The Art of designing and constructing a garment by hand is often thought of as a lost art, but not for one of Australia’s very few, if not only remaining bespoke bowtie artisan. Le Noeud Papillon, one of the most sought after bespoke bowtie makers globally is proof that bespoke is still highly sought after and valued in a world of fast fashion. What’s even more astonishing is that he is based in our very own backyard – Vaucluse – Sydney – Australia.
The French call a bow tie a ‘noeud papillon’ which translates to a ‘butterfly knot’ (the word is masculine – hence Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney was founded on a basic appreciation for the French; their beautiful language and their craftsmanship in silk neck wear. Labelled the ‘best bowtie maker in the world’, founder and designer Nicholas Atgemis services customers across the globe but with special attention from US clients who seek out his one-off pieces offered each week from his website.
We spent some time with Nicholas to delve a little deeper into the world of Le Noeud Papillon and why this bespoke bow-tie maker revered by global fashion houses is only going from strength to strength.
Q: How does it feel to labelled as the ‘best bowtie maker in the world’?
Well it helps build confidence in what you are doing. But I prefer to go by our testimonials on the website which represent individuals that have been served and are happy with the product. They truly represent what the brand is about, because, at the end of the day, purchasing a bow tie, for me at least, is an emotional experience.
Q: How many years have you been a specialist bowtie maker now and how did your training in this art-form begin?
It’s been a good 11 years now, with everything being learnt and perfected on the fly. I don’t rely on the label of being the best, I just take the Japanese approach of honing my craft over the course of my lifetime. And what was interesting for me, and what the customers responded well to, was my documenting everything I learned along the way and distilling it into a blog which has now had more than 1.7 million readers.
Q: What makes your self bow-ties different than the other bow-ties in the market
We manage and control almost every aspect of our products from start to finish. We design our own silks and work with the looms and printers to see them best realised. We also buy directly from the looms designs and weaves that are already in range to compliment our own limited editions. These are the same looms that produce the finest silks for major fashion houses that we’re better off not naming.
Once shipped to Sydney we begin cutting them in our Studio. A new collection of bow ties is cut and sewn every week, most of them one off pieces finished with our rose gold hardware. Then they are published to the website and sold down by Sunday night. We also develop our own patterns for bow ties in house, choosing to experiment with concaves and convexes and geometric designs that create very unique shapes as and end result. They are more difficult to tie, but the result is a superior product and a superior look which distinguishes them from all other brands.
Q: Where do you source your fabrics for your bow-ties
Italy, the United Kingdom and even Japan.
Q: Tell us about your creation process and how do you go about it
Each bow tie has a story. We are not interested in creating a seasonal collection and releasing it like other fashion houses. We are all about limited quantities, limited edition silk designs and one-off pieces created weekly for the website. This is done either by the weight or weave of the silk, or the details of a design. Our most recent limited editions were based on themes I researched, from Maori tattoo art to the snowy trees you see in the Australian Alps and then Milanese geometric designs seen in gates of buildings. I do not create a bow tie without a story or a reason for being. Our goal over time is to hone our craft so that our bow ties are completely inimitable and unmistakable. A bow tie is not a difficult thing to create, but to create a bow tie that appears to be like a small work of art framed by the human behind it, this is something that has taken over a decade to develop.
Q: How often do you introduce new arrivals
Ever week we do new bow ties and one off pieces and we receive a new batch of silks once a fortnight.
Q: How do you stay relevant in a world of ‘casualising’ dress codes?
It’s no doubt the world has adapted to a sense of casualisation, but in truth our customer base is very specific. We cater to mostly a group of 200 bowtie enthusiasts the world over who wear our LNP bow ties every day. The most common of them are neurosurgeons, then barristers, professors and eye surgeons (but no architects strangely). Then, as one would expect, we cater to the wedding and celebration market, which, post same-sex marriage laws passing in Australia, has seen a significant increase in demand.
Q: Who has sported an LNP bow-tie from the A-Listers?
Oh loads which I usually keep on the down low, but if you must know …Cody Simpson, Chris Hemsworth, Andrew O’Keefe, Peter Overton, Mike Canon-Brookes, Richard Roxborough, Brett Ratner, Prime Minister Turnbull. Some of it is in editorial for magazines. But like I said, our business is not built on celebrity, but on men who wear bow ties every day and who are, often, very private.
Q: Is it true that major fashion houses send clients to you because you’re the only bespoke bow-tie maker in Australia?
We are the only place left in the country that sits on a few thousand woven jacquard silks that can cut and turn a design around within 24 hours. Effectively when you are the last man standing, yes, they have no alternative but to send their customers to me and I in turn make sure they get the product they desire. But who they are is not of great relevance, I am forever grateful for referrals and welcome everyone to my showroom.
Q: What other silk products do you stock?
I also create ties, pocket squares, eye shades, shoe bags, silk flowers, scarves and special client requests. If it can be made in silk, chances are we can make it.
Words by Editor Arrnott Olssen