noeud Papillon - Ben Pearson, Canada

Dear Le Noeud Papillon,

I've been a bow tie aficionado for several years now, and for me there have been plenty of labels that have captured my attention. Very few, however, have managed to hold it, and yours, LNP, is clearly one. For me, I feel like the need to sing the praises of your wares is unnecessary; surely their style and quality are apparent to all who view them. That is certainly the case when I wear them, because even though I'm hardly the photogenic sort (and I've sent you proof of this!) I receive compliments on my neck wear all the time. I wish I could take credit for this, but if I'm being honest, I must attribute the lion's share of the source of such fanfare to my bow ties -- or, more specifically, my Le Noeud Papillon bow ties. As long as they remain so unique, well made and stylish, I will remain a loyal devotee.


Ben Pearson,
Coquitlam, Canada

Ben Pearson wears our Seamus bow tie which is a half pink satin silk, half lilac satin silk in a mogador. Ben has chosen aptly to use the pink to pick up the pink tones in the box check of his wool. 

Dear Wedding Market - Be Prepared

I often get late night emails or desperate afternoon phone calls from grooms and groomsmen who have left the sourcing of their bow tie and shirt to the last minute and usually by this stage, unless they want something that's in stock, we can't help them. A customer last night was intelligent enough to enquire about his September wedding now. One of the reasons that September is such a difficult month to meet expectations both locally in Australia and overseas is the month of August. All Italian workrooms, looms and pretty much every industry you can think of stops work and heads to the beach. In Paris, apparently, the boulangeries are famed for selling August bread weeks before that goes straight into the freezer because in August you can't find a fresh baguette anywhere. Then there is another anecdote about walking around Paris with a frozen breadstick in August which apparently tempts lovers but the story is old and I have forgotten how it goes. I suppose the equivalent takes place in Italy as Italians are even more excited by romance. 

So if you want to customise something for September or if you want to avoid being flustered when the hour is upon you, think about preparing yourself now rather than later because chances are nobody will be able to help you in August.

Below: Carlo Riva white poplin dinner shirt with plysse by Le Noeud Papillon - custom made in Sydney - $550.00 . Maxim half grosgrain, half satin silk bow tie by Le Noeud Papillon - the perfect accoutrement for the guy with two tuxedo lapels, tie it either way - $165.00 . Both are available through

Snap! Get A New Season Silk Bow Tie As Part Of The Sale Offering

We hate our blog readers and customers getting bored so we did something to excite you. One of each of the new silk designs has been added to the website. We have 23 new models which we will release slowly through the final days of the SALE but only 1 of each will be offered so if you don't want it, chances are someone else will have it. Shop the SALE and SNAP! up a new model by clicking here : 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Testimonial You Live For - A Product Review Of Our Smoking Jackets, Silk Robes, Bow Ties And Pocket Squares

Dear Le Noeud Papillon:

I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I was with my new smoking jacket, bow tie and pocket square.  They are beyond my wildest expectations.  The quality of the quilted silk in the first to arrive jacket is amazing.  It is as light as a feather, feels like it weighs virtually nothing yet looks like a trillion dollars.  The tailoring was incredible and  it fits better than anything I have ever had made and is even more comfortable to wear.
I want to also thank you for your patience and attention in the ordering process.  I have never worked with a made-to-order company that delivers this type of top-quality and professional service.  

As you know, this led to my purchase of three additional smoking jackets, your cashmere, your Sidney and your black silk.  Each one is amazing in different ways. I am looking forward to buying more items from your diverse choices as your judgment in selecting and making the items you offer is unparalleled. 

In all seriousness, prior to meeting you by way of the Internet, I researched the world for the best products of the type that you provide.  In my opinion,you are the best, among any, including any so-called top shelf chains and brands.  Having come to know you a bit in our dealings, it is easy to understand why - you are a world-class person of the first order.  I have unabashedly recommended you to any of my friends who are even thinking about buying any of the wonderful apparel you sell.  I am very happy you are getting the acclaim and notoriety that your company deserves, and, to any that have not experienced the quality of your products, I would urge them to not hesitate – it is truly a wonderful experience. 

Breton B, Los Angeles, USA

A jacket just arrived from our friends in Italy - made to order smoking jacket with silk satin quilted shawl in electric blue with midnight blue velvet body and traditional frogging clasps. Order online at

Suits And Boots - An Under Utilised Power House Of Mens Fashion

There is some rhetoric amongst so called civilised men that wearing boots with a suit is a faux pas. Boots, they say, should be reserved for jeans and moleskins. Bahaha! You twits! Nothing could be further from the truth. The under utilised power house of mens fashion is "suits and boots". I could not think of a more powerful image from 2013 than Berluti's wonderful use of Jeremy Irons in a pair of Berluti Saint Emilion Leonard boots coupled with a simple but most extraordinarily elegant grey 3 piece suit. Jeremy Irons, who has such a strong screen presence, in a very well tailored suit with the most exquisite looking brown patina boots, is a winning trifecta of power and, hopefully, it will squash and smote those who are disbelievers.

But not all of us can afford to get the Berluti look of Jeremy Irons so are there any options? The answer is yes. Any tailor can sort you out for a similar suit but the boots are not as easy to come by. Here are a few places that could potentially sell you the boots:

Macsamilion, Oxfordshire - A wonderful wonderful online shoe store which will really rock your world. The best of the Brits are on there plus more. A great range of chelseas to be had from Crocket & Jones, Jeffrey West, Church's and more.

Gaziano & Girling - The new kid on the block making big waves.

Gaziano and Girling was started in 2006 but they are making big waves around the world and have an enormous following. Their patina styled chelsea model is called 'Burnham' and it's finished like RM Williams boots by only having one seam at the rear of the boot.

RM Williams - The Australian iconic boot. The one to look for is the 'Craftsman' model in Whiskey or Rum.

Edward Green - The most respected name in British shoes. Although I don't like some of their bulkier models, their chelseas look the bees knees and are worth investigating. However, if you were to order them in Australia my suggestion would be to go through Double Monk in Melbourne. Click here

Jeremy Irons showing us that boots and suits are a powerful image for menswear. 

At a Berluti soiree - Jeremy Irons

The Jeremy Irons boot - The model name is Saint Emilion Leonard - the name alone draws me in....

A modern remake of the classic chelsea by Gaziano & Girling who are now on Savile Row. This model is called the Burnham and it is fnished with a light to dark patina on the toe box.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Argument For Hand Made

Dominic Knight, the ABC 702 'Evenings' presenter sent me a funny email the other day suggesting I ought to look at a robot tying a tie. I didn't get a chance to watch it immediately but when Oppenheimer sent the same link I thought there must be something edifying about it or it wouldn't have captured the attention of these two great minds.

After watching the video I found an argument for hand-made products as the video aptly described the robots tying of a tie as 'gloriously complexified'. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it's just easier to use our hands to make something happen but I will let you form your own opinion.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Shoes Interviews

We've covered a fair bit of ground with respect to shoes over the last few years and this morning, as I approached another shoe brand that struck a cord with me, I thought I might list some of the people we've talked to in shoes as each of them has given fantastic content to the blog. It makes for great Sunday light reading I think.

Ivan Crivellaro - Bespoke Shoe Maker 

I found Ivan on the Facebook page of GQ Italia writer Angelo Flaccavento. Ivan was a paradigm shift as far as I could see, fusing art and shoes together in the most unorthodox way. We subsequently commissioned him to make these Saldavor Dali and butterfly inspired beauties below. 

Ivan Crivellaro, a very unique DNA

Andy Murphy From Foster And Son, London

Not many companies can claim that they have a combined business life of 430 years but that's how many years of trading have been conducted by Foster & Son of London. The company continues to make bespoke shoes above it's London store today whilst also selling ready to wear. 

Foster & Son, The Shoe With History

Justin FitzPatrick - Shoe blogger, now designer.

He started his career shining shoes in Gieves & Hawkes but now he's not only one of the most respected names in the shoe blogging world but he's also just begun his own range of shoes. Justin FitzPatrick is just getting warmed up but it's still worth reading this round up he gives on his taste in shoes. 

The taste of Justin FitzPatrick - the authority on men's shoes

Landry Lacour -Patina Artist

Landry Lacour takes patina to a whole new level of art. His commissions are making waves across the world and don't be surprised if he is soon in command of his own line of shoes.

Landry Lacour - an artist of patina

Andrew McDonald - An Australian Asset

Andrew McDonald was a cutter at Berluti before he moved back to Australia to start his own business. He now operates from Sydney's Strand Arcade and is a very rare commodity for Australia given there are so few people who can craft a shoe, let alone to the standard made by McDonald.

Andrew McDonald - earthy Australian designs

Friday, June 20, 2014

Proper Hard Yakka - Trying To Make A Patina For RM Williams Boots

Some of you may have read an article I wrote for A Suitable Wardrobe on making a patina for a pair of RM Williams boots I owned. That article received two very positive comments and this week I decided to keep up the enthusiasm and go full steam ahead into another pair of RM Williams boots. This time, however, I decided to try something very different.

Black boots are invariably....  black.... and not a lot goes on with black boots to improve their lot. Texture can sometimes be applied through leather stamping (think a crocodile print), natural occurences in skin (think ostrich) or weaving techniques (think Bottega Veneta) but tonality and depth of tone in black is pretty rare, especially in the case of RM Williams chelsea boots.

The original RM Williams crafstman boots used to create this patina

So in order to proceed I had to rummage around and I found a pair of black calf leather RM Williams boots to work with. The process began by sanding back the shoes to scruff up the leather. I used a fine sanding paper and I wasn't particularly aggressive with the shoes because I was still in un-chartered waters. I noticed that the sanding paper often made the deepest impression on ridges and seams and accordingly this is where you will see the biggest effect of the patina.

RM Williams Black French Calf Boots After Light Sanding

The next step I did was to strip back the leather using leather thinners I got from Birdsall Leather in Botany, Sydney. These are generally industrial chemicals so you are not able to buy them over the counter but if you ask nicely you might be able to secure a small amount in a plastic bottle.

Once the leather was stripped back it was easy to mark the effects of the sanding. Now it was time to start applying dyes. In this particular instance I was looking to see how the colours whiskey, electric blue and black would blend in with the newly found grey that was revealed after stripping the leather. I slowly mixed the whiskey first with plenty of alcohol mixed in, in the form of methylated spirits. I then painted on an even glaze over the shoe. I let them dry and then I went at it two or three more times liberally. Once this was done I used masking tape to the paint the toe of the shoe in as deep a black as I could make it. Here I did not dilute the dye with alcohol because I was attempting to get a rich contrast to the patina effect I was chasing on the rear.

After this was done I lightly used some electric blue over the shoes and then I finished the shoe with La Cordonnerie Anglais polish which I burnished on with a cotton rag made of shirting which I rubbed on in circular patterns and then I burnished it to a shine using a fine / sheer stocking from a local chemist.

The results are surprisingly good for an amateur attempt. I do not claim to be proficient in this art form and the more I do it the more I respect the professionals I have come across like Ivan Crivellaro, Landy Lacour and Steven Skippen as well as brands like Berluti, Santori and Corthay. But, regardless of whether I did a good job or not, a patina is present and it's my own signature recipe and it took a fair bit of elbow grease and a big wad of hard yakka.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Suspense Is Killing Me Mr. Hitchcock

I proposed to Steven Hitchcock, the Savile Row Master Tailor, that I would be honoured to turn one of his favourite ties into a bow tie to which he graciously accepted my invitation and posted off a lovely signed letter to me that I shall file.

Steven sent to me one of the ties he made in his early days starting out. Below you will see that we cut it and reversed it with a mid blue grenadine silk. We kept also the original label and cut it down to size and back onto the new bow tie. Although the tie is of a superb silk I am concerned that with a number of times tied it might fray, so I hope that Mr. Hitchcock has some clipping scissors and a fluid lighter handy to singe off any stray hairs that pop up or pop out.

The suspense is now killing me as I wait to see how Mr. Hitchcock will wear his bow tie.... Stay tuned.

Oh, and if you want the same service, you can enquire at

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some People Refuse The Loan Of Life For The Debt Of Death

This morning I rose to go on my walk and along the way I was rather pensive because a great man had died a few days earlier, a man I always admired, a family man, a decent man, a charming man. But, like all men inevitably do, he passed away and it was still very sad none the less. As I was on the last leg of my morning walk I stumbled upon this beautiful Morton Bay Fig tree which was gleaming in the morning light. It looked the very essence of life and I had to pull out my camera. The thought came rushing to my head that life is eternal but it is made of constant births, deaths and rebirths and the old must make way for the young as the cycle keeps turning down through the ages. It's not different from nature's seasons, it just stretches out a little longer for us humans. But it also reminded me of something else, a wonderful quote from Irvin D Yalom's book 'Staring At The Sun' which says 'some people refuse the loan of life for the debt of death'. And by that I implore you to cease the day and make use of every sunrise and if you are lucky enough to find the time, watch each sunset.

And on a lighter note, and in keeping with that exciting green nature I saw this morning I received this latest silk below that we put together with our friends in the hills of Como. It's a lovely emerald green on grey warp silk and it's resting on a wonderful birthday present from my other half who was incredibly generous with me this year. Not only do these Hollywood Director's chairs bear our logo but they are made of Australian native hardwood and are made in Melbourne. Nice to know we still make some nice stuff Down Under.

Ready for a bride and groom for consultation on wedding bow ties at the Le Noeud Papillon Studio
Up close and personal with the new emerald designed silk from LNP

Monday, June 16, 2014

In The Vein Of Style Forum - Let Me Show You What I Am Wearing

I do love the way Style Forum members show off their clothes but wish to retain their privacy by putting themselves in non-descriptive surroundings like a patch of green grass and then putting a big black circle around their head. For those of you that read Style Forum you will know that it is populated by sartorial snobs the world over and many of them have a lack of tolerance for anybody that's either outside the realm of what they think is de rigeur for a man or else they mock those that haven't yet learned what the rules of engagement are. Perhaps this is the reason that so many of them put a black circle around their faces and run their profiles under pseudonyms rather than face the great shame of a sartorial forum bukake from the other members.....

This week I stepped outside the box twice. I was making suits for the window of our Studio but in fairness I always cut them for my frame because in essence I am my own best advertising despite the fact that I am possibly 30 kilos over weight according to some diagrams and charts that my doctor points to each time I go for a check up.

I post below my outfits for your consideration and in the vein of Style Forum I have blacked out my head... less about privacy concerns and more about the double chin. 

1. Top: Holland & Sherry Pink Supreme Victory  Super 160's Merino, Cashmere And Silver Mink Wool Blend

2. Holland & Sherry White/ Cream Twill Wool With Sky Blue Check

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me To You!

It's my birthday today. Most other menswear designers would probably have people in their offices clapping their hands and making grand gesticulations of love and admiration for their work.... "J'adore ca qu'est que tu fais!" (Is my French correct?) .... But then there is me, in my Studio, alone, typing away as much as I do anything else.

But today is a good day. A happy day. So, happy birthday to me! And to you too! Because I am offering the first 3 people to type in HAPPYBIRTHDAY when checking out of the website at  the opportunity to get 50% OFF.

Now, I must be off to celebrate the fact that my hair is getting grey and my tummy is expanding like the universe.

Bon Weekend,

The Die Is Cast - The Holland & Sherry Supreme Victory Apple Blossom Pink Wool Has Had It's Own Remake

The people behind the remake of The Great Gatsby rejected this apple blossom wool in favour of white when they remade the film. It was perhaps the correct thing  to do since the 1974 Robert Redford Gatsby was synonymous with the Ralph Lauren apple blossom pink wool in a wide notched lapel and waistcoat and that image would have remained etched in people's minds right through to 2013. The wool, once it was rejected, remained on a bolt inside the New York offices of Holland & Sherry until a smart arse from Sydney, namely myself, decided to put it to good use.

Working with a workroom I use regularly, a highly regarded workroom that does most of the suits for theatre, television and film in Australia, a workroom that goes by mostly unnoticed and unrecognised, we set about making a wide notched lapel suit which would test the boundaries of the cutter. More than a few times he walked off in dismay. "How is the lapel going to stay put if we cut it that wide?" he asked. He added sarcastically ,"you might as well fasten it down with a button so it won't flop". But after decisions and revisions we arrived at a point where both he and I were comfortable it could be done.

Robert Redford's 1974 Ralph Lauren wide notched lapel is really at the cusp of what is considered functional dressing. It is even wider than Tom Ford's generous lapels. When you put a jacket on like this all you know and feel is lapel. It reminds me of the days when cars used to have wing tips at the rear. Although stunning and beautiful in appearance, you always had to wonder 'but what function do they play?'. The truth is that a wide lapel, either peaked or notched, is a wonderfully aesthetically pleasing component to a flowing and elegant piece of clothing but it is highly impractical if you were to be conducting yourself seriously in business and it requires a great deal of confidence, either real or manufactured, to pull it off. 

As I said when I embarked on this process, I was always going to add or subtract elements to create something inspired by Redford but not exactly the same thing. One of the main points of difference was that I used gold H & S buttons on the jacket and had the suit hung on one button a la Huntstman. I also decided to lose the waist coat so that I could work on some braces for this ensemble. 

One of the other main points of difference was in the trousers. Here I borrowed a concept from Luca Rubinacci where I used a buckle to bring across the trouser tab right across the front of the pants to form an in-built belt. I have seen this technique on a number of Italian blog sites and I am so grateful that my Sydney based Italian tailoring friend acquiesced to my demands. Adding also a single pleat to the trousers meant that in effect we had a bit of "Old World meets New World but-really-is-Old-World-redefined" look.

The brilliance of the suit is only really understood by seeing it in the flesh. The great example was when I was having some minor alterations done at my local tailor, a gentleman walked in to get his tuxedo altered. As he walked into the shop he saw my suit lying on the table and he exclaimed "my God that's a lovely suit". You see, you can't understand the beauty of the apple blossom pink wool and the cut of it's proportions unless you see it with your own eye. And what does it look like on? I will let you know next week when hopefully I will have a photo of it on but I must warn you..... I am not a model!