Victoria Richards Ties; Respect and Respectability
Have you ever wondered why there are so many brands of necktie? Is it because they are easy to make up when compared to either items in the wardrobe? Or, is it that they reflect more narrowly upon the wearer’s personality and taste?
I have heard of men who will wear nothing but Hermes, Ferragamo or Pucci ties. Necktie styles and brands do seem to become the province of a certain type of man or walk of life.
Often, a well dressed man wants something unique that is also admired by passing observers. This demonstrates the duality of male dressing, to be both a dandy and conform to a sense of what the main stream envies. It is rare that necktie design can encompass both a broad appeal and an elevated one. However, U.K. designer, Victoria Richards’ ties possess just this sort of dual quality.
Woven tie “Pansy bar” in an eye fetching color combination.
The City gentleman is a traditional English image developed over centuries but why and how do they decorate themselves?
Outside of a few select circles most American men believe that pink and lilac shirts are effeminate. Victoria Richards believes that this is a bridge that has been crossed in England where pink shirts are very popular. It is now considered masculine to be in touch with your feminine side. In England, even Rugby shirts are quite often pink.
Ties were an accident. Victoria is a textile designer but at one point, she accumulated a large amount of off-cuts from textile runs which on a whim she sent off to be made up into ties. She then displayed the ties at an exhibition with fellow artists at Charlie Chaplin’s old London rehearsal studios.
Attending that same exhibition was one Jon Snow, a prominent journalist. It was a fluke that he was there at all and only because an artist friend of his was also exhibiting at this show. However, coincidences sometimes produce happy results and Mr. Snow immediately fell in love with Victoria’s ties.
“Poppy Slant” adds both color and texture to the blue striped shirt and dark suit.
That was some time ago and Mr. Snow now owns hundreds of Ms. Richard’s ties. In fact, Victoria often designs her ties with a WWJSD frame of mind. She is not alone. Large enough numbers of viewers call in about Jon Snow’s ties that the network now includes a blog which informs viewers about which tie he wore on a particular news show. Additionally, there is a link from England’s Channel 4 news to Victoria’s website which allows the designer to answer inquiries and facilitate purchases by avid tie fans.
“One off” tie which is the sartorial equivalent of a snow flake.
Victoria’s ties are limited edition, twelve of each design, and then even when she redoes them, they come out slightly different because the dyes are mixed by hand. Originally the ties were all hand painted, one offs. However, when the demand for more ties grew, she had to start getting her ties woven by the mills in Suffolk which would reproduce a hand painted look in a woven style. The decision to add woven ties was partly influenced by many customers who liked the overall look of her ties but frequently did not understand the hand painted nature of the originals.
Another “One Off” tie. Shirts are all from Acorn Fabric’s Grassmere line which is a 160s cotton.
Interestingly, most of the customers that come through the channel 4 website want exactly what Jon Snow has which are often the hand painted ones and thus, her customer base is well balanced between the two. This preference by the Chanel 4 audience remains firm even after Victoria explains that the hand painted ties will have splotches, blotches, drips and other irregularities on their surface.
Victoria likes to use a lot of color and, for the hand painted ties, she experiments with different chemical reactions to see what effects they produce and how certain colors work alongside each other.
And, there aren’t any color combinations she will not try out; except that she refuses to put yellow right next to pink. Although, she will use them both on the same tie, separated by another color. Likewise, she avoids yellow background ties because of their limited market; Italians are the only people that buy her yellow ties which do not sell much in the UK.
“Tulip Line” on Grassmere range cotton by Acorn Fabrics, made by Paris Custom shirts makes for a look of affluence. Cufflinks are by Patrick Mavros.
Another color combination she dislikes is bright red and gold. Victoria employs a lot of grey in her collection because she has an architectural following and architects love monochrome ties.
Victoria makes even bolder and more abstract ties but they aren’t put up on the website at all because each tie looks completely different.
In future, she might have a section offering a more expensive, totally one off tie. She does like the idea of a one off tie that is unique and thus, no one else has anything like it.
She feels her ties look better on their own than when grouped together because the resulting riot of color can be too distracting to the eye; rather like a Pollock. However, when viewed individually, the ties have a rich vibrant look to them which suggests harmony within the chaos; a favorite dandy weapon.
Hand painted ties have a rich, custom look but one has to appreciate the irregularities as strengths. These ties are not for the OCD crowd.
Victoria Richards also does checked and spotted ties. Although I prefer the red/pink/purple end of the spectrum, she has plenty of color combinations to choose from. This is “Rouge Check”.
Often, women initially buy her ties for their partner. As a result, men are more likely to wear them because in so doing they believe they are pleasing their partner. Further, because ties given as gifts come with a preordained seal of approval, these men then feel secure enough to select future ties themselves; which they often do. However, Victoria maintains that it takes a bold or very confident man to select her ties before seeing them on someone else or receiving one as a gift. Even at shows, she finds herself consulting most men concerning which ties would best suit their personalities.
Blue is the most conservative color and most of the men who choose ties, start with a blue one and then might branch out to brighter colors. The Lawyers, architects and some of the West End crowd form a significant amount of her customer base. She feels that a lot of the City gents wouldn’t wear most of her ties because they tend to be more conformist.
“Tulip Bar” is a woven tie design and plays subtly with a favorite English color scheme. Cufflinks by Fine Enamels.
Victoria maintains that ties are an area where you can express yourself and place a sartorial imprimatur. The tie endures because it is seen as a mark of respect and respectability.
Although I first saw them online and loved their intrinsic sense of art and the elegance they could lend to an outfit, Victoria’s ties look richer and more vibrant in person.
I am not usually a fan of the horizontally striped tie but something about the color combinations she sets them in and their slightly irregular bands makes them compelling. She has done and is going to reintroduce some diagonals but the horizontal stripes are her preference. This is because they are more of a challenge to create. Tie silks are cut on the “diagonal” or bias, thus it is easier to design a diagonal stripe than it is a horizontal one.
Whatever future necktie designs she has in mind, you will find that this Buff has become a fan.
If Jackson Pollack were alive today, he would wear these ties. If Beau Brummell were alive, he would buy them off of Pollock.
Neckties by Victoria Richards: