Get knotted

2012-02-03 08:23

Now that older men have ditched the tie to look cool, stylish younger men are reclaiming it as their own. The once-derided accessory has made a stealthy comeback on the menswear runways this year.

“I never wear one,” says Antoine Arnault, son of luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault. The 34-year-old heir was on the sidelines of the first menswear show last month by the LVMH-owned shoemaker, Berluti, where ties were a full part of the look.

“Except on Monday afternoons, when I have appointments with my father, if I didn’t have a tie, I’d be the odd one out.”

But at the recent 2012 Paris Fashion Week, his father was not wearing a tie as he sat in the front row at the Dior Homme show – a fact that did not go unnoticed by the fashionista crowd.

“It’s the weekend,” whispered one.

Silence descended as the first suited model stepped out with a tie, dark and slim, like the majority of the looks sent out by the house’s young Belgian designer, Kris Van Assche.

Ties were similarly ubiquitous at Hermes and Raf Simons – only with a twist. The tie was trapped between two shirt collars layered at different heights.

Where there were no ties, there was often the suggestion of one – in a strip of silk scarf visible under the collar at Paul Smith, or a crossed kimono-style silk shirt at Louis Vuitton.

Karl Lagerfeld for one never steps out without a tie.

“I have worn one all my life, starting at school,” he said after the Dior Homme show. “I can’t stand people looking dishevelled, especially after age 35!”

Age is critical when it comes to the tie.

“For a few years now, older men and businessmen have started going without a tie to look younger,” luxury industry consultant Jean-Jacques Picart said at Kenzo’s menswear show, which worked a generous helping of ties into a look billed as urban, cool and “on the go”.

“So it’s only normal for young people to reclaim them.”

The problem with going without a tie, said Picart, is that most shirts were designed for a tie.

Plus, past a certain age, the “neck can look a bit scrawny, a bit like a chicken or turkey’s neck”, a powerful argument in his view for putting the tie back in its place.

Said designer Alber Elbaz: “Ties are coming back. Not the ties of our fathers or grandfathers. They are worn by a new generation. It’s neither the world of the dandy nor that of the boardroom.”

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