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With over 1.3 million page views, Le Noeud Papillon's blog continues to provide lovers of bow ties with unique stories and content relating to menswear through interviews with industry icons and vignettes into topics relating to suits, shirts, shoes, ties, designers, weavers and much more.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Remembering Pavarotti - My Only Thought Is Of You Luciano

In Recondita Armonia the painter Mario Cavaradossi is painting a picture of Mary Magdalene when he compares it with his own partner Tosca. It is one of those beautiful songs that reminds you of spring or when a heart is full. When it comes on my car stereo I find myself wanting to turn it up and lower my windows to let people passing me in the opposite direction have a small and fleeting chance to hear it's beauty and perhaps encourage them them to go get a copy themselves. Mostly I reckon they just think I am a dick head. But it doesn't matter, a few moments later we are one hundred yards away from each other.

Today, however, the song made me sad rather than happy. Sometimes it takes some time to recognise that a person is departed from this world. Pavarotti, in those final years, seem to have really lost the plot. He seemed to be plucking his eyebrows, powdering his face and getting his face lifted. It's not really how I wished to remember him. I wish to remember Pavarotti as that marvel of the The Three Tenors which, along with the Book/Cd 'Allegro Al Dente' introduced me to opera in the early 1990's when the tenors were coveted by little old ladies in rocking chairs who craved a bit of Pavarotti/Carreras/Domingo every other day.

I wish to remember Pavarotti the way I loved him as a young man, the portly black bearded man in white tie bellowing out timeless magic.

And in case you never knew what the hell he was saying, here is a translation:

Pass me the colors...

Concealed harmony of contrasting beauties!
Floria, my ardent lover, is dark haired.
And you, unknown beauty, crowned with blond hair,
You have blue eyes,
Tosca has black eyes!

Art, in its mysterious way,
blends the contrasting beauties together...
But while I'm painting her,
My only thought,
My only thought is of you,
Tosca, it is of you!





Monday, July 27, 2015

Hermès Silk Bomber Jackets And The Like - When You Have Supreme Swagger

A Confession: 

I am underneath all of it, a big tart. And, though I cloak myself mainly in wool suits, sports jackets and jeans - mostly in navy - in actual fact I have a streak of hip hop in me that aspires to a Run DMC / NWA or Public Enemy kind of get up. Occasionally it  just has to come out, like a fashionable form of Tourettes disease, usually in the form of Air Jordan kicks or occasionally a bomber jacket.

That being said, mostly I can contain it and I remain in control.

Something stirred in me a year ago though. I was in the Sydney store of Hermès and I bumped into the finance director who happened to be on the floor and whom I knew socially. He was walking me through the current collection and then I walked past a silk jacket which blew my mind. The panel matching. The quality of the colour and richness of the silk. The lightness of the jacket. The workmanship. It was overwhelming.

"How much is that one?" I asked. 

I don't recall his answer. I think I just switched off because it was well out of my price league and it was for ladies he informed me. But then he added "Pharell Williams was doing a show in Queensland and he was in our Brisbane store and he wanted this particular jacket here to wear on stage but we did not have his size'.

Quel domage.... Because of all the style icons that would have gotten away with wearing a female silk bomber jacket on stage and then inspiring other men to do so, I would say Pharell Williams was your man. I for one am glad he didn't get a chance to because it might have become my next acquisition beyond Air Jordan shoes. The trouble with having a penchant for hip hop outfits like those I have described is that they mostly suit lithe slinky men of a short stature. They are not made for human oafs like myself with a cheese and wine portly stature who are edging on forty. 

However, might I suggest this. If you haven't given up hope that one day you might raise a crowd up and down based on your lyrical magic, if you still believe you are young at heart and if you have the courage to walk down the street with the swagger of a man who gives autographs after breakfast, then consider a pair of quality kicks and a bomber jacket like the ones below. 

You will get old, you will go grey but what you cloak yourself in will brighten your day.





Saturday, July 25, 2015

Italians Make For Great Cinema - Even If It's An Introduction To A Brand Like Brunello Cucinelli

It would be nice to come back as an Italian living in a village that made beautiful clothes from natural fibres. It's very funny that when you speak with or hear from tailors or artisans on or around Savile Row they are never quite as polished as their Italian counterparts. Perhaps we don't hear twangs in Italian accents or perhaps the backbone of the Italian fashion industry is still run by old Italian families with droplets of blue blood still running in their veins. Who knows? But I reiterate my point, it would be nice to be reincarnated as one of these Italians that seems as comfortable in their own skin as the cashmere that covers their customer's bodies.


Tying The Knot - The Indian Telegraph Piece On Luxury Bow Ties

I love a good bit on bow ties by stylists who put together pieces for newspapers and magazines. In fact, I like it for any aspect of menswear and for that matter women's fashion too. A good page on the best watches, the most expensive hand bags, the latest technology -  if it's done well it's marvellous and it keeps you both engaged and salivating as you read on. 

As a general rule, good men's style blogs don't offer this. They tend to be rolling content with a story on each designer or product. Those that attempt to do what the Indian stylist Oindrila Mukherjee did on paper below, tend to fail when trying to convert the same content to a blog - as a general rule anyway. It's one of the last great things about paper which the internet has not yet mastered, the generous lay out of content across a double page. 

Often I find that the style blogs that do try to emulate the content below on a digital platform do it in a nasty and cheap way whereby you have to view four images, then an ad you can't seem to flick away, then another four images and so on. Wouldn't it be nice if someone came up with a way to make the below page as smartly written on a website which could be read on a tablet? I know I would be on that site every other day.

In the interim, thank God for newspapers and magazines, they are not dead yet! Oh, and thank you to Oindrila Mukherjee from the Telegraph in India - I think our Elijah bow looks great amongst the competition below. 



Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trending Towards Clown

The problem with social media is that it is not that social anymore. As younger brands compete against traditional brands to get noticed you find that, for example, traditional tailors are spending half their day photographing what they just chalked on wool whilst pretend tailors spend half their day sipping espressos and walking down the street with either a dolly bird on their arm or else in some meaningful grasp with some other tailored chap who is now making bracelets on another instagram handle. And, because social media is digitally consumed and not in the flesh, these same people feel compelled to work more and more colour and over the top vibrancy into their choices for wool suiting, knits, socks, shirts and ties.

Cynical? Yes. Because my fear is that the further we keep moving along this track we will eventually wind up watching everything posted on social media being a variation of the chap below.




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coming Soon - The New Limited Edition Gold Box From Le Noeud Papillon For Our Premium Bow Ties

Coming soon to Le Noeud Papillon we will be offering a premium gold box for our limited edition bow ties. It's just another small way to signal a difference in quality for those bow ties where we take an additional amount of care in construction such as our reverso self tying bow ties. These boxes will only be made available for bow ties purchased at RRP directly from Le Noeud Papillon's website and retail shops.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Buy Our New Silk/Wool Or Silk/Jersey Reverso Scarves Online - You Won't Be Disappointed

I apologise for my double chin. It's possibly why I prefer the "I don't show my head on camera" content that has been emerging on Instagram etc. Mostly I like it because it is men who are trying to generate dialogue about the "menswear" and the "details" rather than to discuss whether the subject was blessed with Dorian Gray good looks or the other side of the coin, what Australian men refer to as 'a head like a bruised choko' . A choko being chayote which is native to Central America. I have never in my life come across a bruised one but I might add that a fresh one seems bad enough.

Below you will see an example of our new silk scarves. One side of this reverso is silk grenadine from a mill in Como in a purply mid blue, the other is jersey in navy. The silk is designed to be wrapped around the neck and to be tucked into the jacket. It is supposed to cover the chest and stomach area only - with the scarf predominantly protecting from the neck to the top button of your jacket. It's for when you are wearing a jacket but don't want to wear a pullover underneath. The fabric of your shirt is not enough to keep you warm.

More importantly, this scarf makes you look good. It doesn't drape out of the bottom of your jacket. It isn't overly large and cumbersome. It is the ideal scarf for Sydney, enough to keep you warm on even the coolest nights but not so that you feel weighed down by it's presence. It is ideal for layering, it is ideal to compliment your ensemble between jacket and shirt. In the instance below I am wearing a high collar stand Moth of Sydney long sleeve t-shirt, the new scarf and an old Corneliani jacket which has an in-built vest. 

With just these garments on I can brave the coldest days of Sydney's winter. So, perhaps it's not enough for New York or London, but if you live in a city like Sydney it will keep you warm in a relaxed layered way. 







Ordering Wedding Bow Ties - Avoid The Rush Of The Australian Spring

Every September in Sydney I get a furious rush of grooms and brides who suddenly at the last minute remember that they wanted to create a unique set of bow ties for the groom and/or groomsmen. The trouble is that the bride will usually have unreasonable requests over the phone. "Can you convert the fabric from my bridesmaids dresses into a bow tie and can you make a bow tie from my dress for the groom? Our wedding is next week" .

It's not easy to make a bow tie from just any fabric. Fabrics need to be seen and touched and tested before you can create a bow tie that will tie properly. A lot of the fabrics used in bridal parties, like the silver silk that was brought in below, can be too slippery to make a bow tie. The result is that the bow doesn't hold it's shape for the whole day or else it slouches too much. So, in the case of the silk below, contrasting it with our house black silk satin was what was needed to give the bow tie both form and function. We could not ascertain this over the phone. We needed a swatch of the fabric in our hand. And, in some cases, especially for more intricate weaves and laces, we need to cut a bow tie to start with before we can proceed with the balance.

If you are considering running a custom bow tie for your wedding, perhaps consider booking an appointment with our Sydney studio now and give yourself plenty of time to make the right decisions. 



Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Micro Polka Dot Self-Tying Bow Tie

A purist would shun this micro polka dot below. In a black tie purist's eyes only a satin or grosgrain silk will do. Stretching it out a bit you may find some will accept a moire which is a wavy watery finishing technique called calendering that is applied to a fabric. Traditionalists also accept barathea in wool as well. However, the fall back position is invariably silk satin and grosgrain. To my mind, however, I am partial to a black on black weave. This might be a subtle nuance in the silk by way of a geometric repeat. It might be a change in the weave, for example, a basket weave, a twill or perhaps a honeycomb weave. And then, there is the one I've been very fond of recently, the black on black polka dot. In the case below the bow tie has been created with a contrast side in our satin silk. Our reversos have always been popular because they give our customers two bow ties in one. These days they are fairly ubiquitous. I stopped into the Sydney Hermes store the other day to pick up a pocket square I saw that even they have succumbed to dual sided reverso tie. In their case it was a navy silk twill contrasted with one of their more vibrant printed silks. 

I am not here to talk about the competition though. I am writing to let you know that the bow tie below, Ray, is now on the website at www.lenoeudpapillon.com . It has been finished with red enamel hardware. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

Spanakopita - We Are All Indebted To The Hellenes Not The Other Way Around

I don't like the word "Greeks" or "Greece". I was once told by a scholarly type that the word was a derogatory word ascribed to the Hellenes by the Romans.

Hellas, this same scholar told me, which is what the Greeks themselves call their country, by contrast has a more interesting etymology. Supposedly it comes from two ancient Greek words for "sun" and "rock" - I gather the first is "helios" and the second must be a variation on "las". Hellas is therefore the place where the sun hits the rock. How much of all this is true I could not tell you but the person who told me said it with great authority and conviction.

So there has been a lot of Greek-bashing or Hellene-bashing going on of recent where everybody seems to try to hang all their own insecurities on the Greeks. Countries that are in no great financial shape themselves want to dismiss the Greeks as lazy counter-productive Europeans thwarting the rest of Europe's progress.

Today, rather than bashing on the Greeks, I thought I might celebrate and share one of their great contributions to humanity,  namely, spanakopita.

The problem I've had in the past with spanakopita was that the old Greeks that used to make it in Sydney used far too much salty feta and sesame seeds for my liking. Spanakopita in the 80's in Australia was tasty but it was always done with the wrong pastry and the wrong style of feta. That all changed for me 3 years ago when I met a woman named Helen in Canberra. I was at a wake for an elderly Greek man who had lived a full and rich life after fleeing Greece from the communists that raided his village and shot his father. At the wake we celebrated a life well lived and as the spanakopita came past on a serving tray I was reminded that there was a woman in the room that was considered the spanakopita queen of Canberra.

I sided up next to her and asked if I might be able to write down her recipe on my phone and then experiment when I got back to Sydney. This took a lot of chutzpah on my behalf. Giving away family recipes is not something that you necessarily get just from asking. It's almost like mafia, you need to be made before you are allowed into the inner sanctum. Helen was kind enough to throw me a bone. And today I must say that I am the spanakopita king of Sydney owing to some variations on Helen's recipe that I implemented.

To my bow tie friends and lovers of all things Hellene, please see my recipe for a wonderful spanakopita which will make you the envy of all your friends and will reignite your passion for Hellenism. This is the easiest dish to make for a male and especially if you are not a great cook, you will impress the pants off your woman and/or friends/family.

You will need:

1 big bunch of silver beet.
4 free range eggs
2 spring onions
1 leek
1 large cube of butter
1 tub of cubed feta marinated in truffle oil (most Woolworths have this in stock)
1/2 tub of Persian feta marinated in olive oil.
Sea salt flakes
Fresh thyme
Ground white pepper
3 sheets of puff pastry (I used pampas, the one with the picture of sausage rolls on the front)

The Method:

The first thing that I was instructed by Helen is that you need to remove almost all the white stalk of the silver beet. Once this is cut out, you need to finely slice it. I mean really fine. It's a process so enjoy it. Have a big silver bowl and cut say 3 leaves at a time.

Now grab the leek. Also finely chop it. Chop it so it's not in stringy bits but also don't finely dice it like an onion. Somewhere in between. Throw it in the bowl. Chop the onions finely. Into the bowl. Maybe some thyme. Maybe not.

Now grab the feta and tip the whole thing, the cubes and the oil. Smell that truffle. Myum!!! Now do the same thing for the persian feta but put in half the tub. Crack the eggs over the mix. Add a generous amount of white pepper. Don't go too hard on the salt. Add a little bit of Australian olive oil (it's perfectly good and usually fresher than the sea transported stuff from Greece) and start working the mix in with your hands. Keep going. Keep going. Good.

Now grease (not Greece) a baking dish with butter and lay down your first sheet of pastry against the base. Really, not difficult at all.

In goes the mix. Make sure you got that feta to mix evenly through the mix. Nothing worse than a big chunk of feta in your pie. The marinated feta is often very smooth and should distribute well.

Finally, the top later of pastry. Make sure it goes to each corner.

Now put the baking dish in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for about an hour.

When the spankopita is ready the pastry should be a dark golden brown verging on being burnt. Allow the pie to stand for 10 minutes before attempting to eat.


Conclusion:

Whilst you have won over your own taste buds with this lighter more enjoyable spanakopita that has your friends and family all patting you on the back, consider for a moment the wonderful things the Hellenes have added to your life from taramasalata, slow baked lamb, spanakopita, grilled octopus, skordialia, krithiraki, moussaka, greek yoghurt and honey.... Pause for a moment. And then keep eating and hope that they sort out this mess. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bespoke Moth Of Sydney Pop-Overs - Winter & Summer Weights

Recently we were approached by a customer of our bow ties who was a rather large and jolly shape and wanted to custom make some Moths with us. He was beyond the size of our XXL and he found it very difficult to find decent quality polo styled collared t-shirts in the city.

In the end he worked off our Paddington Moth and we cut him an entirely custom made t-shirt and chose our short sleeve cuff rather than our yarn dyed ribbing. I have informed him that the Moth is here ready for him but I have yet to see it on. 

At the same time this week we also finished a custom long sleeve Moth for another chap. It was in our royal blue filo scozia yarn dyed jersey knit with royal blue oxford shirting cuff with a custom concealed button down curved cutaway collar and a yarn dyed ribbing cuff and finished with Australian mother of pearl buttons on the placket. If this all sounds like Greek to you, don't worry. Effectively what I am trying to alert you to is that you can pretty much customise your body fabric, the shape and structure of your collar, your cuff shape and fabric quality and your embroidery. It is no different to making a bespoke shirt, only you end up with a short sleeve or long sleeve collared t-shirt (polo) at the end rather than a business shirt.

Who would want such a service? 

Ideally it is for men who cannot fit into a standard range t-shirt. Either they are too big, too long, too short, too tall, too muscular or too thin. For whatever reason, they would like to create something for themselves.

Who wouldn't want such a service?

Anyone who can fit off the rack and doesn't wish to customise their t-shirt. It's not cheap to make a bespoke collared t-shirt, so we only wish to serve those people who require a custom solution.

How long does a bespoke t-shirt take to make?

Approximately 2 weeks from your first appointment to delivery. Unfortunately, as we are still teething in this new service, the only way for us to really gauge your requirements is by a full measure at our Sydney Studio. Working over the internet is not good enough at this stage.

If you are interested in this service, please make contact with us through Le Noeud Papillon's website to make an appointment. Prices start from 295AUD (current 10.7.2015).


A bespoke Moth Of Sydney pop-over collared t-shirt for a Sydney customer. Custom pop-overs require a complete physical measure for a shirt. To book an appointment please see Le Noeud Papillon's website. 

In situ, a concealed button down curved cutaway collar in royal blue oxford with a filo scozia yarn dyed jersey knit in royal blue Moth of Sydney bespoke pop-over.






Thursday, July 9, 2015

Free Style Advice For Men - Just One Click Away

If I had one dollar for every time I heard the lines "you know, you can't find any good ..... anywhere" or "I would wear that but I don't know what I'd wear it with" etc etc etc.

Personal style is a sensitive thing. You need to know a bit about the person before you can advise them on what the solution is. That being said, it is easy for us when the customer knows what question they are asking. 

We love to help people find solutions for their problems. Does this wool go with this weave of silk? What lapel should I wear? What is de rigeur for such and such an occasion? If we can help you or point you in the right direction we will. After 8 years of writing menswear content and over 1.3M pageviews there is a good chance we will know the answer or be able to point you in the direction of who might be able to solve it for you.

Log onto www.lenoeudpapillon.com and click on the right hand tab for contact us and mostly we will be able to respond to your request within the hour.

In a world where everything costs money it's nice to know you can get something for free once in a while.




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Timeless Look



What does it mean to be timeless? It means to suggest your personal style transcends fads and fashion. You exist beyond vogue. You are as new as you are old. www.lenoeudpapillon.com

I Take My Hat Off To Tinker Hatfield !

Some of you may have read my post on Air Jordan sneakers some time ago. I keep coming back to these shoes because of the history of the shoe and the involvement of Tinker Hatfield in the design process. I recently acquired the shoes below not because I have any desire to bounce a basketball again but because I believe the shoes that were designed by Tinker Hatfield will one day be investment pieces. I am sure I am the last one to the party on working this one out but really this was a great time for sneaker design and I really marvel at how different they were for their time in both materials and design.


Restoring And Adding Light Patina To Ralph Lauren Purple Label Shoes Made By Edward Green

Some might say that the below shoes should have been left untouched and that adding any colour to them would effectively spoil their look. I would be inclined to agree except to say that there are so few men that would wear these dual tones that I wanted to 'meet the market' by creating a second tone that a man who wears shoes with a suit or with a shirt and trousers would feel comfortable slipping them on his feet. I do love the shoes as they were but some might feel they were a bit clownish.

So, to cut a long story short these shoes sold on the second pair of feet I put them on. The result was a greyish green on the top which had, not visible to the eye on the photo, but a certain fleck in the leather caused by the use of a beaver felt brush which applied the Saphir leather dyes in many layers over a number of hours. Also used on these shoes was a grey pomade by Saphir which added an additional ghosting to the browns which on closer examination also have the whisps of the beaver felt brush in the leather with deeper browns penetrating the intial brown in the top photo.

It's hard to show off on a shoe like this suffice to say the customer was happy and gave me a small tip.

For Saphir dyes, pomades and waxes, please see Exquisite Trimmings.





Monday, July 6, 2015

Diamond Point Versus Modified Butterfly Shape Bow Ties - Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney's Two Most Popular Shapes

Charvet of Paris runs predominantly one shape of bow tie, a traditional batwing at about 6.5cm width. I am sure they are very happy with it because Charvet are never short of fans of their bow ties. We seem to have developed a good customer base off our modified butterfly shape which has become our house signature (although I am wary of referring to us as a house given we've been around so few years comparatively). Our modified butterfly shape is 6.5cm with a curved underside and straight edge or batwing top line. This gives drape on the underside of the bow tie with a straighter line finish up top. It also encourages a certain twist in the centre knot. Lately, however, as I've mentioned in earlier posts, I am finding myself equally at home in diamond points - left. Our diamond points are approximately 5.9cm wide, so they are slightly narrower and easier to tie. But, beyond all this, they are a change in tempo. It's almost inexplicable, but you almost take on a different persona when you move from one shape to another. To anyone that doesn't wear bow ties this must sound ridiculous, but perhaps to those that do you will know I am making a valid point.

So what are you today, a diamond point or a modified butterfly? 


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