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

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Testimonial From A Customer In The United States Of America

 "Again, love your tiesYour navy bow tie with my navy Tom Ford shawl collar dinner suit.  Its great how well and easy they tie. Also, they really stand out and let the world know you tied your own."

D Meisenburg, USA

A Banquet Of Consequences By Australian Economist Satyajit Das - A Good Gift For Christmas If You Want To Depress The Recipient :)

I had the pleasure of walking with Satyajit Das one morning recently but only because I requested some of his time to explain to me the Greek debt crisis.
When you have a simple mind like mine you need to be explained things in simple terms. Economists like 'Das' (I am told nobody calls him Satyajit which personally I think is a really cool name) are unique in the sense that they can break down really complex structures, systems and literally hundreds of millions of unique transactions to look for trends and key understandings about this ever changing world of global finance.

Within a few minutes of walking with Das I was able to know more about what was happening in Greece than anything that I could get out of a newspaper or out of a friend who was returning from Athens with reports of how the country was progressing.

I decided to purchase his book 'A Banquet Of Consequences' and I must say that so far it has really blown me away in terms of being able to adequately comprehend movements of funds between banks and businesses, between governments and banks and between governments and citizens and everything in between.

But more importantly, everything that we witness today in our global economy is a flow on effect of so many significant changes to financial markets and regulations that often it's not until someone breaks down the historical moments in time which caused certain triggers that you can begin to understand how such a gigantic global debt crisis is .... a banquet of consequences. My opinion of the author was only bolstered when the following day there was a massive sell down of Australian mining stocks.

I highly recommend this book. I only wish that these economists would find us ways out of the fox hole rather telling us that we better be ready to jump into one. 

The end of endless credit looms near. It is time for us to get back to work and pay back our borrowings - which makes it uncomfortable to read this book on a sofa. 

Two Recommends For Board Shorts As We Approach The Sydney Summer

There are a variety of factors which make up good board shorts which make it hard to shop them on the web. Durability stands to mind as the first and foremost pre-requisite. The one thing which put me off Vilebrequin shorts was that the cotton mesh used to rip out of them by the end of an Australian summer leaving you with expensive shorts that were useless outside the water. Good board shorts need to function both as swim trunks and as something by which you get to go drink coffee in them and not lose your wallet through a trap door.

The next critical thing I look for is cut. I am not a fan of shorts that sit around the knees, preferring a mid thigh cut like the shorts made by Australian company Venroy, seen below. Then comes the colours and prints. Sometimes all you need is a strip and solid band. At other times it is the print you want to do all the talking, paired with a solid coloured t-shirt and perhaps some orange espadrilles and a panama hat.

Below I have selected two shorts I recommend for the forthcoming Australian summer. The first is by Mexican designer Pineda Covalin, a vibrant Mexican inspired print which will set you apart from the other blokes who didn't bother to search as much for a unique pair of shorts.

The second pair is what I think should be a staple in Australian men's swimwear, a pair of Venroy black shorts with navy band that will fade nicely in the harsh Australian sun. I have a good deal of experience wearing Venroy and they are both durable and functional, with a range of simple and elegant designs being offset by more contemporary designs which sit well with a modern Australian audience. They're shorts equally at home on the harbour as they are on our beaches and in our cafes.

Mexican designer Pineda Covalin

Australian brand Venroy

Monday, September 28, 2015

If The Protein Make Up Of Silk Is Closely Related To Skin Then Why Aren't We Using It More In Eye Shades

The protein make up of silk is very closely related to human skin. In scientific studies silk seracin , one of the two main proteins found in silk, the other being fibroin, have been used to aid the man made building of human tissue fibroplasts, the stuff that is used to rejuvenate skin. In fact, humans have been using silk as a way of nurturing and protecting their skin and hair for over 3500 years.

Because man made fibres are cheaper and easier to produce than silk, we often find that when board a plane we are presented with poxy polymer based eye shades for the flight which end up irritating you more than they give you comfort.

On a recent flight home from Hong Kong I had such an experience and I decided it was better to go without eye shades and use something else to cover my face. I am a very very prejudiced towards natural fibres.

On returning to Sydney I began to knock out something a little more comfortable for those long flights that Australians know too well and which yanks and poms scoff at when they hear your Antipodean itineraries.... "19 hours, are you kidding me? 24 to Moscow? Why I never...".

So, I present to you below the silk eye shades we've come up with. They are finished with a more vibrant silk jacquard on the exterior, the interior is a softer and sheer silk jacquard and the elastic is enveloped in silk to ensure that you are comfortable all the way around. Of course, we recommend you snip the label off and it's been hand-stitched only in two points so it's not exactly difficult to remove. Finally, to add comfort for the eyes, the sponge centre is made up of a type of wool felt we source from South Australia. So, it's all natural (save the elastic inside the strap) and it's all comfortable. And, you will look dapper even when you are snoring and the saliva is dribbling onto your neighbours arm. That's if you still go cattle class like myself.

Friday, September 25, 2015

How Was It Made - A Purple Lizard Skin Watch Strap From Enrile In Seville, Spain

There is more to a watch strap than meets the eye. In fact, when a leather watch strap looks elegantly simple it's usually far more complicated to produce than you'd imagine which is why there are factories dedicated to perfecting the craft in Switzerland as evidenced by this 'how it's made' video on Hermes watch straps

For starters there is the choice of the leather which needs to be split down to a very specific mm thickness which is then married up with the appropriate thickness of the backing leather. In this instance the top layer of purple lizard skin was split down to 0.4mm with the appropriate underside backing leather then adding an additional 0.4mm to create a total of 0.8mm for the finish. This however is not including the padding which is run between the two folds of leather which adds another 0.2mm raised along the centre of the watch strap.

Although I am sure in larger factories the means by which watch straps are made would be refined down to reduce excess use of leather, the process remains mostly the same regardless of how many machines are available in larger operations to help with specific aspects of production such as sewing or, stamping, sealing or buffing the leather.

In a nutshell, once the leather is cut to a desired length and width, the craftsman, in this case Antonio from Enrile , glues together the top and backing leather together with the padding sandwiched in between. Once that process is complete the desired shape of the watch strap is cut around the padded area based on the pattern. The tunnel for the spring bars is created by turning the leather back over onto the backing leather before glueing down and cut to the desired mm width of the lugs of the watch that the strap is being made for. Lugs can vary from 14mm on ladies watches to 23mm for large diving and instrument watches. In this case the strap is being cut to 19mm. 

The watch strap now needs to be sewn. The manner in which the sewing is done is best described in the video referenced in the first paragraph. It requires a heavy leather sewing thread which is alternated by two needles and two threads interlocking the stitches in through perforations made in the leather by the artisan. In some factories, such as the quality strap maker Hadley Roma, machines are used to sew the less expensive watch straps but where a watch strap is finely made it will usually be sewn by hand.

It was a pleasure working with Antonio again and his watch strap is a thing of great beauty. Of course, you can never expect an artisan's work to be finished in the same manner as a Swiss factory's with their additional tools and instruments to finish a strap fit for a fifty thousand dollar watch, but then that's not what I was searching for. Those watch straps are a little like a Warhol can of soup, whereas this one is for a very special snowflake.

The selection of the leather, a purple lizard skin is chosen

The leather pattern is cut

Using a gauge, the leather is checkd for an even 0.4mm thickness across the leather

The leather is backed

The leather thickness is checked for both sides of the leather with a total of 0.8mm thickness

An area is defined for the padding of the watch strap

The backing leather is stamped for our company

Antonio is preparing the leather to be glued together

The indentation of the padding can now be seen, this will be trimmed around to define the end shape of the band

The leather is now ready to be trimmed

The hand sewing begins

The final strap is ready for shipping

The final result, an outstanding purple lizard skin watch strap rests in front of two Le Noeud Papillon purple silk bow ties

A purple lizard skin watch strap for a purple bow tie. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Design Which Does Belong To Moth Of Sydney And Le Noeud Papillon Jointly

Gianni Agnelli was famous for asking his shirt maker to come up with a cuff which allowed him to have his wrist watch sit over the cuff in between folds of fabric to ensure that his watch bracelet and face did not make contact with his skin as it was said to have caused him irritation. 

That cuff was replicated a few years back by Italian banker turned designer Angelo Galasso whose designs are opulent and perhaps are designed to show off the expensive time pieces worn by his rich and famous customers which include Stevie Wonder, Roger Moore, Mickey Rourke and Ray Liotta to name but a few.

The genesis of the cuff below was from a totally different angle. The story begins with my walking partner that I pound the pavement each morning with in Sydney. We walk along the Rose Bay promenade and up Heartbreak Hill and back ending with three sprints of 20 seconds in order to get our heart rate up and because the both of us had watched some English documentary on a doctor who has studied the benefits of exercise spikes on weight loss. My walking partner is an accomplished mathematical nerd who hails from banking but spends his spare time flying planes. He is also technologically very  ahead of the curve, so it was no surprise when he became an early adopter of the Apple watch.

One of the first hurdles he ran into though was that in order to use the watch it had to be in contact with your skin or else it would shut down. You also had to have it face you in order for it to work. These were to my knowledge security and battery conserving features respectively. 

It got me thinking that in the winter time wouldn't it be great if you had a cuff which allowed the watch to remain fixed against the skin but also gave you ease of access to the screen so that you could easily access information via components such as the crown (which doesn't show on this sample because I am left handed) as well as the screen itself which was displaying all the pertinent information of your run time, distance travelled etc. It didn't just have ramifications for your walking and hiking enthusiasts, it would be useful also to pilots, cyclists, medical professionals and many many more. 

It is my cuff. And, I am still working on it. I do hope my competitor's don't also steal this idea too.

Copyright Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney. Request permission before posting on your blog or website. All rights reserved.

A cuff designed for an Apple watch so that the wearer can keep the watch in contact with the skin for security and functional (heart beat etc) needs but also allows you to glimpse easily the content being offered by the watch for activities such as flying, racing, running and walking. 

Just Because You Brought The First Pig To Market Does Not Mean You Will Corner It

I never wanted to get into the 'fashion' business because I thought of myself, though many of my fellow contemporary bloggers will disagree with me, as a man of classic style. That being said, recently in the superb Netflix series 'Chef's Table' the chef Ben Shewry says something along the lines of 'people assume that creative people are creative because it's just in their soul and they need to be creative, but in reality you become creative to keep your customers coming back'. I am paraphrasing and perhaps I have not done Shewry justice but the gist is, you become creative in your work out of necessity in some instances rather than the desire simply to be creative. Perhaps distilled further we arrive back at that old adage, necessity is the mother of invention.

Many years back my shirt maker and I started working on patterns for pop-overs. The original design I had seen in Italy. It was I think in a back street of Como during a visit to the silk mills. I had asked my shirt maker why Australians hadn't worn more of them given our climate and the need to be more casual with shirts. Accordingly I began wearing them regularly and slowly my customer's took to them and I started writing about them after a period of time. One of my earlier posts is here.  And another is here.

Then an idea came to me one day to fuse the work I had done on pop-overs and merge them with t-shirts as a solution for Australian men who wanted something with more structured than a ribbed collar pique polo but less formal than a shirt. Merging the structured collar and mid placket of cotton shirting pop-overs with jersey and pique cloth both in long sleeve and short sleeve seemed to give Sydney based men the flexibility to move around this dynamic city without the need to change. I then approached the subject with my friend Raja Farah, who was one of my first customers for a pop-over and the concept of Moth of Sydney was born and we agreed to a partnership.

I asked Raja during those first gestational months of patterns and research whether we could patent our design in the same way that one Sydney family had patented the clip-on bow tie plastic clip a few decades before but he informed me that the fashion game was not like that and it was almost impossible to patent aspects of fashion garments. 'It's a good thing' if they copy you, he said, 'don't take it personally'.

I try not to take it personally because in fairness I have emulated and sought guidance from the great masters in tailoring and tie makers in the process of developing Le Noeud Papillon and I am sure those that I draw inspiration from might sometimes find it frustrating themselves to see us come along. Except to say that when it is other small companies which copy you, you don't seem to mind so much as when it is fashion companies like Uniqlo and Zara that can really bamboozle your design and take something which you held most dear and somewhat exclusive and then feed it out to the masses with almost no regard for your hard-work in refining and changing that product over time.

To say that we were the first to put a structured collar onto a t-shirt would be false. Since coming up with the design I have found numerous historical references from companies like Brioni that had made similar products in the 1970's. To say that our design of our plackets and collars was unique to our company, that's also false. Both the pop-over and the collar styles we have used have been around for a long long time. Perhaps the only thing we actually created was the fusion of shirting cotton collars and plackets with jersey bodies. And in doing so, what really is there to pat yourself on the back about?

The push of our product category into the mainstream by tennis playing icon Novak Djokovic and others reminds me that in the end, the world favours marketing over designers. I write this wearing a beautiful curved cutaway high collar stand in black oxford Moth of Sydney long sleeve pop-over in a black Filoscozia yarn dyed jersey mourning the fact that you might just be the first pig to market but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll corner it. Shop Moths

A process of refinement, the transformation of pop-over shirts to our Moths took time to gestate and required a wide search for materials and the refinement of patterns. 

New additions to the world of Moths are those that have been featured on tennis player Novak Djokovic

Recent designs by Michael Bastien for Uniqlo

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Pink Bow Tie And Pocket Square

One 50 Oz English silk twill in orchid pink has been left on the website along with one of our raindrops silk pocket squares in a pink which is very similar to the bow except for our camera which reads them differently. We're throwing in the pocket square on the house.

It's spring. Perhaps you have a cream jacket and you would like to take an early evening stroll along the side walks of Paddington, taking in both the fragrance and beauty of the new wisteria that is blossoming across our fair city only to arrive at dinner in Five Ways where you will start the night with a Negroni. Careful as you take your first sip not to spill any on your fresh pink bow tie.

1 only.

Carlo Riva Spring Summer Fabrics For Le Noeud Papillon Have Arrived

To Our Dear Shirt Customers,

With the falling price of the AUD it is very possible that we will soon be charging $800.00AUD for a Carlo Riva shirt. We have added to our range these two wonderful new bolts which just arrived in yesterday. The cotton is so light to the touch and so happy in the hand that I am inclined to turn these bolts into hand-roll stitched pocket squares which will allow us to let more people come to know and love this exquisite shirting cloth. It is a very limited supply.

Should you wish to make a spring or summer shirt with us, please enquire here.

In a league of it's own, new Carlo Riva shirting arrived in Sydney for Le Noeud Papillon

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Colour Purple - Capping Off My Year Of Roman Purple With A Suit From Leng Bespoke

When I watch films such as Kingsman I find myself chuckling at the thought that a place like Savile Row truly exists. You see I have never been to Savile Row. I might have gone past it whilst I was living in London but I have never actively been along that strip and gone in for a fitting. So when I see leather arm chairs and fireplaces along with timber panelled walls I find myself amused because my experience of tailors is a polar opposite. 

In Sydney, Australia there are so few tailoring outfits that look like said Savile Row tailoring houses. One is Rochefort that resides inside the St. James Trust building but my experience there was that it was merely a greeting  and fitting room and all the suits were made off site. There is also Zinc and Sons on Oxford Street but the store is stuffy and I never feel comfortable in that space and not just because the owners seemed cold and stand-offish.

My experience of working Sydney tailoring workrooms is that they are often the most spartan places filled with men who are getting on with the job with absolutely no bells and whistles around. A boiler and steam iron. A sewing machine on a desk with a chair in front of it. A bench laden with work, needles and threads. Some old torsos with a couple of recent commissions on them. Cloth lying around in bolts or else half opened in a plastic bag having just arrived in by the courier. There will be a few photos printed from an old bubble jet printer of work done for the famous, the rich or the powerful. And finally, a small stand with all the current wool bunches being offered. And, that's it. It's not more complicated than that.

No roaring fire. No secret timber panelled walls. No esoteric language or else a protocol by which people greet one another. And, really, I don't know if I could ever stomach more than that. But, I do promise my readers that one day I shall go and ham it up on Savile Row, finances permitting.

The suit that Leng is working on now is my last piece of Roman-esque purple that I am creating. A suit inspired by Edward Sexton whom I mentioned in yesterday's post not without reason.

You see, I am chasing a roped shoulder. The roped shoulder goes by many different names - in Italian it is called 'rollino' ; but it is usually comprised of less material and a less accentuated roll. By contrast Sexton styled suits really accentuate the 'sleeve head roll' , which the Savile Row tailors refer to as 'roping'. My desire to have a roped shoulder is that it really created a defining point at which the shoulder finishes and the sleeve begins which then accentuates the curvature of the sleeve head and forces the tailor to then consider the framing of the top of the chest which needs to follow the line of the chest well in order to accentuate the silhouette. 

Because I am overweight and owing to the fact that I wish to try and use the jacket away from the suit if possible, the jacket is a two button and not a double breasted suit which strays from the influence of Edward Sexton. If Leng does a great job he will somehow manage to sculpt the suit to keep the proportions of a Sexton-esque db but allowing the coat to drape off the top button of a two button rather than having the beautiful but impractical sweep of a double breasted.

The Bateman Ogden wool is quite heavy, as was my experience with Leng's first suit that he did for us last year. In my own words I referred to it as the ' mein Panzer' because it was built so well that it would last one hundred years and withstand all sorts of seasons and wear but it was unfortunately too heavy and hot from late spring onwards until early autumn according to Sydney weather.

On this new purple suit we therefore decided to make it work all year round by removing making it half-lined and to reduce in part some of the canvas weight that would be used in the front of the jacket. The cloth being the same weight (off the top of my head it's 320 grams) as the previous Bateman Ogden wool used, this hopefully will be enough to make the suit both more breathable and giving great flexibility for Sydney's often sweltering heat from November through to late March.

It is only at the first fitting so there is no telling how this suit might eventually shape up except to say it is the final culmination of both an appreciation of the colour purple and an homage to Edward Sexton. See more of Leng's work here

The three key chances I am looking for on this commission is to see how Leng can sculpt the sleeve head in a more Savile Row style manner and trying to keep the proportions and shapes interacting in a manner which pays homage to tailor  Edward Sexton.

Gennaro Scuro working on another jacket in the studio at Leng Bespoke

Leng Ngo inspecting the lapel proportions for this next commission by Le Noeud Papillon
The first fitting for a Roman purple suit with the wool coming from Bateman Ogden. This suit will be finished with an accentuated roped shoulder paying homage to the Savile Row style of cutters such as Edward Sexton with the proportion of the lapel also reflecting that similar style. 

Another 3 piece suit Leng is working on from another customer which is really something special. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The ABC's Of Proportions - Homage To Edward Sexton

Let's face it, not all of us stay thin and lean all our lives like Edward Sexton below. I think one could safely assume Sexton has had the same or similar shape all his life which is a wonderful thing really because as a tailor he gets to perfect his art over time on the same block (himself).

Edward Sexton's look below is particularly elegant because it understands proportions and those proportions and/or relationships work well despite this suit being framed on a smaller torso. The three elements I wish to note are as follows:

A: The roped shoulder is a way of cleanly making a defining break between the shoulder and the sleeve /sleeve head which sometimes gets very blurred on soft shouldered Italian styled suits where the shoulder and sleeve meld. This kind of shoulder is a particularly English Savile Row look. Also note the curvature of the sleeve head as it falls away from the shoulder and along the chest line. This is magnificent work when you consider all the interacting shapes.

B: On first glance one might assume the lapel is over-sized but in actual fact the proportions are perfect as you follow the curvature of the sleeve head it very nearly follows the line of the lapel thus it almost takes on the appearance of two roads that are beginning to fork. 

C: The length of the jacket is also admirable. After so many years of watching Young Turks turn up to Pitti with jackets finishing around their belt line it is nice to see that many tailors and their customers are returning to length. It was particularly refreshing to see last week some work from Sydney tailor Patrick Johnson that eschewed contemporary lengths and was in fact heading in the opposite direction towards the knee. Edward Sexton has really understood proportions in the jacket below by giving the generous lapels enough length in the jacket to allow the jacket enough room to comfortably drape the silhouette. At least that is my opinion.

Finally, note Sexton's high shirt collar stand with matching elongated peaked collar which is a signature of his house. You can purchase their shirts here on the Edward Sexton website. The shirt is possibly one of the only shirts on the market that really adequately provides for that elegant use of large lapels in double breasted suits although to my personal taste it is too peaked. 

So, if you are heading off to your tailor soon for a spring addition to your wardrobe, consider asking for a harder shoulder with a more robust roping, be generous in your lapels and consider lengthening your jacket at the first fitting.

Photo: The Rake Magazine 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Download How To Tie Illustrations For Tie Knots 'Old Bertie' And 'The Double Four In Hand'.

If there were one skill I wish I had pursued with more vigour as a young man it is the art of drawing. All the greats in the arts were gifted with this skill and it made them effective communicators.

Richard Carroll, the Australian illustrator who is trying his luck in the Big Apple, has kindly finished for our readers downloadable and printable instructions for two knots I really enjoy, both the Old Bertie and The Double Four In Hand. Although I rarely wear long ties and these days have less frequent opportunities to wear a suit, I still believe it is imperative to know how to tie a decent tie knot.

The double four in hand I chose because of my love for the Instagram handle The Snob Report  and the Old Bertie out of respect for Parisian fashion blogger Hugo Jacomet and French tailor/designer Marc Guyot  .

With the Australian spring now upon us, consider both knots as a way to alerting other men in your vicinity that you are in the know. Wink. Wink. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Silk Neck Scarves For The Australian Spring


Colour, contrast, texture, material and weaving differences are wonderful ways to attract attention in spring. We are of course animals and spring is a time when animals start to celebrate the renewal of life after winter. It's been that way since a long time before man was around so there is no need to be ashamed of it. 

This week we will be releasing slowly some of the new scarves we are offering gentleman who seek a point of difference. Below this is an English woven madder finish silk we have which has been contrasted with orange Filoscozia yarn dyed jersey which we get from another mill. As a silk scarf on both sides it might be a bit too much and a bit too heavy. By having a contrasting colour plus by adding the light and easy manner of the fine cotton jersey, the scarf becomes the easiest bit of spring kit you can wear. Simply throw it around your neck and tuck it into your jacket. If you don't get a compliment or two on the first wear we will gladly give you a credit note towards something else.

Give Yourself An Extra Three Inches

There are customers of ours who have been asking for a little more room to breath as our bow ties, for the very largest necks, can be a little cramped. We have created a bow tie extender which is now on the website and offers an additional 3 inches to the rear strap of the bow tie. You only need to buy it once and it works across all our bow ties at Le Noeud Papillon. I especially recommend it for our yo-yo customers who fluctuate in weight. It's a small price to pay for a good bit of black tie kit insurance. Shop.

Hong Kong - A Thriving Metropolis Set Amongst A Sub-Tropical Backdrop

I have been going to Hong Kong since I was a small boy and it has changed extraordinarily since that first time in the early 1980's. The longest gap I have had between visits was the one last week which is 17 or 18 years. In that time a great deal has changed. Where I once worked on Wyndham Street was now unrecognisable and almost all the old businesses that I knew of had gone. I felt at one point as though I was walking amongst ghosts but thankfully McDonalds and The Foreign Correspondents Club were still there along with some other markers which gave me bearings.

Hong Kong is a thriving metropolis which behaves in a manner which resembles the jungle-like vegetation that surrounds the city and carpets the mountains behind. It is changing daily and nothing survives too long as it is either eaten up or merged into something else or overshadowed by the next building which pops up.

My great fear or anxiety that I get as I wander the streets is one of identity. As I look at the air-conditioning units on grimy walls stacked up to the sky I often wonder how many lives are taking place in each and every window and how that person's life is no less relevant than the next. In a city like that, how then does one create an identity?

For some it is through their clothes and that was one of the reason's I sought out The Armoury to see if they had time to chat. The Armoury is one business which is creating it's own unique identity in a city in which people very much use clothes to convey who they are. After all most Hong Kong people don't entertain in their own homes as they are usually confined by space. Many don't have the luxury of owning their own car since you have to have a parking space too. It is therefore quite understandable that you would be more inclined to show who you are by what you have on your back, your neck, your feet and on your wrist.

I hope that over the next few weeks we will be able to post up more on our interview with The Armoury and in the interim I wish to share with you how much Hong Kong has changed since the 1950's.

Very little high development in the 1950's looking back at Central, Hong Kong

A thriving metropolis of skyscrapers in 2015