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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Pauline Trigere

This week's ties have been heavy on the red scale, so I decided to mitigate the reds today with a cream and marine blue vintage number from Pauline Trigere (1909-2002). Pauline Trigere was born in Paris to Russian Jewish parents, and was assisting in the family business as a seamstress by the age of ten. In 1937 she emigrated to New York and began working in the fashion industry; in 1945 she debuted her own line. She became a very successful designer, winning many major awards (including the French Legion of Honor) and being inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame. The information I have found contains no references to menswear; I imagine her neckties were an outgrowth of her women's scarf designs. Like last week's Tutto Uomo tie, this one starts with a very basic pattern--two colors of stripes overlaid with hollow circles--then tweaks the basics (making the lines wavy, varying the size and spacing of the circles) to heighten the visual appeal. Outtasight! Pauline Trigere's complete fashion sketchbooks from 1944-1994 (and several garments) are now in the collection of The Fashion School at Kent State University, where many are available for online viewing.

So much for 2005. After a week off of work, I am looking forward to wearing ties again, starting Tuesday! Have a safe and happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Cosby sweater

Coogi of Australia was founded in the 1970s by Mr. Jacky Taranto (originally as Cuggi) and rocketed to international prominence in the 1980s, as Bill Cosby regularly wore their multicolored, scultped-knit sweaters on The Cosby Show (so much so that they became known as "Cosby sweaters"). As with all great design innovations, Coogi spawned legions of imitators, the best of which is Tundra of Canada, whose wares are virtually indistinguishable from genuine Coogis. Coogi also made neckties; most of them were simply plain silk ties printed with a Coogi sweater pattern, but the top-of-the-line ties, like the one featured today, were actually woven from colored silk threads into intricate sculpted patterns, and stand as a high-water mark in necktie design. Declining sales and some shady financial dealings by Mr. Taranto threw the company into bankruptcy in 2002; it was bought by an American investment team in 2003, which launched five new Coogi fashion lines (manufactured by Samsung!).

Efforts to extend the Coogi sweater look to other articles of clothing have produced mixed results. The Coogi golf suits in pastel tones worn by Jack Black and Ben Stiller in Envy are especially silly-looking, and I saw some matching sweater-pants suits on ebay a couple years ago that I can't imagine anyone wearing. In a continuation of a troubling trend, neckties seem to have been dropped from the lineup.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


There are no attributtions at all on this tie, so I can't credit the designer. (I can't look for more, either, darn it!) The design reminds me of a 70s-era abstract landscape, particularly of the type found in layered candles of that decade. We had a remarkable one in our house, with an orange sun set in a white sky at the top, and then layers of wax going down to the bottom, progressing from yellow to gold to deep orange. Maybe it's still there; it was much too pretty to burn. If you are adventurous enough to melt wax on your stovetop, you can make a layered candle with these instructions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Executive Fashions

Believe it or not, the brand name on this polyester barkcloth necktie is Executive Fashions. Oh, for the days when executives exhibited such mod designs! I'm doing my part to bring those days back, but I need your help: wear wild ties! Even if you don't have to! Bring sartorial wit and whimsy back into the workplace! Make it your New Year's resolution! We shall overcome corporate drabness and conformity!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


You can't go wrong with circles and spirals, as in this tie from Londonderry. Others don't share my enthusiasm, though; it took several listings on eBay before someone bought this tie, and then for just 99 cents. On the plus side, at least it will get worn again to brighten another corner of the world.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Last Tie Day of the Year

(With a nod to Cousteau.) What happens if you take a regular square grid, and then squiggle the lines, then fill in the spaces with bright, contrasting colors? Psychedelic magic! That's really all there is to this Tutto Uomo tie, but the effect is totally awesome and a great way to close out the year. It even inspired me to try my hand at a barely-remembered grade school craft: construction paper weaving. I made a squiggly grid in three colors, and an op-art "globe." Nothing as fantastic as this, but my kids were impressed. I won't be working or wearing any ties next week, but I will post some beauties from the archive. Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fake quilt

I like bold, simple designs, but I am also a sucker for colorful, intricately detailed patterns as well. Here's another Saint Michel tie (see my 9/1/05 tie) with a printed pattern that mimics a patchwork quilt, albeit on a smaller scale. It's a great mix of tiles featuring flowers, leaves, and general shapes with a nice distribution of colors. Like yesterday's tie, the basic layout is a grid, and tomorrow's tie will be yet another grid, with a twist (literally)...


In 1880, Hermann Prochownick left his home in Leipzig for the textile-manufacturing city of Milan to make neckties. The company he founded survives to this day, one of the oldest tie makers in existence, and boasts perhaps the best logo of all of them:

(Presumably the red tie is a Prochownick, while all the others are not.) This tie starts with a multicolored grid, a simple but fun design, and then overlays another grid with a hand-drawn look at a 45-degree angle. Hand-drawn images always tend to look whimsical, so the overall effect of this tie is festive indeed, as befits the season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New Moon on Tuesday

(Yes, that is a Duran Duran reference, modified to fit the occasion.) The moon is perhaps mankind's second-oldest symbolic image (the first being the sun), serving as calendar, providing a metaphor for the cycle of birth, growth, decline, death, and rebirth, and representing the nighttime and all its attendant mysteries. The moon has been deified in countless cultures, and consequently reviled in some quarters as a symbol of Satanism (Procter and Gamble was forced to retire its 130-year-old moon-and-stars logo in 1985 due to false allegations of Satanism). "Moon" was one of the first words spoken by each of my kids, and I suspect that holds true for many others. Maybe it has something to do with the immensely popular children's book Goodnight Moon, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, first published in 1947 and in print ever since. That's an unlikely source for a swirling controversy, yet there is one swirling about it right now: for its new hardcover (non-board) edition of the book, publisher HarperCollins has altered the photo of Hurd, which has appeared on the back cover for over 50 years, by digitally removing a cigarette from his right hand. So as not to encourage kids to smoke, you see. What's next, putting hair on Shel Silverstein to discourage kids from becoming skinheads?

But I digress. The moon being such a powerful image, it was inevitable that it would find its way onto neckties, such as this one from Perry Ellis. The traditional man-in-the-moon motif has been markedly feminized in this depiction, giving it a vaguely art-nouveau feel. I like it. Clever tie designer Josh Bach has designed an exceptionally clever moon tie called Moon Phases; I think I'll get one one of these days.

Monday, December 19, 2005

How do you like them apples?

One more holiday party, one more holiday tie. It never occurred to me before to use apples as Christmas decorations, but with their red skins and green leaves, they're perfect. And I owe that revelation to this unattributed tie from the Modaitalia Store.

In my house there is an ongoing debate over which variety of apples to buy. My daughter prefers the green Granny Smith apples (a fixed-mutation variety originally found in Australia), but they are too hard and tart for me and give me a headache. Mrs. Veneer likes Gala (developed in New Zealand from Golden Delicious and Cox's Orange Pippin) and Fuji (a Japanese hybrid of American Red Delicious and Ralls Janet varieties) apples; their skins are sprinkled with yellow, they have a nice, sweet flavor, and the meat of the fruit retains its crispness for a good while. They both look down on the Red Delicious (not bred but discovered in Peru, Iowa in 1874, and orginally called Hawkeye), the workhouse of the apple world, but too common for them, and prone to mushiness. But I think it's the best of them all; its skin has a rich, full flavor that is lacking in other varieties, and at its freshest is even crisper than the fancy-pants apples without being too hard. Some say the Red Delicious is not the apple it used to be, as in this Washington Post article. On the other hand, there is evidence that Red Delicious apples provide more health benefits than other apples. But in the end, any apple is better than no apple.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Georgina von Etzdorf

If "Tino Cosma" is the coolest men's name in neckwear, then Georgina von Etzdorf is a strong candidate for the female title. The British von Etzdorf is an alumna of the Camberwell College of the Arts, and founded her textile firm with two associates in 1978. Their textile workshop building in Salisbury, a reconstructed antique barn, has won awards for innovative construction and renovation. Von Etzdorf was elected to the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry in 1995, which entitles her to add "RDI" after her name. On a personal note, she likes to eat fried quail's eggs with serrano ham. (That sounds good to me, but the local supermarket doesn't stock quail's eggs, yet.)

Georgina von Etzdorf fabrics are invariably praised for their "sensuality," which I think means that they drape well and have exceptional printed patterns and/or fancy weaves. I'm quite happy with this tie, with its colorful polka dots and swirls and multipatterned jacquard weave, but it's marred by that bane of necktie collectors, the pulled thread. Silk is so fine that if it gets snagged, a thread will pull right out. All it takes is a fingernail (and just try to put on a tie without touching it with your fingernails!), and zoop--pulled thread! Sometimes it's not noticeable, but when there is a lot of contrast between the thread color and the print color (or, in the case of a woven pattern, between the threads themselves), the absence of a single thread can be glaring. This tie has two long threads missing, forming a giant X across the middle of the tie. It's too fine to show up in the photo, though, and maybe too fine for anyone else to notice in person. I'm very picky, apparently (according to a certain Mrs. V.). This tie was made in England, but the latest batch of Georgina von Etzdorf ties was made in Italy. I don't know if that says anything about the state of British manufacturing, but it seems vaguely forboding.


Today was the day of my departmental holiday party, and that means-- time to break out the brilliant crimson Levi's cords! (A 1993 thrift store find.) Red pants necessitate a green shirt, and to top it all off, a Gene Meyer Christmas tree tie, which in turn dictates a blue jacket. And so, voila! Unfortunately the party, which was to be held offsite at the historic Riversdale Mansion, was cancelled due to inclement weather, so my outrageous holiday duds did not get as large an audience as they deserved. Until now, that is.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Definitive Gene

This tie is quintessential Gene Meyer: a very few simple shapes in a bold color scheme. I was happy to have the bluest of blue shirts (by DKNY) on hand to match the intense blue square. Suit you, Sir! Oh!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Happy Goth

Here's another tie by Claude Montana, featuring some green flowers and a seemingly-random orange flourish. But it's the background that is most intriguing: it looks sort of like batik, but not quite; sort of like raku, but that's a pottery finish that I don't think translates to silk; and sort of like cobwebs. (Cobwebs + bright flowers = The Happy Goth.) (Yes, that's another Divine Comedy reference.) I'm guessing it was produced using a photographic process, but that's as close as I can figure. Whatever the method, the result is a necktie unlike any other I've seen, and a worthy addition to the tie blog.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Living dangerously

When I put on this Gene Meyer satin tie this morning, I had no idea that this was the day of my office holiday potluck luncheon. So not only did I attend the luncheon without bringing anything, I had to do it without getting any food on my expensive tie! There's office daredeviltry for you! And guess what-- I made it through the meal unscathed! Granted, I didn't hot-dog it; I avoided the most saucy dishes (having a saucy dish of my own at home-- ba-dum!) and did not have a drink. For a more extreme challenge, I might try wearing a tie to Cactus Willie's next time I take the family. Not a Gene Meyer, though, that would be foolish.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow day

We got a few inches of snow last night, so they closed the schools and the kids had a snow day. You could do worse for family movie fare than Snow Day, which has a pretty trite storyline but a couple nice touches for the grownups, namely comedian (and now novelist!) Chris Elliott as the kid-hating snowplow driver, and unlikely rock'n'roll survivor Iggy Pop as the Lawrence Welk-loving ice rink DJ. And Chevy Chase phones in another goofy dad performance. (At least his bank is thriving.)

So check out this tie (I only got half a snow day), I managed to wear one that's not only representational (a rarity for my abstract aesthetic proclivities), but topical as well. Snow-covered rooftops! Exotic ones, at that: Russian and Eastern European, by the looks of them. It's the onion dome and helmet dome, particular to Eastern Orthodox churches, that give it away. I wondered why anybody thought to make roofs in that shape in the first place, and it turns out it's to keep snow off the roof. And sure enough, the helmet dome and onion dome depicted on the tie have very little snow on them! So chalk one up for the designers at Andrew's Ties for verisimilitude. Now click here if you're interested in learning all the symbolism behind the coloring and placement of onion domes.

Move 'em out

'Tis the season to sell neckties, so I'm working on getting some of the high-end ties off of my racks, around my neck, onto the blog, and subsequently onto eBay. Here's another Gene Meyer tie; rather than repeating all my Gene Meyer info, here's a link to an earlier post that contains most of it. More Gene Meyer ties coming next week!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Keith Haring

During his tragically short life (1958-1990), Keith Haring created a unique body of work that became universally beloved for its messages of love, tolerance, and inclusiveness. This "Haring Vision" tie from The Museum Company features several of Haring's recurring motifs on high-quality jacquard silk. His legacy lives on in the Keith Haring Foundation, founded in 1989 to assist AIDS-related and children's charities, and his artwork can still be seen all over the place, including a website just for kids.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Emilio Pucci!

Once upon a time, corporate uniforms could have some pizzazz, such as the flight staff uniforms designed by Emilio Pucci for the Braniff International airline. Pucci (Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento, to use his full name) was more responsible than anyone else for shaping and guiding the wild styles of 1960s psychedelic fashion, having already produced glorious printed clothing throughout the 50s. This tie's label reads "Emilio Pucci for Pistons Asso" and includes such telltale Pucci-isms as the stylized "EP" logo in a white oval on the front of the tie, and his signature repeated in a white band on the tail end. (Pistons Asso, as far as I can tell, is a manufacturer of pistons for small engines.) This is a minor Pucci, with little of the brilliant colors and flowing designs that characterize his best (and best-known) ties, but there are hints: the magenta highlight stripes, the fine mosaic work inside the larger stripes, and the freeform waviness of the stripes themselves. I can't afford major Puccis, but I have a couple fixer-uppers that I hope to display in due time. Stay tuned!

Clean Gene

There's something about stripping a design down to its most basic forms that is quite appealing, hence the lasting influence of minimalist art. Gene Meyer is a master of the minimalist necktie, without getting too minimal (i.e. a solid-color tie, which is to be avoided at all costs!). In the spirit of minimalism I will now conclude this entry.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Glen Baxter

I will now interrupt my regularly-scheduled programming to bring you a bit of necktie humor:

This cartoon appears in Glen Baxter's 1999 collection Blizzards of Tweed (Bloomsbury Publishing), though to call his works "cartoons" unjustly minimizes the grand scale of their drollery. And many of them are actually paintings or prints, exhibited in galleries worldwide as capital-A Art. They have been collected in a score of books which are readily available from just about every online bookseller. (Yet another thing for me to collect!) Better yet, there's plenty of stuff available for free viewing on Baxter's own website (in the Gallery). His primary subjects are eggs, amateur science, modern art, cowboys, and the tweed lifestyle, and his books are self-indexed by subject. This particular work is indexed under "Dishevelment, confessions of" and "Knitwear, unwise choices of". Though I personally find that tie pretty sporty-looking.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Tino Cosma

This Tino Cosma tie is another great score from the Modaitalia Store. The Cosma family has been making ties since 1946, and launched the fab Tino Cosma line in 1969. Even the name is cool. Say it out loud: "Tino Cosma!" The company branched out into fragrances in 1989 (ho-hum) and shirts in 1999 (they look spiffy). The mod flowers in sea green, cornflower, and wisteria (on the Crayola color scale) serendipitously matched the stripes in this shirt perfectly! They look sort of like non-slip bath decals, and they're overlaid with black outlines of arrowhead leaves, which could be either the climbing houseplant kind (Syngonium podophyllum) or the wetlands kind (Sagittaria latifolia). It's hard to tell, but it's just a drawing on a necktie, after all. There's also a geometric jacquard weave adding a third aesthetic level to the tie.... ... ... ... Which was nice.

(Yes, that is a Fast Show reference.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Where does Burl Veneer get such a glorious array of ties? Ebay, mostly. One of my favorite eBay vendors is the Modaitalia Store, in Italy. They have an amazing assortment of ties (mill surplus? store deadstock? probably both), with about 300 up for auction at any given time, most of them starting at just 99 cents! With such a low starting price it doesn't pay to add gallery pictures, so you have to look at each auction to see the tie, and most of them are rather plain, but there are enough imaginative ones to go on a shopping spree. Shipping is reasonably priced, and if you buy ten or more ties the shipping is free (if you don't mind surface mail, which takes a month or so). There are many premium ties available as well for $9.99 and up, with gallery pictures for easy browsing. Sometimes a tie doesn't have a maker label, in which case it is listed as a "Modaitalia tie," like this splendid modern-art fantasia. If I knew the maker I would add it to my Favorite Searches list in a flash; as it is, I'll just keep combing the Modaitalia listings, searching for more.