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


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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Presidents Portrait Series - Ronald Reagan - The Man Who Suited A Big Butterfly Bow Tie



About the time that Ronald Reagan was Governor, the celebrity roasts with Dean Martin were being broadcast and I love the oversized bow ties from that period, though Reagan's was probably the most moderate in size compared with those worn by Don Rickles and Dean Martin. Their oversized butterflies are now legendary and very few men these days can pull off bow ties with that much presence.

If there was one endearing characteristic that I admired about Reagan it was that he didn't take himself too seriously and in these roasts and in the subsequent roasts that Rickles gave the President on both his inaugurations, Reagan's ability to laugh at himself makes them incredibly infectious and entertaining.

If only the current Republican nominee could enjoy and endure people laughing at him in the same manner.... he might have become President himself... But then, I don't recall Reagan being a pussy grabber.

They don't make politicans like they used to, do they?

The bow tie pictured is our oversized Christian bow tie, fashioned off a 1970's vintage Christian Dior tie which a greying nomad customer brought in to the Studio to replicate for his son's wedding.

Black Is Back ... No, It Never Went Out Of Style


Shipping worldwide since 2007
A number of new limited edition bow ties have been added to our black section. They include a self camouflage black, as well as reverso black and white polka dots finished with our limited edition rose gold plated clips. They are superb and have both lovely dimples and the lovely reveal of the contrast silk through the twist of the centre knot.

Come see.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Notes From Melbourne And The Great Ocean Road - Part Two


The moment I begin travelling I apply Murphy’s Law to everything on my itinerary. It’s a better way to travel if you think it’s going to happen so you at least take the necessary precautions to try and soften any blows that might be heading in your direction. Traffic being one. Tyre flats being the second. The less likely but equally distressing to think about are getting bogged coming off the road, getting trapped in flood waters and having a car accident being the main one that makes me tap wood three times.

My partner, freezing from the changes between sunny Queensland and blustering rainy Melbourne was shivering when she got into the car. “The bus leaves at 5pm, we need to get to the hotel by 4 so I can do my make-up” she said.

We barely saw Melbourne or the Mornington Peninsula between the thick rain and staring at the satellite navigation screen for our next cue. We made the wedding just in time, housed in one of those austere structures that sits in juxtaposition to the natural beauty of a vineyard but made of earthy materials such as sand stone, timber and polished concrete. The wedding was great but the djay missed his mark and we all bundled into the car bound for the hotel, nestled next to a golf course, also cold and stark and lacking in real warmth, as the wind and rains lashed the windows and we guessed as to what was out there on this forbidding peninsula.

The next morning, I whisked my partner back out to Tullamarine airport on a much faster route now that I had time to use my navigation on my phone. I had always despised allowing location services on my phone but suddenly I was behaving like a businessman who could afford a secretary. “Ok Google, tell me what is the best route between Fingal and Tullamarine” and I sat around like a smart arse waiting for her to get back to me. I was then researching my next move – Torquay and The Great Ocean Road.

“Ok Google, Wiki The Great Ocean Road”  - and to my dismay it returned with search listings from a day ago saying “The Great Ocean Road closed after accident”. I thought I’d make a run for it regardless. As soon as I gave her a kiss and walked out of that terminal I was straight into my car like Jason Bourne with a mission to get somewhere by nightfall.

I refueled somewhere near Geelong on the highway and then made my way to Torquay. The weather was being very temperamental, ranging from soft breezes and patchy sky to howling wind and rain. I arrived in Torquay and had just managed to get some photos of paddle boarders heading out into the grey and choppy surf with temperatures at 10 degree Celsius when the winds picked up again and the rain started. I scrambled to a local café which had the most number of Google reviews and ate a wonderful lamb shoulder in a sort of Moroccan salsa with peas and carrots and a mint yoghurt. Whilst I ate I read the Wiki on The Great Ocean Road, never knowing that it’s provenance was entwined with ex WW1 servicemen who had intended to create the world’s biggest War Memorial and had done so by completing the 243km road between Torquay and Allansford. Previously the whole coast line was only accessible by sea with much of the land around uninhabited. The work was tough and, knowing what I now know about that coastline, the weather would have given them a relentless battering.

From Torquay I headed out to Bells Beach and pondered on that wonderful scene of Johnny Utah chasing Patrick Swayze’s character in that final scene from the original Point Break. Such a classic movie! So sad what happened to Patrick Swayze. How the years had flown by. A very pensive drive. It was all the more nostalgic when I got there and the conditions looked pretty similar to that in the film; a blustering wind battered the coast line, the storm surge was sending the waves right up the beach and not a soul had ventured onto the sand, just cars shaking in the weather with the occupants sitting cozily inside inspecting the tempest from a safe distance. I took my photos, did my hasthags and went back to the car to look for my next move. As I drove away the weather began to subside, such as it was the for most of the trip, four seasons in one day, as my partner had well noted on our only day together.





Bells Beach - the first example of the unforgiving battered coast line that forms the theatrical backdrop of the The Great Ocean Road in Victoria

Nobody was venturing onto the beach that day, not even one surfer. 
The Great Ocean Road does not really start at a fixed point, not one that I could find anyway. There is the large memorial archway that you’ll find at Eastern View, but according to my reading it’s a looser term applied to the road that exists between Torquay and Allansford, so all around the start of the road you keep finding signs that say this way or that to The Great Ocean Road but never a sign that says ‘Hey you, this is the start of what you came looking for’.

However, it became apparent as you left Torquay, what defined this road. Large cliffs, probably less height and browner than Dover, were being slowly eaten by the wind, rain and sea that lashed a shoreline where the vegetation looked like it was hanging on for dear life and any leaves deemed superfluous were blown away leaving what looked like green tips on other wise bare branches, similar to what you sometimes find in wind-swept Alpine areas.

The road was filled with other holiday makers; either the large SUV overloaded with luggage and roof racks, aggressive looking dual cabin four wheel drives towing campervans, those mural styled Wicked vans that backpackers travel across the country in and then the tourist buses filled with all walks of life.

On I went from Bells Beach to Anglesea, Anglesea to Aireys Inlet, then Eastern view and the onto Lorne. The landscape was beginning to look more human as the weather eased and patches of blue sky would appear between otherwise grisly cloud cover. At Eastern view as I took my prized photo of the memorial I looked up and noticed how advanced some of the architecture was that dotted the hills behind the road. They weren’t really beach houses since, as one local advised me, it wasn’t the most accommodating sea for beach goers. Angular lines of steel with timber and zinc cladding with glass panes all seemed to suggest that the owners loved watching the windows get battered with rain and didn’t mind the upkeep. They were beautiful to look at but all I could think of was what a bugger it would be at 3am when you got the call in Melbourne that the alarm had gone off on the holiday house and the window was broken because another tree branch has smashed through the viewing glass…
At Lorne, beautiful seaside cottages and hotels were compelling me to bed down for the night but I still believed there was plenty of light to drive so I headed out of town to be stopped by a man still wet in his yellow rain jacket and wellingtons from the previous hour’s rain. ‘I am afraid you can’t go any further, the road has been closed’ he said, with no explanation of why.

The memorial arch at Eastern View on The Great Ocean Road
“Well, what can I do?” I asked. ‘You can take Dean’s Marsh road after the round about and try your luck at Apollo Bay’ was all he offered and so I was left to my own devices, which, thankfully, included my Google secretary. The challenge awoke the Jason Bourne in me and I began clicking up and down on my gear paddles knowing that the next section of harrowing road was requiring my full attention.

Part Three to follow.

Lorne, the first town after the war memorial of The Great Ocean Road at Eastern View


As The Melbourne Cup Approaches - Consider How Much Easier You Have It Than The Britons Who Descend Upon Royal Ascot

I would never move to England for fear of humiliation. I lived there for six months and I felt awkward on enough occasions to make me never desire to try it again. I love British art, music, literature, clothes. I can appreciate all that comes from the United Kingdom, but I have no intention of ever feeling that uncomfortable in my own skin again.

A few days ago I reached out to Christopher Modoo on Instagram for a blog interview. I have been following him for a while and he has followed us back and often likes things on our Instagram page which is very humbling for us considering he has had quite a career in menswear already. He was a well-dressed bank clerk who made the switch to Selfridges accounts department to get the 40% off clothes discount before moving onto the sales floor in menswear. He was then a sales manager for Thomas Pink, then moving onto the esteemed tailoring house Ede & Ravenscroft to develop their Personal Tailoring business. He is now creative director for tailoring house Chester Barrie and I am sure he isn't quite done yet.

I was researching Christopher for the blog and I stumbled across this wonderful video below, where James Sherwood, Savile Row commentator, takes a protégé into the world of Ede & Ravenscroft to prepare him for the Royal Ascot. He is assisted and styled by Christopher Modoo and it is at this point where I realised that I would still find living in England particularly difficult. For starters, I had thought Christopher's surname would be pronounced Mo Dooo - but Sherwood pronounces it Mo Dough. Even the pronunciation of Royal Ascot - which I had assumed would be pronounced As-cot - sounded more like As-ket .

Those tricky English! Just when you think you have a grip on the language they change the pronunciation to really make life difficult and fill your mind with shame.... And then came the clothes.

For Australians there is nothing quite like Royal Ascot in terms of dressing up. At best the Melbourne Cup requires a suit and tie with no constraints on cuts, colours, shoes, hats or any other mode of dressing. For those that I know who have been to Royal Ascot, there is no circumventing the dress rules unless you are serving military personnel or you are wearing the national costume of your country (do Australians even have such outfits?) .

Modoo instructs his customer to choose a duck egg blue waistcoat for his morning dress whilst upstairs Sherwood ventures into the bespoke tailoring workroom of Ede & Ravenscroft to watch a cutter chalk up a morning suit. This is the same tailoring house that has had a continual Royal Warrant for every British monarch since King Geroge III (1738 -1820) . There is therefore some sort of authority conveyed, real or imagined, when Rishi, the subject, questions whether spots ties can be worn with striped shirts to which Modoo responds 'you thought wrong' .

This is a charming video and I hope to get to England again, I think I am ready for my second shaming both on sartorial matters and that of pronunciation of all things English.

And for Australian men, consider how much easier it is for you to get dressed for the Melbourne Cup!

See that video here.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Notes From Melbourne And The Great Ocean Road - Part One


Years ago, when I was darting around the countryside for my university degree I was tempted, often, to make the big leap and drive all the way to Melbourne. As a kid in the back seat of my parent’s car we’d gone as far deep as the ranges of Victoria but never quite as far as Melbourne. My mother had instilled great fear in me, probably rightly so at the time, by telling me that the road was patchy at best, straight and boring, nothing to see, and a great deal of fatalities occurred from driver fatigue. So, it was stuck there in the back of my mind as a bridge too far.

Recently my partner and I had to attend a wedding in the Mornington Peninsula. I knew nothing about the Mornington Peninsula other than that it was wine country and had never bothered to note its proximity to Melbourne until my partner had said she had rented a car and the drive time was 90 minutes … She is a lot more gifted at organising stuff around dates, so she had married up my flight with hers and with the rental car and the time the wedding bus departed the hotel – all I had to do was show up. Which, being the nuisance that I am, I was never going to fall into line like that.
I announced a week before her departure for Queensland that I was going to drive to Melbourne. An argument ensued about how stupid my plan was and how she’d planned it down to a tee and she knew I would do something to muck it all up. I dug my heels in, immovable, unshakeable, and I said I would pick her up at the airport as planned.

Bucket List item #167 began with getting my oil and tyres checked before loading a USB stick into my car and setting up my navigation. I got on the road by 11am and before long I was rekindling myself with all those forgotten songs you don’t listen to now that you have Spotify. The Doors - ‘Riders On The Storm’, The Smiths, Paul McCartney and Sade. It was so peaceful to have the cabin to myself as I sped down the highway on a bright blue day with a countryside richly green from recent rains. The windows went down. The windows went up. The air con went down. Then up. Not one other voice to contradict my operation of the cabin and controls.

I stopped three times along the way to stretch my legs, suck down a Maccas burger, a pie and some carrot sticks so that I could tell myself I was being healthy. Unlike I had been warned by my mother, this was in fact a wonderful stretch of road and between my selection of music and making phone calls the time to Melbourne seemed to melt away and with my head leaned towards the window catching the breeze and soaking up the sunshine - I was very happy indeed. After Yass, I began to yawn, I pulled over and meditated for 30 minutes and when I awoke two strange civil contractors were staring at me from a ute in the distance  (visions of Wolf Creek circled) and I started my engine and got back onto the road. Victoria, which I was expecting to devoid of any life, was the exact opposite. I was surprised at what flat country it was and how much of it there seemed to be. Endless pastures and very few heavily forested areas. It did lack the terrain you get between Sydney and Canberra, but it made for a meandering and sprawling drive.




My sat nav must have taken me into Melbourne in an unusual manner because I did not seem to move from one freeway to the next coming into Melbourne but rather a series of roads that gradually became smaller and smaller until I was in a more urban and built up part of the city, which was Brunswick. That gradual reduction in the size of roads from three lanes either side with McDonalds and KFC’s hustling every corner for junk food until you start to see your tram lines. I was heading for a boutique hotel in South Yarra called The Lyall. I reached the Lyall in 9 hours and less than one tank of fuel owing to my diesel engine. I was very impressed with myself and my car.

When I asked the concierge of my hotel where was good to eat he said ‘France-Soir’. I asked him about other restaurants but he kept on going back to France-Soir so I headed off on Toorak Rd and found France-Soir – one of the best delights of my trip to Melbourne.

The thing about Melbourne is, it is less pretentious. Sydneysiders carry on in a manner sometimes that reminds me of Los Angeles, whereas I feel Melburnians are probably a little more like New Yorkers or Bostonians (not that I know many Bostonians). As a city, as a collective, they just seem a little more grounded and a little less affected. The waiters in the restaurant were kind and tolerant. When a table was not available and the restaurant clearly brimming with activity, they didn’t turn me a way with arrogance, they instead invited me to drink a half bottle of wine outside.
When finally, I did get seated I could not have had better service or a better meal. Escargots, scallops and finished with steak tartare and pomme frites. All washed down with my half bottle of St. Emilion . The food itself was enough of a turn on, but added to that was the bustling atmosphere of tables chattering away with the noise of the tables providing that bistro type setting where one might easily stay until the restaurant closes.

Fortunately for myself the St. Emilion reminded me that I had had a long day, having started at 6am with a walk. So off I went back to my hotel, preparing myself for dropping into menswear stores the following day to see if we could find more customers, and then on to the airport to pick up my other half on time for fear of great suffering and retribution lest she be standing in the freezing cold chiming ‘I knew he would stuff it up, I just knew it’.

In the end, she still did exactly just that regardless of my being early. And so, ends part one.





Bow Ties For The Final Run Of The Spring Racing Carnival - Sydney And Melbourne

There is something about a hand-tied bow tie which stops people when you walk past them, be it in a bar, a bistro, a shopping mall or at an event. There is a natural elegance about it that trumps a tie and gives off a sort of nonchalance snobbery that suggests 'yes, it's a genuinely lovely silk, and yes, I tied it myself'. In my personal world, outside of my dealings with my bow ties customers, I know mostly long neck tie men at best. I like long neck ties, on some men they look the business, as though it is character defining and deeply rooted in that person's character. Those men, I never try to persuade into bow ties. You can tell them a mile off. Instead, the bow tie wearer needs to be slightly more chameleon and less steadfast, he is more likely to experiment and step out of the confines of the world that he has been told to conform to. Is that strength of character? Perhaps strength of character is the resolute long neck tie wearer who absolutely unequivocally will not move across to bow ties. No Sir! Or perhaps real strength of character is having the ability to cross that threshold, to allow oneself room to move in the world. I am more like that myself. This past week I have not been one thing or another. I wore bow ties on two occasions, an off white suit and tie to a wedding and in between, as I darted around the Victorian countryside and across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula I oscillated between jeans and sweaters and athletica finished with Nike basketball shoes. If you caught me on one day and compared me to the next, there was a common thread but you might have thought you were in front of a completely different person.

What we wear should not define us, but rather express how we feel at any given moment; relaxed, strict, comfortable, guarded, pensive, sporty, jovial, forlorn.

The world does not need more bow tie wearers, it needs more men to experiment with their dress, to break free from the confines of what they are instructed to wear and to be playful with their dress and explore different facets of themselves. The idea, as some modern entrepreneurs often espouse, to dress in the same outfit every day in order to save valuable time thinking about dressing and moving onto your business affairs instead, defeats the purpose of life in my opinion. It lacks one of the fundamental things that I learned whilst driving the Victorian countryside, we work so that we can enjoy life and celebrate it. It doesn't feel right for me to do that in a grey hoodie and black jeans. 

The final days of the racing spring carnival in Australia approach - how will you dress yourself?



Saturday, October 15, 2016

Spelling, Grammar, Editing Apology - Universally I Am Becoming More Pathetic With Each Passing Year

I just noticed I left a 'too' spelt 'to' and I left off a question mark somewhere else, I forgot to put my .... at the end of another sentence and I genuinely have started to become as lazy as the Sydney Morning Herald in editing content before it goes live.

This is a work in progress and I am a one man band writing this blog in between bow tie appointments, designing silks, cutting bow ties and being a father and partner. I do apologise if I make mistakes, if I repeat myself, if I don't make sense of if I am grammatically incorrect.

I have wanted to make more of an effort to improve this area of the blog and I am always open to feedback.

Regards,
Nicholas.

Rolls Royce And Le Noeud Papillon Bow Ties - Another Way To Store And Hang Your Bow Ties

Last week Miles Wharton of Mens Style Blogger dropped past the Le Noeud Papillon Studio looking to use some bow ties on a shoot with Rolls Royce. He did not need to twist my arm. The photos are superb and if you keep a look out on his Instagram page, you should see them trickle in over the coming weeks. They've also given me new inspiration as to how I'd like to hand my bow ties one day...


The Cost Of Self-Righteousness Is Relationship - Which Is Probably Why His Critics Gave Waleed Aly The Thumbs Down For His Andrew Olle Media Lecture

Last night I attended the Andrew Olle Media Lecture  which this year was given by Waleed Aly, the journalist whose short summaries of issues facing contemporary society on the television show The Project, as well as his column in the Sydney Morning Herald have catapulted him to being a sort of elevated 'rock star' journalist, which eventually won him a TV Gold Logie.

Until last night I had never liked Waleed Aly very much. Although I often thought that he was morally right on most of the topics he spoke on, there is always something that singes my nostrils about the self-righteous and often makes me switch off. I think that mode of thought is derived from a sagacious older man who once, during a squabble with my father, said to me "the cost of self-righteousness is relationship. Think about that. You can't relate to someone if you think you're always in the right".

And so that is how I felt about Waleed Aly when he got up to speak. "Here we go!" I thought. And not because I am bigoted, but more just because I like to keep things fresh, I was already yawning by the third time that the once progressive and now boring and repetitive statement of "But first I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet tonight, the Gadigal people, part of the Eora Nation of the Sydney Basin .... " had been delivered (Is it not possible that one person can say this at the start of the event and leave it there).

When Waleed began speaking there was a great deal of setting up disclaimers by which he wanted the audience to know that he was just as much a part of the problem as the rest of the journalists and media outlets in the room. Was it contrived? It didn't seem so. He seemed to genuinely want to hold himself as accountable as the rest of his peers in the room. He then followed on by talking on a range of issues, perhaps drawing some of them out unnecessarily, but the points he made, which made sense, were as follows:

1. People don't take enough time to consume news.
2. Journalists therefore don't take enough time to prepare and report on news properly.
3. Ratings mean that sensational news always shuts out other equally important but less glamorous news and current affairs.
4. Because television reigns supreme, if somebody doesn't look or act on television quickly and relate to viewers, it often means we don't get the best experts delivering our news, but merely those who perform the best for us.
5. Sharing and speed are focal points in news these days which causes news outlets to try and creating content designed for speed and sharing, which reduces the originality and depth of the content.
6. The world is in a state of confusion.
7.  That according to a French sociologist Bourdieu, television's great limitation is time. That Plato once said that the difference between a philosopher and a lay person is that the philosopher has time, which he said, television prohibits because everybody is under constant pressure to perform within limited time.
8. Because there is not enough time for journalists, they often pick the lowest bearing fruit.

In a nutshell, that is what I took from the lecture. And given that I am in that space with keeping a blog and social media profiles, I couldn't agree more. This week, just by coincidence, I decided to sink my teeth into traditional print media for both menswear magazines and newspapers. I hadn't done it in at least a month, owing to the iPad, S7, desktop and laptop I always have handy. Why the hell would anyone want to read a printed word when you could get anything you wanted just by searching google....

But the experience was a delightful one. I read the Rake (skimming most, reading some), I read parts of Men's Style and GQ Australia. I read the Financial Review (skimming and reading), the SMH and I still have one more newspaper to go through but I can't remember which one it is.

What I did find most interesting was the difference in the quality of content offered between the men's magazines. What I found most interesting was that the format of GQ and Men's Style was beginning to look like a website and geared to be a too cosy relationship between content and the advertiser. Whereas, in The Rake magazine, there seemed to be a bigger and more distinct gap between the advertiser and the content, and the content was more in the feature writing style which really gave you something to sink your teeth into rather than the kind of writing that you switch off from  two paragraphs in and never return to the magazine. I noticed that at the end of doing both cover to cover, I put The Rake aside for future reading, and had the others ready to toss them in the bin.

What has Waleed Aly got to do with all this? Well, I never liked him much because I thought he was self-righteous, but the more I think about it, he was right last night and the media organisations he was preaching to should listen up. When content takes time to create, when it's not just about getting somebody to click to get another ad served in the browser, when the writing is strong and the visuals that accompany it are too, people will pay dearly for this. I think I paid $20 for my copy of The Rake and I will come back to it. I happily pay for a good film on iTunes or a Netflix (or the like) TV subscription for a great series. But what I don't want is thoughtless crap designed to make me click and share. It might work once, twice, three times even, but eventually you won't buy into it.

Journalism, like Italian cooking, should be slow cooked from great ingredients. I think that's what Waleed Aly had to say but it took him a great deal longer to say it. At the end, when many of his fellow peers were giving him the thumbs down, I was upset. I had finally come to admire Waleed Aly, right when he was no longer 'trending'.

Congratulations Waleed. I hope you have a long, successful and prosperous career and I'm sorry I judged you for being self-righteous. That was very self-righteous of me.

Waleed Aly and his wife, Susan Carland. Photo credit: GQ Man Of Year 2015 - www.sbs.com.au

Thursday, October 6, 2016

If You Want To Feel Like A Billionaire There Is An Alternative Way To Making or Inheriting Big Money - Buy A Kiton Cashmere Sweater

When a fight broke out between Channel Nine executive David Gyngell and billionaire James Packer, the son of the late Kerry Packer, who once held the title as Australia's wealthiest citizen, the newspaper tabloids referred to the over-sized Packer, in a battle that resembled David and Goliath, as the 'Packer-Whacker' - a name which I hope sticks over the years because it's quite humorous.

What Packer and Gyngell were fighting about is still not fully known but forms a key part of the salacious gossip that sometimes gets bandied around amongst those that suppose they are in the know in Sydney's society set and those that sit on the periphery of the social sets of both men. Whatever was the reason for the 'billionaire biffo' , it remains as one of the great documented social spectacles of Sydney circa 2014.

What was most interesting about the stoush was not seeing James Packer's grappling ability but what he chose to wear on his private jet flight back to Sydney. It was what I would like to call 'billionaire bogan' attire, the comfort gear that one would want to wear on a flight to Sydney, not the stylised glossy magazine peaked lapel suit and tie that we're told is private jet attire.

It got me very excited when one newspaper article published his entire look top to bottom and where you could buy everything that James Packer was wearing. One item in particular, the Loro Piana cashmere tracksuit pants or 'trackies' as we call them in Australia, were the most alluring purchase that I might have liked to follow up on. At $2975 AUD they were about as much as I'd ever pay for a bespoke suit. Quite an indulgence for something you might wear whilst watching the NRL Grand Final or taking a walk on Bondi, but needless to say, the only way a billionaire should do 'athletica'.

Not managing to secure myself the trackies, but able to find a round neck cashmere sweater of equal or higher standing than Loro Piana, I recently had the pleasure of receiving a Kiton cashmere sweater from Tie Deals in California. The navy cashmere sweater I received was hand-dyed and beautifully constructed with a great deal of hand stitching both on the seam of the arms as well as around the shoulders and neck. I have had great sweaters before, from Johnston's Of Elgin, Brunello Cuccinelli and others, but the details and quality of this particular knit was on another level. Quite simply, I felt like a billionaire.

As is often the case with cashmere, it's very difficult to know which brands to trust. There is so much cashmere and cashmere blends going around these days, made here there and everywhere, that the great difficulty is in ascertaining who can be trusted to deliver the genuine product with a real hands on approach both to the yarns employed as well as the construction of the garment. The two other brands I mentioned above, as well as the brand Gran Sasso that I have worn in the past, most definitely can be.

And if the actual Kiton sweater against my skin did not convince me, then there was this, written on the swing tag, in that typical Italian English that makes you smile whilst you read.

"Kiton is a name that scents of legend, inspired by the mythical "Chitone", the ceremonial tunics used by the ancient Greeks for their prayers.

Today the company, born near Naples, thanks to the intuition of Ciro Paone, has grown to become a jewel of Made In Italy. Our daily work is based on one promise "To give the best of the best plus one".

The Kiton knitwear combines the finest raw material, handcraft skills of Neapolitan tradition and the most innovative technologies to produce the garments of exceptional quality and peerless beauty, knitting made "to be enjoyed in every detail" . 

It goes on to describe the garment as being made of  'Dreamy Cashmere-Silk" that gives it a 'precious appearance and soft hand' and that because of these 'nobler yarns' the garment is slightly iridescent.

The thing is, I knew that as soon as I put the sweater on, it's just that the swing tag put it into words. It was fit for me. It is fit for a billionaire. So, if one day I should become a billionaire and get into a biffo with an old buddy, you best believe I'll be wearing a cashmere tracksuit just like James Packer, or JP as his buddies call him.

Hand-stitching in this Kiton sweater along the sleeve seam, along with hand-dying and a tightly woven yarns, gives this sweater a 'billionaire' feel to it.

Fine yarns in this Kiton sweater along with hand-stitching details and hand-dying of the wool set this cashmere sweater apart from others. Fit for a billionaire.
Everybody was Kung Fu fighting .... James Packer in the historic 'Packer Whacker Biffo'

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What I Really Want To Become In 2017 - Shokunin - Much More Than Just An Artisan

I was put to shame the other night when I watched an 89 year old Stakhanovite Japanese man look straight at the camera and say that as an artisan your job was to dedicate your life to mastering your skill. This man was Sukiyabashi Jiro's owner, Jiro Ono, considered to be the best sushi maker in the world.

The word 'shokunin' kept cropping up, that this was the height of one's search in life, to take that which they put their hand to and master it towards perfection, though never achieving it, but in the process refining further and further their art form.

It coincided with a big week of Japanese culture for me as a customer of the Studio dropped in a copy of Red Beard, one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, by director Akira Kurosawa. I had intended to watch Kurosawa films in my twenties but fell asleep too often and never got to the end of one. This time around, though almost dozing off twice, I completed the film which, in many respects, follows also the shokunin spirit.

So what is shokunin? For Japanese it is not merely the pursuit of mastering a skill. It has a much wider and more deeply rooted meaning. What I have been able to ascertain is that it is a kind of artisan or craftsman that spends their life dedicated to perfecting their art form but within a framework of working for the greater good of the community as a whole and passing on those skills to help others on their journey. The shokunin is an artisan who practices the self-refining process of their art form all their lives with seemingly no expectation on a long term result.

Jiro Ono has been rewarded in life for his work by being awarded 3 Michelin stars , something of an anomaly given his restaurant serves only 10, is located in the Ginza metro train station and offers a 30 minute set course of 20 pieces of sushi per person.

Watching Jiro Ono's work ethic at 89 coupled with his dedication and passion for his craft put me to shame. I do hope that this week, once the dust settles, I begin to go back to my chalk, pens and scissors and start refining my craft both in terms of my bow tie designs and the quality of the the writing on this blog.

From today onwards, I intend for their to be more 'shokunin' in our work.

Jiro Ono, left, bows in front of US President Barak Oabama who is seated next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Jiro Ono serves 20 pieces of sushi on a set menu for $370USD per person, seating only 10 people in his restaurant, located in the metro Ginza station in Tokyo.

Mr. Onassis, I Never Got To Own A Boat Like Yours, But One Day I Might Be Able To Rent It

At 560,000 euros a week, that's roughly 800,000 Australian dollars, which, divided by 34 people roughly equates to $23,529 per person. It's doable. Not now, my partner would be screaming that I was taking food from our child's mouth if I were to spend any amount of money conspicuously, but one day, sooner than later I hope, it will be doable. The trouble is, you need to find the other 33 friends who have the dough and have the same dream that you would like to spend a week one of the first and most talked about super yachts in the world, the Christina O, the pride and joy of the man who was once the richest in the world, Aristotle Onassis.

After reading two biographies on Onassis and having found him to be one of the most fascinating people I have ever read about, both awful and disgusting and charming and stylish in the same package, I would be honoured to spend time on this yacht which has entertained everybody. I mean, everybody. Well, most of them are no longer above ground, but back in the day, this was the yacht to get on, just make sure you lock your wife up at night.

For some reason the Christina O came into my head today and I recalled that a few years back somebody had intended to refurbish her and put her back on the seas. She is back now and looking extraordinary. What I was struck by, in seeing her again, was that she hasn't aged. Like great style, it remains timeless. How many super yachts have come after Christina O, how many times has one been pipped by the next and how many attempts have been made to create the most beautiful, the most modern, the most austere, the most bells and whistles - and yet Christina O still retains an elegance that none of them have been able to capture. A sleek cigarette silhouette, smooth lines and contours, an elegant bow with a mosaic tiled bronze lined pool. People may still be swimming in that pool in one hundred years time and it will still be just as heady an experience.

To my mind, Christina O is like watching a 1970's Porsche targa in bronze brown pull up at the lights next to it's 2016 counterpart. Yes, less bells and whistles, yes, less interaction with your technology, yes, the air conditioning is probably on the blink, yes, you'll never reach the same speeds - but who cares. The former has bucket loads of style.

I am going to start saving today. And look for 33 rich friends.



Backgammon - the only way to spend a lazy afternoon on the Mediterranean



Christina O docked in London