Tie me up, tie me down

Article published on Dec. 20, 2006
Article published on Dec. 20, 2006

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

When European men wear suits, a tie-shaped piece of cloth usually adorns their necks, and completes the outfit. Frenchman Pierre Lorillard invented the so-called ‘tuxedo’ in 1886, named after a restaurant in New York’s Tuxedo Park. Now an international trend, the accessory has become a ‘must’ for every gentleman.

The small tie has been the object of much fantasy. While the Italian wears a ‘butterfly’ around his neck (papillon, farfallino), the Frenchman goes for an edgier style. He too wears a butterfly, but it is ‘knotted’ (nœud-papillon). In Spain, the butterfly becomes a ‘female bird’ (pajarita).

Further to the east of Europe, the fashion accessory becomes represented by the insect world. Germans (Fliege) and Poles wear a ‘fly’ with their tuxedo. In Poland, however, it is a miniature one (muszka). The oldest name of all is the short and sweet English term ‘bow-tie’. All little animal connections are lost as they simply describe the style a tie is tied in: a bow. This term was copied from the French in the 17th century, who wore a pre-made short tie called a ‘jabot’. The Catalans are the only ones who have kept it simple; they just wear a plain tie (llaç).