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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Enrico Coveri

Catching up here, the tie for Wednesday, April 25 was this paisley-like floral print from Enrico Coveri. Coveri was born in Prato, Italy, in 1952, and established his own fashion company in 1978. His clothing was known for a more youthful orientation than most fashion houses, and his extensive use of vibrant prints. Coveri died young, of a stroke, in 1990. His sister hired new designers and took charge of the company, which is still a going concern. Coveri's use of color is sometimes likened to Pucci's, but I have yet to see any similarities in their neckties.

Rainbow Plus

Tuesday's tie is another one from stockbroker-turned-fashion-mogul (now turned consultant) Pat Argenti; it features a baroque-style floral pattern in all eight colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, and... taupe (over the yellow). I have never seen a dull Argenti tie; I've seen some ugly ones, but they weren't boring.

We had another musical weekend: I took the kids to see The All-American Rejects at Cornell. Their brand of melodramatic pop-rock is perfect for teens and tweens (and college students too, apparently), though the lead singer's "clever bad-boy" persona is rather grating, and not clever. (He must have just learned two cuss words, which he used in every sentence between songs. Ooh, naughty!) But the kids enjoyed it, and they were thrilled to hear one of their favorite songs live ("Move Along", saved for the encore). (Q: What's the cheapest way to get an encore? A: Don't play your biggest hit during the regular set.)

But it wasn't all tedium for me: second opening act OK Go was quite enjoyable, with catchier hooks, genuine cleverness, and a kickin' ELO cover ("Dont Bring Me Down"). But the best thing about them is their dress schtick: they wear neckties!* Gnarly, vintage neckties. (Not only that, in their video for "Here It Goes Again"--one of the best low-budget videos ever, and YouTube's Most Creative Video of 2006--lead singer Damian Kulash wears red pants, just like mine!) I've ordered a CD for family listening pleasure and I hereby grant OK Go the Burl Veneer Seal of Approval.

(First opening band The Whigs might have been good; I couldn't tell from the muddy sound in the cavernous gymnasium. But they wear some old-fashioned ties on their website, so they must be all right.)

* Actually we were pretty far back, I don't know if they all wore ties for the show but Damian definitely did. That's still cool.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Thursday's tie, made in the US and sold under the British Allen Lolly label, seems to be an attempt at an Australian Aboriginal-style design like those produced by Jimmy Pike and Doris Gingingarra for Desert Designs. Or it could be a psychedelic pattern rendered in boardroom-friendly colors. Either way, I'd buy more if I found them.

And now for some necktie news: for aficionados of 8-bit computing, gaming, and music, there is now an "8-bit necktie" from ThinkGeek. Originally conceived as an April Fool's Joke, the delightfully lo-res cravat is now in production as something you can actually buy and wear. Eight bits is enough! (Thanks to my brother for bringing this to my attention.)

Mrs. V. and I have been watching Action!, the short-lived comedy on FX that starred Jay Mohr as a hilariously slimy movie producer, Peter Dragon. In the episode "Mr. Dragon Goes to Washington" there are some tasty textiles on display, if only briefly: in one scene a waitress sports a Gene Meyer tie, and in another Illeana Douglas appears in a Pucci shawl. Maybe one day I will figure out how to do screen grabs of .avi's and post them here.

Deja vu

There we were, thinking spring had finally arrived (again), then we get another foot of snow. Ai-yi-yi, an Ithaca winter has more false endings than a Starcastle album. So I started the week reverting to the purely functional, but spring had returned by Wednesday and I wore this tie by Principe. It has lots of the geometric design elements I love, but in the process of being chopped up, repositioned, and given a rather lackluster color scheme, they've lost a little something. Good enough to wear once, though!

Before the nor'easter bore down on Sunday night, the past weekend was quite musical. Arrived in downtown Ithaca to go to a record and CD show, I stumbled upon the spring concert of the Cornell Big Red Marching Band ("the only real marching band in the Ivy League") outdoors at the Ithaca Commons. I couldn't pass that up, so I stayed and listened to high-octane renditions of "Carry On, Wayward Son" (a Guitar Hero II favorite), "The Rockford Files", "Jungle Love" (Steve Miller, not The Time), and a slew of more traditional material. I love the pounding beats and cadences and brassy energy of marching bands. For a few months at the University of Maryland, my office was right across the street from the band practice grounds; it was almost exciting to work on databases with the band cheering me on.

And then on Sunday, I took the kids to see Alash, the Tuvan throat-singing ensemble. It is incredible to hear tuneful whistling over a bass drone and to realize that it's just one guy making all those sounds at once with his vocal chords! Put four of them together and you get a strange, rich soundscape like nothing else on Earth (outside of Tuva) (and Mongolia, and Tibet). That reminds me, I still don't have any music by Albert Mangelsdorff, polyphonic trombone master; I must get on that...

Friday, April 13, 2007

How about some more Klimt?

Klimt patterns are available not only on fine silk ties, but on durable polyester ties as well, such as this one from the Cabralli Collection. The pattern contains elements from Klimt's best-known painting, The Kiss (1908); in fact, it contains just about every element except the kiss itself. And the gold. All this Klimt lately has reminded me of the only Klimt joke I've ever heard, from Rodney Dangerfield's 1986 movie Back to School:
Trendy Man: Mr. Melon [Dangerfield], your wife was just showing us her Klimt.
Thornton Melon: You too, huh? She's shown it to everybody.
Trendy Man: Well, she's very proud of it.
Thornton Melon: I'm proud of mine too. I don't go waving it around at parties, though.
Trendy Man: It's an exceptional painting.
Thornton Melon: Oh, the painting.
Heh-heh. (Exchange lifted from Unfortunately the joke doesn't really refer to Klimt's art at all, it just uses his name for funny effect, and as such could work for any number of artists (an exercise I will leave to the reader). So maybe it's really more of a "gag" than a proper joke. If you've heard a proper Klimt joke, by all means please post it in a comment.

Klimt remixed

Wednesday's tie comes from stockbroker-turned-clothier Pat Argenti and answers the question: what if, instead of gold, Gustav Klimt's favorite colors were dark magenta, chartreuse, and aqua? Maybe he would have come up with something like this for a background pattern on one of his paintings. (Or the more likely scenario: what if a modern fabric designer wanted to create a Klimt-like pattern in dark magenta, chartreuse, and aqua?) The tie fabric is sanded silk, which I think is the most tactilely sumptuous fabric of all: the silk is put through a chemical process that leaves it with the texture of the finest suede imaginable. Another sanded-silk Argenti tie I own has fingerprint stains on it, and no wonder, it's just so delightfully touchable!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Tie Fit for a King

The King of All Cosmos, that is. It's wonderful when my passion for neckties and my passion for Katamari Damacy come together in a tie like this one. It's a vintage cotton tie that I got on eBay, where the seller described it as "ugly" and even claimed to have won an Ugly Tie Contest with it. Obviously, some people just don't appreciate retro patterns in exuberant colors (that man's workmates, and mine too for that matter), but I declare this tie fantastic! It has all the hallmarks of a homemade tie, i.e. unorthodox construction and a lack of labels. What sets it apart from most homemade ties is the masterful approach to the problem of making a tie from a large pattern, which is finding just the right section to appear on the front of the tie. The maker managed to include the entire height of one psychedelic white flower as the central motif while still allowing a bit of a navy flower at the bottom and leaving just enough room for a piece of red flower to peek through under the knot at the top, and (this is the hard part) keeping it all in place while being sewn. That couldn't have been easy.

But speaking of Katamari Damacy: he probably doesn't know it, but Italian artist Franco Costa has created pretty nice approximations of Katamari Damacy-world in some of his serigraphs.

And if you can't get enough of "Kuru Kuru Rock" from We ♥ Katamari, check out "UMA" from OOIOO's latest album.

Finally, here are some links back to previous blog entries with other inadvertently Katamari-related ties :

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

First, second, third

Tuesday's tie is the first knit tie on the blog, the second Coogi tie, and the third flat-bottomed tie. It is also the only knit tie I have ever owned; knit ties are usually just a single color, and I have made my feelings about single-color ties clear already. (But I will repeat: I don't like them! They're a waste of prime display space.) Most Coogi ties that turn up are either silk ties with an approximation of a Coogi sweater pattern printed on them, some have intricately-sculpted patterns woven into the silk, but this one is the closest thing to a Coogi sweater you can get in a necktie. If that's what you're after (and today I was).

I have finally listened to The Decemberists' The Crane Wife to see what all the fuss is about, and I think I can sum it up in an equation: (Al Stewart - lovely voice - sincerity) * (The Divine Comedy - lovely voice - arch sense of humor) + art-rock fluorishes = The Decemberists. Or, alternatively, Robyn Hitchcock - mad vision = The Decemberists. Yet for all the minuses, I think they will bear at least one more listen.

Monday, April 02, 2007


It occurred to me after Friday's post that instead of directing readers to another site to compare the Modules tie with genuine vintage swing ties, I could wear one myself and post it right here. I do have a few, after all. So today's tie is a mid-50s Towncraft, worn for the very first time--I actually got it new in a box on eBay, along with "The Brown Whisper" by Wembley. Towncraft has been a J.C. Penney house brand since 1927, and continues today, though as with so many other long-established clothing brands there are no longer any neckties in the line. Tie duty has shifted to Penney's Stafford line, but you won't find anything as daring as this anymore.

I took the kids to see The Fault Line tonight, Ithaca's own "vocal rock band" (i.e. an amplified a capella quintet with a couple guys doing "bass" and "drums" and occasionally "electric guitar"). They did a fun mix of oldies, classic rock, 80s cheese, and more recent rock hits (most notably Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl") with some pretty wild arrangements. Not my normal syle, but they were a lot of fun, and they should be showing up on NBC's America's Got Talent in the near future.