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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wrapping Up the Year

For my last tie of 2010 I decided to go out with a bang: a double-layered freeform marbled affair in all the colors of the rainbow by Michael Kensinger. See you next year!

Welcome to the Machine

The designs on this wide polyester tie from Rooster resemble the cartoonish "technical" markings that master album-cover designers Hipgnosis overlaid on a lot of their cover photographs (e.g. Brand X's Moroccan Roll). (By the way, that is the late, great musician and Hipgnosis partner Peter Christopherson himself on that album cover; see For the Love of Vinyl for the story behind it.)

Wooly Bully

It was so cold today I wore a wool tie for extra warmth. The tie is from John Hanly & Co., Ltd., of Nenagh, Ireland, established 1893.

Modules, Pre-Op to Post-Op

Modules of Japan breaks from its usual swing-inspired designs for a pattern loosely based on the op-art works of Victor Vasarely.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mad Man

Mrs. Veneer and I went to a Mad Men cocktail party, which was the perfect venue for this skinny vintage tie made in Italy. Made by whom is a mystery, but the haberdasher's label shows it was sold by Edward Chapman Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C.

You got plaid on my polka-dots!

Children think it's a plaid tie, while adults think it's polka-dotted. Imagine the mischief I could get up to in this tie, casually draping an arm across my chest when a witness describes the miscreant as a man in a polka-dotted tie, buttoning my blazer when another witness swears it was a man in a plaid tie. Como Fashion has produced the perfect tie for a locked room mystery. (Though I admit its aesthetic quality is rather poor.)

Batik Winotosastro

Batik Winotosastro is a family business based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, founded in 1934. They continue to produce batik fabrics using the traditional wax-resist method, but businesswise they are distinctly modern: they have a Twitter account and their own hotel. I mention all this because that's who made this tie.

Liberty for Lord and Taylor

This tie has a Lord and Taylor label on the back, but the cotton floral fabric (and the text in the tipping) give it away as a Liberty of London.

Walk the Dinosaur

Jimmy Pike contributed some of the most whimsical designs to the Desert Designs necktie line, such as a smiling sun and this grazing dinosaur.

None Blacker

Given Stanley Blacker's reputation for staid, conservative, middle-of-the-road style, I am skeptical that the Stanley Blacker label on the back of this boldly-patterned polyester jacquard tie is original.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Feels like the first tie

Here it is, my very first marbled tie! It was marbled by Jill Wagoner, and I bought it at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore in July, 2002. It's true, you never forget your first.

Purple fan

Here's another hand-marbled tie by Ingrid Butler as Moth Marblers of Sausalito. I have been informed that she is no longer making ties. I am not seeing new marblers filling the voids left by the retiring ones. Come on, somebody, marble some ties!

Mesh Modern

The silk in this tie (VR by Vito Rufolo) is so texturally-woven that it's almost a mesh in places, which makes it difficult to get into focus with a run-of-the-mill digital camera. You have to see it in person for better clarity. The pattern is generic enough that it could pass for "modern" any time in the last 50 years, and may even do so for another 50... We'll see.

Everybody wants a piece of the tribal action

Even stodgy Robert Talbott. This pattern is actually rather ingenious, as it can pass for tribal, kitsch (a la Kenny Scharf), urban, or even art nouveau by virtue of the tiled background. Maybe even gore: is that an intestine?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Storm on Jupiter

The colors, bands, and swirls on this hand-marbled tie from Cosette Originals remind me of everyone's favorite gas giant.

The final throes of pampering

I am nearing the end of my supply of neckties from Pamper Him, the short-lived Chicago venture that made perfectly-shaped ties out of printed silk charmeuse from Exotic Silks. This tie is an alternate colorway of the first Pamper Him tie featured here in 2006.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Like my previous tie from MBP, today's tie features a brocade-style print with borrowing from Aboriginal Australian motifs. Unlike my other MBP tie, this one is not labelled part of the "vintage" line, though they are obviously from the same design team.

Metamorphic paisleys

Some of the paisleys on this tie are just paisleys, some are actually ginkgo leaves, and some are stuck in a metamorphic phase between the two. The tie was made in India and branded as "Passports of Pier 1 Imports." (Click photo to embiggen, as they say, for a clearer view.)

Still Down Under

Of the ten or so silk marblers who produce(d) neckties, Brian O'Malley of Australia has made the most psychedelic designs. Here is one of his Marblesque ties.


Aboriginal art neckties from Desert Designs are fairly common in the United States; those produced Hollygreen for Balarinji are much less so. Here is an example of a Balarinji tie; the company claims to license its designs from Aboriginal artists, but they don't appear to credit the artists on the ties. I will therefore credit this design to "Unknown Aboriginal Artist."

The Bacon meme

I am so late to the internet bacon bandwagon that I didn't get to it before the backlash began. Fortunately I am posting about Francis Bacon the artist instead of bacon the meat. The idea of a Francis Bacon triptych hand-painted onto a necktie is so unlikely that it never entered my mind before I saw one on eBay a few years ago. It even came in its own handmade solid hardwood box, and I do mean solid: it's a chunk of hardwood with a tie-shaped cavity routed out with a drill. How could I pass that up? Even more unlikely is that there is more than one in existence, but such is the case. Andrew McKie writes in the Wall Street Journal about meeting Damien Hirst at one of Hirst's openings in 2009:

I turned up in a tie based on a Bacon triptych, bought from John Pearse, the tailor whose shop stands just across from the Colony Room and Groucho clubs. There, during the 1990s, Mr. Hirst's drink- and drug-fueled exploits became notorious even by Soho's bohemian standards. "Great tie," he says. "John sent me one, too."

For the record, there is a John Pearse label on my tie as well. So there, I have something in common with Damien Hirst.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Double marble, all the way across the tie

This double-marbled tie from Moth Marblers is a real tour-de-force! Now I finally have a name and a face to put with the label: Moth Marblers is the business of Ingrid Butler, who can be seen describing her passion for marbling in this YouTube video.

Shag redux

I am a great fan of the art of Shag (Josh Agle), and am the proud owner of a Mr. Lucky serigraph. However, I was disappointed with the neckties he designed for Acme Studios: they were novelty ties with his art on them, rather than artifacts from the retro world he depicts in his paintings. This polyester tie from Puritan is a good approximation of what I want from a Shag tie.

It really ties the room together

Q: When is it OK to wear a lavender shirt with green pants?

A: When the dominant colors in your necktie are purple and green, as in this hand-marbled tie from Moth Marblers of Sausalito.

High-tech ornaments

The baubles arranged on this tie from Goldlion, by some accounts Hong Kong's dominant tie maker, appear to be schematic diagrams of Death Stars in various stages of construction.


The huge bundles of thread used to make each stripe on this tie serve as a great visual example of how to weave patterns. Tie is branded Paul Fredrick, probably made by either Randa/Wemco or Superba as most ties in the U.S. are.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Growing up, one of my favorite games was Psyche-Paths, the object of which was to create pathways of the same color using hexagonal tiles with a variety of pathway segments printed on them. Pscyhe-Paths lives on as Kadon Enterprises' Kaliko; the cardboard tiles are now wood, and the price has increased accordingly (about 100 times the original price). Now Gopherwood studios has created an online Flash game called Entanglement with many of the same characteristics (hexagonal tiles, path creation) but some key differences (a single pathway color, twice as many path segments per tile, one-tile-at-a-time gameplay). It produces paths very similar to the pattern on this Saks Fifth Avenue necktie, and it has replaced Drench as my favorite Flash game.

Correction: Entanglement does not use Flash, it's all HTML5. So it's my favorite HTML5 game, and Drench is still my favorite Flash game. Whew!


For the day before Homecoming, the university community was encouraged to wear the school colors once again. I mixed it up this time: instead of wearing a blue shirt and yellow tie, I wore a yellow shirt and and blue tie (hand marbled, from Cosette Originals of Austin, Texas). (I am currently coveting Cosette's latest line of double-marbled ties.)

House brand

House brands can be just as good as, or better than, name brands. I am consistently impressed with the quality of Safeway and Wegman's house-branded products. This house-branded tie from menswear discounter Kuppenheimer hits all my retro-modern pleasure receptors.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I know it's a week after Halloween, but I actually wore this tie two days before Halloween. (Not for me the instantaneous publishing capabilities of the internet age!) I am nearing the end of my stash of Chateau et Cie, Ltd., deadstock; this is a version of a previously-worn tie in a different colorway that's just perfect for Halloween. Very scary, boys and girls!

Natural durability

Viyella, the wool/cotton blended fabric with the distinction of being "the first branded fabric in the world", is renowned for its exceptional durability. I'll bet the wool/silk blend of the plaid fabric in this Oscar de la Renta tie is even more durable, maybe even giving the long-lasting but completely unnatural Wemlon a run for its money.

UD Spirit

Had to dress in the university colors today for the office "spirit" picture in the lead-up to homecoming. Shirt provided the blue, tie by Finnish designer Marja Kurki provided the "gold" (which in practice is actually canary). I still am not sure whether the repeating pattern is a garland of flowers or ribbons, but there are definitely little hearts in it. I was in the back row and only my head ended up in the picture, so I could have worn any school's colors, but here is the evidence that I did indeed engage in the spirit of the thing.


The only label on this tie is the keeper, which merely identifies the retailer as Dunham's of Maine. It's a dead ringer for a Liberty of London, but there are no Liberty markings anywhere on the tie, not even in the tipping. I'm 90% sure it's Liberty fabric, but I will waffle and just call it Libertarian.

The Wemlon Tapestry

I wish I knew what cultural developments led to the popularity of polyester brocade as a necktie fabric in the early 70s. But I don't; all I can do is marvel at the artefacts. This brocade of gold, copper, and ever-lovin' chartreuse is brought to you by Wembley, constructed of their proprietary space-age fiber, Wemlon, for eternal durability.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Urban Tribal

The graphic style of this Embassy Square tie is easily pegged as "tribal" (which I have qualified as "urban" due to the graffiti influence), but the subject matter is less easily identifiable. A centipede? Lightning? A river flowing through a mountain range? A mouth full of teeth? Or simply a designer's concept of a random "tribal" pattern?


Here's a palette you don't see every day! The almost day-glo inks on this tie from √Čtienne Caron are printed to resemble a coarser, more textured fabric than the rayon they're printed on.

John Henry swings

While a good proportion of swing-era neckties featured abstract Art Deco patterns, another major theme was stylized leaves. This modern-day John Henry tie fits that theme, and inasmuch as the red shapes vaguely resemble calla lilies it could plausibly be called an abstract floral as well.

Hallucinatory plaid

J.T. Beckett occasionally has some pretty out-there designs among its more mainstream offerings. This pattern has some similarities to fused glass, or could be a mod geometric print viewed through a wet window, or a tile mosaic at the bottom of an ornamental pool. It's rather inspired, I think.

Satellite of Love

I have a Jhane Barnes tie that looks like a satellite photo of Lower Delaware; this tie from Peacock looks like a photo of science-fictional land use, perhaps in a generation ship or other arcology.

Friday, October 22, 2010


If I had to choose an official tie of my tie blog, what could be more perfect than this one of colorful guys wearing wild ties? The tie is from Ralph Marlin's "RM Style" line, with art by Paulette Lust.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tiffany Twisted

I couldn't pass up an eBay lot of four colorful silk ties from Tiffany, even if I couldn't make out what the designs were from the photos in the auction listing. They turned out to be large-scale prints with an Egyptian theme; this one has an upside-down Egyptian dude with a couple plants, depicted in what I will call a "fanciful" color scheme.

Lands' End

Before neckties became an obsession for me (roughly ten years ago, when I bought my first tie on eBay), I had a modest collection of ties that took me about a month to rotate through. This autumnal floral from Lands' End was one of them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Stuff of Nightmares

What is the fearsome creature depicted on this wide vintage tie from Grenada? Based on the big ears, semi-upright stance, and long, wavy tail, I'm going to guess it's a jerboa. A demonic jerboa that will eat your face.

Out on the Tiles

Pauline Trigere makes her fifth appearance on the blog with this black and white two-shape tile pattern. The larger of the two tiles (the one with the convex edge) looks almost like one of today's reductionist glyphs for a professional sports team; a frontal view of a wolf looking sideways, perhaps. Alternatively, it could be a vulture's beak, and the other tile the vulture's head overlapped by the next vulture's beak. Or they could just be random shapes. The pattern is woven, not printed, and the weaves of the fabric within the two shapes are different from each other.

Before there was Warcraft...

There was JCPenney Towncraft, and it was made of polyester. There really are a lot of interesting shapes and textures going in here that don't show up very well in the small photo on the left; click through to the bigger picture to better appreciate its richness.

Neckties Are My Aeroplane

Jimmy Pike moved away from traditional Aboriginal subject matter to make some colorful airplanes on this Desert Designs tie.

Again with the Modules

I have more Modules ties than I thought I had; here is another one. This is probably the busiest design of any of them, featuring:

1. Horizontal bands of gray and light blue;
2. Scribbled white waves in the gray bands, horizontal and vertical in alternate bands;
3. Polka dots behind the scribbles: dark blue dots behind the vertical scribbles, black ones behind the horizontal ones; and
4. A highly-textured, almost ribbed, silk fabric.

I would have stuck with a single color for the polka dots.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

More Modules

Modules of Japan specialized in Art Deco Revival designs, but they also brought a flair to older patterns. Polka dots have been a design staple since the polka craze of the mid-19th century; Modules packed the dots a little closer than usual for a bolder look.

Dress Like An Egyptian

On my birthday I wore this ancient-Egyptian-themed tie from The Museum Company, just like the ones worn by office workers in the time of the Pharaohs.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Bob Timberlake made a killing selling reproductions of his rustic kitsch realist paintings of subjects such as old barns, cabins, farmhouses, flowers, and woodland creatures. It is not surprising that he branched out into other forms: furniture, lighting, tableware, luggage, etc., and for a time, neckties. This Bob Timberlake tie looks like a modern abstract graphic at a distance, but come closer and you will see stitching represented, and the pattern reveals itself as an antique quilt. I'm not a big fan of rustic kitsch, but I do like the way this pattern can slip across centuries.