Sunday 29 July 2012

The ties that Bond us

To coincide with the launch of our necktie collection we have invited New York based writer Matt Spaiser to create a guest blog to consider the neckwear choices made during Sean Connery's tenure as 007. Matt is one of the world's foremost experts on Bond style and regularly shares his encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject on his own wildly popular blog "The Suits of James Bond".  

Sean Connery pairs a dark solid tie with his Anthony Sinclair suit

A staple of the Sean Connery Bond wardrobe is the dark solid tie. In Dr. No and From Russia With Love that tie is always a dark navy grenadine tie from Turnbull & Asser. But do not confuse that with the silk knit ties that he wears throughout Goldfinger. Whilst the grenadine might look similar in texture to the knit tie, they are completely unrelated. Most people are familiar with the knit tie, which somewhat resembles a sock. It’s a tube of knit silk with a straight hem at the bottom, though some can be found with triangular bottoms. Some have a seam in the back whilst others do not. Though most knit ties are made of silk, cotton and wool knit ties are not uncommon. It’s a casual tie, which might seem like an oxymoron these days, but Ian Fleming did like to wear other more casual items with his suits like slip-on shoes and short-sleeve shirts. The silk knit tie is was worn by the literary Bond and makes it to a few films as well.

The classic "blunt-end" knitted necktie

Moonraker is the first of Ian Fleming's novels to mention a "black knitted silk tie," and in From Russia With Love it completes the picture of Bond:

"It was a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek. The eyes were wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. The hair was black, parted on the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below which was a wide and finely drawn but cruel mouth. The line of jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white shirt and black knitted tie completed the picture."

In The Spy Who Loved Me and The Man with the Golden Gun, Fleming elaborates on the tie calling it a "thin black knitted silk tie."

The "casual" silk knit tie combined with formal three-piece suit

And that is the tie that Sean Connery wears with a number of outfits in Goldfinger. He also wears a navy silk knit tie with the famous Prince of Wales check suit and a light brown knit tie with his tweed hacking jacket. We only see Connery wear a knit tie again in You Only Live Twice, in navy blue. George Lazenby continued with knit ties throughout On Her Majesty's Secret Service in navy and red. Later, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all wore a knit tie once.

Though it has a passing resemblance to the knit tie, the grenadine tie has nothing in common. Grenadine silk is woven, not knit, and the tie is constructed like any normal tie: it has folds, an interlining and, of course, a triangular tip. It’s a luxurious silk, very delicate and much more formal than a knit tie. Grenadine ties are almost always appropriate when a tie is called for. Since they are typically found in solid colours they are very easy to match, but the interesting texture sets them apart from other solid ties. In black it makes an excellent funeral tie, and this is exactly what James Bond wears to the funeral at the beginning of Thunderball. Connery wears grenadine ties in all his Bond films except Goldfinger, in black, dark and light navy blues, brown and grey.

The Grenadine (garza grossa)

All grenadine silk is woven in Italy. There are two different types of grenadine silk: garza grossa  and garza fina, the former being the type that James Bond wore. Turnbull & Asser still makes garza grossa grenadine ties, and their silk is heavier than the typical garza grossa grenadine. Anthony Sinclair's new grenadine ties use the same exact silk as Turnbull & Asser, but in a narrower width closer to what Connery used to wear. Some prefer garza fina grenadine and insist that it's the only real type of grenadine. It's not as delicate as garza grossa grenadine, and the weave has a much smaller repeat that resembles a honeycomb. Grenadine ties are a staple of high end shops in London, though in the States garza grossa grenadine ties are becoming more difficult to find.

Knit and grenadine ties have a place in every man's wardrobe. They complement shirts with bold stripes and sports coats with loud checks just as well as they complement solid suits and shirts. They are always easy to match and travel well. Connery's Bond shows that having knit and grenadine ties in each of navy, black and brown can easily cover all tie-wearing needs.

Anthony Sinclair Limited would like to thank Matt Spaiser for his kind contribution of a most interesting and informative guest blog. To view the Anthony Sinclair necktie collection click here

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