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

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Greatest Trend In 2017 - In My Humble Opinion - Will Be A Renaissance Of Hawaiian Shirts

I don't know how the world works but I do know that there is a book called 'The Tipping Point' and an ex advertising executive tried to explain to me how certain things build a latent momentum in society and at a certain point it tips and goes into being a full scale trend or fad. Why did I create a Hawaiian polka dot six months ago ? I told myself that it was because I had fondly recalled souvenirs we brought back for my grandmother from a family trip as a child to Hawaii . But perhaps there was a latency developing in me from things I had seen on Instaspam or Selfbook. I don't really know.

But onwards I went with my silk design and I knew most people would think it was a crazy idea - the only person who believed in me was a contact at an English silk mill who thought it was super-hot.

Fast forward to about one month ago and I was seated with two old friends I hadn't seen in some time and I explained my business and stretched out my turnover so I looked like I was financially doing better than I really was, and perhaps I exaggerated how much my customers adore my products, but hey, we all need a little bit of bullshit to help things along in life.

My friend stopped me as I walked him through my new silks -  "wow" he said,  "that reminds me of Double Rainbouu Hawaiian shirts". And, as is usual, I put my cell phone down, he picked up his, and we switched looking at screens. And boy was I excited. Colour flooded my screen and I was totally obsessed from the get go. Wow, wow, and more wow.

Sadly, the website didn't have a phone number and because I couldn't get any size information I managed to forget the name of the business, but the concept ignited my interest in Hawaiian shirts. I was in the process of getting back samples of my Hawaiian polka dot as a t-shirt but  I was salivating over the thought of wearing a proper Hawaiian shirt around town. Why? Because I was bloody sick of the Sydney heat and terrible sweat I had the moment I put on a shirt. And I was sick and tired of t-shirts. I was upset that as nation we hadn't worked out a national costume for the summer months - we ought to have been in Balinese sarongs or walking around with G-bangers a la the Indigenous Australian population we usurped this land from. In fact, as I finished the book the other night "The Coat Route" by Meg Lukens Noonan (a fantastic read by the way), there was reference in a chapter of her book as to why Australians had adopted clothes that didn't fit with the climate. As one historian wrote, commenting on Australian menswear, it was a symbol of our wish to enter modernity that we adopted, contrary to the first Australian settlers, more dark and sombre tones to emulate the British and many of the lighter colours and fabrics that had first been worn by early colonial Australians were done away with.

The Hawaiian shirt resembles a nice bridge between the clothes of Europeans and that of those who might live in the Asia Pacific Rim. The history of the Hawaiian shirt is in fact Asian if we're honest. It wasn't a Polynesian invention at all. The first Hawaiian shirts were made from Japanese yuzen kimono silks and were originally sold through "Musashi-ya", which had been established by Japanese immigrant Chōtarō Miyamoto, who opened the store in 1904. His son then took over the business and slowly the Hawaiian shirt evolved into something more familiar that we know today,  with a spurt in demand and growth in production when in the 1930s a Chinese merchant named Ellery Chun of King-Smith Clothiers and Dry Goods, a store in Waikiki, began moving large volumes, then after the war when ex-servicemen returned to the mainland stints on Hawaii. After the 1950's the garment became more ubiquitous when the cost of flying and the distances that could be flown meant that more people vacationed in Hawaii. It didn't hurt when in the 1960's the local government made it official summer garb or that singers and movie stars like Elvis Presley wore them, or that Harry S Truman wore one (perhaps with some irony given their Japanese origins) on the cover of a Time Magazine edition.

To my mind though the greatest reference point for them remains Magnum PI, the 80's cool cat who drove a red Ferrari and sported a huge brown moustache. His selection of shirts was top notch and to this day he is my pinup reference and perhaps the reason I was wanting to sport a Hawaiian shirt this summer.

In the end, I purchased mine from Double Rainbouu - the brain child of two ex Ksubi creative directors of their denim division, Mike Nolan and Toby Jones. In a nutshell, they take a Warhol pop-art chic design aesthetic and make eye-popping and playfully sexy garments with the core product being Hawaiian shirts.

And whilst I don't think Hawaiian shirts should be our national garb - because of course they are Hawaiian (or Aloha shirts)  - I do think they are a closer fit to what our nation needs for a summer ensemble, more than polo tops, more than t-shirts. We need something for our summers that is light, protects against the sun and vibrant in colour. Because, let's face it, we're not living in rainy Britain and it's 2017.

Double Rainbouu - a remake on the classic Hawaiian shirt

Elvis Presley in a Hawaiian shirt for Blue Hawaii

80's heartthrob Tom Selleck in one of his signature Hawaiian shirts.

Watch a video on the traditional making of yuzen silk in a workroom in Kyoto. Kimono silk was the original use in the making of Hawaiian shirts. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Groucho Marx On Dick Cavett - A Truly Wonderful Experience

I cannot say I immediately warmed to Groucho Marx the first time I watched a Marx Brothers film, which I believe was Duck Soup. Like other great comedians, in which I include Woody Allen, Sasha Cohen, Ricky Gervais and Larry David, in order for them to get a certain reaction from an audience they often do things which make you very uncomfortable or in the very least they are cringe worthy.

Of all these great comedians I mention, many are easy to get to know outside of their entertainment because they would give interviews from time to time but Groucho Marx was from a different era and I don't think I had ever bothered to search for interviews where he was present.

However, recently, in trying to find a biography that I could read on him and the Marx brothers, I stumbled upon this celebrated interview he conducted with television host Dick Cavett in 1969. It is the first portrait of Marx I have outside of his on-screen character and one I wish to share with our readers if you have a spare hour.

Marx was born in 1890 so this interview makes him 79 years of age and really, he is so sharp and so on the ball, a truly great comic mind and such a delight to see him in colour.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Diamond Point Always Bodes Well For The International Groom

It's lovely to see our bow ties turn up in all sorts of places and when we were tagged last night at a wedding in Lake Como, Italy (which is a stones throw from where a portion of our silks are woven),  I had a rather big smile on my face. To think that around ten years ago I walked through the streets of Como trying to find out how silk was made and writing a blog post about it, to now seeing my products being worn in Como for weddings, still made in Australia, well that was worth smiling about.

Congratulations to the bride and groom and remember, a diamond point bow tie is very easy to tie and stows very easily in your pocket. The perfect sort of bow tie to take travelling, especially if you are carrying a few of them for yourself and your wedding party, and very easy to tie. 

Many Thanks Alexander Kraft

The CEO of Sotheby's International Realtor in France is also considered one of the 50 most rakish men alive according to The Rake Magazine. Wherever Alexander Kraft goes he takes a fair bit of euro-chic with him and certainly he has been on our radar for many years and he was also the feature model for Cifonelli who we interviewed some time back in 2016 when they were launching their RTW line. 

It was a pleasure to see our eye shades pop up the other week in his instagram feed along with a super pair of Stefano Bemer tasselled slippers. 

If you don't already follow Alexander, perhaps consider watching what he is up to here

I'm Getting Older So I Don't Like Skinny Ties Anymore

Recently I picked up some glorious ties from Tie Deals and I knew exactly what I was looking for. In my late 20's I was still playing around with 'fashion' - that is, I was just slim enough to try and wear a skinny neck tie or slide myself into Christian Dior jeans or a tapered YSL jacket. That was around 2007, just before the world economy tanked and I got rid of my credit cards.

These days I am less liberal with my money and, being an internet shopper just like most of my blog readers and website customers, I really only go in for the kill when I see something that's particularly stand out, as is the case below with both the Borrelli and Marinella ties, both from Neapolitan makers.

I would say I buy ties rarely and reluctantly - in many respects because we make great ties and in others because the only time I'd need a tie I couldn't make myself is where I don't produce that particular fabric.

And these two are exactly that. Two printed silk twill ties, one which is a classic navy with white polka dots, the other a wonderful contrast tie for a navy silk in a kind of latte/cream ground with blue floral geometric motif.

Both houses are famed for ties but perhaps Marinella more so. The stories that I hear surrounding Marinella have been few, some of which are that Drakes of London used to make their ties, that the silk is sourced from England and that each year when new ties were released at Christmas there would be a line running down and around the street. Of Borrelli I have heard less, but I am aware of the quality that they are renowned for and having owned a Borrelli shirt many years ago I would agree.

The other reason, apart from the look of the ties, is that I am now chasing a wider tie for the breadth of my chest and shoulders, given that, as I am ageing, I have steadily put on more and more flesh in my torso, not necessarily fat, but size. And that size doesn't seem to be decreasing, so a smaller tie is beginning to look ridiculous on me. 

I had always laughed when I picked up my father's old ties that were 9.5 and 10cm - but it seems we have come full circle, with my recent acquisitions being 8.5cm and 9.5 respectively. 

Both the presentation and make of these ties is impeccable but if I had to fault them I would say this. Silk twill is very light, especially in some ties like the Borrelli pictured below. In order to give the tie balance and weight, a heavy interlining is usually sourced to bring more body to the otherwise flimsy twill. However, sometimes this creates a less than ideal handle, where the weight of the interlining is overpowering on the tie because it is being used to keep the tie together, like a very heavy anchor. The Marinella tie was also superb but the silk seemed very slippery to touch and you can feel when you grab a silk twill tie, almost immediately, as to whether it will knot well or be sliding all over the place. I will knot it a few times over the weekend but certainly the balance between the interlining and the silk was perhaps superior to the Borrelli tie. 

I love both ties, I am sure I will keep them for years, but there is something to be said for woven silk jacquards over printed silk twills - one is not necessarily better than the other, but on jacquards you really can rely on the body of the fabric to make the tie and it's handle, not relying on interlining to build up the body. Whereas finding the right interlining and ensuring the silk has the correct handle and feel is so important to a printed silk twill tie. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Finally - Some Charismatic Leadership In Australian Politics

So far as folklore goes, nobody in Australia seems to have more than Kerry Packer and Ned Kelly. With regards to Packer, one of the things he once said which has become part of his folklore is "I'd never want to get between Malcolm Turnbull and a bag of money". Probably this comment was not that Malcolm Turnbull was money hungry as much as it was that Turnbull seemed a worthy adversary for Packer with a carefully sharp legal grounded mind and the ability to go hard and cruel if needs be to protect his interests.

Fast forward to 2017 and mostly all we've ever seen is Malcolm In The Middle, Malcolm back peddling, Malcom compromising, Malcolm constantly trying to justify himself, Malcolm trying to be very careful with his words, Malcolm always trying to carry his QiGong with him to present himself as calm and relaxed, even under intense fire. Even when Malcolm was right (mobile phone technology and data services would eventually outstrip the need for NBN so we were better off with fibre to the node to save money), everybody still threw rocks at him.

Then on Sunday night I watched Laurie Oakes, that masterful political commentator who has been with us for so long and through so much, prodded Turnbull in a manner which resembled someone getting right under Turnbull's nostrils with a knitting needle and jabbing it very hard up his nose. Turnbull tried so hard to be careful with his words but you could see he might have, if he'd indulged himself, said something like "listen here Laurie you fat fuck, what have you ever done with your life" - but he didn't. There was Malcolm smiling, holding back his grimace, his forehead showing deep furrows of a man who was getting hammered day in day out. Today it was that Sean Spicer didn't even know how to pronounce his name (#Trunbull), the following day Cory Bernardi was trying to run off with a portion of his party.

Then on Wednesday something changed. Malcolm Turnbull finally - most probably because he was with his back so hard up against the wall - snapped. And he stopped trying to be the composed and unruffled Malcolm and instead he got up and pulled out his acerbic tongue and lashed it at the Opposition leader Bill Shorten. What he said was rough and mean spirited but it was, possibly for the first time in his political life, that we finally got to meet Malcolm Turnbull. The fighter. The man who won't lie down taking it forever. The guy who had been pushed around and maligned as Mr. Harbourside Mansion for too long and without any real retribution. And what came back was frighteningly real and possibly the first glimpse of what Kerry Packer was afraid of. A sharp mind chomping through Bill Shorten like a Great White Shark taking out a seal. Because the truth was that Shorten wasn't 'one of the people' and he wasn't 'for the people' either, his insincere speech after he knifed Julia Gillard was the thing that gave it away from my perspective. And these politicians think the people are stupid, but the average Joe like me isn't that dumb and can sniff out when someone is not honest with themselves or with others.

Most importantly, it was a genuine shellacing that came from Turnbull and what Bill Shorten lacked, was that he was disingenuous, even when he was delivering his smarmy and dull repeated insult of Mr. Harbourside Mansion. So Malcolm spoke the truth, even though it was a nasty one - and boy will that go down in history as one of the most animal like attacks in parliament, Keating-esque in its delivery, but very Turnbull in its ferocity.

Maybe that is what Australia needs more than anything - someone who speaks his mind and isn't always trying to kowtow to their party, someone that isn't going to be insulted every day because he made money in business - and no, I don't support Donald Trump!

I am not entirely for Malcolm Turnbull - but for the first time I was happy to see him be himself and hopefully he will harness more of that feeling - that he has nothing to fear or lose. If his party knocks him off his perch, so be it. At least he won't die on his knees.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Gold Boxes For All Bows Ordered This Weekend

To further entice you to indulge in the Dutch Auction Sale we are offering our limited edition gold boxes on all bows ordered this weekend ending Sunday 5th February. Just a nice little additional touch, and certainly a lovely way to send a gift. Shop the codes live now on the website. 

A Reminder - We Close Out The Sale Shortly

This Dutch Auction has probably been the least successful of all that we've held and it is a great wonder to me since we are offering some of the best products we've ever made. Whether it's Donald Trump and the state of the world right now or that it might be a changing of seasons, too hot Down Under, too cold up North, time will tell. But right now, all I see is great product that nobody is claiming. Hopefully some of you will stop past the Dutch Auction Sale, otherwise, you are welcome to come pay retail at our Sydney Studio. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Silk Eye Shades - Quite The Turn On For Valentine's Day

Someone recently asked me "when you do you wear your eye shades?" and I think he was asking it suggesting that it was something of a novelty never-to-be-used but very ornamental kind of product. As if the next barbed question was "sell many of them?" . 

I responded in earnest "I use them every day" and I really do. I wear them when I meditate, I wear them to avoid sometimes the annoying lights from mobile phones and charging cables and docks and radio alarms. I use them whenever I just needs "lights out" and, music to my ears, the customers that have bought them feel the same. One customer who bought six pairs at Christmas gave them to a celebrity Sydney couple and when I saw him recently he said that they thanked him for the gift and use them..... every day. Especially the wife, who apparently fell in love with them from day one.

You see, unlike most other eye shades, ours are made of woven jacquard silk which encompasses the whole shade. Silk, being a natural protein mono filament derived from silk worms which weave the filament around the cocoon, is made of two proteins, fibroin and serecin. These proteins are very similar to human skin which is why we have such a natural predilection towards silk, its smooth and doesn't irritate our skin. It's why surgeons use it in sewing humans up after surgery.

We then add on the inside a felted wool we get from South Australia which makes this delightful padded wall between the silk that comfortably rests across the nose and eyes and forms the density which means light doesn't penetrate. 

You could wax lyrical all day about them but put simply, they are comfortable, beautiful and functional.

Meditating, sleeping, travelling, siestas, mindfulness and sun bathing - there are no two ways about it, our eye shades are beneficial to all those who own them.