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Friday, June 30, 2006


Guess who stopped by the tie blog yesterday? None other than Gene Meyer, tie designer extraordinaire, the tie maestro, the tiestro, if you will (though I'll understand if you won't)! He corrected a factual error on my October 22, 2005 entry; I've posted a correction there, but I will reiterate it here: Chris Coleman never worked for Gene Meyer. The similarity of his ties to Gene Meyer ties is a result of copying the style, not of having personally worked with or learned from Mr. Meyer.

Today I wore another Stradivari by Park Lane tie. It is not an original necktie made by Antonio Stradivari in Cremona, Italy, between 1680 and 1737, but is a more recent copy.

This tie represents a real labor of love. When I got it, it had a massive stain on the front. So I spent a few sessions treating it with stain remover, then I put it through three rounds in the washing machine (it's not silk), then I did some intense ironing to flatten out the lining, which had gotten all bunched up in the washer. It's still not perfect, but good enough to wear once!

I have finally gotten around to listing a new batch of ties for sale on ebay, most of them former blog features.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine

Every vintner should have its own line of neckties. This one is called "Chant de Vigne," and was made by Ichthys of France for Pommery Champagne in a limited edition of 500. It features red grapes, green and purple grape leaves, and yellow butterflies on an astoundingly rich royal blue background, and bears a passing resemblance (including top-notch materials and construction) to the fine neckties of Leonard of Paris. Nice. Thanks once again to my daughter for the photo!

"Bottle of Wine," my own favorite chant de vigne, was a huge hit for the Fireballs in 1967, and can still be heard on oldies stations today. It was written by Tom Paxton and recorded by both Judy Collins and The Kingston Trio before the Fireballs got around to it, but I've never heard those earlier renditions. I bet they don't have that croaking baritone that makes the Fireballs' version so much fun, though. (The Fireballs are still performing, with two original members.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here comes the sun

(And as everyone knows, the next lyrics to that song are "do do do do".) After four days of heavy rainfall, we finally had a sunny day today, which I have celebrated by wearing this unusual "Th" by Deme. I've never seen a tie constructed like this before: two pieces of linen, one green and one blue, sewn together right down the middle, with a linen sun applique machine-embroidered on, and 12:00 and 6:00 Roman numeral clock markings as well. If I lay on the ground in the right orientation and hold my arm up I could be a sundial; that's an exercise for a future date, but it does reinforce my notion that this tie feels more like a garden accessory than a fashion accessory. It would look right at home in the Design Toscano catalog, for instance. As for its actual origin, I have no clue; please leave a comment if you have any information about it. Now according to my tie it's time to put the kids to bed, so good night. (And many thanks to my daughter for taking this photo!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Black sunburst

This tie isn't colorful--it only has two colors, and the least colorful of all the colors at that--but that's all Gene Meyer needs to create a fantastic op art polka-dot sunburst. (Or a stainless-steel colander, as Mrs. Veneer posits.) His designs can be maddeningly simple, yet instantly attractive and unforgettable. That's genius at work.

And now I will blather on about Ithaca some more. For all its spots of scenic beauty--Fall Creek, Beebe Lake, Ithaca Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Cayuga Lake, etc.-- my favorite site was the sculpture garden at the Cornell Arboretum. There stand several large sculptures made by a Cornell art class in 1961-1963 of reinforced concrete: one is a stylized bull or minotaur, one is a pair of abstract shapes involved in some form of coupling, another is a trio of slender towers that look like one of Richard Powers's alien landscapes come to life. The setting is perfect, a glade in the midst of old trees on three sides, giving the sculptures the appearance of a space age magic circle. They stand as a monument to the power of the human imagination; not just the imagination to dream up strange forms and realize them in concrete, but also to adapt, to face changes and to effect changes, to find creative solutions to real problems. If you visit Ithaca, don't miss this special place.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back to the real world

Ithaca was wonderful (gorges, in fact), but my vacation is over, and today was my first day back at work. Today was a Big Meeting day, so I wore a tie with sea turtles on it, a reasonable approximation of the mascot of the university at which I work. The tie is by Desert Designs and is the work of Australian Aboriginal artist Doris Gingingara (1946-1999); note the crabs woven into the silk! (I was impressed today when the design was correctly identified as Australian sea turtles by a man who works upstairs from me, and whose name is quite similar to mine: we're next to each other in the department phone directory, and we sometimes receive phone calls meant for the other.)

While in Ithaca I discovered the beers of Middle Ages Brewing Company of Syracuse (and in researching it on the web I've just discovered A Good Beer Blog, which even features the beer store I went to, and will now become regular reading). The Middle Ages brews I sampled don't appear on that blog, though: Dragonslayer Imperial Stout (excellent) and the delightfully-named Druid Fluid barleywine-style ale (good but a little too hoppy for my taste, similar to Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Ale). Ithaca has its own brewery as well, the Ithaca Beer Company. Their Apricot Wheat and Nut Brown beers are quite tasty; unfortunately I was in Ithaca the wrong time of year for the Gorges Smoked Porter winter brew, which sounds like just my thing. Maybe my local store will stock it this winter; stranger things have happened.

Friday, June 23, 2006


This tie from one-stop-shop clothing retailer Bachrach pays homage to M.C. Escher's tricks of perspective.


No maker label on this vintage tie, so I settled on the moniker "Supermod." Note there are two different shades of red.

Psychedelic Moire

Another blast from the past is this multicolored patchwork of moire patterns from Battaglia.


Here's the tie I wore to my first interview for my current job, a nice tiled number from Canali.


I have been remiss in posting archival tie photos while on vacation in Ithaca, primarily due to a wonky internet connection. But it's working right now, so here's a brilliant Pucci-inspired tie from Pat Argenti.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Vacation, day 2

Today's tie is a genuine five-and-a-half-inch-wide Bellywarmer by Leslie; the label depicts a cartoon hippie, naked but for a giant necktie that reaches his knees, surrounded by flies. Nice, huh?

We spent today in Boston, visiting my brother, his wife, and their new baby! He is adorable! The kids were all taken with him, too, and we got some great pictures. Next stop, Ithaca, New York!

Vacation, day 1

While on vacation I'm presenting ties that I wore and passed on (but kept the ebay photo) before I started the tie blog; today's tie is by Kentucky artist Kim Huber.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Flag day

The real significance of today's date is that it's my daughter's birthday (she's nine today), but some people also celebrate Flag Day today. So for Flag Day (and my daughter, who has always liked the flag of the United States of America because they share a birthday), I wore a special red, white, and blue paisley tie by Giorgio Redaelli. It even has a bonus shade of blue in it! Nonetheless, it was greeted with universal disappointment at the office, where everyone apparently expected me to wear a red-and-white striped shirt and a wild(er) tie. (I don't know where they got the idea that I would wear something like that.) But my daughter liked it, as did my dad and the other parents at her birthday party, so it all came out okay.

This is the last tie I will wear before my vacation which begins tomorrow, and on which I will not be wearing ties. But never fear, I will post some archival photos from the road for your viewing pleasure, and I'll be back on June 26 with a new tie. Ciao!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Qiana was a nylon fabric invented by DuPont in 1968, and was so hot that it was actually used as the brand name for clothing as well, such as this tie. Qiana was meant to be silk-like, and I can attest that it does look and feel more like silk than any other synthetic tie fabric I've handled, but it's still not quite the same. It is literally louder than silk, i.e. it makes more of a rustling noise when tying the tie. For that matter, the pattern on this tie is louder than most too!

In 1980, U.S. Patent #4238191 was granted for a process whereby alcohol is used to bulk the Qiana (linear polycarbonamide) fibers. The patent application makes interesting reading (or skimming), as it provides insight into the heavy chemistry involved in synthetic textile production.

(This was the original shirt I picked out to go with last Friday's tie, but the pinks in the tie didn't get along with the pink in the shirt, so I had to pick another shirt; and the rest is infamy.)

Monday, June 12, 2006


Following up Friday's combo was a daunting task, but I figure you can never go wrong with a Pucci tie, so here's one. It's not quite a prime Pucci; it's a nice psychedelic take on baroque floral patterns, but it's not one of the free-wheeling, mind-blowing, out-of-nowhere fantasies for which Pucci is best known. And it has the little "Emilio" signatures all over it so the knowledgeable viewer will have no doubt that it's the Real Deal. It is a beautifully made tie as well, with a heavy lining and a nice taper, so that I was able to get a perfect knot and length on the first try. That justifies a large part of the price tag (~$130 for a new one) (but less on eBay if you're persistent) right there.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman

Boy, did I feel like a candy-colored clown today! What are the odds of finding a shirt and tie with so many different colors that (almost) match? An officemate even wondered if they came together as a set, but no, they are separated by decades in manufacture, the shirt from 2005 and the tie from around 1970 (by "Hall of Fame" and made of silk, something of a rarity from that era). Wearing this outfit I felt like Charlie Higson's office joker Colin Hunt from The Fast Show (though he's a bit lacking in the necktie department). Charlie Higson is my idol of the moment. In the 1980s he fronted the Norwich-based band The Higsons, who specialized in both energetic 60s-style pop ("Music to Watch Girls By") and more contemporary funky silliness (you can't beat the groove they work up in "Gotta Let This Heat Out" or the giddiness of "I Don't Want to Live With Monkeys"), with a horn section (a.k.a. the estimable Terry Edwards) and everything, all expertly arranged; think Talking Heads without the artistic pretensions. I even saw them at DC's legendary Bayou nightclub (demolished in 1999), where my party of three made up about half the audience. Higson exhorted us all to dance, but I was eighteen and too self-conscious to dance in an empty club, so I just sat there and bobbed my head to a fantastic set. The Higsons' infectious tunes are documented on three CD's: Curse of the Higsons, Attack of the Cannibal Zombie Businessmen, and It's a Wonderful Life (the latter two graced with cartoon cover art by Higson himself). Higson and college pal Paul Whitehouse went on to create and star in the fast-paced comedy The Fast Show in the 90s, which I think is pretty obviously the blueprint for the current (and raunchier) hit Little Britain. There have also been at least three spinoffs of The Fast Show: Ted and Ralph, Grass, and Swiss Toni. But that's not all there is to Charlie Higson: he's a novelist too! I've just read his crime caper novel Getting Rid of Mister Kitchen, which reminded me of Martin Amis's Money but funnier, gorier, and less Self-important (a little in-joke there, haha!). He's written three more crime novels which I'll be enjoying later, and now he is writing the official Young James Bond novel series (Flash site here). My son is reading the first one now, Silverfin; he says it's "good," which from him is a ringing endorsement. Howard Stern, King of All Media? No way, it's Charlie Higson!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


This is a contemporary tie (Italian silk, but maker unknown) that embodies all the soubriquets usually applied to fabulous 50s designs: atomic, retro, mid-century modern, tiki, lounge, Eames era, etc. The best feature of the tie is its astounding variety of textures: each color has its own particular weave pattern. And what a great sheen, too! This necktie is an extraordinary piece of work and is destined for the Permanent Collection.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

It takes a new shirt

I've had this Gene Meyer tie for a year and a half, and could never find the right outfit for it. My orange shirt was more of a melon color and didn't really go with the tie; I could have worn it with a black shirt, but that would necessitate wearing black pants too, and I just can't wear that much black. So I finally got a "harvest orange" shirt (with my latest Lands' End order), and it all turned out just right. The ensemble is really more appropriate for Halloween, but I didn't want to wait another five months to wear the tie. It may seem extreme to buy a shirt for a specific tie, but the tie was losing hope, and desperate ties call for desperate measures. ;-P Besides, one can never have too many colors in one's palette of shirts. Believe it or not, I have a queue of several ties for which this shirt is just the ticket.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I am now at Liberty to disclose...

Another Liberty of London tie! Who designed Liberty's signature floral textiles? Arthur Liberty did not disclose that information; in the art nouveau era he went for quantity, embracing mass production and affordable prices, as opposed to one-of-a-kind objets d'art and their attendant high costs. (He also favored botanical designs over those depicting the human body.) But now we can know, if not who designed which design, at least a short list of designers who might have: see this page at The Arts and Crafts Home website (and search for "textile"). I am especially impressed with Silver Studio of Hammersmith, London, a family business that provided Liberty with designs from 1880 to 1963. The Silver Studio Design Practice Collection at the Middlesex University Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture contains 40,000 textile designs on paper; I'd bet a lot of them showed up on neckties. (Maybe this one!)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Emilio Max

The label has fallen off of this vintage tie, so I can't tell you the maker. The style looks like an effort to imitate both Emilio Pucci and Peter Max, though it lacks the fine balance and grace that those gentlemen brought to their neckties. I have the same tie in a different colorway, and it might still have the label on it, but it's getting rather difficult to find a particular tie in the necktie jungle of the bedroom. In other words, I couldn't immediately find it (as in that journalistic chestnut, "Phone calls to the accused were not immediately returned."). I should invest in some retail merchandising racks.

Today I had lunch with a group of people from work (including my boss, and his boss; no pressure there!) and I got to talk about my necktie hobby at some length. I explained that I have a wide variety of ties, from wild, psychedelic models to more traditional, conservative ties like this one. Ba-dum! No, I didn't really say that, I didn't think of it until afterwards. If I could come up with the good lines on the spot, I'd be on the teevee. But instead I just walk around thinking "I should've said...", lacking the compunction to recreate the scenario a la George Costanza in "The Comeback." (Emo Phillips had a great "should've said" joke, which you can read here.)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Royal Tie

This tie is from the venerable Turnbull and Asser of Jermyn Street (London), shirtmakers to HRH The Prince of Wales (that's Prince Charles) since 1980. Turnbull and Asser is the name in fine British shirts (off-the-rack and bespoke--ooh, one of these days...), and their other menswear isn't too shabby either. (Though Charles has recently taken some flak for buying suits from them, leaving his longtime Savile Row suitmakers Anderson & Sheppard.) Family-owned since its founding in 1885, Turnbull and Asser was bought by House of Fraser in 1986, months after that company was bought by the Al-Fayed family. House of Fraser went public in 1994, and appears to be on the verge of a buyout right now. Turnbull and Asser has two stores in the United States, in New York and Beverly Hills.

I've said before that all you need is circles to make a great tie design, and here is another case in point, one of Turnbull and Asser's most famous patterns. They also have a marvelous snakes pattern, but I haven't managed to get one of those yet. And forget what I said yesterday about Carnaby Street bellywarmers; I've just learned it was Turnbull and Asser who came out with the "kipper tie," the first bellywarmer. I stand corrected (said the man in the orthopedic shoes).

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Flower Power

Here's a tie that would fit right in at The Party, Blake Edwards' classic screwball comedy starring Peter Sellers. It is definitely of that era, in the Carnaby Street "bellywarmer" style (though at 4.5" wide it's about an inch short of a true bellywarmer). Birdie num-num?

Well, we had a few weeks of spring weather, and now it is officially a Washington summer, with temperatures and relative humidity in the 90s. That's challenging weather for wearing ties, I tell you what. But wearing ties is what I do best, so I will persevere.