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

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Something More Urban And Relevant For An Australian Bow Tie Company

One thing we cannot be accused of is being drab. Part of me once yearned to be part of those stuffy English brands that offer an idea of heritage and some back story about when they made this or that for somebody with a title or who has been removed from this earth for over one hundred years. Recently I woke up and realised that it wasn't my job to pretend to have had that lineage. We're more brand new. 

I approached a designer from Los Angeles who was in Sydney to see whether he would be interested in creating some more urban designs, something more from the streets and having more kudos in a contemporary environment. To get away from pheasants and hunting and floral arrangements that bear no resemblance to the world I live in. Sloane Angell and I then agreed on things we both appreciated. Basquiat, Haring etc. But then he opened me up to new artists on the rise in Los Angeles. I was sold. We needed a new way to form up the old. 

I am very happy with the result and it marrys well with the scissor design I worked on below. It will be followed by a crown design I mentioned in an earlier post.

God knows whether we will find men with enough courage to wear them, but then if we did everything so that it would sell we might well be making bow ties with pheasants on them.

The sale ends next Tuesday with 70% OFF. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's Getting Harder To Find Style Icons These Days

When I sat down two months ago with Rocco Fazzari to talk about illustrations for the blog the initial hope was to discuss illustrations of contemporary style icons. It seemed an easy enough topic to consider - find men of iconic status in the contemporary world of art, film, music, architecture or even politics, then let's celebrate them. But as we scratched our heads, the list was sparse. Pharell Williams, okay. Ryan Gosling, maybe. George Clooney, over-baked and over endorsed by popular brands. Jared Leto? Yes, but he was being too groomed by the avant-garde labels. The only one I could think of that was still alive was Bryan Ferry. The others had all passed, including my great rockstar inspiration below. 

Finding a style icon these days is easily enough done if you are looking for streetwear inspiration, but how often do you find one who knows how to wear pleated trousers or knows a different way to tie a tie knot. As I grow older, these things which were once reported on by the likes of William Boehlke and Hugo Jacomet when the web was first flourishing with fresh content, when we seemed to be on the cusp of a sartorial renaissance, seemed to have been set aside yet again.

I do hope the younger set that are coming through take an interest in menswear again, and not just from the prism of the peacock, but a genuine interest in all things in cloth and cut. Otherwise a business like ours may not survive on an ageing population of men who are ready to retire and do away with neck wear as they head toward the golf course. Eventually, so it seems, the t-shirt will one day soon become the shirt, and jeans the new pleated trousers. Let us hope that it doesn't come to that....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Mid Winter Dutch Auction Begins With The Help Of Illustrator Rocco Fazzari

After being away for some time it is often hard getting back to the reality you left behind - an untidy office, bills unpaid, orders not filled and so on.

The exciting things upon your return are new sales enquiries, praise for your product (which I sadly sometimes rely upon to prop up my self-esteem) and of course, unfulfilled orders requiring dispatch. The other great enjoyment that you get is finding that things that weren't ready prior to your departure, have in fact been done in your absence and are waiting for you upon your return.

In that vein, two things which were here for me upon my return was an illustration by famed ex Sydney Morning Herald illustrator Rocco Fazzari and four new limited edition silks that I had been working on. 

The reason the silks were highly anticipated was because they were the first silks I had finished using my apple pencil and iPad pro, which was a change in tempo from the traditional use of Adobe illustrator which I usually work off. Over time you sometimes become too jaded by life to enjoy the thrill of seeing your work get translated into silk - so the thrill was in getting my zest back.

Of the four new limited editions, one is based on Gosper's triangle, another based on the Cuban car series as a collaboration with Australian contemporary artist Jasper Knight, there is a scissors teeth which was a doodle from my iPad and finally there is a yet to be released silk designed in collaboration with an ex Marc Jacobs footwear designer, Sloan Angell, who now runs his own line of t-shirts in Los Angeles. Those bow ties will show up on the website in a few days time.

All of this good news has brought me to the conclusion that we ought to have a Dutch Auction Sale and clear off all the old stuff as well as a limited quantity of the new. We hope you have time to stop by. We will be offering 70% OFF on the final day. Stock is limited to that which has been cut and that which we will be able to finish by the end of the week.

Good luck shopping the sale and please drop a line to say hi when you are checking out. Being on the web can sometimes be a lonely business, so we love to hear from our customers!

Shop the sale.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Interview: Nathan Jancauskas, Founder Of Men's Biz - The Elegant Grooming Salon And Perfume Shop

Nathan Jancauskas founded Men's Biz which is one of the more exciting men's grooming salons and perfume shops in the city of Sydney. In fact, I am not entirely sure there is anything that surpasses it for men in Sydney. He has answered a few questions for us and it is well worth your while passing by and trying the scents on offer. They offer a comprehensive range and a dedicated team that know their product.

Can you tell us a little about how Men’s Biz came about a little about the products that you offer men when they come into your grooming salons?

Men’s Biz began in 2006 as a specialist online retailer. There wasn’t much available for guys at the time outside of the department store or supermarket and we saw the opportunity to create something better. We have curated a range of ‘best-in-class’ skincare, shaving, haircare and fragrances that span from the traditional to the modern, from affordable through to high-end luxury.

One of the problems I run into is that I often find it hard to shave the whiskers that are just below the nostrils at the start of our moustache. Do you have any tips for our readers looking to get in and around the nooks and crannies of their faces?

The Merkur Moustache & Eyebrow Razor ( is designed for detailed trimming and to get into those hard-to-reach spots.

I love going to the barber but I try to avoid going regularly for fear of mounting expenses – I also try to avoid gym memberships too… My gym instructor would say that I need to go to the gym every day for 20 minutes of exercise, what would the barber suggest as to how often a man should stop past the salon?

As a general rule, most guys come back every 6-8 weeks. But if you can make it back every 3-4 weeks for a tidy up that would be ideal. Our advice is to choose a barber or salon where you can afford to have your hair cut regularly - this is much better than an expensive cut that you only do infrequently.

How difficult is it to start shaving yourself at home with a traditional cut throat? I notice that you sell the blades and creams required to start giving yourself a cut throat at home – can you recommend to our readers what products that you sell that they’d need to get started?

Cut throat razors do require a certain level of skill, but all you need is a little willingness to learn and you will pick it up quickly. Chose a razor with a 5/8” or 6/8” blade, a leather strop, a shaving brush and a good shaving cream (a can of foam from the supermarket won’t cut it). Buy good quality tools and look after them and they’ll last you a lifetime.

I notice that you sell men’s fragrances in perfumes and colognes and everything in between. Specifically I tried one which smelt like an Australian bushfire. Can you give us a run down of some of your more unique scents that you offer and recommendations for our readers as to a selection of scents for 2016 that are worth trying?

We have a wide range of men’s fragrances that you won’t find elsewhere. I think we stock something for everyone. If you’re looking for a new signature scent, drop by one of our stores and we can give you a few suggestions and some samples to take home for a test drive. Here's two to get you started:
Penhaligon’s Sartorial was inspired by the scents of the workroom at Norton & Sons, a bespoke Tailors of the famous Savile Row in London. It’s great for work or the office. And then there’s Tauer's L’Air du Desert Marocain, a cult fragrance that speaks of the fragrant world of Morocco and the Maghreb desert. It’s fantastic.

I love having a beard but I really abhor it when some barbers trim or cut around it because it makes me look a little like, well, someone who might strap bombs to themselves. Is there a way to trim your beard and keep it looking tame whilst not having defined lines where the beard stops and your shaved skin is?

If you’re getting your beard trimmed at a barbershop, let them know you’d like a natural fade rather than a sharp, defined line.

For men who are starting to bald or thin out, do you have hair cuts that you recommend so that they can remain youthful without having to go down the full bald eagle path?

A neat slicked-back style with a bit of volume would work well. A matte pomade will give you added texture and volume. Or like you suggest, there’s always the bald look.

Of all the Presidents of the United States, which one do you think had the best hair cut?

John F. Kennedy.

MEN’S BIZ has stores in Sydney and Melbourne, and over 2000 products available online at

Strand Arcade
Shop 15, Ground Floor
412-414 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8386 3577

Royal Arcade
Shop 49,
335 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9942 9308

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Simplicity Is Often An Arduous Task Requiring A Great Deal Of Forethought - Take Hot Air Ballooning For Example

Hot air ballooning and champagne are great friends, which is why at the end of a joy flight over the valley of Canowindra, the proprietor of Balloon Joy Flights, Graham Kerr, offers guests a glass of his home-made champagne and launches into his Montgolfier speech.

I have no doubt a form of his Montgolfier speech is replicated by hot air balloon tourist operators around the world in multiple languages every year. Effectively it is a small vignette, or perhaps a toast, to the pioneers of hot air ballooning, the Montgolfier Brothers, who carried their own champagne with them in those early days of aviation and offered the farmers below a bottle before landing on their farms to ensure that they did not mistake them for flying monsters or dragons. Champagne was also a drink reserved for the aristocracy, so a peasant was only too happy to receive a drop, and so, as Graham concludes his speech, which I had heard many years earlier, word spread amongst the countryside and hot air balloonists were welcome to land on peasant farms any time they liked. So the story goes...

My experience of hot air ballooning over the long weekend was just as wonderful as the last time, only this time I was stuck directly underneath the gas fired flutes of which I had forgotten how loud they were. My life had also taken many twists and turns since the last time I was up over the same valley so it was a time for quiet pause and reflection with intermittent loud bursts of gas fired flames shooting overhead and sending a heat down the back of my neck....

The sky was a bright cloudless blue, a shade much lighter than you seem to get in Sydney. Small patches of fog and mist hugged dams and hovered over the one river I spotted. The land was green from recent heavy-ish rains and lucerne was growing like strands of finely woven carpet whilst the ziggurat like markings of pivot irrigation systems put concentric circles across what were neatly and clearly defined plots of cropping. Up there the country that we'd just driven over, which seemed undulating at the time, now looked very flat and you could clearly make out the surrounding mountains which made up the valley which made this part of the country the air ballooning capital of Australia, or at least this was what we were told.

The previous time we had landed the air craft I recall that we got out and went directly back to the winery, there was no more to do than eat breakfast and drink champagne. This time our entire group of passengers were called upon to help Graham pack up the air balloon before we returned for our champagne breakfast. A hot air balloon, whilst floating through the sky, looks so very uncomplicated and unfettered, an air-craft that's like a floating cloud. 

It was only when we had to pack up the air-craft and when you ask a few more questions that you start to realise that  it's not just a balloon that you hang on to. Landing and taking off is complicated, there is the constant assessment of the winds. You need a car to follow you which can get through boggy country and a trailer which can carry both the basket and the balloon. The balloon weighs over 240 kg and so you need a hydraulic lifting arm on the back of the trailer which attaches to a custom made trolley which stows the balloon. The basket requires at least four people to heave it upright before loading it onto a custom track which slides the basket onto the trailer. Finally the vehicle needs to be able to take the same six passengers from the balloon back to the base. 

To fly a balloon you need the same accreditation from CASA as you need to fly a small air craft, the same safety knowledge and mostly the same safety checks. You need to know your winds, know your landing sites, have back up fuel stores and, most importantly, you have to do all of this whilst maintaining the expectations of your customers in terms of a tourist experience.

When finally we had lowered the balloon to the ground, we then had squeezed all the air out of the balloon and lined up to feed the balloon fabric back into it's bag. Then, after we had raised and loaded the basket onto the trailer and gotten back into the car to head back for our champagne breakfast, Graham launched into another pre-prepared speech about how it is being encouraged by Destinations NSW for tourists to become interactive in the experience. I was forced to chuckle on the inside, I was in an approximate after-exercise sweat from the activity of packing up the hot air balloon, and I couldn't help but think we'd done this man's job, but I was not unhappy for the experience.

The experience was in knowing that when I first snapped a photo of the balloon coming into land I had thought wistfully about a career I might have had as a hot air balloonist or perhaps as a French aristocratic aviation pioneer like the Montgolfier brothers. But then when you hear the amount of knowledge you need to own a commercial pilot's license, the maintenance and manual labour of your plant and equipment, coupled with the early starts required to get that balloon up and going on a below freezing pre-dawn June morning in Canowindra - I was left with a dry smile on my face - perhaps bow ties were not so bad after all.

In life, as it is in invariably all crafts, that which often appears to be simply elegant, is in fact somebody else's very hard work, intellect and efforts applied consistently over time to deliver something which is in fact quite arduous and complex.

Many thanks Balloon Joy Flights, you were a kill joy for my idea that I might one day become a commercial air balloon pilot but you have maintained my belief that nothing comes easy, not even a hot air balloon in the sky.

Once landed, the balloon takes sometime and some muscle to get it to deflate in a manner which can be folded. This is a vineyard in Canowindra, NSW.

Incoming: the passengers from a previous joy flight come slowly in to land.... somewhere....

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sloane Angell - The Hand Roll Stitched T-Shirt Specialist

There are many t-shirt brands and every conceivable t-shirt is somewhere out there in the world, if not on on a regular retail site or department store then you'll find the obscure and the bizarre on etsy. But between all these t-shirts I have never found a maker that hand roll stitched their t-shirts so it struck me as a pleasant point of difference when Sloane Angell explained to me the level of detail he went to in his own products to ensure that the consumer got something different and unique, even if to the average Joe it looked like a grey long sleeve t-shirt. The devil is in the details, so I asked Sloane to explain to our readers what goes into making a Mercer Market t-shirt something which can't be got anywhere else, not to this author's knowledge anyway.

Sloane, I once had a woman in Bali spend two full days’ hand-roll stitching a sarong for me after I showed her how to do it. It’s a difficult process enough on a pocket square, and despite the low costs wages of Bali, it still cost me $80.00AUD just to get this lady to do it. You do it on every t-shirt, both short and long sleeve – tell me how much labour goes into every t-shirt to get that kind of finish?

Our shirts are extremely labor intensive, even before the hand roll stitch. Our cotton goes through a lengthy process of washes and treatments after milling to achieve the required texture and aesthetic. Our sewers can hand finish approxi 12-15 shirts a day. It is a time consuming detail, but I believe it's an integral aspect of our shirts.

You seem passionate about Pima cotton  - which is higher great American cotton from my understanding – can you explain to me what qualities you look for in jersey to create the kind of premium streetwear look you find in Mercer Market?

We look for texture and the feel of the jersey. You needed that butter smooth texture in the jersey, as well a cotton that drapes nicely. I wanted it to feel like a natural material to the touch, without checking the label.  I was able to achieve the desired results with Pima and more. I think it's a fantastic fabric. We put the same amount of thought and effort into all the fabrics we use in our collections.

I am a huge fan of your crewneck sweatshirts but I see you don’t make XXL which means I am sized out of the market. I find this with a lot of contemporary streetwear brands, they don’t like us who only fit into rhino size ! Can you tell us if this is intended or whether it happens over time that people who look for this kind of urban wear just fall into a different kind of bell curve?

It wasn't my intention to directly exclude a demographic from Mercer. We are sized from XS to XL, the XS was intended for women's market. This brings us up to five sizes per style. If our wholesale outlets request larger sizes to fill a demand, we would happily look into adding them to our range.

Broadly speaking, and perhaps a massive generalisation, but I envisage many men in Los Angeles dress more in the manner of your style and designs than say those that wear suits and shirts. Is this true or is it merely my perception of Los Angeles through Hollywood and television?

I think overall, Los Angelenos are much more relaxed in their appearance compared to what I was used to coming from New York. You are right about that. It was a bit of a shock at first, but there is good and bad style everywhere. The nice thing about our shirts is they can be worn all day in a relaxed manner but also can be dressed up and worn when the suit and tie comes off at the end of the day.

The world seems to become more and more obsessed with urban street wear during times of economic prosperity, and more conservative and classically groomed in times of economic recession and depression. Do you think that progressive street wear is a somewhat a litmus test to the functioning of an economy or do you think, more broadly speaking, we are moving towards a permanent change in our perception of menswear and what constitutes clothing in the 21st Century?

This is a really thoughtful question. Its a bit of both. There is definitely been a recent shift in the perception of menswear, the needle has definitely has swayed to a more relaxed appearance and style. There definitely could be signs of a more conservative look during an economic downturn, but I think this would really only be felt by a white collar workforce.

A friend of mine is closing in on forty and until a few years ago he was becoming increasingly into Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann and other contemporary designers until he was hit over the head by his wife who demanded he dress more like a forty-year-old man. However, I have seen increasingly men in their forties buck the trend and continue wearing urban street style clothing well into their late forties. What is your opinion of age and streetwear and are they at odds with each other or can they be friends?

Age is in your attitude! If you like the way you feel in the clothes, that's all that matters. A large section of my customer base is 40+. My clothes are built on quality, both in materials and construction. I think a more experienced customer understands the importance of these qualities in garments, and is willing to spend more to get them.

The world of bespoke is often attributed to shirts, suits and shoes but almost NEVER for jersey in tops, long sleeves, polos etc. Have you ever run a bespoke programme for Mercer Market and would you consider taking on a rhino size like me for your first guinea pig?

We do have a bespoke program available for clients if they choose. we collaborate with the client to create an article of clothing, home accessory or concept that is completely unique to them. I really love this aspect of our business, its a great chance for me to get to know more of our customers on a personal basis, and it so much fun to see what they want to create.

Can you tell us three places/experiences that an Australian visiting Los Angeles might visit which ordinarily he would not know about if he was using a local guide book?

Definitely. If you are sartorial minded, you should definitely check out Maxfields, Just One Eye, and Church Boutique. They are three of my favorite shops in LA and are all each completely unique in to themselves. LA's shopping Meccas. I am huge of fan of LA's museums, so I think everyone should visit and support them. My favorites are LACMA and The Broad. Finally, make sure to stop by Musso and Franks, an LA institution, and have a martini.

Shop Mercer Market by clicking here or follow Sloane Angel on @sloaneangell

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Three Operators In Life Are Creation, Moderation, Destruction - At This Stage I Like To Dwell In Moderation

The indigenous Australians that occupied Australia for thousands of years before 'dem white folks' turned up had a wonderful world view which seems to be more and more frequently entwined in the speeches of Australian political leaders than ever before. 'Custodian' and 'custodianship' are words that are very soup du jour Down Under, especially as we try to heal the overwhelming gap between the two cultures that seem completely and diametrically opposed. One firmly didn't believe in private property, the other does, one believed in taking only what you need, the other believes that the only thing worth pursuing is growth.

The Vedic world view, as described by my old meditation instructor, is that there are three operators at play in the world around us. We have been obsessed in recent years mainly with one of them, creation, but the other two are equally as important, moderation and destruction.

Of the latter two, one is particularly dear to me, and that is moderation. In a world where most things are made to 'fuck and chuck' , some things are made to last, to nurture, to restore, to come back to.

Recently a man popped into my Studio. I knew him almost two decades ago. He had run a series of successful companies but had recently folded his most recent company and had divorced and remarried since I last saw him. He is an aesthete, a man who was always busy working hard in his companies but who enjoyed the fruits of his labour well. Cars, watches, shoes. That sort of thing. 

He arrived at my Studio with a pair of GJ Cleverley shoes, they had seen better days and were so cracked and creased behind the toe box, mingey and greying and a bit of leather scalloped from the vamp, that I really did not know whether they were able to be restored. 

It coincided with the delivery of two bottles from Wrist Clean , an excellent solution for cleaning watch faces as well as leather straps too. 

What was intended to be a day creating and cutting new products wound up being a day of 'moderation' or perhaps the better word is 'maintenance' - the operator between creation and destruction - the monitoring, nurturing or preservation of that which is still living or working. 

Like a cracked record I will explain the process, which ultimately never changes too much. Saphir renovateur, soak it in, beaver brush on black dye, let it dry, add black pomade by Saphir, let it dry, brush off, wax on Saphir black wax, wax off, high shine with water and excessive sweaty rubbing.

But then I decided to give the Wrist Clean a whirl too and it brought up the watch spectacularly. 

With luck and care the watch will survive another thirty years, the leather strap a year to five years, the shoes, whilst probably due for a coffin and a cremation, restored now, they will probably go for another three years. Okay, you won't wear them to the opening night of the opera, but paired with a dark grey suit nobody will notice. Or just wear them with dark blue jeans on a Friday night so that when those cocktails you ordered spill onto your shoes you don't care. 

If there is one pearl of wisdom to take from this blog post it is this: look after the things you have in your life, take an indigenous Australian approach, be a custodian, and nurture and preserve it for as long as you can. Not everything is about what is brand new. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Giorgio Moroder On The World Of Digital - 'That's The Instrument I Want To Use'

In music as in fashion there are many voices which argue that the Old Way is so much more authentic and original than the New Way. It is a sort of nostalgia for the past and the way it was that reminds me of the Woody Allen film 'Midnight In Paris'.

Interestingly though, a friend passed on an interview with Giorgio Moroder on his collaboration with Daft Punk. Moroder is considered to have revolutionised electronic music with his contribution to the song 'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer and subsequent work in this field. The song is brilliant and if you ever were a dj playing to a crowd, you will know that it can send your audience into a trance like state (though you can't play it too early on in the evening, you have to wait for certain things to kick in).

In the interview with Moroder he makes a point which I think is often looked over by those that are nostalgic for hand-made, hand-printed, live gigs, vinyl music, hand-cut, tailor made, hand-sewn and hand-drawn; namely that the advent of digital technologies meant that anyone with a passion and love for music could have a chance at applying themselves to a craft without all the necessary requirements that might have been needed previously. As Moroder says in the interview "I like digital because it's so much easier, whoever has a little bit of talent and some passion can do great music while twenty thirty years ago it was much more difficult".

The same can be said of menswear. My usual cutter for our silks has been ill for some time and so accordingly I have been doing the majority of our cutting for some weeks. A rather large wholesale order of 80 bow ties in one fabric came through and so I was forced to look for alternative ways to cut the order. In my pursuit of a faster means I approached a digital cutting specialist with a plotter and flat bed cutting table. It was something we had never done before, at best we had only ever needed the services of a flat table and rotary blade. Suddenly I was in front of one of my patterns being translated into a digital drawing, no different to the way we design silks. It was laid out across a flat bed table and not long after my work was cut perfectly with very few imperfections, better than my best cutter on his best day.

I applaud and revere those that continue to work by hand and with passion, but there is an argument for the wonderful nature of everything digital has contributed to both our work flow and our production capabilities. There's still no chance anyone can sew one of our bows together with a robot, a human hand is still a necessity. The same can be said for roll stitching a pocket square. But to those who have merged the talents of one with another, who bring together the best of both worlds, I take my hat off to you. You lot are the Giorgio Moroders of your time.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Alternative Style Icons - Howard Hamlin From Better Call Saul Is Quietly The Best Dressed Man On Television

Bugger Don Draper and Harvey Specter, they can disappear into the archives for all I care; the most elegant and stylish man on television is Howard Hamlin from the television series 'Better Call Saul' although I am starting to fear he has one trick and there are some minor problems in his dress sense.

For those of you who did not indulge in the television series Breaking Bad, you are unlikely to have started watching Better Call Saul unless by accident or on recommendation. For those of us who did watch Breaking Bad, it was the spin off that was much anticipated.

The series begun by showing Saul Goodman ( played by Bob Odenkirk) as a man with a new identity following on from the aftermath of the carnage created in Breaking Bad. The series starts out slowly and is less action packed than Breaking Bad but in that less intense and less dramatic series you find yourself lulled into the slower cadence and differing style of television, the difference between say a lively road house diner (Breaking Bad) and a slow cooked Italian meal (Better Call Saul).

The journey that the writers take us on is one discovering how Jimmy McGill becomes Saul Goodman over time and the process, much as life is, is not clear cut, it's a slowish journey of a man who doesn't fit into the world of the 'good' , or at least society's conformists,  but who is not 'bad' either. The characters that the writers create are more Chekhov than Tolstoy, offering us a layered pastiche of emotions and encounters which show just how complex human beings can be.

Many of these emotional and psychological traits play out in the wardrobes of the characters, primarily in that of the main character, Jimmy McGill.

McGill is seen as an upstart and confidence man by his brother Chuck and to a lesser degree by Chuck's law firm partner Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian). In fact in the first series, as McGill tries desperately to set himself up and antagonise the establishment (Howard Hamlin and his team at Hamlin, Hamlin, McGill), he spends much of his time trying to replicate and mimic the personal style of Hamlin. After he comes into some money McGill finds a tailor and whilst choosing his outfits he says 'I want the Tasmanian wool' for his suit and that he would prefer 'West Indian Sea Island cotton' for his shirts, clearly verbalising what he understood of Hamlin's own wardrobe. It is a delightful moment of television where the under-dog is trying to match up his armour to that of his nemesis. In fact, the show makes it clear that these men consider their suits as armour, which is why Hamlin's character is so well dressed.

According to ET online , the brains behind Howard Hamlin's look is the costume designer Jennifer Bryan. She apparently said to the actor Patrick Fabian at the beginning of the show 'Oh, I am going to make you look good' and begun by putting Fabian into 'the finest Italian suits I've ever had on my body' adding that whilst he was reluctant initially with the tie bar and the knit ties, he realised that this was only because he lacked any fashion sense as a native of Los Angeles.

So why do the clothes matter so much? Because they create the tension that's needed between the powers that be (Chuck and Howard) and those that are on the make. We see how Jimmy McGill can't quite catch Howard Hamlin, whose trade mark white club collar with golden tie bar locks down a finely knitted silk grenadine tie on a slim notched lapel suit in greys, pin stripes and more recently the internet sensationalised 'Hamlindigo' blue (the blue Hamlin wears). When McGill tries to emulate Hamlin he looks cheesey and more and more like a confidence man. It's only when McGill starts experimenting in his own suits and tie combinations that we start to see the character of McGill form which we know will eventually have a metamorphosis into Saul Goodman. We know from the beginning of the show that eventually McGill must become Goodman, but that journey stylistically is made even more enjoyable seeing the ebbs and flows of menswear as McGill starts wearing wider lapels, more vibrant colours, more contrasting shirt combinations, loud silk choices for his neck tie and so on.

This transformation is made even more powerful as it is a reaction against his older brother Chuck whose conservatism is more like a father like figure to Howard Hamlin than as an older brother like figure for Jimmy McGill. In effect, the use of costume and the theatre that goes with it aligns Chuck the elder statesman with Hamlin the upright establishment against everything spivvy, which is Jimmy.
Jimmy's colleague and friend Kim Wexler (Rea Seehorn) then wears clothes which do everything to fit in. She plays a role which appears conformist, like the non descriptive garments of slaves under the ruling masters. Jimmy McGill's role is to then also appear to Wexler like a non-conformist who tries to seduce her to join the revolution against the establishment.

All of this of course is just my opinion. It is well worth watching the series to form your own view. What this show lacks in a body count it makes up for in subtlety and slow characterisation.

My only reproach towards the wardrobe of our new silver fox sex symbol, Howard Hamlin, is that his suits are too narrow in the lapel and the jackets cut too short. Either this is an error on behalf of the costume designer or else it is offering us a kind of 'mid life crisis' look into the world of Howard Hamlin, that perhaps beneath his smooth but tough countenance lies a man who is trying to fight not to lose his youth. Time will tell what direction the writers will take his character. It just seems that two of the best dressed characters on television ought to be switching out their lapels. Harvey Specter from the television series Suits looks like he would be more aligned to Howard Hamlin's lapels and vice versa. The same I might add, I would have thought for his trousers. It seems incongruous that Hamlin's character would choose to wear a belt considering how fastidious and tidy he is elsewhere.

Anyway, regardless of of lapel sizes belts and jacket lengths, we have a new style icon in Howard Hamlin, and may his rise continue.

High club collar, tie bar, silk grenadine tie, 'Hamlindigo' blue... Patrick Fabian's character 'Howard Hamlin' is a new menswear style icon.

Sky blue shirts with white club collars are a real characterisation point for HH's character
Two peaks on the pocket square, Tasmanian wool, West Indian Sea Island cotton for shirts, HH's character enjoys the best materials but in a conservative manner refraining from vibrant checks, patterns or hues and maintaining a clean look at all times.

Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) tried to emulate Howard Hamlin by ordering similar materials and cuts of his suit so that he might poach his clients. 

The elder like stateseman brother, Chuck, of Jimmy McGill, a brilliant legal mind, often wears clothes which match his social position and standing in the community. His button down collars are one such cue.

The modern office slave, Kim Wexler seldom steps out of conformist clothing for the office.

Harvey Specter, another style icon of menswear in televsion, might actually suit better the lapels worn by Hamlin and vice versa. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I Wish I Was Going To Pitti Immagine - June 14-17 - Florence

Pitti Immagine - the summer round - takes place between June 14 and 17 in Florence. For those of you late to the party, it's the menswear fashion fair that used to be a litmus test for what is hot in menswear but now acts as something more than that, like a cultural fashion circus re-enactment of Walt Disney's 'It's a small world after all'.

Don't take that as a put down. Pitti is very important for menswear and it ought to be recognised as such. Not more than a fortnight ago I was trying to explain Instagram to a technophobe and quite possibly a misanthrope who was poo pooing everything new and technological and suggesting in his discourse that we should do away with our obsession for picking up new things. He was right, but then he was also wrong. After I explained to him the use of hash tags on Instagram he was nearly guffawing at the what he saw as the idiocy of a self-obsessed society perpetually engrossed in themselves and certain social media feeds.

"So if you were into say lizards you might follow say #lizards or #bluetonguelizards. For example, my daughter and I lie in bed some nights before bed time and search #puppydogs so that she can see all sorts of dogs around the world".

It hadn't won him over. We, which is to say the third in this conversation, tried to persuade him that his own interests might be satiated by such a medium.

"But that means nobody would go to the library and do any proper research or reading. Everybody just gets their information from these streams, do you see how dumb society would be becoming".

Both of us took his point. But by the same token we couldn't help but feel that he was very limited in commenting on society since he refused to come into the new century and use both a smart phone and access social media. He could postulate all he wanted on what Wikipedia, Instagram, Facebook and smartphones were doing to the overall intelligence of people on this planet, but so long as he refused to engage he was like a Martian trying to describe Earth to humans - ultimately, his analysis was somewhat limited.

A little in the reverse can be said of Pitti. I have not been yet. That makes me limited. I want to go. Because after my observation of my friend the other day I realised I had such a limited view of the fashion fair and it's participants if all I did was digest the images of those walking in or out of the Florentine menswear fair.

So, I am suggesting this to all of those who knock Pitti: unless you have physically turned up, your comments should be somewhat discounted. As for me, I will do my best to make it to the next one. In the meantime, I look forward to what delights we will get as of June 14.

See a list of exhibitors here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two New Scents Are On Their Way To You In The Mail - And We Love Feedback And Testimonials

For those of you that gorged yourselves last week on our website you might be opening your bubble bags as we speak and be smacked by the fruity scents that take you to your happiest places on your best vacations. This time around for the Dutch Auction we used two new Hermes scents - mandarin and the green mangoes scent 'Un Jardin Sur Le Nil'.

Don't be alarmed - we never spray the bows with them, we merely spray the inside of the bag just once. It's always such a nice surprise to open up a bag that has a certain scent. It's romantic, it's fanciful and it's just one little gesture we can do to make your day that little bit more pleasant.

The staff at Hermes in Sydney explained to me that both scents were unisex and increasingly it seems that more and more scents are becoming that way, along with the recommendation to mix and match scents within a range to achieve your own personalised touch. I thoroughly enjoy the Hermes cologne sections and was particularly impressed with their red rhubarb scent which they said mixes well with the mandarin. 

If any of you readers can think of any particularly unusual scents, macsuline or unisex, that you think we ought to write about or consider for our packaging, it's always good to share that information with our other readers, especially since they are scattered around the world, so there's no chance you will be smelling the same as the next chap in the room.

Don't forget, we love testimonials and feedback. You can read some of our existing testimonials here or you can leave your feedback or testimonial by dropping us a line here

Two new scents you might get a whiff off in the mail, Hermes 'Un Jardin Sur Le Nil' and Mandarin. Lovely and fresh to be worn by men and women alike. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notes On A Dutch Auction And The Real Reason I Am Shutting Down The Site In June

At the end of each Dutch Auction Sale my brain is a little nuked and the first day after I have lodged the last of the post I treat myself to something. Whether it be a half day off to spend time with my daughter or whether it is a massage or a long yum cha lunch, I don't normally have any exact ritual but it usually will include an early morning walk.

The sales we conduct are always times for pause and reflection. Especially a Dutch Auction, because it is somewhat a catharsis, all that silk and all those bows and things you have cut and made suddenly leave you and you are left contemplating the void and what's next. They are also a time for a very real and raw assessment of what people make of you and your products.

A lawyer ordinarily charges by the hour and has his rates on a card in his office. A doctor is usually the same. Accountants too. But people selling products, especially fashion, fresh food and technology, know that something has a window of which it's ripe for sale, and then the moment is gone and you can't extract the same price. We suffer from this to some extent. I could say we make 'timeless fabrics' and spend our time making 'products that will last for generations to come' but regardless of whether that is my ethos, the general public will make up their own mind. And a Dutch Auction, as my occasional walking companion Satyajit Das reminded me the other day, is the most honest way to establish the true value for something.

On that reasoning alone I am left with a somewhat unpleasant taste in my mouth. It doesn't matter that you designed the silk from the ground up, or how many hours you spent going back and forth with your silk mill contacts in Italy over phone, chat or email. Or how much time you spent with your designer to finalise what was your initial conception. The 5am rises to start cutting work so you could add additional stock to the website for the sale. The opportunity cost that you've spent your best years pursuing an art form that might very well die with the next wave of global capitalism and the next fervour for fast and cheap street fashion. Arrggghhhh! Pictures of Edward Munch's scream circle.... You watch, you wait, you listen and you wait some more.... to see how your customers will behave in the Dutch Auction. 30% goes by, it's uneventful. 40%, you start to sweat. 50% you finally get the tuna circling the bait ball. 60% the attack begins. 70% and what was once a frenzy is now much more calculated, more like a Great White Shark taking it's prey than reef sharks in a food frenzy. And then it's gone. Poof. Was it all a dream?

My late grandmother once said to me 'it doesn't matter how high you go, you must come down for water'. My Dutch Auctions are me coming down for water. A brutal reminder that you don't have the white heat of Tom Ford, you don't have the kudos and heritage of Charvet - you still have a great deal of miles to travel and no rest in sight.

In the end I opted to visit my Russian masseuse for my treat. I'll call him Boris. Boris is just about the craziest Russian residing in Sydney. I was tense from staring at computer screens for 3 days straight. I was tight in my abdomen and tight in my back. You spend half your day sitting in front of computers, designing and communicating, the rest of the day bent over a desk packing and sending.

Boris started pressing his fingers into my back in a way which felt like he was fingering dough on a chopping board, altogether not relaxing in the slightest. I was switching off only I had to start listening to Boris' world view, because that's the price you pay for a discount massage - you have to soak up the masseuse's ideology. Add Russian accent now:

' You see Nickolai, your body is like a city and right now your Harbour Bridge has four lanes, but sometimes in the evening they switch out one lane going this way to get more lanes coming opposite direction. This is the story! Now you get accident in Waverton but this affect traffic trying to come to North Sydney so Bridge might get clogged but maybe not. And maybe all that's needed is to clear car crash in Waverton so that traffic can all start to flow again. This is the story! This, you don't need to know what suburb I am pressing, but this is area causing blockage. Apifstato! Look you see, you hear the stomach. Right, turn over to your side".

Boris doesn't end there. In the forty minutes I end up spending there he tells me about the Rothschilds and their grip on global finance, the fact that the Windsors are illegitimate royalty which is known by many European aristocrats but they do nothing about it. He says the fact that they don't have passports is proof. He also says if you go to town hall in the city you see the traces of where the real city of Sydney once was and that someone altered history to protect us from a great tragedy that occurred some time ago during the Industrial Revolution. Honestly, by the time I leave I feel like I have completely forgotten what the fuck I was ever worried about with my own existence. It was well worth the money.

But amongst all the black coal I was forced to sift through in Boris' discourse about the world we live in, he left me with a superb diamond. It was as we were finishing the ritual of having my back and neck cracked that he said:

"You have to believe in what you are selling. Only the best bullshitters win in the advertising game. It is all false. Its bullshit. These days the make content to sell products. One woman was making You Tube videos, she is fitness guru, this is the story, but when she go on tv show they ask her how she makes the money but in the end 15 thousand a month comes from supplements. But if you can believe in what you are selling, then when you are advertising, even though you are bullshitting, you will be offering some truth to what you do."

I think I understand what he meant. We are subjected to a lot of bullshit and advertising and a lot of content these days, this blog included. But amongst the bullshitters there are those that are just bullshitting and those that genuinely believe in their bullshit. I would like to think that I fall into the latter category. And so, another Dutch Auction ends, and so I continue on, unsure as to whether we have a genuine mandate to continue. And rather than get a holiday I am booking into a self-help course to see if I can unleash more creative and dynamic thinking on this company.... in the vain hope that we will eventually be able to do away with Dutch Auctions completely. :)

The journey continues....

My morning walks in Sydney, a wonderful way to make a break from the day before and a start to the day ahead.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Limited Edition Ziggurat Silk Bow Ties From Le Noeud Papillon - A Delightful Way To Charm Your Way Through Winter

The Australian winter is extraordinarily charming for myself. It is a time where you can be so much more playful with your wardrobe. Our summers are too hot to be layered, too stifling to wear a bow tie. It's only when winter comes that we have the time to put more effort into our ensembles. Thankfully these new ziggurat designed silks, limited editions designed by Le Noeud Papillon, have arrived in time for a winter's afternoon or evening. We do hope you make the most of them as they are limited to roughly 24 units per silk design.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Argument For A Stylus Gets Even Louder With The Apple Pencil.

I have been a huge fan of the stylus for a long time, having written at least half a dozen posts on them; and when Procreate was launched I was right behind it too. The simple fact is that touch screens and styluses are here to stay and their interconnectivity with your work flow means that a pen and paper, whilst still the most enjoyable way in which to create things, is somewhat limited. There are things you can do on Procreate that would take you half a day of cumbersome activities, including going to the art store and office supplies store twice, just to get a result you can achieve in minutes on these new applications. 

I am grateful that not many people have yet picked up on this and that not everyone enjoys drawing, as it has given me a competitive edge for the moment. Sometimes I stop people in the street to show them the benefits and when they switch off half way through I just saunter off and think 'too bad, well, I did try".

Whilst I am myself in no way an artist, I have a keen eye for design and colours and over time I have developed enough skills using my stylus to help my designs along. Take the hand-clippers below for example, my local barber asked me if I could knock him out a logo after he wore one of my limited edition print t-shirts. Sure, I said, give me a couple of days. So I spent the weekend researching line drawings and sure enough I discovered the wonderful works of Pablo Picasso  and Keith Haring along with Henri Matisse and so many other artists that I don't have time to mention. 

Two inspirational artists that I reference in the style of images I created below are Australian artist Jasper Knight for the hand-clippers and Pablo Picasso on the exotic bird below. Picasso's work was particularly magical as it almost defied reasoning to my mind that a man was able to use his hand to create a single unbroken line to convey something as complex as a galloping horse. Steady hands? Tracing paper? Repetition? I don't know how he did it.

All this of course has been even easier to do now with the new Apple Pencil. No, I am not switching over to Mac - but admittedly, just when I was ready to move across to Samsung for my tablet, they go and invent something as magnificent as the Apple Pencil and set the bar for all others. I feel about Apple how Michael Corleone feels about the mafia.... 'every time I try to get out, they pull me back in'. Hear Jony Ive seduce you with it. 

Like I said, I am not an artist, but love art I do, and my respect for people's craft is only bolstered by attempting to mimic their style.

Congratulations To Alex Dimitriades For Winning Most Outstanding Actor At This Year's Logies - And For Wearing Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney!

I have always watched this man and wondered why he never made it big in Hollywood. He is one of the strongest actors of his generation. He deserves every success. On Friday he came past the Studio to look for a purple bow tie and in the end he also picked up our Marguerite pocket square and white silk and wool smoking jacket with black piping. And boy did he steal the show in the menswear department!

Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears The Crown Wrote William Shakespeare

It will be interesting to see how this one comes out. I am exploring new ways to make designs and following on from my admission that graffiti was playing a role in my design thoughts at the moment I have been sifting through images across the net of symbols that denote crowns and then crown of thorns. The basic message, if it were to be conveyed, would fall back to that pearl of wisdom of Shakespeare that 'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown' or as I make rather obvious in the design, crowns in all forms are in fact a crown of thorns. 

The moment you rise to any level of notoriety in society seems to be the moment that your undoing begins and in which case you must be careful of anything which might be done to unravel you, or more importantly, you can no longer live life in a carefree manner. If you are a footballer, you can no longer get drunk and hit on women, if you are a politician, you must be cautious of your friendships with businessmen, if you are a musician you are compelled to find someone famous to romp with. 

Fame, wealth, power, privilege, they are all crowns in a different form, and all those crowns are thorny.

Last week one of the most interesting comments was made by self-exposed founder of Bit Coin, Australian computer scientist Craig Steven Wright, who said that he was outing himself so that he would stop being harassed by the authorities. He said 'some people will believe, some people won't, and to tell you the truth, I don't really care' , he continued by saying 'I don't want money, I don't want fame, I don't want adoration, I just want to be left alone'.

I don't blame his sentiment. It must be enormously taxing of your time to maintain fame, power, prestige and wealth - so much so that some people spend their entire time on this planet just trying to acquire and then keep it. 

I must thank my old underground informant Carlos Oppenheimer for introducing me to the Stoics and their principles, if it wasn't for Seneca this design below might never have appeared.