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

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Why Now? I Am Finding Alan Watts To Be My Most Enjoyable Evening Listening At The Moment

There were two videos recently that jolted me out of my seat and made me sit up and think about my existence, causing me to really wonder about what direction I wish to take in business and in my private life. I have been making bow ties for almost a decade now and whilst I have never lost the enjoyment of that process, sometimes the nature of staying focused on one thing can make you blinded to changes that are going on around you. 

There was a question that was raised in the SLOMO video by John Kitchin about the percentage by which his work promoted him spiritually versus financially. He noted that when he commenced his vocation he thought that balance was 90% spiritual and 10% financial, but that towards the end of his old career that relationship had inverted. And so, he decided that he did not want to become an 'asshole' like everyone else and he threw in the towel so that he could skate out the remainder of his life. He said he had been inspired to do this twenty years earlier by a 90 year old man in a canteen queue that turned to him and said 'DO WHAT YOU WANT TO!' .

And so I spent a great deal of time on my recent trip figuring out between John Kitchin and Alan Watts what exactly was the meaning of existence and what was my purpose moving forward.

I will let you in on a little secret, it doesn't have a single answer and to be frank, I am more confused than when I started my search. Suffice to say, one thing that has always been enjoyable in my life and which I turn to time and time again, is the writing of this blog. Regardless of who has read it, it has always been a great process that I have enjoyed sharing with others. More importantly, when I began writing it it was never about financial gain, it was about sharing information I learned about menswear with others as we continued to refine our products and services.

Do what you want to! What a simple thing to say and yet so effective. The only trouble is, there is not always a clear cut answer as to exactly what that might be.

A Diamond Point Bow Tie When Travelling

If I had to choose one shape of bow tie to keep for life then, although our modified butterfly is highly prized, I would choose a diamond point for sheer practicality. It stows easily in the pocket, still gives a great deal of presence when tied well and is quite possibly the easiest shape of bow tie to tie. Well, it's up there with the skinny batwing.

So when I was in a jam and running late for the airport and knowing that I had an interview scheduled in Los Angeles, I chose to pack more diamond points than our modified butterflies when putting together my travel pouch of silk. As for neck ties, I do love them, but if you are in and out of Ubers, if you are changing your setting during the day, a bow tie is still the smallest bit of neck wear with the biggest impact.

Shop the latest new diamond point silks on 

House Of Bijan Interview With Nicolas Bijan: Coming Soon To Robb Report

One of the most enjoyable experiences I had on my recent trip was the opportunity to interview Nicolas Bijan at his Rodeo Drive shop, House Of Bijan, which is by appointment only. Nicolas inherited the business from his late father Bijan Pakzad, a designer who was instrumental in putting Rodeo Drive on the map. His business was founded on the basic principles of quality over quantity, to use the highest grade raw materials to make the most unique menswear pieces in the world.

When Bijan passed away Nicolas was just 19 years old. Now 26, he is overseeing the gradual expansion of the brand to have possibly five locations internationally as well as the expansion of the suite of products and services that the house offers. 

Attention to detail and the quality of materials is paramount to their success but coupled with this is a level of service that is seldom seen in traditional retail. A customer can order an alligator jacket and have it within 7 days in the colour of their choice hand delivered anywhere in the world by one of Bijan's employees.

More to come in a future edition of Robb Report, but in the interim I post below one of their one off ties which are packaged in hand-made boxes wrapped in the same silk. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018


As is always the case, we love to hear from our customers and we can't really do that on the blog, so if you have worn one of our bow ties recently, if you want to see the latest silks that have just arrived, if you want to know what we are up to or you just want to say "G'day" - drop us a line through Instagram on @lenoeudpapillon or you can alert us by using the #lenoeudpapillon tag.

New Organza Silk Bow Ties Now Online - Shop Le Noeud Papillon's Website For The Latest Silks

The organza silk warps that we have been able to get access to produce a very lustrous and beautifully dense but light silk that is possibly some of the best fabric I have worked with though at times it is difficult to cut and requires sharp and fresh blades at all times.

The resulting silks produce lovely dimples and have a very smooth handle on them, slipping through the hand beautifully but creating enough tension to make a consistent and decent sized knot. 

As is the case with all our silks, it's usually not possible to make more than 20 bow ties from each new limited edition and the best work is usually cut from the first batch. I encourage all our customers to engage with the silks as they first become available because once they have been stored afterwards, it could be months before we get back to cutting them again as new silks are arriving every week.

New silks are arriving each week. Shop the website to get new silks as they come through. 

David Boucher And Co - The Le Noeud Papillon Butterfly Tray - A Masterpiece In Craftsmanship

Over the coming weeks I will be posting more content on the tray that was designed for us by Boucher & Co but I wished to begin by showing you the finished product and taking you back to the initial concept.

I remember an old professor from my university days once said "all the best business deals usually start on the back of an envelope" and in the case of this tray, it started on a loose piece of paper that was in my studio as David Boucher stood over my cutting table trying to figure out how we could incorporate our butterfly into something which could be functionally used in the LNP Studio.

I had said that the only thing we might be able to do was to create a tray that I could use for when customers come to pick up custom made work and which I could use as a backdrop for product shots on social media. 

David asked me what kind of design was I into and I said that of all the designs I had seen of things in my life, one thing which was etched in my mind was the scalloped fluted bezel of a Rolex watch. And with that, David picked up a piece of paper and started to sketch out a design based on fluted bezel, creating a vanishing point outside the top right corner of the rectangle. 

Initially from the pencil drawing I thought to myself "yeah right, well, if he even gets close to this design I will be happy" . And literally I set my expectations very low from that point because, though I had seen some of his extraordinary work, I did not think he could achieve the complex nature of the design I put in front of him with the materials that he uses in his craft. 

At the point where David was comfortable with the design he asked me what timber veneer to use and of course I initially wanted whatever was the most luxurious, which I believe was walnut or macassar ebony. Then I was offered an alternative, would I be willing to consider an Australian native fumed figured eucalyptus. Since we were an Australian made product, it seemed more fitting to use Australian materials where possible. And so, David formed up a more formalised CAD drawing, we agreed to materials and a 'no promises' policy on the finish of the logo, and I gave him the green light and a deposit. 

Over the coming months I got the occasional email or whatsapp update with regards to the progress and I found it really captivating. This was a totally one off piece and each particular problem had to be solved as they went long. For example. how to slice the flutes and get them to line up perfectly. How to inlay the butterfly, what materials to use in the butterfly, how to finish the scalloped edges with the right timber contrast and so on. And as the project went on I started to see stingray being inlaid into the butterfly by hand, the font of the logo was somehow printed onto a piece of timber painted black, the lines around each in white carved and laid in by hand. Then there was mother of pearl add to the butterfly and a sycamore veneer used to form the base of it. At every stage I was continually marvelled by how much work went into each detail and I started to feel as though I didn't have the right to call myself an 'artisan'. These people were truly artisans and master craftsmen. They didn't shy away from any part of the design, they did not cut one single corner. If they did, I could not find it and I have been staring at it ever since. 

When David posted a video on his Instagram wall of the final product I got so excited that I started envisaging ways that the tray might never get to me and to practice the art of non-attachment. Maybe it would go down with the air-craft on it's way to Sydney. Maybe the driver will misplace the parcel. Maybe someone will steal it from the depot. Maybe it will arrive and it won't look like it did on the video.

It did arrive. With some difficulty and trepidation I might add. And as I cut open the timber box it came in I was concerned that I might be putting the box knife blade into the timber. "Slow down" I said to myself.

What a tray. What a work of art. It is up there with the few things I might like to specifically allocate in my will. It deserves an inter-generational life of being admired and looked after. In the end, the choice of materials; stingray, mother of pearl, sycamore, eucalyptus and ebony - all came together so harmoniously that I find myself gazing at it like I do when I am outside the window of a fancy watch store. There are not enough superlatives to describe it. 

Stay tuned, in the coming weeks I will be writing more on individual stages of it's production.

Boucher & Co Eucalyptus Veneer Tray For Le Noeud Papillon

The initial CAD drawing which was used to create full scale tray. 

Fumed Figured Eucalyptus Timber Veneer Used For They Trays Inlay

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Treboles And Key Organic Vodka - If You Come Across It, Drink It

For most of you that read this blog it will probably be difficult for you to get a hold of this vodka. It is by one of our bow tie customers, David Meisenburg, who has done something extraordinary in creating a certified organic vodka that is in his own words "a limited artisan vodka that is pure from Seed-To-Seal" . 

That means growing potatoes as a Certified Organic Planter and as a Certified Organic Handler whereby no herbicides or pesticides are ever used in his farming fields in Wisconsin and where by each rototilled row of potatoes has had all harmful pests and weeds around each plant removed by hand. 

The result, which I tasted yesterday, is such an unusually smooth and lovely vodka, unlike any others that I have tasted. It had a soft sweetness on it that reminded me of freshly cut grass and one sip and I went back for another, then another. By the time I had finished 'tasting'  it I was three sheets to the wind and cutting silks like a mad scientist. 

I am very happy that David found us and over the years he's sent in so many wonderful shots and, as some of you may recall, he purchased F. Scott Fitzgerald's house in St. Paul, Minnesota some years back. We've always had a mutual appreciation for literature, fine menswear and, now, his organic vodka.

If you stumble upon one of these bottles, drink it. It's a good bit of vodka. Very smooth, very clean.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Sale Continues - 10-80% OFF Over 8 Days - All Stock Will Be Sold

We've never changed our tune on this one. We can't hold onto silk. So our desire to move onto the next silks is to your advantage, because during our Dutch Auction Sales you can practically steal bow ties from us. Nearly all the bow ties have been finished with rose gold plated clips. Some are English woven jacquard from what are some of the most densely woven and highest grade silks you can get in the world today, to some very ritzy Italian organza silk warps which give a lovely rich finish and handle to a design. 

Otherwise, you can wait, because we've just received new silks in the last 48 hours and over the coming weeks they will trickle onto the website, some perhaps even before we are done with the sale.... So keep coming back to the website. 

Simplicity Trumps Complexity Any Day Of The Week

When I consider how complex and how much time goes into some of our silk designs only to see the loom send them back scratchy and where one can hardly recognise what was the original inspiration, such as happened this week with a recent bird of paradise silk, I often and fondly recall an anecdote that was relayed to me by a banker who I walk with in the mornings.

The story goes that in a meeting where high level mathematics were often discussed in order to pursue strategies for derivatives trading, the managing director stood up to give his own talk about what he thought should be the M.O moving forward.

He drew three arrows, one going up, two going down. Under the first he wrote revenue, under the second he wrote costs, under the third he wrote complexity. And then all he did was enunciate exactly what he'd written. Bring me more revenue, lower the costs involved and decrease the complexity of any strategy you put forward.

My friend said that in all his time listening to presentations, the simplicity of this one hit home and of all the presentations he's ever heard, this one he knew off by heart. 

When I arrived in Como I took a stool by the bench to start looking through existing designs that were coming through. One stood out, the one below. It was one of the least complex designs we'd run in five years, submitted by a Parisian woman I had been working with. She was very talented and I'd sent her down the rabbit hole chasing Parisian street art when really, she already had the gift of the gab. 

Simplicity in design; that ability to pull yourself back and understand that the more you add, the more you over-power something, is a real gift. The Italians know how to do it, you can see that in their cooking. And really, its a great life skill, regardless of what discipline you apply it to. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cashmere Factory Visit - Understanding A New Discipline

We have embarked on a project with a new cashmere factory which might take up to 6 months to realise all but 20 units of product. It is an ambitious project and there is no guarantee it will turn out they way I'd like it to but I took the risk mostly because my contacts were as enthusiastic as I was in trying something a little more offbeat. 

Cashmere stoles and rugs like these are often used as decorative pieces for beds and lounges. Each of these pieces would fetch somewhere between one and thousand euros in a retail store and there are minimum orders required that mean that all but a handful of companies internationally would have the client database to move this kind of product. 

My understanding was that the business was primarily involved in selling fabrics in volume to makers who in turn would dye and discharge or digitally print on their fabrics. However, where significant investment was undertaken, they were capable of taking the most prestigious projects, such as personalised cashmere rugs for super yachts, from start to finish.

I had intended to begin producing cashmere scarves for Le Noeud Papillon after this visit, but with the minimum order in the vicinity of 400 metres of fabric, it would be a month of Sundays before we would move the stock. Accordingly I chose a different project, one which would require me to find no more than 20 customers - rich ones.

More to come later. 

Animal prints are particularly popular when producing large cashmere rugs like these. 

The super yacht cashmere and wool rug made Eclipse. 

A customer loved his horse so much he had it turned into a cashmere rug.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Nights Are Anything But Tender In Verbier - Notes From Switzerland

The genesis of my recent stay in Verbier came from a passage of text that I had once read from F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'Tender Is The Night'. I read the book in Rome whilst attempting to write a cookbook for a friend nine years ago. One passage stuck out. In it, Fitzgerald describes Dick Diver slapping snow from his cap wearing a dark blue ski suit and entering a great hall filled with Americans that were 'domiciled' in Gstaad. I believe it was his use of the word 'fourscore' which always stuck with me because it was a word I'd only ever associated with Abraham Lincoln's 'Gettysburg Address' . But also because in one paragraph he had so aptly set a scene of hedonism as this colony of the young and rich exploded violently to the first percussions of the Charleston.

At a lunch in July I'd read the passage out loud to a group I was dining on the mountain with in Thredbo. We were well into the wine and I felt compelled to tell the others that we were having a very Fitzgerald moment.

Later still on the pillow, I told my friend that I was interested in going to see the silk mills in January and that I'd like to duck into Switzerland to do some skiing and some travel writing. She was well versed in these things and insisted I go to Verbier; that it was the only place to really have fun. Weeks later we were not on speaking terms and I made a decision that I should soldier on with my plans. I wanted my Fitzgerald experience in Switzerland.

I got it.

Arriving in Milan I did my first meeting with an Italian designer I work with from time to time. We took seats in a pasticceria  which he informed me was quite famous. I had walked the streets of Milan since 6am and I was in good spirits and knew exactly what I wanted him to start working on. Fascist architecture, landmarks across Milan, grills in windows, building facades - these were all things that we'd not looked at. We'd been focused on the Japanese for so long and I needed to redirect him. One morning walk around Milan and I'd spotted a dozen new silk designs.

We parted company and I took the train to Geneva. It was one of those extraordinary train journeys which Europe offers that's just so much more entertaining than a flight on a cheap airline and airport security. I passed Lago Maggiore listening to Brahms and Beethoven and as the terrain changed I penned my journal noting that the mountains became gradually more snow laden, long black tunnels, channels of water streaming down mountain sides like lightning bolts and in between there was township after township with factories and rows of leafless trees and clouds hovering everywhere laden with water just waiting to drop but which never did.

When I arrived in Geneva I got a shuttle up to the ski village and arrived at a particularly groovy hotel that was probably not a natural fit for me but which seemed to make every effort to take the cumbersome side out of skiing. In fact, I don't think I have ever been to a place that made skiing so easy - at a price of course.

I was there as much for the skiing as I was for the dining and partying. I had lined up an Australian to help me navigate the mountain and another Australian had reached out to tell me he would also be joining, with his daughter flying in from London. And as more and more characters descended upon the village the more my solitary skiing expedition was beginning to look more and more like a passage of Fitzgerald text.

We skied on piste because we were instructed that there were consistently avalanches in this region and because our ability was not quite there yet. There was snow everywhere and the scale of the  mountains and valleys was such that by the first day as I took my first selfie with Mont Blanc and Chamonix behind us, I knew I was indebted to my friend for the good intel.

The skiing I experienced was in a class of it's own with an abundance of snow and terrain to ski. I do not believe I am a gifted enough skier to describe in words exactly what those subtle nuances were, suffice to say it was a different snow, a different humidity and altitude and everything felt white and pristine and unspoilt.

But it was the other mountain experiences that I adored so much. Siding up to a restaurant perched on the mountain after making a reservation and eating extraordinary pizza and pasta over a bottle of red whilst you looked across at Mont Blanc and Chamonix below. It was the way in which you stowed your skis and took an al fresco table as paragliders sailed overhead and then down into the valley below. It was speaking French and hearing Russian or Italian; perhaps overhearing two Swedes considering which way they will go when they disembark the gondola.

To an Australian these are such refreshing things to enjoy. On our mountains we are lucky to get some garnish; here a waiter in a bow tie (pre-tied sadly) will come and serve you in a waistcoat and run you through the specials in such a manner that you'd assume the table before you were a bunch of aristocrats. Casually the owner of the restaurant sends over a round of shots of mirto and explains that he harvests it from myrtle berries he collects in Sardinia when he sails his yacht in the summertime.

Yes yes, I came looking for Fitzgerald's ski experience and I was getting it. A compost of the privileged rich would gather in the same nightclubs where ski bunnies who barely had the means to make noodles at night and pay for ski tickets would thrust and thrive to the music blaring out from a band that was as talented as it was tragic. I would watch an old man lick his lips as young girls gathered around us to talk whilst two young lovers kissed passionately by the corner of the bar. I could hear the rock n roll blare behind a window screen whilst we on the other side went about ordering our negronis. I was on the balcony as the sun went down and music was turned up; I saw the froufrou woman in the mink coat and collagen lips rub shoulders with the suntanned gentleman who looked like he'd just gotten off a surfing boat in Indonesia.

At one point I witnessed a young Australian, too belted to have any sense about him, grab a bottle of spirits from behind the bar and free pour shots for all and sundry staring devilishly and without filter into the blue light of the disco. I heard whispers of affairs and everything that seemed wholesome and good was, when the veneer was scratched, tainted and marred by excess.

And whilst I have so many numerous stories I could tell, I must keep the vast majority of them to myself. What goes on tour, stays on tour. So I am told.

So, I got my Fitzgerald experience but I will say this, when I think of the rich and restless and their boundless hedonism I am often likely to suggest that 'la dolce vita has a hook' , and by that I mean that there is a barb in all of it, there is pain in the pleasure of it all. You can't live at that level without it taking it's toll but what the price is, only the individual who is living the experience might tell you. For myself, it wasn't just the dollars and cents that took its toll, it was the idea that it lacked purpose. And by the end of my experience I missed my work and I missed my customers.

We are not here for a long time, so I am grateful to put this business to rest. Sometimes in life we can find things that are just too conceptually large for us at a particular time. I am drawn to this world like a moth to light, but I am simultaneously a simple man who finds comfort in building my business one bow tie at a time.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Things To Do Before You Die - Have Charvet Of Paris Custom Make You A Shirt

So much has been said about Charvet that what could an imposter like myself from Australia possibly have to offer? Since 1838 Charvet has been in many people's opinion the alpha and omega in bespoke shirts and luxury silk neck wear and accessories. In fact, if they had been online in 2007 neither this blog nor my company would exist, as I have often said before. Even on the aeroplane as I flew to Europe, I was reminded of just how many times I have seen writers refer to Charvet as a symbol of the nobility, the rich, the famous and those aspiring to be near them. Somerset Maugham uses Charvet to highlight the aspirations and need for his American character Elliot Templeton to have his title restored and a count's crown sewn into his underwear in The Razor's Edge. It reminded me of the first time I recalled seeing Charvet mentioned in a passage of text; when Charles Ryder spots a Charvet tie, his tie, a print or weave of postage stamps (which is a theme that is in accordance with that particular time post WW1) on Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited.

Now I stand in the Place Vendôme about to revisit Charvet, ten years after I first walked into their store at number 28. It is a different feeling now. Then I had not one drop of knowledge on shirting, shirt making, silk weaving, silk printing, nor how to make a bow tie or tie. Now, I enter knowing that I have customers all over the world and with a quiet confidence of someone who can keep up with most menswear enthusiasts when talking about clothes and style.

And it has been a long journey. For those of you who care to revisit the first posts on this blog you will see just how basic it was to begin with. The writing, the content, my knowledge.

Now as I open up the doors to Charvet I am reminded once again just what a rarefied institution this place is. It is the centre of the universe for many shirt enthusiasts, it is a place that has a lineage that dates back to Napoleon Bonaparte's wardrobe curator. It has cultivated relationships with those of wealth and privilege and those that wished to be like them. Through it's doors have walked kings and queens, heads of state, writers, artists, poets, musicians, film stars, the rich and the famous. A pastiche of so many that influential people that it has in fact it's own Wikipedia entry.  And now I am about to add one more pattern to their racks, that of an aspiring menswear writer from Australia.

Sabrina does not remember me but I remind her that she served me ten years ago. She is a brunette, well presented, elegant, somewhat conservative and very well mannered. She guides me around the store and we rummage through the new, the old, the staples and so on. I pick out a bow tie for myself and as usual I feel compelled to buy a particular variety of their polka dot pocket squares which I believe are the best in the world.

As we converse I suggest that I would be interested in seeing their bespoke shirt floor and I inform her that I intend to interview Monsieur Jean-Claude Colban the next day. She agrees to take me to the 2nd floor and there, for the first time I'll admit, I am finally in the room that most people like to talk about - the walls and stacks of shirting fabrics. It is said that on their famed Mur Des Blancs (wall of whites) there are over 400 variations of white with over 104 varying shades of it. And in solid blues there are over 200 to choose from from the palest baby blue to the richest and darkest navy. Many believe it is the largest collection of high-quality shirting assembled anywhere in the world and certainly I am not aware of anyone who offers a collection even remotely similar.

As I rummage through the wall of whites I made a decision that today is the day that I will add my pattern to their library in the hope that I too might become one of those memorable quotes one day that reflects the love and admiration that so many writers have bestowed upon this hallowed sartorial ground. It was Jean Cocteau who once remarked that Charvet is 'where the rainbow finds ideas' , and in that vein I decided that whatever I was to make had to be playful and fun. Choosing a white self polka dot fabric I set about with Sabrina choosing an Italian-esque spread collar and turned back cuff with a fly front.

I was escorted into the change room where 28 measurements were taken and a 45.5 trial shirt placed on me to ensure that they roughly had a snapshot of my torso before they began bringing in and letting out elements through the measurements. I was thoroughly impressed not only with the manner by which both Sabrina and Mintou handled themselves but by how calm and relaxed the process was. I am one to passionately hate the retail experience of trying on clothes but for some reason I felt like we had all the time in the world and at no point did they work up a sweat and accordingly, and quite bizarrely, neither did I.

Sabrina explained that if I was to have the proper Charvet experience I would need to return within a few months to try on the sample shirt that they will cut before they complete my body template, which I agreed to. I explained that it was unlikely that I could be back before June but she said Charvet had no desire to rush me, so long as I paid the deposit I could come back in two or three years time and they would not mind. That sat well with me and served to remind me that this business develops long term relationships with their customers.

It was once said of Charvet in 1863 that they were the first producer of fine shirts, superiority in taste and elegance in cuffs, bibs and fit. And, in 1889 a jury at the Paris World Fair declared that 'fine shirts remain the property and glory of Paris' .

These days there is stiff competition. When I follow other shirt makers on Instagram I can see that there are truly some remarkable shirt makers out there, especially some of the artisan makers in Italy. But for all the fine details and fanfare that some of these makers offer, none of them remain an institution like Charvet, a place where you could literally spend a day choosing first your shirting and then your collars and cuffs and details. Add to this, Charvet remains one of the few places that remain where a collar is made of 6 unfused layers of cotton shirting rather than being constructed with high-grade fusing. This traditional method of making gives a long lasting and robust collar with a very elegant and natural feel about it.

I've got a good year most probably before I can give you my final summary of what it's like to own a bespoke Charvet shirt but most certainly I have gotten the ball rolling on a bucket list item and I encourage any of you going through Paris, go, without delay or hesitation, to 28 Place Vendôme and get swept up in everything that is and was Charvet and what it might become tomorrow.

Charvet, referenced in my book by Somerset Maugham as I flew to Europ

Some things never disappoint, like re-entering the Place Vendome
The Mecca of fine menswear and still an inspiration to me ten years on.

Hard not to fall in love in these streets.
The Australian who has come to get his shirt pattern inducted into the hall of fame....

A lovely self polka dot fabric on Charvet's Mur Des Blancs

Sabrina and Mintou taking 28 measures to cover all aspects of my torso

Home and wearing silk in all sorts of ways .... because it's Paris and you can....

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Notes From The South Coast And Country New South Wales

My early morning dip on Bondi was reasonably quick as I was trying to get to the Studio to shut up shop and pick up a few last things before I headed off for the South Coast.

I had decided that I would try my luck driving through Braidwood and onwards to Tilba via Batemans Bay rather than to attempt the coastal road.

The country was greener than I had expected. Often at this time of year the earth is already scorched but instead I found it lush from the inland to the coast. In fact, I don't think I saw a dry bit of land in my entire tour. 

As is usual for me I was longing to be on my own with my music. I have recently been collecting new songs and some of them seemed ripe for a road trip. Amongst them was Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" , The Little River Band's "Reminiscing" , Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell" which forms the opening credits to Ken Burns' documentary on the American Civil War. Then there was Marianne Faithfull's cover of "As Tears Go By", The Pretenders "Hymn To Her" , Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice", Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man", Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" .

My first stop was to visit some friends that had renovated a house near Tilba. They were beneath a mountain that was part of lands that were on native title I was told. The mountain was sacred to the local indigenous tribes. It was a charming dramatic backdrop and as the sun faded into twilight it was backed by a beautiful violet light that saw a faint crescent moon rising. 

At night we ate very well and sat up drinking scotch on the patio with a cool wind blowing and plenty of ice in the deep freeze but no air conditioning in the rooms. Thankfully the weather was hot only on the first evening with rain setting in the following day. 

When I departed on Christmas morning I left at 4am - to ensure that I did not bump into too many police cars which seemed to be in droves on my way down to the South Coast. I arrived in Canberra, had Christmas lunch with my family, played soccer both physically and virtually on a Sony Playstation. After a lot of meat I fell into a food coma and woke again at 4am the following morning and went back to the coast to visit some other friends who had recently finished their new dwelling which was ultra modern with it's modernity offset by a very interesting garden that gave the architecture more humanity. The drive was extraordinary, cruising down the Monaro highway at great speed before winding down Brown Mountain and coming down into the valley until I reached Cobargo. Then on to Tilba, this time following the rolling green hills down to the sea. 

In the morning I got up early and swam one of the those uninhabited South Coast beaches where you have to have a certain trepidation when treading between heath and beach for there are always black and brown snakes around, and then as you enter the water you have to assume that if you get caught by the rip there will be nobody for you to call out to. It can often take the edge off your enjoyment as the waves do not seem to be as rhythmic as those that you get on Bondi Beach. 

I swam a little, rinsed my nostrils and went back to the house. I departed a little after ten and was glad to be on the road as my hosts were the clean living organic types and after a while if I hear too much of it my shadow starts to crave a double quarter pounder from McDonalds and in fact, since I was on a road trip, I sided with my shadow. I drove back to Cooma, pacing myself again up Brown Mountain and marvelling at just how beautiful the country was. It was some of the best country in New South Wales - clean- unspoilt, rolling and cascading and never short of drama as it moved from the sea to estuaries, lakes and then mountains and highlands. 

At Cooma, satiated by a double quarter pounder and a chocolate thick shake I moved on towards Canberra, collected some cables I left behind and then headed off for Kangaloon where I intended to meet up with more friends. And when I arrived a garden party was in full swing - it was perfect timing.

The following day I made an error of judgement. One which I won't go into. Suffice to say it involved two coffees and a female friend. You don't sweep an older woman off her feet it seems, instead she sweeps you under the carpet.

But this was my 2017 - a pastiche of different experiences, exciting and rich but also painful and with continued suffering. First world suffering. A bad ankle, a bruised heart, a sore back - but mostly it was all pretty well sorted. Looking back I could not have imagined so many things to have occurred in one year and none of them would I take back. But with the good you must take the bad, the hard-nosed, the cruel and the unfair. The psychotherapist I see occasionally said to me two things of great import this year, one of which was a response to the question I posed to her: 

"What the hell am I to make of all this ?"

To which she responded - "that life is beautiful, but painful".

I am inclined to agree. 

And to the next great pearl of wisdom, which I intend to exercise in 2018 - "What I Practice I Become"

My road trip was a great way to cap off a year of extraordinary highs and lows, of change, of self-awareness and overcoming a whole bunch of mental obstacles along the way. 

I am grateful that our customers have supported this business throughout the year and my hope is that all these experiences will somehow filter into making better products and having a better perspective on what makes for a bow tie or tie that you fall in love with, something which hits you on a personal level. That's my hope anyway. That in 2018 we create some great silks and that I go back to work with a relish and zest inspired by the year that just passed. 

What a year. I hope yours was equally as interesting and I look forward to serving you in the new year. I depart for Como, Italy on the 7th January to source new fabrics, meet new contacts and it will be my first time seeing Como in winter. 

Again, thank you, see you in 2018. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Writer's Block And The Continual Search For Meaning

Lately I have been having a terrible time keeping up the blog. Instagram is such an addictive and easy way to tell stories on the go and to create good blog content takes time and careful consideration, plus you are required to write longer passages which require more depth of knowledge. As I get older this seems to be dogging me, as well as my enthusiasm to create new menswear content. Whereas once I had few customers and more time on my hands, these days I seem to be in between one wedding party order, cutting silks on the bench, photographing new stock or packing and sending stock. It's not a complaint, but I seldom get those long stretches of 'nothing to do' which I used to fill with researching and writing blog content.

And hasn't Instagram taken off. I rarely use Facebook these days, I seldom even look at my twitter account. I seem to spend my life drawn to two apps, Whatsapp and Instagram. So, admittedly, the blog has suffered, my writing has suffered and, judging by the stats, my audience has suffered too.

The other issue has been the genuine reflexivity offered by Instagram over the blog. We get to stay in touch with our customers, repost their photos of them wearing bow ties, hear their stories and genuinely get a sense of community amongst lovers of bow ties, which the blog doesn't offer because you only get to see what I write. There is a great joy I get when I wake up in the morning and see who has tagged us over night. Most of the photos come from a select few but it's so nice to see your bow ties in Miami, New York, London, Paris, Milan, San Franciso and so on.

So, to those of you who still read our blog, be patient, I have writer's block for the moment and don't know what else to write about for the time being. I encourage you to duck across to our Instagram but I totally get it if you don't want to be a part of it - you can get sucked up into the vortex and never seem to get your head out of it.

Anyway, I thought I would add just a few shots of things that have been relevant to us over the past few weeks and stop past the website as we just uploaded some new silks.

Magnus Omme stopped past and helped me make this movie on how to tie your LNP bow tie

This is our bonsai limited edition silk design. The portrait is by Magnus Omme

This is a wonderful Franck Mueller watch on a customer who took the first of our evil eye limited edition silk.

The new limited edition evil eye silk was produced on an exceptional loom we have not had the opportunity to work on before. The silk is considerably more expensive to produce. 

This is our customer Thomas Carle who sent in this photo when he went to pick up his new car. He has been a big supporter of Le Noeud Papillon

A set of wedding ties I was asked to tie on the wedding party this Sunday just passed. The double four in hand knot looked exceptional on this navy ottoman silk.

New Japanese yuzen silk bow ties that have just been released on the website.