Bow Tie History


The papillon is a fashion accessory or an alternative garment to the tie, often called "bow-tie" precisely for this reason. Initially it was only used in the men's outfit, principally during the most important contexts, as ceremonies or other important formal events, so much to be considered an essential item to wear in combination with the smoking or with the frac.

A garment important and so, indispensable, for all the contexts where elegance, style and exclusive refinement are required. With the evolutions of trends and times, the papillon becomes an accessory no more only utilized in the men's fashion, but as well for women, turning into an element with a timeless style.

The accessory is as well known with different names as: bowtie, bow-tie, butterfly bow-tie, butterfly, to the most common “papillon”, a name derived from French. The papillon consists of a little symmetric ribbon which closes the collar of the shirt. There are 2 different types: traditional to knot, consisting of a ribbon that is tied with a knot, and preassembled in the pin version, where the knot is sewn and adjustable. The materials used for the realization of the papillon are usually the finest fabrics as Silk, linen, wool and cotton; these fabrics are specifically selected for different characteristics and properties.


In the history of the papillon there are several and different theories. Even if it's not precisely known the origin in a safe and precise version, someone argues that the papillon has its origin since the times of Pharaons. Among the various theories, the most common one dates the origin of the papillon to the time of the Croatian mercenaries during the Thirty Years war in the XVII century. It is supposed, in fact, that the Croatian mercenaries tied the shirt with a bow through a scarf, and that the French were inspired by this accessory, calling it “cravate” (croatian in french).

The expansion of the papillon has had a relevant role primarily in France, from where the derivation of the name came, and then in all of Europe.

In the treaty of the tie, in the essay “The Treaties of elegant living ” of the 1830, Honorè de Balzac gives some suggestions about the Butterfly tie. Later in the days, in 1886, the papillon made its debut for the first time in the famous Tuxedo Club in New York, becoming soon an expression of sophisticated elegance. The papillon has had symbolic connotations for different political groups and becomes a symbol in Italy assigned to futurists, communists, anarchists, and revolutionaries in general.

In honor of the composer Giacomo Puccini and his opera “Madame Butterfly”, the papillon in 1904 officially became part of the vocabulary.

Nowaday, the papillon can be worn in a casual and liberal way not only in the most important ceremonies with the classic black smoking, but also in different situations with the most various colors and patterns.