Thursday, 31 July 2014

Now in store – The Penrose AW14 collection – A feast for the eyes.

It has been another busy period for the Penrose team and the delivery of the AW14 collection into stores is imminent! Our stockists have made some excellent selections, so make sure to visit them and check out the new arrivals, in stores September.

Whilst the AW14 collection is being shipped to stores internationally, we have been travelling extensively with our latest (SS15) collection. Next summer we are bringing you a fresh colour palette with hues of yellow, orange and crisp sky blue with designs that have been influenced by the designer’s rural garden in France, and the subtlety and sophistication of English and American home interiors circa 1965 – 1970. As always, the "hungry, curious, educated eye" of Penrose takes eclectic elements from a vast range of sources, both historical and every day; blending them in the unique and original Penrose Aesthetic. 

Every season we name the products in our collection…so why not enlighten you on the thought process for our AW14 collection. This may sound like a simple task, but thinking of a category that we can pull 100+ names from is not as easy as it sounds! It can however be pretty fun ….this season the tie designs have been named after some of the Hollywood greats both on and off screen (and yes we were of course scrutinising the accoutrements which gained them their fashion kudos!).  The Pochette’s & Ascot’s have been named after Racecourses (hopefully lucky ones, so perhaps don one when you are next wagering!) And the cufflinks after Greek & Roman gods – film stars of their day.

Some of our favourites from the tie collection include: the impeccably dressed Peck, Sharif, Connery and Travolta to name but a few and below highlights the reason we chose them…

Gregory Peck: 40’s – he made his name in the film ‘Days of Glory’ in 1944 but it is in to ‘Kill a mockingbird’ that he really made his name – the smart get up may have helped in the harrowing court scenes. 

Omar Sharif: 60’s – you would not associate this dashing image with his role in
‘Laurence of Arabia’ but nevertheless it depicts his style (both on and off screen) perfectly.

John Travolta: 70’s - there may not be a gentlemen’s accessory in this shot but Travolta in ‘Saturday night Fever’ dazzles! Just like our 70’s inspired tie.


Sean Connery: 80’s – ‘never say never again’ we think that you should live by this maxim. What better an example to give you than Mr Connery and ‘Bond’ the best dressed ladies’ men known, hence why not one but two designs have been attributed to him.

Penrose ties available online here

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Weaving in progress...

The design team recently embarked on a trip to Como, Northern Italy where most of the silk weaving mills for the neckwear industry are based. Silk weaving in Como can be dated back as early as the 1400’s and the cultivation of mulberry trees there as far as the 10th Century. Today 91% of the silk produced in Europe comes from Italy and of that 79% is coming out of Como.

A sea of coloured silk yarn options
After months of researching, sketching and developing ideas we work very closely with the mills to realise our collection. Here around 40% of our silks are woven exclusively to our designs - the balance is created in England.

In Como we work with a small variety of specialist, high quality weavers, each mill has its individual 'signature' - which gives us a broader palette with which to work. Some of which have a heritage of nearly 150 years and who use the most fascinating and unique 100 year old looms.

An extremely unique and beautiful 100 year old weaving loom

This trip we were working on the new SS15 collection which will be launched in June and in the stores early next year - we work in the future! Amongst other things, we are developing exciting new print techniques for ties, beautiful super lightweight cottons for bandanas and scarves and, very excitingly, a special cotton & silk warp from which we will produce just 450 limited edition ties - watch this space.

The design teams new favourite - watch out for this beautiful elegant tie!

Occasionally on these trips we have a little respite from our hard, focussed work - this time we had the rare privilege of being invited by one of our generous suppliers for a wonderful lunch at the exclusive lakeside Canottieri Rowing Club, a spectacular Italian modernist building designed in the early '30s ……..a sparkling white minimalist architectural gem - the food and wine were rather good too!

A panoramic view of Lake Como from the Canottieri Rowing Club

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The art of making... Cufflinks

This week we took a trip North of London to visit our cufflink manufacturer and put into work our new designs for the up and coming season. This is always a very exciting process, particularly because we love to try and challenge the manufacturers when it comes to creating our new and innovative ideas.
We were ever so kindly given a tour of the factory to see how our initial ideas and sketches become finished items through a series of complicated and time-consuming procedures.
Depending on the complexity of the design and manufacturing method, a wax model may first be made in order to understand the technicalities of the construction and to finalise shape and size. These will then be used to create a mould for the cast styles.  Another method of production is stamping; these styles begin their lives here…

Each design with all its intricate detail is carved out onto a piece of lightweight metal, before being transferred to a ‘die’. Each cufflink style will have its own die; a heavy metal block that is used to stamp the design into sheets of metal.

   ‘various cufflink dies’ 
 ‘archive of thousands of dies’
This requires enormous force so the die is clamped into place using a massive vice and the sheets of metal are stamped to produce small individual pieces of metal each containing a perfect replica of the design.


The metal stampings are then taken through to a workshop where a team hand trim away the excess metal.  This is called “clipping” and they may also, depending on the design, even add etching detail by hand!

   We then took a peak into the enamelling room. Enamelling is done by fusing powdered glass at an extremely high temperature, usually between 750 and 850°C to metal. The powder melts and fills the hollows in a design that has been stamped out of metal.  When it is cooled it hardens into a smooth and durable glass like layer.    

Baths of the chemicals used in the plating process before enamelling.
Enamel colour palette
 Production team hand enamelling cufflinks
Enamel is applied liberally, often overfilling the detailed metal work and even covering the design. After the enamelling stage the cufflinks are taken to be linished.  This process strips back the excess enamel leaving the metal design showing though.  At the same time the metal is polished and the enamelled cufflink is left looking beautifully clean, smooth and shiny.

   Penrose 'Berwick' cufflink Penrose 'Portobello' Cufflink Penrose 'Bermondsey' Cufflink

Penrose cufflinks available online here.


Thursday, 31 October 2013

The creative process behind the Tie

It’s time again for our creative team to start putting new ideas on the table, thinking about the new collection and working closely with our manufacturers to ensure they can turn our visions into beautiful product!
A couple of weeks ago ‘The creative team’ took a trip to the countryside to visit our silk weaver whom has been weaving silk since 1704. It was time to work on the new Penrose collection; the ‘pre-mill’ process includes endless research from an abundance of sources. It may sound like a cliché but we really can draw inspiration from anywhere! Our surroundings, travels, exhibitions, archives, sifting and sketching the entire time – and this process never ends, we are continually collecting images and ideas.  It is important to look around and absorb your surroundings; you never know what you might be missing! We had plenty of ideas to bring to the table so sat down with some of the designers and the technical team in order to realise our designs.

One of my favourite things about this trip is indulging in the archives, there is such an extensive collection of hand drawn designs, weaving patterns, silk swatches and much more that it is a serious treat for the eyes. All of Penrose London’s collections are designed by our team in house at our showroom in Soho, but routing through archives always sparks ideas for construction and textures.

Endless Archives!

For each of our designs we discuss the scale and placement of the design, the way in which the ground of the tie should be constructed and of course the colour palette!

Putting together our tie collection initial designs and initial woven silk for design approval
 Colouring is one of the most important processes for every product in our collection. At Penrose, we pride ourselves in being ‘Colour rich’ and not ‘Colourful’ and selecting our palette is a method that cannot be taught!

Colour selections

 From this stage, we leave our designs and colour palette in the hands of the manufacturing team, our designs will first be put into a ‘CAD’ format (computer aided design) and then transferred into a weaving pattern. The weaving pattern calculates how the loom will weave the silk to create the correct design, the correct construction and texture – it is an extremely complex process and best left to the professionals! The mill then send us a patchwork blankets showing each design in a series of colour ways taken from our palette – firstly we approve (or occasionally discard) the design and finally select our preferred colours!

Once we have done this for every design we hand it back to the mill to let the weaving process commence in order to give us a sample collection. The weaving takes approximately 3 weeks before it is passed on to the tie maker and a further 4 weeks down the line…. we have a sample tie collection. The entire process from idea to sample takes approximately 3 months, each design has a story, is coloured with love and finished by hand.

Our AW14 collection is now in working progress, take a look at some of our sumptuous ties for this Autumn/Winter now available online


Thursday, 19 September 2013

How to Style... Ascots

This season Penrose have introduced a new product into the collection in the form of the classic Ascot. ‘What is an Ascot?’ you might be thinking…

The term 'Ascot' evolved in the 18th century deriving from the gentleman who attended the Royal Ascot horse race in Berkshire, England and sported a looser 'day' cravat as part of their ensemble. The Ascot is a form of neck tie that originated from the cravat; it can be elaborately tied around the neck, typically under the collar and was widely worn in the 18th and 19th century.

Throughout history the Ascot slowly filtered itself into the style of society and became an accessible accoutrement not only reserved for the upper class and royalty. In the early 20th century Ascot became popularized by Hollywood stars such as Clark Gable, Eroll Flynn and later Michael Caine.

Clark Gable sports an Ascot
Michael Caine, Suave and Serious in an Ascot

On occasion when a beautiful Penrose tie may not be necessary… fear not! We have taken a very creative look at the traditional Ascot. Worked in sumptuous, exclusive printed silks in a subtle winter palette and designed with a pleated neck band and contemporary squared pin fringed ends, the Penrose Ascot is the perfect accessory for the season change, worn under a crisp white shirt and a perfectly cut blazer.

How to style an Ascot

With the pleating around the back of your neck, firstly make a loose single knot and hold both ends of the Ascot.

Take one side of the Ascot and pass it underneath the other. With the same side, pass it under the neck and pull through over the single knot....And Adjust! It really is as simple as that. 

Shop Penrose London new season Ascots here!

And girls, this isn't just for the men! ....

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Everything you need to know about the Pochette...

It appears that there is a fight for the Origin of the ‘pochette’ or the pocket square as it is more commonly known; with links to Egypt, Greece, France, Eastern Europe, and England. We are going to be biased however and run with the story of Richard II who ruled over England in the 14th Century, and according to surviving documents, kept a square handkerchief on his person at all times, using it to clean his face or nose if necessary.  Maintaining a clean and superlative appearance was required by lords and ladies and soon enough the handkerchief became the must have accessory for other nobles. 
King Richard II - Founder of the Handkerchief?
 Until the reign of King Louis XVI of France in the in the late 16th century, handkerchiefs were available in a multitude of shapes and sizes and King Louis was the proud owner of an extensive collection. Married to Marie Antoinette, she convinced him that the square handkerchief was much more aesthetically pleasing and influenced him to order a decree that all handkerchiefs must be square measuring 16” by 16”. As Aretha Franklin and Annie Lenox said…  ‘behind every great man is a great woman!”

Typically men would keep their handkerchiefs in their hands or trouser pockets and consequently it would get dirty. Individuals then began to keep it in their top breast pocket to keep it clean and soon enough the trend began to grow.

Early 20th Century; the practicalities of the Pochette!
Throughout the history of menswear the pochette, like everything has had its ups and downs. In the 1920’s every well turned out gent would sport a pochette in their top pocket, but the invention of clean disposable handkerchiefs in the 1930’s tarnished the pochette as unhygienic. In today’s contemporary society, the pocket square has lept back onto the menswear radar and is a must have accessory for men when wearing a suit. 

The Penrose Pochette collection is designed in house at our London studio; we draw inspiration from an abundance of sources and after finalising our designs we then carefully select a seasonal colour palette from a printed chart of over 20,000 colours… Yes 20,000! The colouring process is one of the most important and considered steps, as we pride ourselves in being colour rich and not colourful.
Penrose pochettes are manufactured at a family run mill in Italy; they use specialist printing techniques and have the most incredible colours available for us to use which is of great importance to Penrose.

Our summer pochettes are a balanced composition of cotton and silk which gives the pochette an exclusively soft touch and adds a more contemporary look in the gentleman’s top pocket. This introduction of a cotton/silk mix, twinned with a more generous size than the average pocket square at 42cm2, means our pochette will not slip down into hiding and will stand prominent when ruffled in any way the wearer wishes.
For winter we introduced a heavier weight pochette in 100% silk. The heavier silk content allowed the colours to really intensify, displaying the rich winter palette and our signature rolled edge, contrast coloured border.  
Luxurious Pochettes from Penrose London AW13 collection - Now in stores
Selection of Pochettes from Penrose London AW13
How To style your Pochette
There is a plethora of ways in which you can fold and wear your Pochette. Our favourite way of wearing anything at Penrose, is without being too particular, without fuss and with plenty of panache. 
A simple yet beautiful technique to show off your pochette, is to pinch the centre of your, bring all 4 corners to the centre and pinch together, then hold the pochette from the other end and voilla!
How to style your Penrose Pochette
The end result! Complement your Pochette with a Penrose Tie to complete your sartorial look.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Penrose AW13 lands at Harrods!

Team Penrose arrived back from the US at the weekend after a hectic show schedule in New York City. Upon our return we popped into Harrods Knightsbridge to see the newly refurbished mens accessory department on the lower ground floor - my what a breath of fresh air! A wonderful display of some truly beautiful and covetable gentlemen's accoutrements; nifty ties, bow ties, pochettes and scarves.

The famous Harrods store front and a typical London Taxi!
The Penrose Autumn Winter collection has just landed in store and looked resplendent, especially our new rich autumnal colour palette with antique golds and deep red hues. 

Photography Thanks to Craig Lynn

New Penrose London Ties from the Autumn/Winter collection Photography Thanks to Craig Lynn
All Penrose Ties and other products are designed and coloured in house from our studio in the heart of Soho. Simply handling these objects of desire is enough to convince you of their outstanding tactile qualities – combine this with feasting your eyes on their delicate, confident colouring and elegant designs – you will fully appreciate the work involved!

New Penrose London AW13 Tie display at Harrods; Knightsbridge.