Le Nœud Papillon : mode d’emploi
It is little more than a fine strip of material we tie around our necks but, once worn, the bow tie takes on a wealth of meaning. At once nostalgic and subversive, geometrical and slightly off-kilter, this accessory offers endless scope for expression to designers and wearers alike.
If the bow tie was long considered « quirky » at best, it is no longer monopolized by stuffy university professors and antiques specialists and has come to be an indispensable accessory for fashion-conscious men.
Bow ties have become as varied in shape (the classic « Thistle » , the square-tipped « Bat Wing », assymetrical or oversized models) as in print (Liberty, Paisley, Gingham, tartan, polka-dot, striped).
So vast a choice means that trendsetters have been able to revolutionize the way in which bow ties are worn. Pharrell Williams often teams his with sweaters for a laid-back look, while Kanye West goes for the preppy approach with a blazer-jean combination.
The beauty of the bow tie is that it can either dress up a « street » look, or dress down more formal attire.
But the real question that divides bow tie lovers is whether to choose a traditional « self-tie » model or a clip-on.
Purists will tell you that the only way forward is a « real » bow tie, even if that means having to learn how to tie the damn thing! This option does have its merits, though, most notably the possibility of nonchalantly unravelling the knot at the end of the night. Doing your own bow tie will also stop you from succombing to the trappings of perfection.
No longer confined to a formal context, bow ties can be worn with an irreverent sense of freedom. Another school of thought advocates choosing clip-on models, especially since designers such as Alber Elbaz have come up with looser, more fluid styles.
A constant source of inspiration, bow ties made a big come back on the runway during the last Men’s Fashion Week.
At Alexis Mabille, who has made the bow tie a central feature of his collections, we saw a slim and soft design worn underneath the iconic loose-fit « Bow Tie Club » t-shirts.
Slender and slight were also the order of the day at Lanvin, where a series of bow ties were on display.
Adam Kimmel, a rising star in field the menswear accessories, presented an American-inspired collection whose leitmotiv was a generous red and blue bow.
Beyond the key players of the menswear scene, it is a pleasure to discover a handful of designers specializing in neckwear.
This year the Parisian concept store Colette honoured New York designer Alexander Olch with a capsule collection called « The Little Guy ».
An influential figure as ties and bow ties go, Olch even went so far as to produce a short film intended to teach men how to tie a good knot :
Another major name in bow ties, Laurent Desgrange brings a highly modern flavour to traditional craftsmanship techniques with surprising results.
The bold designer, a former stylist at Mugler, even goes so far as to place bow ties on trainer tongues to create a powerful « street » look.
Laurent Desgrange sums up elegantly the essence of the bow tie when he declares « I’m not responsible for making bow ties cool. It is thanks to those men who wear them in a lighthearted and witty tongue-in-cheek way. »
YOU SHOULD LIKE