| History of the necktie
I. NATURAL SILK
Regardless of the fact that the definition of the necktie in most dictionaries states "a large band of fabric worn around the neck under the collar and tied in front with the ends hanging down as a decoration", its history bears many more senses. Men have always found necessary to tie something around their necks. The earlier historical example is in ancient Egypt. The rectangular piece of cloth that was tied and hanged down till the shoulders was a very important part of Egyptians' clothing because it was showing the social status of that one who was wearing it. In China, all the statues around the grave of Emperor Shi Huang Ti bear a piece of cloth around their necks, which is considered as ancestor of the modern necktie. This may be even enough to prove the value of the necktie that reached us from the past. In Roman Empire, men were also bearing ties that much resemble the contemporary necktie.
The real expansion of neckties in Europe happened in 17th century. The necktie became a true mania when Louis XIV noted the band of fabric that the Croatian soldier were wearing around their necks and found it much aesthetic. The etymological root of the word "necktie" comes from there ("Cravatte" - French) - from the Croatian word "Croatta".
Symbol of individuality
In 1827, Honore de Balzac introduced for a first time the necktie into the literature with the treatise The Art to Bear a Necktie. Balzac described in it the aesthetical principles of bearing a necktie. Until the 19th century, European men were wearing neckties with various sizes and styles of tying according to the traditions of their native countries. They would look very strangely today. The popular models of that time were wearing the sign of their country of origin, such as Russian, American, Irish and Italian neckties. In addition, there were tying styles that were symbolising interesting themes as Diplomacy, Loyalty, Travel, etc. The neckties were representing the individuality as well as the social status of the man that was wearing them through the different shapes and styles of tying. This still applies with the same force today.
The necktie accepted a more simple and universal shape in the 19th century. The custom was to wrap it once around the neck and to loop it into a knot. Between 1890 and 1900 the neckties had white, blue, red, yellow and green stripes on a black background. After the First World War, the black background was replaced with more vivid colours, which are considered as classic till nowadays. The modern necktie exists in its present shape since 1924. Before, they were tailored in the direction of cutting the cloth and their lining were made of most various fabrics. Once made after this technology, they were fast tearing, unpleasant puckers appeared on the fabric and the knot was far from being nice. In 1924, Jessie Langsdorf from New York designed a cloth for neckties on the 45° bias and divided the necktie into three separate parts, which were then sewed up. He patented this innovation and later sold his invention all over the world.
The art and the necktie
The famous poet Bodelaire says in the early 20th century: "True modern artist is who succeeds in showing the epic side of daily life and to show how much poetic we are, even in the choice of neckties". The necktie that transmitted multiple psychological and social messages was already transformed into a subject of art and reflected the ideology of certain artistic movements. The futurists first, then the surrealists were interested in the necktie. The futurists interpreted the necktie by creating an anti-necktie made of a hard, shining metal. The surrealists started to depict everything on the necktie, from dreams to the daily life.
The feminism and the necktie
The early 20th century was a period in which women started to get more and more freedom and for the confirmed feminists the necktie was one of men's world castles that had to be captured, not so much as an accessory or a decoration but as a symbol of manliness.
The Second World War brought new alternatives for the fabrics used for tailoring neckties. The traditional silk was replaced by the artificial silk. This alternative proved that the fabric could not be the sole criterion for the neckties quality. The feminism was not the only social movement in which the neckties interfered. In 1968 in France, rebelling workers were burning neckties during street protests. This did not lead to any change in men's habits to wear neckties but the world changes modified the neckties. The 70s and the 80s brought new trends. More womanly patterns appeared on the neckties that were larger yet. One of the most interesting news was the so-called pop-art approach using special printing techniques. The picture of Marilyn Monroe appeared for the first time printed on a necktie.
In the 80s, the large neckties of the 70s were replaced
with narrow ones. The rich classic patterns of Eastern cultures came
to the fore. At the same time, there was a variety, which had to satisfy
the post-modern men of all areas of life, for every daily situation.
Regardless of the domination yet of the classic, serious neckties, models
with humoristic design appeared too.
The new century
At the beginning of the 21st century, the neckties reserve the classic size of 9 - 9.5 cm. The implementation of new technologies in the fabric manufacture enables the innovations in the design to be reproduced into fabrics. Combinations of natural silk with wool, wool with satin Duchesse, natural silk with Teflon reflect the continuous creative search.
What about the future?
The necktie will always be that part of men's wardrobe that will outline men's individuality, character and aesthetic sense.