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

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

These Are Some Of My Favourite Things ...

The movie that formed the soundtrack to my formative years, apart from Grease, must be The Sound Of Music. It was such a treat. I watched it recently with my daughter and whilst I was shedding tears and emotionally daubing my face, my daughter seemed to find it boring and preferred to watch Sing or The Secret Life Of Pets. How did that happen? I thought the Sound Of Music would be intergenerationally adored and revered. That I would go on to watch it with my grandchildren, still crying. I would sing to them as we all lay in bed: 

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells
And schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

Sadly, life is not as romantic as the movies. I recall reading about the real Von Trapp family in my adult years and it seemed a far stretch from Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews. We can kick a few things into place in life, but the truth is life is often far less glamorous.

Which brings me to my point. As I age and as my body seems to be having a hard time dealing with the long term effects of gravity and indulgence, one of the few things we can do is to pepper up our ensembles so that we can create the theatre of what we'd like to look like as opposed to what we really look like. 

At a wedding recently it struck me that if we were all forced to undress and go nude, I'd have been inclined not to attend. The art of clothes and wearing them well allows dumplings like myself to carry a certain swagger, maybe even a drop of rock n roll.

All this I say because I want to mention a few of my favourite things which helped on this trip.

The evening suit I wore I made with P Johnson tailors nearly two years ago. It still looks stunning and it's such a good tuxedo for spring/summer, half lined so its nice a cool as the evening heats up on a wedding dance floor. The bow tie is our limited edition Great Wave Off Kanagawa silk, homage to Hokusai and his wood block prints. The shirt is one of ours featuring a swiss cotton marcella bib. The pochette is Charvet which I bought from Richard's in Connecticut on the day of the wedding.

As we get older the incentive to dress more elegantly is in the fact that your body doesn't look good in a hessian sack anymore, leave that for the 20 year olds. These days, a well spretzzed pochette, a hand-tied bow tie, a suit that hides some of your girth -  these are things that are will carry you when your knees won't....

I would be inclined now to change those words of Julie Andrews to something like:

Pink polka pochettes and silks of high fashion.
A blue suit that makes you look rather dashing,
Hand-tied bow ties that make your ensemble sing,
These are a few of of my favourite things!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We Are Known For Being Capable Of Taking Your Dreams And Turning Them Into A Reality – Jack Sepetjian Of Anto's Shirts In Beverly Hills

Final Scene – Pretty Woman

Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'.

There is something about Los Angeles that is breathtaking – as though the entire city was built in a reflexive manner between art and life that mirrors itself across time so that quite often you have to pinch yourself and check your own reality. I’d find living in Los Angeles to be a heady experience and I’d expect to get lost in it pretty quickly. I have the kind of bullshit that is a strong currency in the City Of Angels – countless stories on me to tell of tailors and tid bits on cloth production and weaving mills, of costume designers and production houses I’ve visited. I imagine that with my ten years of blogging behind me I could dine out on textiles like Dominick Dunne dined out on crime.
As you stand on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard you just feel that Pretty Woman feeling – that this is America and anything might happen today. Back one street away and the fa├žade, just like a movie set, is gone. It only takes one street to be away from the over-the-top and decadent building designs of Gucci or the modernist and clean whites of Tom Ford, flanked by perfect palm trees. And its there that you can find the lesser known backbone businesses. Ones that have been there for quite some time and it is there, on North Beverly Drive, that you will find one of the most interesting stores in Los Angeles, Anto Shirt.

An ouevre of work for film and television, for the real and the fictitious - the work of Anto's of Beverly Hills is plain to see in their showroom

Left Anthony, grandson, and right, Jack, son of Anto, the master shirt maker. 

The story of Anto begins in Lebanon in 1955 when an Armenian named Anto Sepetjian began a career in making shirts. In those days, perhaps the art form of shirt making was less complex but it was a breeding ground for some of the best shirt makers in the world today. It was back then the Paris of the East. Civil war tore much of that apart and though he had a strong list of existing customers from Saudi’s to Lebanese parliamentarians, he gave it up and moved his family to Los Angeles in 1976.

At first, he occupied a space on the second floor of a building on the corner of Brighton Way and North Beverly Drive. The building was occupied by Beverly Hills Silks And Woolens – a business which is said to be one of those famous institutions that everybody in Hollywood used to use when making garments for movies. It was owned by a man called Herschensohn, and according to Jack Sepetjian, Anto’s son, this was how Anto got his break. Herschensohn, who had great contacts in Hollywood, began sending Anto customers to make shirts and soon his reputation became one of distinction.

The late Don Rickles has shirts made with Anto

Late in the seventies when Bo Derek was in hot demand post her raunchy movie ‘10’, it was said she came in to get measured for shirts and this was the turning point at which Anto and his shirts became synonymous with celebrity.

Today the business has an oeuvre of work behind them that includes heads of state, royalty, US Presidents and so on but it’s the work in both films and on film stars that have brought me here. It was an interview with Hollywood costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, a woman who is so accomplished in film costume design that I hung on her every word. When I questioned her where she went for a scalloped lilac shirt she put on Michael Douglas’ ‘Liberace’ in Behind The Candelabra, she said “I only trust Anto’s in Beverly Hills. “

A lovely evening shirt which I had really coveted whilst visiting though I was surprised that the store had more or less only pre-tied bow ties.... 

For a small store on North Beverly Drive, it is a very unassuming place to find a shirt maker of distinction and of potentially more importance than a Parisian institution like Charvet. Mostly because if we were to watch a film with a character who wore shirts from Charvet, chances are it would be made at Anto’s workroom in Sherman Oaks, California and not at Charvet.
Coming back to my original remark about the reflexivity about Los Angeles, here too is an example of that working and breathing reflexivity. Michael Douglas’ patterns are on file in Anto’s factory which used to be a bank and contains a large vault. Inside that vault are over 12000 patterns of some of the world’s most revered actors and all the characters that they will most likely play in films, from Presidents to poets. So, when Michael Douglas plays Liberace, his shirt pattern is in the vault at Anto’s. They tweak it, find the fabrics required and voila, he’s ready to play his role. But when Michael Douglas is ready to get married to Catherine Zeta Jones – he’s once again calling up Anto’s – this time to make his pattern as a dinner shirt.

Cuff details and collars which were both exciting and innovative in construction. I would have loved to have had them make me a shirt if I had more time.

And Anto’s responds. In the case of Douglas’ dinner shirt, Ellen Mirojnick, who got Douglas ready, called Anto’s a day out from the wedding. Douglas’ wedding shirt wasn’t right, could they make him another one that same day and send it Fedex to New York over night? And Anto’s will oblige, because managing customers, especially Hollywood types, is what keeps them in business.

All patterns are still made in cardboard despite the team owning plotters and printers and CAD drawings systems. Jack says the company still runs better with cardboard patterns and they have over 12000 stored in a bank vault in their factory (which used to be a bank)

When you walk into the long oblong shape showroom you are struck by a few things. Firstly, there is little fanfare – it really is predominantly about shirts. There are a sprinkle of pre-tied bow ties (I hope to change that one day soon) and some nice but not exactly show stopping neck ties. But then you see a wall of whites and then columns of colours and sprinkled between them all are Hollywood styled signed portraits all thanking Anto’s for turning their dreams into realities. There’s Don Rickles (may his memory be eternal) smiling back at you from the wall in a tuxedo and over-sized bow tie, Will Ferrell has a funny sort of crazed look on his face, Russell Crowe looks like he’s ready to fight around the world, Brad Pitt is covering his mouth, Matt Damon is in mid conversation with George Clooney, Jeremy Irons looks stunned, the Rat Pack are all laughing, Kirk Douglas, Steve Martin, Robert Deniro, Ronald Reagan and Frank Sinatra all smiling and signed thanking Anto for his service.

Cuff details

These days much of that one -to-one relationship between the shirt maker and customer is becoming eroded by the rise of the ‘stylist’ who becomes the go between celebrity and maker but to this day Anto’s enjoys consistent business from a loyal celebrity database and the reason is simple – they can make a shirt from start to finish on a pattern they develop in a factory that is located in the same city. Brands like Gucci and Tom Ford cannot offer such a service and since celebrities like things just the way they want them, Anto’s still thrives.

Not two weeks earlier they had completed 50 shirts for Tom Cruise for the premiere of his new movie as he travelled around the globe to release it. Of Tom Cruise they said that the bulk of his shirts were the same cut all in subtle shades of navy.

For films they draw upon shirt collars and cuffs that date back to the 1800’s and more recently they recreated a bespoke Hawaiian styled shirt for Ryan Gosling in La La Land as well as Deniro's shirt as he played Bernie Madoff. Every time they make a shirt it is still made from a cardboard pattern, the cloth cut by hand, sewed by a single needle plain sewer via seamstresses at their Sherman Oaks factory.

When we had finished our meeting, I was ready to be measured for a shirt but an old friend from Sydney had arrived to pick me up. At $375 as a starting price for a bespoke shirt I thought it quite reasonable and I was quite enamoured with one of the more beautiful dinner shirts in the window. Pressed for time I had to let it go, we were due to take lunch around the corner. I took a photo outside the Beverly Wilshire with a chap that was dressed in green and whose job it was to be friendly and give directions. I was wearing my Oz t-shirt, it was gold and green, shiny and new, designed after the staff who take care of Dorothy when she gets to the Emerald City. It could not have been a more appropriate shirt to wear.
We sat down to lunch and watched men and women struntz the promenade with fatted lips, coiffed hair, three piece suits, dangling jewels. It was all here, on show, a movie in the making. Ruby pointed out a woman in the distance “she was on Melrose place, do you remember the one with the drinking problem” .

Some words sounded in my mind “Keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'.”

Cuff details

Find out more or shop Anto shirts ready to wear range here

Sunday, May 28, 2017

More Portraits Please !

I love a good portrait sent in to us and this one is particularly wonderful. The subject is Peter Harris and he is wearing a lilac Le Noeud Papillon custom made shirt with one of our red lapel roses and a silk yuzen bow tie he purchased a month ago from us. One of the most alluring of the yuzen silks so far. Our customers are not just our customers anymore, not for the long term ones anyway. I have come to know them as friends because we exchange ideas like friends, we keep in contact like friends and we admire one another like friends do. 

Peter introduced me to the jazz musician Ute Lemper, he has given me quite a number of ideas for silks, for blog content and for my business. I can remember the first time I met him outside my store, he was impeccably dressed, so well spoken and mildly mannered. 

His jacket was a new linen silk commission from Ede and Ravenscroft and I think he did well not to use a pochette. The bow tie and silk lapel flower are more than enough and the use of solids to allow the bow tie to be the centre point of one's focus is a crafty bit of menswear. The bow is, owing to the Japanese artisans that made the silk, a work of art, and a work of art always is best supported by a border that complements rather than competes with the art.

Please, if you have a smashing photo wearing one of our bow ties, we'd love to see it.


It Was All A Dream

When Australians travel it takes a long time to get anywhere and in between you and your destination is this kind of in-between world of aircraft travel - of lights on and the rumble of jets, the serving of a meal, the pop of the first valium, then a groggy toilet run, a movie, back to sleep, lights off, shutters down, a snack, a glass of water, shades up, rubbery omelette and mushrooms and then the hellish nightmare of negotiating an airport at the other side. It reminds me of the slumbering in-between worlds in the Narnia chronicles but with some Nightmare on Elm Street added in for good measure.

You do your best to function at the other end but clearly you are not quite in your old world and not quite in the new.

My hotel in Los Angeles was delightful but I wasn't able to check into my room until 3pm and so I took a shower next to the bungalows and waited to be picked up to take my friend's dog for a walk and a frisbee. The dog was a Australian sheep dog, a ginger kelpie dog but for the moment I have forgotten it's name. But a beautiful dog, a beautiful coat. We played on a patch of wet grass underneath the Hollywood sign on a water reserve that seemed to be frequented by locals on one side and tourists on the other. I had arrived in a daze and yet somehow I had to pull through for an afternoon at the Soho House in Malibu. My friend was playing music there. I had a dinner back in West Hollywood at 8pm. I was in a new city, one which I hadn't visited since I was seven years old and one which I came to detest based mostly on the opinion of Woody Allen in Annie Hall, not through my own experience.

Yet as I drove around I felt this city was charming the pants off me. The flora was enchanting, jacarandas and bougainvillea, palm trees and cacti - all neatly organised to show off these wonderful houses which all looked so perfect and pretty. We moved from West Hollywood through Beverley Hills, then passed UCLA and Brentwood. I got caught up in the romance. I was having flash backs of Ford Fairlane, All Of Me, The Big Lebowski, 21 Jump Street, Booker, The Big Sleep, La La Land and every other influential bit of Los Angeles culture we'd come to absorb through the natural osmosis of television and cinema.

By the time I got to dinner I was just about a train wreck so I used a small nap, then meditation and alcohol to get me back into full swing and we went to some restaurant with some old friends at a place called Cecconi's in West Hollywood but not before taking some typical selfies in front of the Chateau. I returned to my hotel late that same night before trading my bow tie to see a woman take her top off at the bar, her gay friend egging her on. I popped a valium to help me sleep but it had the effect of making me realise I was human, that my body could only cope with so much stress, air travel, a full day in a new city, a big dinner and drinks - I was alone in a hotel where John Belushi died - what a sad death that would be - on your first night in a new city.

I was so happy when I awoke the next day. I was honestly surprised and I made myself a promise to calm down and get my head straight and focused on the trip ahead. I had to meet up with the family that ran Anto's shirts in Beverley Hills, and I was trying to line up an appointment with Cameron Silver from Decades in Melrose. I soaked in Venice and Abbot Kinney at some point, stood in a line for an organic coffee which seemed to take forever whilst a bunch of dudes who looked like they would otherwise be unemployable made absolutely no attempt to any kind of tempo.

The truth is we Australians live in these kinds of a rambling daze from the moment we step onto an aircraft until the moment we get home. And even now, still recovering from jet lag, I am wondering it it indeed all happened or whether it was all just some kind a dream.

One such evening was on a Monday night after returning from a wedding in Connecticut where I was fortunate to enough to have been invited and also to have made the bows for the wedding party. With the wedding all done and dusted I returned to New York to have my suit pressed and ready to meet a group of contemporaries at a bar of the choosing of Mr. James Andrew, blogger extraordinaire, one of the few who responded early on in the piece when I tried to get some international attention for our bow ties. We'd never met - that strange relationship you can have with someone on the internet - you talk but you don't really talk. You chat on whatsapp. You say hello at Christmas, add each other on Facebook - but you don't really know each other.

I had a certain nervousness. Not only was I meeting someone who had become a sort of modern day pen pal, but he was bringing along Scott McBee, his partner, as well as The Snob Report, The Italian Gent and The Style Professor. It was quite amusing, to meet all these handles as human beings.

It was a great night exchanging all sorts of ideas talking about who wore what and what bunches and which tailor and how much did they pay etc etc. It was just so nice to catch up with people who had an interest in the same things and who were genuinely interested in their clothes and not from a labels perspective, but from a make, construction, cloth, cut, texture, aesthetic perspective. We moved on from drinks to have pasta together at a local Italian restaurant, taking up one of their private dining rooms before we all disbanded without dessert. It was my last night in New York, my last night in the United States. You arrive in a daze, you scramble along each day, before you know if you have the moment you have been waiting for, the soiree you have been communicating about for weeks. Then poof, it's over, the moment is gone, nothing remains but a few digital images on an Instagram wall and some credit card slips you have stowed in your suitcase.

I sincerely thank those few that came for drinks. It was just so nice to meet you all and talk like human beings were designed to do.

The Rotunda at the Pierre

Left to right; The Style Professor, Scott McBee, The Italian Gent, The Snob Report (farthest back) , James Andrew and myself. 

I wore a Yuzen silk bow tie, Hermes pocket square and a royal blue barathea wool by Barrington Fabrics made by Leng Bespoke of Sydney. The shirt is a Le Noeud Papillon custom made shirt using SIC Tess fabric.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

A New Custom Backgammon Board For A Le Noeud Papillon Customer - Made By Geoffrey Parker In England

It is a very rare occasion that I am asked by a patron to make a backgammon board and it is such a privilege to see the result when it's finished. There was a lot of to and fro on this particular board with the end users wanting a board which was thematically in tune with their day harbour cruising boat. The logo and the name of the boat, which included a lyre, which pays homage to Orpheus, a passenger on Jason and the Argonauts boat, who plays music to subdue the sirens, needed to work in without cluttering the board. The story is better told by Wikipedia

Chiron had told Jason that without the aid of Orpheus, the Argonauts would never be able to pass the Sirens—the same Sirens encountered by Odysseus in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. The Sirens lived on three small, rocky islands called Sirenum scopuli and sang beautiful songs that enticed sailors to come to them, which resulted in the crashing of their ship into the islands. When Orpheus heard their voices, he drew his lyre and played music that was more beautiful and louder, drowning out the Sirens' bewitching songs.

The embossing stamp was used on the cups, on the doubling cube and inside the right hand side pockets. 

If you would like Le Noeud Papillon to help craft you your ultimate backgammon board or poker set, do not hesitate to contact us on