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

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Selection Of Still Lifes To Help Entice You Away From The Doom And Gloom And Help You Focus On Our Sale

For those of our blog readers that work in offices on salaries, I envy you. Apart from the routine jargon and associated games of having to jump up and down when it comes time to assess your KPI's and whatever other bullshit the corporation throws in front of you, I think it would be nice to be able to turn up to an office and know that you specialise in your job, and the guy on the other side of the floor does his. Given that I work on my own, probably the use of the word 'guy' is no longer welcomed in your world and I ought to switch out to 'person'. I envy you. Not always though.

To run a small business is to wear many hats. I am the designer, the cutter, sometimes the seamtress (is there a male equivalent), the janitor, accounts receivable, accounts payable, new business development, the finance director, the chairman, business ethics, IT, human resources and, most importantly, the buck stops with me. 

If I don't meet my deadlines, I have nobody else to blame. If I run late to work there are no excuses, I miss out on sales. If I don't answer my emails I can't blame it on the IT department. This is an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes I will get ten enquiries in one day and drop off 100 units of black stock to one customer, 25 to another and pack and send another 20 to the States. A good day. Then there are days where you just sit and wait and find things to do to pass time because you know that between Donald Trump's first week as President, the Australian Open finals, the rise of nationalism across the globe, Justin Trudeau's attention grabbing headlines, cycling, cricket, parents getting their kids ready to go back to school and about one thousand other tiny little things that are happening in the world right now, people just switch off.

Years ago I watched a superb documentary that showed the way animals responded to drought on the Serengeti in Africa when the rivers ran dry. My favourite was the crocodile, whose response, after millions of years of evolution, was to slow his heart beat right down, crawl into a patch of moist mud and do nothing but wait for the rain. If water is the bringer of life to all nature then cash is the bringer of all life to business. Without it we are all crocodiles waiting for rain.

And so, pondering on all this yesterday I spent the afternoon trying to take my mind off customers and cash flow and all of that which causes me great anxiety and might well put me into a mental hospital if you took it all to heart. Instead I did something which I've been wanting to do for a long time, still lifes of our bow ties with flowers using silk as a backdrop. 

Last week I attended a Canon workshop at their HQ in Sydney to learn and understand macro lens photography and in doing so I picked up some wonderfully handy tips on how to better shoot out bow ties. I am very happy with the results and the most wonderful thing was that it took my mind off the trials and tribulations of a small business. 

I hope you like them and incidentally they make quite lovely wallpapers for your phone. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Parker Goes To The Sumo Wrestling In Tokyo

Globalisation is often frowned upon and said to destroy jobs and pull communities apart and uproot industries, peoples, environments. But from my perspective globalisation allows this bow tie to be on Parker Allen in Tokyo as he attends a Sumo wrestling match. A small piece of silk, sold to him on an internet site, dispatched to Japan and now firmly a part of his wardrobe. Parker wrote in yesterday to say that every time he wears one of our bow ties he receives many compliments. I love that. When I started, I think now it might be 9 years ago, I had no expectation that our bow ties would end up in such places. At best I thought we might corner the Australian market. To see our bow ties in the Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Nigeria, Singapore, Malaysia .... it is a privilege and an honour. From my perspective, globalisation is great. And so long as we make products that people don't chuck away after two wears, that they cherish and maybe even hand over to their children or grandchildren - well then, I don't feel we left much of a carbon footprint either.

Bravo Dandy - What A Show Club Swizzle Is!

Club Swizzle, which will finish at the Sydney Opera House shortly, was one of my highlights this summer and I was taken completely by surprise. I was expecting a jazz band to sing and dance and that was about it. But instead it was one fantastic act after the other, opened by comedian Murray Hill and featuring roller skaters, acrobats, entertainers, performers and more. By the end you felt as if you knew every one of the entertainers personally and then as the conga line made its way through the venue with most of the audience joining in, you could not help but feel like you were at a party with your best friends.

A big thank you for Dandy who looked spectacular on the night in a royal blue double breasted jacket and one of our limited edition silk graffiti bow ties.

If you want to see one great show this year, go see Club Swizzle before it closes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Dutch Auction Is Coming ...

Andy Poupart - The Man Behind Style After 50 - On Clothes And Style.

The thing that drew me to StyleAfter50 was that he reminded me of the Police song 'Englishman in New York' - there was a sort of Old World elegance about him in a place that was renowned for being hyper forward - Silicone Valley. I have enjoyed watching Andy dress appropriately with the seasons and especially his posts where he is amongst earthy nature and wearing earthy colours to complement the environment around him. He dresses in a more G. Bruce Boyer fashion, which amongst many of the purists, is considered the Holy Grail of menswear. But different. As with all men who dress well, eventually they carve out their own little niche and whilst you might see some similar thematics, the individual always shines through.

Andy wears soft tones that often complement his surroundings. 

Andy, from the media, as consumers we are told that software engineers and Silicon Valley types are mostly wearing sneakers and jeans, adding a hoodie for more formal occasions …. Are you an anomaly for the world and culture in which you exist and can you tell me a little bit about your professional life and how dressing well plays a part in it?

I am very much an anomaly. The stereotype is actually accurate. Indeed, until a few years ago, I mostly wore jeans, sneakers, and a polo shirt to work. I’ve always had an affinity for jackets, though, and I decided to start wearing some of my jackets to work. At around he same time, I lost about 35lbs, which necessitated buying many new clothes. I started to indulge some of my ambitions and desires and started on this sartorial journey I seem to be engaged upon.

Dressing well plays no part whatsoever in my professional life. I’m simply fortunate, in a way, in that my employer has no dress code, so I’m free to dress more or less however I want. On any given day I am the only person on campus wearing a tie or a suit, or a jacket.

I notice you have a love for hats and they suit you well – can you tell us about the quality of the materials and types of shapes you look for in a hat and can you tell us some of your favourite places to source them?

I like Fedoras and Panama hats. I have one or two caps (one or two in linen and a Kangol in red wool). I like the size, especially the brim width of a Fedora. I have one custom Fedora from John Penman, in Oregon, and the rest I have purchased from Bates’ Hats in London. My Panamas are all from Brent Black, who does business as Panama Hats Of The Pacific, out of Hawaii. Again, my preference is for a fedora shape, but I also have a classic optima shape, too. I find trilbys too small for me, generally, and homburgs seem not to suit me. I am eagerly awaiting a new hat, called a Cruiser, being made for me by Steven Temkin (who does business as Leon Drexler) in Toronto. This one will be a kind of lightweight felt hat in a pork-pie shape, sorta. It’s intended to be a felt hat that one can wear in summertime.

Earthy tones are sometimes offset by the brightness of silk. 

Your dress sense is that classic British style of dress where you seem to favour comfort and drape over the need to look tightly fitted into your clothes. Is that a factor of your age or were you always dressing like this. For example, in the 80’s would you have squeezed yourself into tighter jeans?

Yes, most of my bespoke clothing is in the Anderson & Sheppard school. Comfort was important back in the day and it’s important now. Fit is paramount. If your clothes don’t fit, then you’ve wasted your money. Tight clothes (at least in the way I perceive you to mean) do not fit.

It might be a factor of my age, I don’t know. My jeans are now, and always have been, Levi 501s. I’ve almost never worn any other kind, certainly not since I was fifteen. I’ve been considering a commission at Chittleborough & Morgan or maybe Huntsman, to get a more structured look, but even there, fit will be the primary driver.

Can you tell us about the evolution of your style and if you ever experimented with types of dress or style habits that you no longer enjoy or perhaps which even conjure up some level of shame ? 

For example, in the early 90’s before I decided I was desperate to be ‘cool’ I used to try and copy exactly what my father wore which was rather gawky, well, the clothes weren’t but I was because I was 15 going on 50.

In the seventies I wore highly flared jeans, tie-dyed shorts, cheesecloth shirts, velvet jackets, and so on. I’ve tended to try different things. I had a Harris Tweed jacket when I was twenty, and I bought a bespoke dinner jacket & trousers when I was twenty-one. So, I have ranged far and wide. Color has always been important and I am not afraid to stand out because of what I wear. So, absolutely, there are things that I wore at various times in my life the memory of which makes me cringe now.

Looking back, I suppose I’ve always liked tweed jackets. An early influence, if you can call it that, was the British TV series “All Creatures Great and Small”, based on the James Herriot books. Robert Hardy’s character, Sigfried Farnon, wore a beautiful lovat Tweed jacket and a tweed hat. To this day I would love to get a jacket that looked like that one, and I have searched for decades to find the hat he wore, to no avail.

Colour still plays a part of Andy's wardrobe but it is often limited, such as the bezel on his watch face or the Le Noeud Papillon silk bow tie he wears on his neck in this photo. 

I have a love for great neckwear but I am not that clued up on classic tie brands. Can you tell us a little about the long neck ties you wear, the silks and blends you look for and what size blade suits you?

I prefer a 9cm tie width. I do not care for skinnier ties. These days, that rules out Drake’s. I usually go for a 147-150cm length. I like grenadines, and madder silks. I also have come to like wool challis, too. And linen, shantung, and matka. Sam Hober makes perhaps the best ties in the world. Harry White, in London, and Gerald Shen of Vanda in Singapore are in the same ballpark. I also like Marinella, E.G. Capelli, Shibumi. There are lots of quality brands, I think, but these are the ones I have direct experience of.

I loved your recent deep forest green velvet smoking jacket. Can you tell us a little bit about that ensemble and who made it? Can you tell us who you use as your tailor and if you could use any tailor, who might you choose?

Well, I was in London about a year ago and saw some amazing velvet dinner jackets and decided I would get one made up at some point. Then, this summer I decided to do it, but my original concept was to go with burgundy velvet. I requested some Holland and Sherry swatches from my tailor and he sent me a burgundy and also a bottle green. The bottle green was a much nicer cloth than the burgundy. I also looked at a burgundy velvet from Cacciopolli. Turns out theirs is a wool velvet and it’s fantastic. I’ll get it made up, too, at some point. Anyways, I wanted a shawl collar jacket, with grosgrain facings, and standard dinner jacket details. For this job, I used Hemrajani Brothers, who make a lot of things for me. They did a great job on it for me. If I could use any tailor, I might go with Dege and Skinner, but when a tailor has your fit nailed down, why change? I will probably have a classic black dinner jacket made up next. I have a nice and rather unusual seersucker dinner jacket that I use quite a bit, but my dinner jackets are one of the few remaining things I have that were not custom made and I’m less and less happy with them over time. So probably I’ll replace the back one first, then the ivory one, then get this burgundy Cacciopolli velvet made up.

Your wife has become very much a part of your thread – has she also begun to take a more keen role in her dress sense since you started documenting your journey? 

I would say yes. She has always dressed well, but we encourage each other, so I think she dresses better on a more consistent basis than she used to. She is, day in, day out, the best dressed person in her office.

If you could recommend one menswear product or brand to our readers that they might not know about, what product would that be?

I don’t think I know of any “unknown” brands, not that I purchase from and could therefore recommend, anyway. I believe though, that when you find a brand or a product that works for you, stop experimenting. So for shoes go bespoke or use Edward Green. Scarves, pocket squares use Drake’s. Cufflinks, Longmire. Socks use Pantherella or Mes Chaussettes Rouges. Hats, go custom or use Bates’.

Above all, dressing well should be enjoyable.


When it comes to evening wear, Andy knows how to dress black tie well, and classically, but with a twist, as is done here with a forest green smoking jacket from Hermarajani brothers and a diamond point Le Noeud Papillon bow tie. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

James Macauslan - Also Known As The Cutter At Budd - On Shirts, Shirt Fabrics And More

This week we heard back from James Macauslan who is the cutter at renowned shirt maker Budd Shirtmakers. Over the years some of our customers have been Budd devotees and on that basis alone I wished to know more about this business and who better to ask than the cutter who knows every inch of his customer's torso and how to sculpt an impeccable shirt.

James, in the past shirting fabrics companies didn’t seem to offer so many blends but now I see cashmere/cotton, silk/cotton, linen/cotton, wool/cotton and a host of polymer based fibres which can be used in making shirting cotton. In your opinion are there any blends or single fibre fabrics that you prefer to work with and what do you prefer to wear on your back?

Once you have tried luxury fibres nothing ever compares. So I would never wear a poly-cotton, not only because there is no comparison in comfort but also because natural fibres are designed by mother nature to do a job - be it keep you warm or cool you down - and they always let your skin breath. If you spend all your time wrapped it blends with plastic you are suffocating your self and your skin will not thank you.

Although you can get so many different weaves of cotton, my personal favourite shirting is a cotton in a zephyr weave with a 170s thread count called Zephyr Soyella. It comes from a Swiss mill we use and it is so light and soft it feels as if you are not wearing anything at all.

As for blends, I love to wear cotton and cashmere in the winter and linen in the summer. They both have a very slight natural spring to them so they do not restrict the movement in the way a cotton can if the shirt is too tight. So on top of being soft to wear they also react to give you extra comfort. Any cloth that has been well woven is a dream to cut as the sheers will glide through them like butter, but personally the thicker the cloth the less it moves which makes my job easier. Something like silk and linen tends to slide around under the blades so you have to take your time to get them right.

When you set about making patterns for customers I noticed you use a knife of sorts. I have seen on cutting tables band saws, rotary blades, scissors and knives in the past but none quite like yours. Can you tell me about some of the tools a cutter deploys in the cutting room and how you go about your daily business when a new customers comes through?

The tailoring trade in London is incredibly old and passed down through generations rather than taught on mass. As a result the tools are passed from master to apprentice. The tools you have seen me using have been passed down to me from Mr Butcher who has been in the trade for 50 years and adopted them from his master. So the knives and shears I use are possibly as old as the trade itself.

We use lead weights, some of which where moulded from tobacco boxes made by tailors of old. One of mine is a lead weight for scales of old with the George the 5th stamp on it. Mr Butcher says he didn't work here long!

Our knives are used to cut the delicate parts such as collars cuffs and yokes. We cut them on a soft wood butchers block. And our knives need to be extra sharp and delicate enough to cut with precision. We struggle to find anyone that makes knives to do this so we have to spend most of our time bringing the points back on old knives. Being bespoke shirtmaker each shirt has to be exact. So there is no point in cutting big lays (more than 5 shirts at once.) which more factory makers will do using a band saw or rotary blade, this is great for getting volume done at once and making more money but not good for the precision of bespoke.

For every new customer the first thing I will get them to do is select the cloths, for our first order we need them to select at least 4. Then there is the process of taking approximately 12 measurements from the customer, including their stance and configuration into account. Once this is done we run through how they would like the shirt to fit. (Most people are under the false impression that a garment fits well if it is skintight but this is not true. A well cut garment will hang off the shoulders with the balance sitting clean (not pull or ripple anywhere) however the degree at which the shirt hugs the skin is a personal preference. The collar and cuff details and any other style details they would like are also taken into account.

The next stage would be to cut the pattern and the sample shirt, which is one of the 4 ordered. Once made, we will have a fitting see what alterations need to be made to get the fit just right. They are often minor tweaks that are needed and if so we are limited as to how many alterations we can do to a shirt, so it may be required to remake the sample to be sure the shirt is perfect.

Once we have achieved perfection I will cut the remaining shirts based on the now perfected pattern. This process is more involved than a conventional retail experience but it makes life easier for the consumer in the long run because if they change shape it is easy for us to alter the pattern and continue making shirts that fit to perfection. We look to gain life long customers rather than singular sales.

A lead weight stamped with the insignia of King George V, part of the tools handed down from master to apprentice. Weights are used to hold down cloth whilst cutting to ensure the cloth doesn't move. 

In the past I have loved wearing luxury cottons with thread counts as high as 200/2 ply but I have found that they crush after each use. In your opinion, what sort of a fabric weight should men look for in daily business shirts to get durable wear out of them?

I was once told that the wealthiest or most powerful people in the world look awful because they have no need to impress anyone. In a meeting you dress to fill the client with confidence. However if you are the one being impressed what need is there for you to dress to impress?

Comfort is your main priority. Such high quality cloth does crease but is unbelievably comfortable. I also think there is a certain charm to no one knowing your shirt is better than theirs and sitting in your own cloud of comfort. Having said that a lot of clients do get upset at the idea of shirts creasing and the best happy medium of a silk-like shirt with better durability is a 170s poplin weave. This is one of our best sellers and we all in the cutting room swear by it.

A bespoke customer pattern which will be used to mark the pattern of the of the shirt on the cloth.

Of all the weaves I have worn, very fine twills and Oxfords seem to be my favourite. What are the weaves you most like to wear yourself?

It depends on the occasion, an Oxford shirt is more casual and a twill herringbone or royal oxford are much more dressy. I tend to stick to poplin myself and will only really go for a fine twill or subtle herringbone. The cloth merchants are always playing with the weaves so every so often I see something which makes me contradict myself.

Many of the men I see on Instagram who are dressing to the nines seem to often overdo the shirt and tie combination. My understanding is you can have a busy shirt but then you need a solid tie or vice versa – but to do both is a faux pas. Can you tell our readers what are some helpful tips in matching a tie to a shirt?

You are right, a pattern on a pattern is very aggressive but to say it is a faux pas is dictatorious. Foremost, I personally believe that no one should tell other people how to dress. What we wear is our way to writing our own autobiography, and if we do not express our individuality then we are telling people we have nothing to say, no life or culture to us. A loud colour or pattern on a loud pattern is a contrast and it says you are the sort of person that doesn't colour inside the lines. If you think it is right then it is, and people telling you not to wear it are telling you how to live your life.

However, to contradict myself. Amenability is key to social standing. If you are in a meeting full of sombre people it is best to dress in a calm and inoffensive way. A navy tie on a navy suit with a crisp white shirt may be dull to some but there is so much you can play with in the sense of weaves shades and fibres that the small elements of your personality can still be portrayed.

Of course your question refers to what you have seen on Instagram where the beauty of subtlety does not come across. Lens technology has not go there for phones just yet. So as a social forum the strong contrast look is the best way to stand out and get noticed but walking down the street it might make people question your ability as a stylist.

I personally feel the best way to sand out without looking like a child's scribble is to follow tones. Be it earthy tones with a green/brown/burgundy or a conservative tone grey/blue/black. Also it is best to think about your hair skin and eye colour. Colour can play amazing tricks on the eye. To bring out a tone that matches your eye colour will make your eyes pop and people wont be able to break contact with your eyes.

There are endless tricks like this with styling I could go on forever but maybe it is best to leave on this: remember to express yourself and maybe not try so hard.

The best way to wear something is as if you are not wearing it... Said someone once.

Times have changed rapidly and in Sydney you find very few men wear cufflinks to work. Are French cuffs still popular in England or are they also on the demise?

England will always be more formal than most of the rest of the world. Cufflinks do still play a big part in our dress code although in decline with the advent of new technologies in the work force. We do far less customer facing duties as more machines do it for us, so perhaps cufflinks are less desirable as is the need to dress to impress. That and notwithstanding that men find them difficult to put on. I think it is a shame. Women get to wear all these necklaces and rings so this is our one chance to wear something shiny and precious but people just don't want to make the effort.

The world of shoes has seen a resurgence of interest in English shoe makers. Do you have a preference for one brand or maker over another and can you tell us who that is and what sorts of shoes you like to wear both during the week and on the weekends?

Oh gosh. There are so many! First and foremost one of my friends works for Fosters. I simply love their shoes and quite often get slippers made from them. Being on my feet all day I am in demand for comfortable smart shoes and dress slippers fill the void perfectly. I am currently in a fave of having slippers made in matching cloth to my suits, A four piece suit. A company called Joseph Cheeney used to be based opposite us in the arcade before moving to a bigger premises on Jermyn Street. I used to spend a lot of time looking out of  my window into theirs. I ended up buying quite a lot of Cheeney shoes! They are beautiful, and there are many others but those two come to mind first.

Being tall and thin I don't like to wear shoes that have too much of a pointed toe to them. Other than that I will wear anything. Chelsea boots (more in the winter.) brogues or monk shoes. You name it I will most likely love it.

James says he currently has an interest in trying to match the fabric of his shoe to his favourite suits. He recommends Foster & Son shoes amongst other English makers. 

If you could have any tailor in England make you a suit, who would you use and, also, what shirt would you make yourself to go with it?

Same as above, there are so many and they are all very good friends. Oddly enough during my years of study and apprenticeship I learnt a lot about making suits by working with tailors, so the suit pattern I use to make my own suits on has had the expert eye of almost every Savile Row tailor glance over it.

Kathryn Sargent is currently making one for me, A navy three piece. And when I get it I will cut a blue and red stripe shirt with a white tab collar and white cuffs. I would love my friend Nina Pendlington who works for Gieves and Hawks to make one. She is a deeply creative person and I'm sure the suit would be beautiful, smart, mental and fun, so the shirt would have to match. Stephen Hitchcock is also a great tailor,  his look is more of a relaxed soft shoulder look and he believes more than most in the craft of tailoring and putting the work into a finished suit.

Dario Carnera is an amazing cutter with possibly the best eye for the fine details of fit. Patrick Murphy is a fantastic man who like Stephen and Dario are descendants of tailors and have the craft in their blood.

This is very prevalent when you meet Patrick because he does not look you in the face but rather studies your shoulders. His eyes dart back and forth across them as you talk to him, and I get the feeling he has been doing this since he was a child. I like to think he would cut something more modern for me, so a houndstooth shirt maybe for more of a weekend suit look. I can go on like this forever and I can't favour one over the other because it would be unfair to all of my friends.

James MacAuslan
Shirt Cutter
Budd Shirtmaker's 

It's Coming Around Again - Why I Am Falling In Love With 80's Music Again

Yesterday, and also one night last week, I was asked to help some young recording artists write songs for their latest EP. These boys grew up on beaches in Western Australia, they were full energy and enthusiasm but they probably lacked some of life's experiences because of their age.

In the eighties when I grew up I fell in love with the music that was on the radio but as a child I rarely understood exactly what these artists were saying other than to be able to sing along to the chorus.

As an adult when you come back to that music and with the advent of being able to search the lyrics of any song you love within moments on the internet, you can go back to those things that you loved and gather new meanings and a new emotive power that ran through the song.

One song which I recently could not get out of my head was Carly Simon's 'Coming Around Again' which, as a young parent, seems to resonate with every couples experience that  I know of who are trying to maintain some semblance of a life whilst raising a child. And it's enormously soul re-assuring when you realise that, despite the fact that my own parents put on a good smoke-screen during those formative years of my childhood, it's nice to hear these soothing words of Carly Simon which echo long after her own role as a young mother.

I suggest, if you have time, go back to the 80's songs you love and google the lyrics, you might fall in love all over again.

And from Carly Simon:

Baby sneezes
Mommy pleases
Daddy breezes in

So good on paper
So romantic
But so bewildering

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It's coming around again

So don't mind if I fall apart
There's more room in a broken heart

You pay the grocer
You fix the toaster
You kiss the host goodbye

Then you break a window
Burn the souffle
Scream a lullaby

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It's coming around again

So don't mind if I fall apart
There's more room in a broken heart

And I believe in love
But what else can I do?
I'm so in love with you

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It will be coming around again

Baby sneezes
(I believe in love)
Mommy pleases
(I believe in love)
Daddy breezes in
(I believe in love)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Very Amusing - I Just Stumbled Upon Aunty Donna - The Australian Comedy Trio

Once upon a time I was the manager of the Sydney Comedy Store at Fox Studios, and at the time I was probably the youngest person to ever manage a stand-up comedy venue that size, the largest in Australia. I had tried my hand at comedy stand-up but when I felt the venue was run down I approached the then owner and asked him for the chance to re-vamp it. He saw my enthusiasm and milked it for all it was worth and a pittance of a salary. But such is the exuberance of the young, they often overlook the cunning of the older people who will gladly exploit that enthusiasm.

Janey Sweetapple, I think that was the name of the existing theatre manager at the time, who did not know about websites, internet ticketing, digital marketing etc. It was when the world was making that sluggish change from advertising in The Drum Media newspaper to new digital means such as MySpace, and Facebook was still 2 years away. I soon took her job.

In the year I spent managing the unusual temperaments of comedians and slowly exhibiting what was possibly the early stages of alcoholism, or, at the very least, alcohol dependency, I could feel myself being sucked into the world of comedy. A world of dark places where in order to conjure up the funniest and wittiest remarks you needed to have a very dark side which you went down the rabbit hole of to come up the other side holding a gag.

On the weekend I was discussing this experience, which was circa 2002, with a documentary and television producer who was delving in the world of comedy more recently. We discussed the fate of some of the comedians we both knew of and one of the sad facts about a life in comedy is that most of the comics don't make it. A handful can sell out the Enmore or the Opera House, fewer have the stamina to maintain it as a lifelong career and even fewer end up making it onto the silver screen and beyond. What is more, it's often hard to find really fresh new talent. Which brings me to my point. The said television producer asked me if I had seen the recent trio Auntie Donna - which I hadn't. His son then piped up 'Dad, it's weird, it's not funny' which immediately piqued my curiosity.

Aunty Donna is fresh talent. And though I cannot tell you why I laughed that hard, and whilst I cannot say that I found it quite as funny on my second and thirtieth viewing, it certainly is fresh and it is absurdly funny and I love that it contains a lot of humour that very much relates to Australian society. My favourite episode being the Tea Party which I post below.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wedding Bow Ties - That One Occasion Where You Owe It To Yourself And Your Bride To Look Good

There are few things more satisfying for me than seeing great and happy wedding photos. Especially for myself, the great reward is knowing that I have played some part in creating more beautiful and elegant wedding portraits for mantels across the country and internationally for years to come. The idea that one day I might be at a house in Colorado or Long Island or perhaps somewhere as exotic as St. Petersburg and find myself looking at a wedding portrait in a family home where the groom is wearing my bow ties - that is very rewarding.

Growing up in Australia I knew of few wedding portraits where the father had tied his own bow tie. Even my own father wore a pre-tied black Mayfair shaped velvet bow tie. 

Today, as the photos come in from wedding photos from across the globe (though the majority are Australian) , I get to sigh and be happy. 

I never got married. If I did I have roughly an idea of what I'd wear, a cream shawl lapel dinner jacket for a late Spring wedding in the country with a grosgrain silk, a black bow tie, marcella bib shirt, bow tie cufflinks in rose gold, patent leather shoes. As for what she would be wearing, I never dreamt that far..... :) 

I love a good wedding portrait and I thank all our customers who send in their photos. It makes everything you do worth while and to see hand-tied bow ties - well, you can imagine, when I started, everyone told me I had rocks in my head.

To weddings and hand-tied bow ties, I salute you!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Falling In Love With Shoes All Over Again

If there is one addiction that I can understand and sympathise with it's the shoe addiction that men have on Instagram. It is far more alluring than that held for watches because shoes are a very personal thing and far more influential than something as standardized as a gold wrist watch.

Yes it might cost more to own a Rolex Sky dweller, but it's even more of a luxury to have the time to get to know a shoe maker, establish a relationship, create a last and then design your own shoes. It is quite possibly the most indulgent art form since it requires, as I was told by a Sydneysider last weekend who was still waiting on a pair of Gaziano and Girling shoes 24 months later, a number of iterations to get right and most of all, patience.

Any man who just made a big chunk of money can find a fine watch dealer and put something on his wrist. Few have the time to travel and get to know a shoe maker of distinction. 

The Robb Report's Michael Stahl recently asked me to start thinking about an article on bespoke and made to order shoes and in my initial hunt for makers I fell in love, again, with George Cleverley, the esteemed London shoe maker run by the Glasgow family and whose patrons are some of the most affluent, famous and revered names from across the globe. They are located in the Royal Arcade in London's Mayfair and still make shoes the old way, from the last up.

More will follow but in the interim, here are two shoes they finished recently. Particularly on the black shoes, note the stunning toe box for which they are famous for, a chiseled forward curve with a kind of boxy look that if it had been applied elsewhere might have inspired the perfect bonnet of a coupe sports car. 

It is these kinds of small details that make those in the know, know. And if you asked a shoe or menswear enthusiast, he'd be able to spot an iconic shoe from 20 metres.

Yes, you can own a fancy watch and it sometimes it is a form of currency, but to my mind an iconic and/or custom made shoe trumps anything that ticks. 

Recent custom made work by George Cleverley, Mayfair, London

Take Some Style Tips From Dandy Wellington - Don't Be Afraid To Give Yourself Room To Move

There was a point made by the menswear style writer G. Bruce Boyer that, above all, clothes should be comfortable. I don't remember where I read that though.

I myself have often made the mistake of desperately trying to get a slender line on my body (given that I am quite out of shape) or that I would wear shoes that were too narrow for the bridge of my foot to the point of discomfort. It is my opinion that when we sacrifice comfort for the sake of style we are diminishing our individuality because we are effectively telling those that walk past us that we are willing to do anything to look good, to the point that it is unnatural.

And to be natural, means to be at ease with oneself, to flow with the nature around you. You can't do that if you are too stiff in your jeans. You can't do that if your shoulders can't move in your jacket. Which is all the more reason that G. Bruce Boyer's statement holds true - there's no point in having beautiful clothes if they make you feel uncomfortable.

The elegance of the Golden Era of the tuxedo and those photos of the sartorial splendour of the inter-war period (think Fred Astaire) often show men wearing pants that look over-sized for the wearer. Initially when Dandy Wellington came past my Studio the other week I thought the same thing. Until you see him tap dance. Then you realise that his trousers are cut to give him room to move and a freedom of movement you won't find in modern tailored clothing. His shoulders in his jacket also seemed to offer the same freedom. Only his collar seemed to be somewhat snugly fit. 

It makes sense, that as an entertainer in a jazz band, you can't play an instrument, dance or sing without using your body to swing. It would be inelegant to be watching something as flowing as jazz with an entertainer performing short staccato movements with his arms and legs. 

For 2017, taking style cues from Dandy Wellington, my aim is to not pursue silhouette as aggressively and opt more for comfort. If it's comfortable, you will wear it more. If it's comfortable, you will wear it in as many seasons as possible. If it's comfortable, you won't ever want to throw it out.

This year, give yourself some room to swing.

Dandy is wearing the Le Noeud Papillon 'Rory' bow tie above, and below the bow tie 'Guillaume'.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

You Won't Find These On Savile Row ....

We have just loaded more limited editions onto the website and added them into the sale stock. I could not recommend more highly every model that is on the image below. Each is exceptional not only in design and individuality but in the quality of the silk itself, the handle and it's ability to translate well as a bow tie. You can't find these on Jermyn Street, nor on Savile Row, not on Madison Avenue and not on Rodeo Drive. These are designed by us, made for our customers and often sold exclusively by us on . In a world where almost all luxury brands are represented in chain malls, that is some comfort no? We want you to look different, because you are different. 

A New Limited Edition Silk Inspired By The Work Of Victor Vasarely

Just released onto the website, this silk was inspired by the art of Victor Vasarely, the grandfather of the Op Art movement. We had to tone down our aspirations because we needed men to still wear the silk and not get head spins from seeing themselves in the mirror. This is a delightful and well executed silk, not to bright, not to dull - eye catching and yet not overtly so. If you are into design and art, this bow tie will work exceptionally well on a variety of ensembles from suits to jeans and a sweater. This is a limited edition silk, so no more than 42 pieces will be made. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

If You See One Movie This Year Make It La La Land

A friend of mine is a budding film producer who left a very successful film company to do her own thing. She had suggested at one stage that I adapt a book that I love into a film but we never got past a first treatment. Such is the nature of parenthood and your dreams  - they are often at logger heads with each other.

This week she resurfaced after months of going to ground, she needed a companion to see a film with and I had read a good review somewhere about La La Land and so I said yes, though I knew from some of the publicity images that it ran the risk of being grating.

I arrived on time. She stood with tickets in her hand, two bottles of water and a box of Maltesers and as we passed the ticket clerk I said "is it a good film, what are people saying" and he returned "it's great... if you like musicals" to which I looked at my friend like "what the hell have you got me into?" 

Suddenly I was panicking about a potentially long-winded drawn out rom-com with an annoying Emma Stone and an overbearing Ryan Gosling. 

The opening sequence initially didn't help with a woman who, sitting in a traffic jam, starts singing a song to pass the time which causes a sort of flash mob to take over a Los Angeles freeway, at which point I was shifting in my seat thinking "this movie is going to go one of two ways and I am really not in the mood for 3 hours of this shit" . 

In hindsight I was looking at an absolutely brilliant opening to a superb and magnificent film which I think will be one of those films as memorable as Grease, as zeitgeist as Ghostbusters or Swingers and I am so glad my friend got me off my desk chair because by the time I shared my very real and streaming tears in the final moments of the film I felt all the warm fuzzy and tingling feelings I used to get when going to the cinema. 

La La Land is for the hopeless romantics and the ones who forgot about romance. La La Land is for those in the struggle and those that are about to throw in the towel. If you see one film this year at the cinemas, make it La La Land. 

Book Recommend - Meg Lukens Noonan 'The Coat Route; Craft, Luxury and Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat'

I have begun reading Meg Noonan's book on the 50,000 AUD vicuna coat that was made by Australian tailor John Cutler. The book is one of the better reads I have undertaken on the subject of menswear and tailoring. I have read other books, many of which concentrate on photography to prop up the words and what I find delightful about this book is that it runs off words alone and it's good enough writing so far that it doesn't require pictures.

You can buy the book here - or watch Noonan deliver a synopsis on the book below.

Happy New Year!

I was very nearly going to wear jeans and a polo on New Year's Eve owing to how hot and muggy it was with that sultry weather that was only fun if you had nothing but your board shorts on with a fan directly overhead.

But New Years Eve? What was a man to do in this weather? It just so happened that on the very same day we had a visitor at the Studio from New York, the jazz singer and dandy, Dandy Wellington. He was in town doing shows at the Sydney Opera House. 

When he came to the Studio I was in my board shorts. He was dressed in a boater hat, a striped vintage prep jacket, shirt, bow tie, trousers, socks, loafers. How did he do it? How did he not sweat?

It inspired me to step it up for NYE and so I did an all out assault. Totally over-dressed for all three parties I attended. They could all wear shirts and blazers and jeans, I was going to get some use out of my P Johnson navy tuxedo and I wasn't going to let me Albert Thurston's rot on the rack. 

To add a touch of je ne sais quoi I decided to ride to all three events on my bicycle which is an old vintage Dutch village bicycle - weighing more than 20 kilos and definitely not designer for the hills of Sydney. I was drenched in my own sweat when I pulled up to my second event, the same for my third. Only the first had I maintained composure, owing to the fact that it was at the bottom of a hill and along a flat road.

It was Dandy Wellington I must credit for having the courage to go balls deep in dress on NYE - and though I will need to get my tuxedo dry cleaned and pressed and I probably road the pants out of it, it was worth it for the car honks and the turning of heads as I sped past the the pedestrian New Year revellers in my Sunday best.

There is that too often bandied around the internet expression - you can never be over-educated or over-dressed - and for the first time I was in agreement with the latter part of that expression. It's still fun to dress well. Especially when you are getting a cream pie in your face, it makes for a better photo. 

The Winner Of The Ex-President's Portrait Prize - @Lalloydie 's Reagan

The winner of the portrait prize was not based on the most aesthetically pleasing image but rather the one that was the most clever. @Lalloydie , a woman from Sydney, devoted her Instagram handle to the her hobby and passion, making clothes for herself. She posted this portrait up with Ronald Reagan wearing our Angel bow tie during his attempted assassination with the caption "It was the Angel that saved me" . It was by far the best use of the portraits that we had done in October with the very talented illustrator Victoria Louise Watts. 

The winner will receive $500 but we have decided to award a number of the other entrants a bow tie and we will post these out some time next week. 

We hope you join us for the next competition as we hope to find something fun in 2017 to sink your teeth into.

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