Le Noeud Papillon and Linkson Jackson

boxed-le-noeud-papillon

It’s funny how despite being a grown man I still get a slight buzz when returning home to find a parcel on the doorstep – even more so when it’s actually for me.

But who can blame me when what’s inside is one of Nicholas Atgemis’ beautiful bow ties. Nicholas is the founder of newish and upcoming Australian label Le Noeud Papillon. Just in case you were wondering, the name translates as ‘the knot of the butterfly’ and is how the French refer to bow ties. An unusual choice of name for a Sydney based label you might think. But that French connection makes itself felt through much of the collection of bows, ties and accessories, all of which possess a certain bohemian joie de vivre.

Now, I can’t claim any credit for discovering this label, those laurels belong to Will at A Suitable Wardrobe. I highly recommend you listen to the interview between Will and Nicholas which is still available as a podcast on iTunes. I’d also recommend Nicholas’ blog which is attached to his website.

tie-in-box-le-noeud-papillon

The arrival of this exquisitely executed bundle of silken joy was the first time I’d seen one of Nicholas’ ties in the flesh. This particular bow is called Oskar and is a navy ground and vertical white stripe, self-tie Mogador bow.

instructions-tying-bow-tie

Thick and lustrous the bow sits beautifully when tied and I’ll be wearing it to work on Monday. The silks come from Como in Italy, a 45 minute drive from Milan. A location famed for its fine silks, each pattern is woven from one of Nicholas’ own designs, as opposed to being selected from existing cloth books. This makes each tie a limited edition original. Of course such quality comes at a price, and while my tie was a very generous and gratefully received gift I’d have no hesitation in handing over my own money.

At the moment the only place to buy them is direct from Oz via Le Noeud Papillon online. However, for those of us in Europe, and especially Great Britain, that will change very shortly.

bow-on

I can’t claim any credit for discovering Le Noeud Papillon but remember where you first heard the name Linkson Jackson. A gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago, like me Linkson was a Parliamentary Researcher for a number of years. And also like me his love of clothes and fine accessories has brought about a change of career path.

Linkson will soon be launching his own online store specialising in luxury and hard to find accessories from around the world, including Le Noeud Papillon bows and a range of bespoke ties. Currently in the final stages of developing his retail website, the launch of the business is imminent. You’ll be the first to know when it does launch, and my poor old postman will be the second.

The Autumn Suit

autumn-suit

As I wandered through one of London’s royal parks on a recent weekend, I noticed a trail of crisp brown leaves pirouetting across the pathway; “Surely it can’t be autumn already?” I thought to myself, then feeling a pang as I caught sight of the crimson sunset behind Buckingham Palace, I realised that the ‘great’ British summer, ever fragile and short lived, would soon be over: good things never last, great things often never arrive. I thought of my lazy days by the sea, the gulp of salt water, the heat of the sun on my back, the distant sound of laughter and the warm, music-filled evenings overlooking a marina.

In an attempt to move on from my melancholy, I forced myself to reflect positively on the turn of the weather; no more brutally hot afternoons, forced to stumble around in sweat-soaked linen; no more flip-flops on the streets; no more uncomfortable, non air-conditioned dining rooms. I added to these pleasant ingredients the thought that the autumn of 2011, though still relatively distant, is already beginning to show itself on the racks of our favourite stores. Corduroy jackets, cardigans and raincoats are back; the sight of them, in the ‘heat’ of August is somewhat strange and I can only gaze upon them comfortably knowing that I have book ended this year’s summer with visits to warmer climes: a sojourn in Corsica is yet to come.

An early autumn suit is my current fixation; not one of winter’s greys or blues, no cool chalkstripes or crisp Glen Urquhart checks. I am looking for something the colour of sticky caramel, something to bridge between the pale linens, sky blues and whites of summer and the harder tones of the colder season. Something that will contrast with a French blue shirt but compliment an autumnal check tie; something that will marry well with a folded linen square or a yellow paisley. It will glow in the intensity of an autumn sunset and be worn for pleasure as well as business, perhaps to the last al fresco dinner of the year.

In early autumn, it is the sort of suit that would be ideal on particularly sunny days, worn sockless with a pair of brown suede loafers or for a very casual look with a pair of driving shoes; later on in the season, it can be deployed with pink socks and a pair of chestnut brogues or a pair of oxblood Oxfords. A fetching effect could also be achieved by using the items as separates: a caramel jacket with a pair of white trousers can be used on days that still feel like summer, the caramel trousers can be deployed with a wool blazer when it feels a little chillier.

Keeping Your Cool

“IF you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” Rudyard Kipling(1895)

j-press-emblem

I recently took a punt on a few items from An Affordable Wardrobe shop. I say punt not because this is an unreliable source, far from, but because buying vintage clothes can be a bit tricky at the best of times. Buying vintage at a distance of 3000 miles away is even trickier. But I’m glad I followed my gut instincts.

Aside from a vintage shirt, previously discussed, I picked up two blazers. The pick of the haul was a genuine 1960s J Press black hopsack blazer. In fact, I was rather excited when I bagged this one. J Press is one of those wonderful labels that have entered the annals of sartorial folk law, being both a progenitor of the Ivy League look, and of course the guys that dressed Jack Kennedy. Not a brand with the slightest interest in ever coming to Britain, to get my hands on a bit of their kit from that golden era of 1960s, well I was chuffed beyond measure.

Now, this is not a tale of bitter disappointment and woe, the exact opposite in fact. Both blazers were in mint condition, particularly considering their age. No, the reason for bringing it up is to highlight the characteristics of a perfect summer jacket, for this is what both are.

Just to confound the doubters the last few days in England have been absolute scorchers. Hot, bright and uncomfortably close. By virtue of my new jacket and some profuse sweating on the days I’ve opted for a suit, I fully intend to rethink my summer work wardrobe incorporating certain characteristics into bespoke suits and jackets to be commissioned around March next year.

So what are the key components of a perfect summer suit or odd jacket?

Hopsack

hopsack

Hopsack is a loosely woven coarse fabric of cotton, linen or wool. As Hardy Amies points out in his ‘ABC of Men’s Fashion’, the name refers to the weave not the pattern, which has the appearance of minute squares.

Of course hopsack isn’t the only option available, but my experience is that it wears lighter than linen or mohair and wool mixes. A nice little article here (written by Simon Crompton) on Timothy Everest’s blog introduces Fresco. Another open weave cloth made from high twist wool yarns it’s perhaps more suited to suiting.

Buggy lined

quarter-lining

There is little point in having a lightweight open weave cloth if you then go and add layers of interlining and lining. Buggy lining as the picture above shows refers to a loosely attached lining which comes either 1/3 or 1/2 way down the back of the jacket. This means for reducing weight and layers is equally appropriate for odd jackets or summer suits, as demonstrated here.

Keep the padding to a minimum

unstructured-shoulder

As with the buggy lining the concept is a simple one; reduce layers, reduce weight and increase air flow. People often mistakenly use the term soft shouldered when they mean lightly structured. Soft shoulders follow more closely the natural curve of the shoulder and don’t have the acute angles from the neck and between the arm and the sleeve-head that normal more structured jackets do. My jacket is lightly structured. The only padding is a small amount in the sleeve-head. This makes for a light jacket and allows for a great deal of movement.

Patch pockets

patch-pockets-jacket

Another means of reducing layers and increasing air flow is having patch pockets. The pocket is attached directly to the outside facing cloth of the jacket, thereby removing the need for a pocket lining. Regular pockets not only have their own pocket linings but are usually attached to the inside lining of the jacket, and a good summer jacket should have as few linings as possible.

While it is too late to get suits made for this summer I shall be incorporating these lessons learnt in time for next year, where I hope to have the perfect summer suits.  If you can keep your cool while all around you are losing theirs…

Links: Hat Store, Right Bags, Shirt Colors…

jj-borsalino

• Two dandies visit J.J. Hat Center on Fifth Avenue at 32nd street. (uptowndandy.blogspot.com)

• In praise of Slowear. (acontinuouslean.com)

• A nice overview of ‘right bags.’ (blog.brooksbrothers.com)

• Style Icon: Sebastian Flyte (stjames-style.blogspot.com)

• Simplicity vs rakishness or can they work together? (dieworkwear.com)

• Don’t neglect tan and grey shirts. (asuitablewardrobe.dynend.com)

• Not to miss another installment by Nick Foulkes, especially when it – more or less – agrees with our Winston’s thoughts here. (howtospendit.com)

The Soft Roll Project: Update

button-down-soft

Long time readers may remember it’s been my ambition to start producing a few clothes under my own label. Every season I struggle to find certain items, but without the money to get all my clothes made for me I’ve decided this is the only answer. I’ve settled on a name for the label, and the clothes will be classically inspired, hard to find, limited edition items of good quality all sold at a fair price.

The first item I want to produce is a proper soft roll collar button down shirt, the kind that unofficial Ivy League archivist G. Bruce Boyer regularly waxes lyrical about. I’m yet to find a shirt with a proper soft roll at a reasonable price – lower than £100 – and this seemed a worthy first project.

Well, last week I met the manufacturer for my shirts and we discussed how we might go about this collaborative project. Each shirt will be:

-Made to order, within the European Union, by a shirt making family with a proud history and over two generations of experience behind it;

-Hand cut;

-Individually made by one artisan;

-Available in short, regular and medium sleeve lengths;

-Available in three colours: white, blue and pink;

-Of high quality 2-fold cotton from some of Europe’s finest mills

And provided my maths is sound I should be able to retail this for under £50. This would allow me to satisfy my other criterion that the shirt should be an affordable price, and like the originals accessible to both the banker and the student. Because each shirt is made to order the make time is 5 weeks, but this is also how I’m able to bring it in for such a reasonable price; reasonable when you consider plenty of labels charge a lot more for a lot less and still don’t deliver a guaranteed soft roll collar.

My manufacturer is currently working up samples which will allow us to experiment with the collar to get it just right.

With regard to stylistic points, the shirt will be in keeping with the original soft roll button downs by being closer to a regular cut rather than a slim fit – whose day is done I think. It will have button cuffs of course, a proper box pleat and a back button on the collar. I’ve decided against having a pocket, but all going well I will offer a double pocket version to be called the weekender at a later date.

And the name of this shirt, ‘Brooks was here’.