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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Black Double Diamond Bow Tie - A New Shape From Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney

Every now and then a new shape pops up into my head and I think we ought to give it a try. The double diamond that you see below makes for an exceptionally large diamond point. It is neither 1970's in it's oversize manner nor is it contemporary over-size. In fact, it's hard to say whether it has a genre or whether it has a unique character of it's own which belongs to the year 2014. Time twill tell. Hopefully there are a few people out there with enough attitude to pull off this bow tie, for when it is formed it spans 17cm making it one of the widest diamond point bow ties I have ever seen and certainly it requires a man of stature. 

I have placed two on the website and included them in the SALE line up so that I am sure they will find a new home by Sunday.

Good luck with the remaining days of the SALE - shop them now - www.lenoeudpapillon.com



Exclusive to www.lenoeudpapillon.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Black Tie Guide - Peter Marshall's Gift To Those That Need To Know More About Formal And Evening Wear

Often I find myself referring to the Black Tie Guide when I have some form of question hanging over a particular customer's request. Just six weeks ago I received a commission from a customer to make him a detachable collar wing tip dinner shirt with marcella bib and french cuffs with a single piece diamond point bow tie and a white tie cumber vest in matching marcella. Honestly, these days such an order is rarefied so I immediately consulted the Black Tie Guide for a refresher on white tie. Years ago this information was even more difficult to attain but thanks to Peter Marshall, the author of The Black Tie Guide, it's a little more accessible.

Peter now enjoys substantial traffic to his website each month with an estimated 100,000 people using his guide as a resource for formal and evening wear. He was kind enough to take time out of his weekend to give our readers a few tips on black tie and a brief synopsis of it's story so far and where it is heading.

You’ve now studied periods and cultures of black tie – can you please tell our readers which culture or nation you think gets black tie the best and what in your eyes is the best period of black tie that you’ve studied?

The originators of black tie are the ones who understand it the best.  With a history steeped in tradition and formality, the British seem much more in tune to the unique role and sublime benefits of male formal wear in general.  This is evident in their approach to black tie which they limit to evening functions (as it should be) and execute with refined minimalism.  Rather than the flashy satin facings and attached wing-collar shirts with pleated fronts favoured by North Americans they generally prefer understated grosgrain trim and low-key turndown collars with Marcella accents.  They trust a well-made kit to speak for itself rather than making it scream for attention.

Traditional black tie as per Roderick Charles - barathea wool dinner suit with grosgrain facings


Lord West tuxedo - American styled formal wear.

As for black tie's best era, I believe the inter-war period was the golden age of evening wear due to the skilful balance of tradition and innovation.  This is when the dinner jacket came into its own as standard evening wear rather than just being an informal offshoot of full dress.  The concurrent rise of midnight-blue suits and warm-weather variations - ivory jackets with cummerbunds, double breasted jackets, soft-front turndown-collar formal shirts - made for an impressive array of options that still respected formal tradition.  The fact that these variations remain relevant to this day speaks volumes about the careful thought put into them by the period’s fashion leaders with their impeccably good taste and equally good tailors.    Conversely, subsequent innovations have been led by corporate marketers and vapid celebrities which is why virtually all of them have ended up in the trashbin of fashion history.

Peter Marshall's favourite period of black tie - the inter-war period showing here a peaked lapel white dinner jacket reserved for the tropics and a midnight blue peaked lapel dinner suit with black silk facings. 

I also very much like the Mad Men era because of the way it bestowed a slim, trim, and youthful appearance on men's suits in general and emphasized a slightly more laid-back yet equally elegant interpretation of black tie in particular.  The latter effect was achieved by expanding the Depression-era informal summer variations - cummerbunds and soft-front shirts - to year-round fashionability.  Similarly, there was a strong emphasis on the swank streamline effect of the shawl collar.

Another inspired era for Peter Marshall is the 60's Rat Pack - Photo source: Photo by Sammy David Jnr

Covering the waist is a bone of contention amongst some younger Australian men – can you explain to them why its important to cover your waist and explain to them what some of the options are?

There's no need to cover your waist . . . as long you remain motionless. However, if you choose to wave hello to a fellow guest, put your arm around your date, or reach into your trouser pockets for any reason then foregoing a waist covering will spoil the entire effect of your outfit.  These actions (among others) pull apart the fronts of your jacket and expose a bright white patch of shirt navel underneath.  This in turn breaks the suit into two visual halves instead of allowing the top and bottom to blend seamlessly together into a black column that emphasize the wearer's height, stature, and commanding presence.  It also looks sloppy: think of it as the formal equivalent of "plumber's crack", the exposed derriere commonly associated with bent-over tradesmen.  Technically speaking, there are two choices of waist covering: cummerbund or evening waistcoat.  However, the cummerbund is likely to be the only practical option because proper waistcoats that button down around the midsection (in order not to cover up the decorated front of the formal shirt) are extremely rare these days.

Particular classic dinner suit looks that Peter Marshall recommends although he wishes to note that the far right Brooks Brothers image reveals the pitfalls of not covering your waist line and shows the white gap that appears below the break of the jacket and above the trouser line when the waist is not covered either with a cummerbund or vest.  Read more here


Can you itemise for us what might be the checklist for a man heading off to a black tie event as to what he might be packing?

If a man truly wants to look his best at a black-tie affair, he will need:

tuxedo of black or midnight blue (or a white dinner jacket and black/midnight blue trousers for hot-weather locales, if desired)
formal shirt 
formal studs and cufflinks 
formal hose 
formal shoes 
formal braces (unless your trousers will remain perfectly positioned for the entire evening without anything more than side tabs)
formal watch (if any)

Can you roughly guide us towards a list of places you think we might reasonably be able to acquire these items readily on the internet?

The Buyer’s Guide section of my web site contains numerous suggestions for mainstream and specialty retailers, including A Suitable Wardrobe which carries some very swank accessories such as silk shoe laces.  Also, the same category on my blog contains reviews tuxedos offered by online tailors for those seeking a middle ground between inexpensive but generic ready-to-wear and customized but expensive local made-to-measure.  

Let’s say I set you a budget of 10,000 USD on your perfect black tie ensemble – can you tell our readers who will make your suit, shirt, shoes, braces, socks, bow tie?

To be honest, spending that much on formal clothing seems like a poor use of money; I’d much rather put it towards an exotic vacation.  A well-fitted, well-made dinner suit will look just as good whether it's from Tom Ford or the tailor around the corner.  At a certain point you're just paying for bragging rights.  

Having said that, if I was forced at gunpoint to spend such an exorbitant amount of money on an evening kit (perish the thought) I'd head straight for Savile Row.  The idea of owning a bespoke dinner suit from Henry Poole & Co. - the historic tailors so closely associated with the original dinner jacket - is extremely tantalizing.  It would be midnight blue and feature a classically English matching evening waistcoat along with understated grosgrain trim.  Then I'd probably head over to Jermyn Street for a made-to-measure Marcella shirt and possibly indulge in a pair of bespoke evening shoes, perhaps from John Lobb.  It would be quite something to end up with an outfit of the same calibre as those sported by the British aristocracy for the past century (minus the stifling 20-ounce fabric, of course).

What do you think the future of black tie and white tie looks like?

White tie has been dying a slow death since World War II and I'd rather see it quietly disappear with its dignity intact than to be forced onto life support by inept attempts to reinvent it for a modern age.  
By all accounts, black tie should be following closely on its progenitor's heels as formal attire made redundant by today's extremely informal standards yet somehow it continues to defy the odds.  Sure, it's not the de facto evening attire that it used to be prior to the 1950s but with over 100,000 visitors checking out my web site each month it's clearly still a going concern for a huge amount of people.  Even more impressive, it has survived endless attempts at reinvention for the past five decades and is and has now largely returned to pre-war form.  For all the jokes about penguin suits and the like, black tie clearly remains unparalleled in its ability to transform a man and an evening.    
What's also interesting is that black tie appears to be returning to its 18th century status the attire of the elite.  As the mainstream continue to pursue the lowest common denominator in all aspects of life, society’s most popular formal occasions - weddings, proms and cruises - are increasingly prone to favouring the casual lounge suit over the traditional tuxedo.  Accordingly, hired formal wear is becoming harder to find, as is mass-produced low-cost off-the-peg versions.  The governing classes that attend glitzy galas, meanwhile, continue to have easy access to premium quality evening kits. They may well become the last bastion of black tie, just as they were with white tie.

What’s one tip you could give Australian men for the current wedding season that’s upon us?

Don't outfit your wedding party in black tie if you're having a daytime ceremony.  I may be the world's greatest champion of evening wear but encouraging people to use it out of its proper context does nothing to enhance its prestige.  Rather, it degrades the noble convention into little more than a gimmick.  And like all other rules of proper black tie, its chronological restriction is not an arbitrary protocol but a well-thought out principal: in broad daylight black suits appear washed out and cast an ashen pall on fair skin.  (Apparently, that’s why black suits are so favoured by undertakers.)  Conversely, ebony suits worn in artificial light take on a much darker hue, making for a more dramatic contrast against the white formal shirt and harmonizing naturally with the night sky outside. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Dutch Auction Sale Version 2 Begins

After some delay we are back up and running. The Dutch Auction is about clearing off existing stock 
on the website www.lenoeudpapillon.com, offering our customers a chance to purchase whatever remains on the website at up to 70% OFF using codes which are published each day.

As you may be aware, the sale is limited to what stock is available at the time. There are no refunds or exchanges on transactions where sale codes have been used. During sale periods there can be delays in receiving your goods. Please choose carefully and if you have any concerns at all please contact us via the website so that we can assist you.

Unlike our usual Dutch Auctions we have decided to speed up this SALE by narrowing the window to just 7 Days with 10% increments in the sale codes each day.

For those of you who read the blog regularly, we have left clues in previous posts as to what the next day's codes are. If you can guess the theme behind these sales codes you can skip the queue and shop the website with up to 50% OFF. Good luck guessing!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

John Malkovich Recreates Historic Portraits With Sandro Miller In An Exhibition At Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Sandro Miller is a Chicago based photographer who has been photographing people for over thirty years. He became interested in photography at the age of sixteen when he first saw the work of Irving Penn.

In the course of his career Miller has worked with some of the biggest companies in the world for major USA national advertising campaigns but recently he embarked on a project of a very different kind.

Miller first met the actor John Malkovich 17 years ago during a photo session. They have worked together on numerous projects over the years from short films to photographic stories. Miller says that Malkovich is like a beautiful canvas that's ready to paint. Based on this Miller pitched a project which involved paying homage firstly to Irving Penn by recreating a set of famous photos using Malkovich's chameleon like skill to recreate each image's personality through make up and, well, acting.

The first photo they set about working was on Irving Penn's portrait of Truman Capote. The portrait was such a success that the seeds to a new exhibition, opening at the Catherine Edelman gallery in Chicago in November, were born. The show is called Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage To Photographic Masters and pays homage to all of the great photographers that inspired Sandro Miller.

Inside the exhibition Malkovich will play boys, girls, men, women and he will transform himself from Marilyn Monroe to Che Guevera, Salvador Dali and Betty Davis amongst others; paying homage to the great photographers that snapped each of the portraits that are being recreated.

Miller says that working with Malkovich was brilliant because the actor was such a perfectionist and worked with make up and hair artists for nearly 2 hours before each shoot coaxing himself into the persona of each person before being put in front of the camera. This was backed by a concerted effort to pin point exactly and replicate every detail and nuance in terms of set, lighting and wardrobe in each of the original portraits.

If you love John Malkovich then I consider this an absolute must. It fuses all of the greatness of Being John Malkovich with pop culture.

The show makes it's debut at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago  on November 7, 2014 and shows through to January 31, 2015 before it moves to Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Paris and then onto Italy. Click here for more information


Homage to Annie Leibowitz: John And Yoko: © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Homage to Albert Watson: Alfred Hitchcock: © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Homage to Irving Penn: Truman Capote: © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Homage to Diane Arbus: Idential Twins: © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Homage to Irving Penn: Pablo Picasso : © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Homage to Philippe Halsman: Salvador Dali: © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Homage to Victor Skrebneski: Bette Davis: © Sandro Miller courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Keep a look out in the coming weeks for the following which will appear in French newspaper Liberation.

"Exclusive John Malkovich interview with French publication 7-POST and French newspaper Liberation, coming in October."

Friday, September 26, 2014

If Only They Had Applied Themselves To Textiles

The Australian artist Charles Blackman is considered by some to be a national living treasure. His best known work includes the Schoolgirl and Alice In Wonderland series and he is one of the last surviving members of a group of Melbourne artists that were known as the Antipodeans. 

I am not nor consider myself a connoisseur of fine art but I know what I like and I know when something strikes me. This week I was struck by a drawing of his which showed a female lying on a bed and fluidly drifting off to God knows where. When a hand like that touches a page it only needs a few strokes before the signature and essence emerges. 

When I see art like this I think of my own ability to design fabrics and I can't help but feel that the wrong people are designing for men's clothes and accessories. If only the likes of Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd or Norman Lindsay had been given a chance to design fabrics what then might we have seen by way of bow ties and neckties or pocket squares?

This weekend I intend to sit on this image and dwell on what might come next for our silk designs; for in that beautiful and simplistic fluidity of sketch lies the heart of a great silk design which might one day be your neck tie or bow tie. Let us hope the Gods will it.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Whilst I Am Out Of Action - See What I Found On Tie Deals

For a few reasons I work with Jorden Boom of Tie Deals in San Diego, USA. Firstly, he has supported us from the beginning. Secondly, he knows how to spot a great deal for his customers. Although I think he could improve on his product photography, I am pleased at the way he offers people the chance to buy top brands at a discount.

Take, for example, our black mogador satin bow tie (model name: Majestic Black) which everybody adores. Our rrp is 165 AUD plus shipping. Jorden offers the same bow at 145 USD Stateside with quick delivery to anywhere in the USA + Canada and no shipping costs. You may not get all the bells and whistles we offer from this end and customised and bespoke orders, but for stock items this is a great service.

Here are a few bargains I spotted whilst I sit in bed mending my hand.

Our velvet mayfair: http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-bow-tie-large-butterfly-velvet-black

Our Majestic Black : http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-black-bow-tie

Our Churchill Mogador : http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-bow-tie-churchill

Our Royal blue spots : http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-bow-tie-royal-blue-dots

Red silk velvet mayfair : http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-red-velvet-bow-tie-1

Red 50 Oz Lapel Rose; http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-silk-lapel-flower-red

One of the best bows we've ever made - the Ruby Black - the photo does not do it justice! : http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-velvet-bow-tie-self-tie-burgundy

Enzo - a burgundy grenadine : http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties/products/le-noeud-papillon-bow-tie-maroon-burgundy-grenadine

Well, these are all amazing bargains that none of you have bothered to snap up because you haven't been on Tie Deals recently.

Good luck hunting.

N.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Will Have To Postpone The Dutch Auction

I write this post with great difficulty. My right hand is in a kind of plaster and whereas I write with my left hand I rely on both to type.

Accordingly I will be out of action for a few days after I had open surgery to insert a steel plate and screws into my pinkie finger which I found out yesterday is technically called the 5th metacarpal.

I am very very lucky. I had injured my hand ten days ago but had done nothing to remedy the injury other than a day of hirudoid and bandage. Excuse typos today.

Thank God doctors love bow ties as an orthopaedic surgeon from Brisbane stopped past my Studio on Saturday and when I could not shake his hand he asked to see mine and declared it broken. Two days later I saw a specialist and by the afternoon I was going under for surgery.

Well, that's the reason we need to delay the Dutch Auction which is rather unlucky for me because I need to pay for the surgery!

In the interim please see the following stores for bow ties below.


AUSTRALIA
SYDNEY

Strand Hatters
Shop 8. The Strand Arcade, 412 George Street
Sydney, 2000.
telephone: +612 9231 6884
info@strandhatters.com.au

Pen-Ultimate
QVB  : Shop 15-17, Level 2, QVB
455 George Street Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9264 4991  Fax: (02) 9264 4434
Email: qvb@penultimate.com.au


Patrick Johnson Tailors
46 Liverpool Street, Paddington, Sydney
+612 9966 7548


BRISBANE

www.lenoeudpapillon.com

CANBERRA
www.lenoeudpapillon.com

MELBOURNE

Patrick Johnson Tailors
290 Moray Street, South Melbourne
+613 9483 7007

Double Monk
53 Smith Street
Fitzroy, Victoria 3065
Australia

Tel: +61 3 9417 3335
info@doublemonk.com

FRANCE
PARIS

Matthew Cookson
11 Boulevarde Raspail 75007, Paris
TEL+33(0)145485726
FAX+33(0)145490951
www.matthewcookson.com

UNITED STATES
SAN DIEGO
Tie Deals
http://www.tiedeals.com/collections/le-noeud-papillon-bow-ties
sales@tiedeals.com
* Largest Range In United States

Friday, September 12, 2014

Introducing Talleyrand Discounted And Corporate Neckwear


For some time now I have been developing a range of corporate ties and bow ties as well as a series of less expensive silk and polyester bow ties for men who are on a budget.

The website is now up and running at www.talleyrand-neckwear.com with a selection of products that will be expanded in the weeks to come.

The bow tie above, for example, is priced at just $45.00 . It is a German 100% polyester garza fabric which to the naked eye looks like silk and for the most part feels very similar to silk. It is cut in a 6.5cm batwing shape with less intricate clips for attaching and detaching the bow tie.

These bow ties, at this price, are packed and sent very simply with the freight being just $6.00 across Australia.

The only catch is that the site is password protected. If you would like to take a look and shop the first range, please use the code CHARLES to log in.

We hope you enjoy what is a very exciting new way to add panache to your staff uniforms or to shop our archived silks at heavily discounted prices.

Regards,
LNP.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Pink Spring - After A Heavy Winter You Are Most Welcomed Back - Magnolias At Hopewood House, Bowral, Southern Highlands, New South Wales

It's hard to call Sydney a heavy winter but relative to the usual mild winters that we have, this one seemed a little wetter and colder. There were two days during August where I genuinely felt like wearing gloves but within about two minutes my hands were toasty and I realised I was just being pretentious.

Two weeks ago I went down to Bowral to have one night off to myself to have a long sleep and several shots of Jack Daniels in a hotel with a gas fire. I was tired from winter and feeling a little down and out.

Yesterday I had promised my time to a friend who needed to meet a musician that would be playing at the function room of his wedding. The trip was a very different experience to the one I took to the same area not three weeks earlier; not only did I receive some very good advice from my old friend about life, but it was also perfect timing as spring had arrived and from the depths and death of winter everything was beginning to renew again.

We managed to find our way to Hopewood House where we met up with Janet Storrier who is the other half to one of Australia's more prominent artists, Tim Storrier. Hopewood also serves as a studio for Storrier.

Whilst waiting for my friend I was meandering through the gallery adjacent to one of the function rooms when I immediately got excited at the dishevelled Sir Les Patterson that was standing in front of me as an oil on canvas. Sir Les, as was mentioned by Richard Carroll in a previous post, is one of those iconic Australian characters which Barry Humphries has made almost as famous as Dame Edna. Storrier's interpretation was no less amusing with half of Sir Les' last meal on his chest and trousers, a camelia or rose in his lapel, a lovely nonchalantly placed pocket square in pink with white polka dots, a gone troppo Darwin styled cream suit, a well worn shirt with no bones flicking the collar up and a tie that acts more like a bib. What's not to love?

Tim Storrier's Sir Les Patterson courtesy Twitter @ANZ_AU

During the course of our visit we were fortunate enough to be taken through the splendid gardens of Hopewood House where I was able to see that spring was certainly getting a grip over the landscape. Janet Storrier, our guide, pointed out a magnolia and I snapped a picture which I then used as inspiration when I returned to my Studio. I believe that Sir Les, that magnolia and the pink bow tie I that was on my desk when I returned were all lucky talismans that we need to give pink a chance this spring.

Spring 2014 - pink magnolias at Hopewood House, Bowral

Give pink a chance this spring - www.lenoeudpapillon.com
Superfine SIC Tess shirting cloth custom made shirt in white diamond weave with 50 Oz silk twill bow tie and limited edition print LNP pocket square. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

From The Fat Of The Land Comes James B Young's Camel Dubbin

In the 1981 classic Australian film Gallipoli which was written by Australian playwright David Williamson and film maker Peter Weir, the protagonist, Archy Hamilton, explains to a camel driver that they meet along their way to Perth (if I recall correctly) that: "if we don't stop them there {Germans} , they could end up here".

The response given by the camel driver who is holding the reins to a camel is one of the most laconic, dry and quintessentially Australian moments of cinema. The camel driver surveys the forbidding desolate desert landscape and replies "And they're welcome to it" . This same temperament is repeated years later in the relaxed world view of Crocodile Mick Dundee and has since etched itself into the national psyche.

One hundred years after Gallipoli the Australian desert has not softened and the animal that seems to still thrive in these harsh conditions is the camel which brings me to a young shoe maker in Alice Springs who has created a shoe dubbin based on the very animal that can withstand this forbidding environment.

James B Young spends most of his week working on custom made shoes for people travelling through Alice Springs or via orders taken in Sydney and Melbourne. We will write about his craft later on but in the interim we wish to discuss his camel dubbin which he says has many properties from water resistance, effective nourishment of leather and an aesthetic which improves the deepness of grains in a leather.

The Fat Of The Land product is made entirely by hand. Young sources hump camel fat from local Alice Springs abattoirs and then renders the fat into a tallow using a cauldron. Eventually the render becomes white in colour and then it is mixed with other 100% naturally occurring substances such as bees wax and some oils which James would rather keep to himself.

This is a stark contrast to most dubbins which these days are usually based on petro chemicals and where only high end European brands use seal or mink fat in their dubbins and nourishing creams for leather. This completely naturally occurring product made by hand in Alice Springs is what James feels that people will come from far and wide to experience.

I have received a tin in the post and over the coming days I intend to try it out. James has instructed me that it's best put on sparingly and in multiple layers. Too much dubbin and he says the leather will become soft and lose it's strength. The dubbin is supposed to "give the leather a drink" but not too much of a drink. He also says that when applying the dubbin you should always consider placing the shoes next to a heat source to ensure that it soaks in well. James says that a fire place or in direct sun will help this along. In Young's opinion, using the dubbin will create a deepness to the leather which will improve the depth of the grain to the eye and in the case of older leathers will bring out a style of patina. In his opinion the leather is best applied with a clean worn rag of light cotton that does not produce lint.

At the moment he is selling the camel dubbin for $30 Australian per tin with formal production commencing in late 2014 at which point he will be looking for retailers in both the domestic and overseas markets.

I will follow James' instructions regarding the use of his product and hopefully over the coming weeks you will see the results of a camel dubbin on a pair of boots. Stay tuned!

Want the dubbin? Visit James B Young's website on www.jamesbyoung.com.au

James B Young "Fat Of The Land" Camel Dubbin

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Good Deed Or A Great Gift Which Keeps On Giving - Restoring Someone's Favourite Shoes

Two men stood outside my Studio window one cold morning a week ago and they were reading out loud my sign which is a common practice amongst Sydneysiders who walk past my window. 

"Le Nooeyd Papp-illon - made to order shirts, jackets, bow ties, ties" said one, adding, "that's interesting".
"Look at those" said the other, "they look like RM Williams boots" .

I could not help myself so I opened the door and two middle-aged men from the local council who were working on the restoration of the precinct's pavements looked up at me with some surprise not realising that there was anyone home.

I invited them in and explained to them what they had seen in the window and that over time I had been exploring the art of patina and glacage and put the results in the window. As a throw away line I then added "and I'm happy to perform one on an old pair of yours if you have any but whatever comes of it is whatever comes of it". I did not expect to hear from them again after they left but lo and behold the next day a pair of extremely old cracked leather RM Williams boots was dropped up to the Studio with a request to make them young again.

As a cosmetic surgeon no doubt must tell some older women 'there's only so much I can do' - I too had to brace the recipient for what might come. Needless to say in the end I was pleasantly surprised with the results and it goes to show you that with a bit of tender loving care most boots will live on way beyond your wildest expectations.

The Process In Approximate Steps

1. The boots arrived and they were very old, very brown and very cracked at the side of the boots. (I will post an additional image of this boot). On assessment I realised that burgundy and oxblood would not show up well on these boots. Instead I thought about experimenting with blues and blacks.

2.The boots were stripped, sanded and bleached to try and bring as much colour out of the shoes so that new colour could go in.

3. The boots were soaked in Saphir Renovateur over night.

4. The boots were then brushed to bring them up ready to be dyed on which, in the end, I used both navy and black to bring out some unusual, deeper laid tonality which can only be seen by getting up close to the shoe.

5. Once dyeing was done, I then covered the shoes in a cognac pommade to try and get some other tones into the leather. 

6. Using maroon, tobacco and cognac waxes by Saphir I began buffing the shoes in wax which I then burnished on using a very fine scrap of super 200's 2 ply cotton shirting which worked magically and much better than any other rags I have used in the past. 

7. The waxing was done in layers moving from one boot to the other and then returning to the first boot again. Over and over the layers of wax went on and then were applied with a super fine rag and a small water dispenser. 

8. In the final stages I worked solely on the toe box and heel to get a more glazed effect as the wax could not help those parts of the leather that were cracked with age. In the final analysis, image 8, you can make out the tonality that is very subdued between deep browns and a burgundy/brown that evolved from the use of navy dye on the leather.

If you would like to purchase the products in this blog post please do not hesitate to contact us for more information or else you can try Double Monk in Melbourne or Exquisite Trimmings in London.

Click to enlarge this image which is almost 4000 pixels wide to see the details more clearly on this pair of restored RM Williams chelsea boots. 

Some of the leather cracks that were in the shoe meant that no amount of polishing or nourishing of the leather would allow the boots to be glazed.

Spare A Thought For The Diamond Point Bow Tie

Amongst bow tie enthusiasts I have seen lately a renewed interest for the diamond point shape. The diamond point shape is common enough amongst bow tie makers but few get it right. Some start with a skinny batwing (4cm)  and add a diamond tip at each end to this rectangular shape. The best reference I can think of for this style is the piano playing Sam from Casablanca. The other base shapes that diamond points are created from are wide batwings, mid-batwings and butterflies of various sizes depending on the maker. Each diamond point bow tie will therefore tie differently based on the pattern from which it was derived. It should come as no surprise therefore that the best diamond points are usually tied from the skinnier bow ties or the scalloped butterfly shapes whereas the more difficult ones to get right are the mid-batwing and wide batwing shapes. If you know how to knot a bow tie well and have worked with bows from many makers, most of what I write is academic. However, if you are not familiar with diamond points, perhaps consider taking a bit more time when you pick up your first one to make sure you tie it correctly. If you get it right, you will have a certain Sean Connery appeal, if you take a wrong turn you can head down Pee Wee Herman Alley.

Classic reference #1 : Casablanca's Sam wearing what appears to be a skinny batwing diamond point
Contemporary reference #1: A more contemporary look and most likely based on a butterfly shape rather than a batwing; James Bond (Daniel Craig) in a more robust diamond point bow tie. 

The Secret To Tying A Diamond Point Bow Tie

One of the things I most suggest about tying a diamond point is to marry up your tips correctly. The first arm of your bow tie that you fold under your chin will set both the length and the symmetry for the diamond tip on the other side. It is essential that when you fold the bow tie you consider the length of the opposing arm and how it will drop down through the centre. The second arm must drop down over the centre of the first folded arm until it approximately reaches the point that you would consider where the shape of the bow ends and the band of the bow tie begins.

See the diagram below for assistance.




The joys of a diamond point bow tie are not limited to black tie events - for more inspirational diamond points visit www.lenoeudpapillon.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In The Closet, Not In The Cloud

A lot will be said about the cache of images that has flooded the internet of young Hollywood girls over the coming days. Most of that dialogue will be over privacy. I feel very sorry for these women because until now people might have assumed that something like iCloud would be safe. However, any system designed by humans is usually open to be hacked by humans and to some extent I am shocked that the kinds of photos that these young women take of themselves, that they would wish to store them on an iCloud service.

You only need to look at the quantity of devices that are using the iCloud service from your iPad, iPhone, laptop and desktop to know that you can't possibly be synchronising that much data between devices and a server based technology without expecting that something might go wrong. Typically in the past anything that one might assume was sensitive was stored in a shoe box on negatives but with the times changing and technology moving so fast, I can see why these young women are getting caught up in the gap between progress and the surety of a new technology.

The greater implications, to my mind, are not whether Bar Rafaeli wishes to show her friend what she ate for breakfast but whether the photos of our children are safe or that our home lives are not compromised. These women are unfortunate martyrs to a new cause -  that the world should be analysing and assessing how we better safeguard data from those that could potentially do us harm. There is a reason why some extremist terrorist groups don't use mobile phones or computers or why Benny 'The Tractor' Provenzano, the ex-head of the Italian wing of the 'Cosa Nostra', only used paper messages rolled up to communicate with his chain of command - the fact is, if it's digital, it can be hacked. Since these clandestine groups use it to their advantage, perhaps we should do the same in some instances.

There may be still be some room for analogue in a digital world...

Friday, August 29, 2014

There Is A Lot Less To The English Look Than You Might Expect

One of the things I have never really understood is how a great deal of people who subscribe to the 'English' look tend to frown upon satin over twill and in many instances they opt for muted colours over bright ones as a general rule. People who subscribe to this style of dressing tend to also prefer Harris tweeds in earthy colours, a mix of wool and silk in their pocket square with rather subdued art if any; they talk about ancient madder dyes on forums and love vintage photos of men in wool bow ties. I am not trying to make a stereotype but this kind of gentleman does exist and sometimes they find portions of our collections far too bright and perky for their taste.

However, today I thought I should point out something about two materials that we have worked with and that although they seem very different on the website, when you are up close and personal, the difference is not so great. 

Silk Satin

In the top photo you will see a navy mogador satin silk which you will note the tightness of the satin weave. The satin weave, which merely is a technique by which the weft threads go over the warp once and then under for three, renders a brightness merely because there is less space between the threads for light to be lost. This means more light is reflected which is why the silk appears brighter.


Silk satin magnified to highlight the weave which is shown above in a diagram.

Silk Twill

By contrast, silk twill is woven by taking the weft threads over two warp threads and then under two warp threads. Then on the next row you start the same weave technique but one along in the sequence which in turn creates a a kind of groove on the bias. It's not that much of a difference when you see it in a diagram but the impact is quite high on the final outcome. It is merely this change in weave which allows less light to refract from the silk since it is more porous and more light gets lost within these spaces. The entire so called "English" look is merely a function of less light being refracted by the cloth owing to a change in the weave. The colours that are used to dye a silk don't much change between dye houses and although it is possible for finishing techniques to add or subtract lustre from a silk, the quintessential part of it all is owing to the fibre chosen (eg wool versus silk) and then the weaving technique on which it is woven. The great example below is a silk twill in 50 Oz which might lend itself to the so called "English" aesthetic because it was printed in England on silk twill and looks slightly more dusty and subdued than if it had been woven on a satin warp loom in Italy. 

Don't be fooled by those that suggest you don't understand menswear if you don't follow the English look, sometimes it's just a masquerade for the fact that there are more silk print houses in England than there are weavers of silk which is contrasted by the Italians that have more weavers than printers (to my current knowledge).


Silk twill which is woven slightly differently to silk satin but which has a huge effect on how the cloth looks and feels in the hand. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Collect Rather Than To Accumulate

One of the arguments some of my friends often make is that spending money on a custom made item of clothing is such a waste of money since you often change your wardrobe frequently. In actual fact since I started Le Noeud Papillon and since the time I have begun writing about menswear on the blog I have found a marked decrease in my annual consumption of clothes.

Part of this I attribute to the time it takes to assemble the right materials and the right craft in order to achieve a particular goal in a custom made project. Unlike a suit or tie off the rack, the process begins firstly with the hunt for the right cloth. Then you start to make a conjecture on what kind of cut or silhouette you are chasing. You might be searching for the right weight for the interlining for a tie to match the weight of the silk. You might investigate the materials you want to line your jacket or the canvas for your chest. Maybe the journey takes you to a button store or a haberdashery looking for thread. Maybe. When you begin the journey to make something you don't know the paths you might take in order to complete it or how someone else might help you along your journey.

So when it comes time to throw something out - well, you are more likely to hold onto it and term it 'collecting' rather than accumulating because throwing it away would be too emotional an experience.

When it comes to Le Noeud Papillon bow ties, we do ask, if you come to that bridge ever, whether it be by your own volition or under duress from your space obsessed partner, do the right thing and pass the bow tie on. There is sure to be someone in your sphere of influence who has not yet had the pleasure to learn how to tie one on.



The bow tie storage box, a limited number of these are available through the Studio. Order yours by contacting us on the web page.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Front Cover Of The Weekend Australian Magazine Featuring Martin Benn (Sepia) And Neil Perry (Rockpool)

This weekend just passed we were featured on the front cover of The Weekend Australian Magazine featuring Neil Perry, chef from Rockpool, and Martin Benn, chef from Sepia restaurant.

In the photo, which was styled by Viva Vayspap, Perry wears our 'Churchill' bow tie in modified butterfly and Benn wears  our 'Julian' bow tie. Ben also sports a black satin silk scarf from Le Noeud Papillon as well as a pocket square and our smoking jacket.

If you want to spice up your black tie, you can follow suit at www.lenoeudpapillon.com

Neil Perry and Martin Benn styled by Viva Vayspap for The Weekend Australian Magazine wearing Le Noeud Papillon bow ties. 
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