Behind an elaborately gilded entrance, tucked away in one of Australia’s most exclusive residential enclaves, sits Nicholas Atgemis’ studio, part dandy, part mad scientist and general authority on how to make bow ties.
Nicholas is humble enough to admit that there are, in fact, less than a handful of other companies in the world who make bow ties to an equal standard, but I doubt many would be brave enough to say they could surpass him.
For those who aren’t familiar with Nicholas and his story, he started Le Noeud Papillon several years ago after searching through Australian stores, unable to find a single bow tie he liked, which was of the quality he deemed suitable. So, as is the way with many similar stories in manufacturing, be it clothing or otherwise, Nicholas struck out on his own, determined to create bow ties he would be happy to wear himself, which were of the highest possible quality. In the years since Le Noeud Papillon first opened its doors, it has established a reputation of creating some of the most unique and outstanding bow ties available anywhere.
One of the more difficult elements, for me, in choosing who to write about, is always in identifying the authentic makers in their chosen field (be they tailors, shoemakers or anyone else) and separating them from someone who’s doing little more than spinning a story without the substance beneath. Nicholas falls comfortably into the former category.
Le Noeud Papillon sources their silks from Italy and all products are manufactured either locally in Sydney, or in Italy. The weight and handle of the silk is satisfying and I can only hope the images throughout this post can help to convey that. As with many areas of clothing, it’s only through actually feeling the cloth for yourself and casting your own eyes over it that you can appreciate the difference between the best cloth and something which has been more cheaply made.
Bow ties will never be a daily experience for me. Like many of us, I’ve never felt at home in them for anything other than formal evening wear, but I can still appreciate them.
I’ve owned my only Le Noeud Papillon bow tie for a couple of years now and I doubt I’ll ever need another, it’s a simple slim, black satin bat-wing which will see me through any black-tie event for the rest of my life. However, in the years to come, I wouldn’t be against a midnight blue dinner suit and I’d like to have a matching bow-tie made and take Nicholas up on his bespoke service, whereby anyone can choose their silk and have it made specifically to fit their neck.
Whilst bow ties are and will always be the central focus of Le Noeud Papillon, Nicholas has been creative in introducing accessories which compliment his bow ties and the environments in which they’re likely to be worn. When I visited the studio last month, he was well into the test phase of new jacquard silk braces, which are now complete and available in the online store.
He’s introduced hand painted pocket squares (requiring an actual human to sit at a bench and paint each one) and regularly updates a range of other accessories including hand made lapel flowers, cufflinks, made to measure shirts (made from Carlo Riva cotton), silk evening house coats and more.
Whether any or all of the above items are for you is a personal decision, but, in reality, that’s not even the point. What I love most about his creations is that there’s a genuine passion for creating unique things, to the highest standards, sometimes just for the sake of it, to see if it can be done. And that’s something to be admired.