Friday 24 February 2012

Christian Lacroix vs Magnoli Clothiers

You will have read recently that I manage to secure a VERY rare tie - the Christian Lacroix swirly tie, known as Tie Four in my Tie Index. Although I have found a differing colour way, the weave is 100% as screen used.

I also own both version of the Swirly Tie made by Magnoli Clothiers, so I’m in a very good position to review both of them alongside the original I now own.

But before I do so, I need to remind you of a very specific piece of background info which will explain what the ties are trying to replicate, and thus manage your expectation of how the tie should look.

When Louise Page came across the Christian Lacroix tie it was a one-off – literally the last in the shop. Whereas she would usually buy three or four identical ties for stunt-doubles and allow for damages, she fell in love with it, ignoring her own golden rules and bought it anyway.

She only featured it once in an episode from beginning to end, The Girl In The Fireplace. This was because stunt-work was at a minimum during the story, so the tie could be kept ‘safe’.

Its other appearances were deliberately brief or in self-contained scenes, such as in Love And Monsters (see left) and Blink (see below).
These appearances were specifically selected to limit its exposure to potential continuity issues, damage or loss in the more high octane scenes.

So when it can to David’s swan song and his final scenes, she choose a tie she had extra special affection for: the Christian Lacroix. Knowing she would be handing over to a new costume department, she checked that it was okay to use the tie, bearing in mind there were no back-ups or spares.
No questions were raised, so filming went ahead as planned.

However, once the script came in for Matt’s debut adventure, it became apparent the tie would form part of the plot and need to be distressed, following the TARDIS crashing into Amelia Pond’s back garden, as well as being trapped in a car door!

Reluctant to allow the precious, unique tie to be damaged, Ray Holman and his team had to make a replia of the tie so they were free to do what was required in the script.

This was done by tracing the design onto brown silk and embroidering the blue swirls to match. A couple of reddish areas were replicated by using scraps of coloured silk appliquéd on, but these didn’t quite match the original, hence the visible difference between the two versions.
Thus, there are TWO distinctively different versions of this one tie.
  • The original Christian Lacroix woven-fabric tie as worn exclusively by David Tennant
  • The hand-made replica, with appliquéd design as worn exclusively by Matt Smith
So it now comes down to which of these ‘screen-accurate’ ties is being copied.

The first draft of the tie, released around December 2009, was based on publicity photographs and guesswork, but produced a very acceptable result.

It is woven, with the swirls and background in totally solid colours, but I can confirm neither if these are actually correct.

The area of artwork, and thus pattern repeat, is fairly limited, due mainly to the lack of images of the full area of the design. The first six or so inches stand up well, but it quickly gives way to increasingly inaccurate guesswork, working from what was available at the time.

Buyers criticised it for not having the reddish areas and lacking the depth of relief the swirls appeared to have, but this was based on the spied filming of The Eleventh Hour, when Matt Smith wore the Ray Holman replica tie as outlined in my introduction.

Since Matt wore his tie without a jacket it was more visible; whereas David’s was mostly concealed by the buttoned-up suit. It was assumed (wrongly) that they were the same tie, so Matt’s was used for reference for both.

In response to online comments, a second draft of the tie was done in July 2010 to address the wants of cosplayers, and tried to represent the embroidered relief of The Eleventh Hour tie. Efforts were also made to include the red areas.

The existing swirl artwork was retained, and expanded upon, based on a flat image of the Eleventh Hour tie. This was a much welcomed improvement over the first version.

I gather a number of attempts were made to create the reflections and shading the embroidered swirls produced, with a limited level of success.

The final version did a good job and the red areas were included, but come out too light in the released version.

My conclusion is that the second draft tie stands as a good tie, but fails to replicate the three-dimensional relief of the Matt Smith version.

Although the original David Tennant tie is all woven, like the Magnolis, the red areas should be much more subtle than seen here, with the brown background a lot darker. The overall swirl artwork is good, if a little large and heavy going. It still stands up today, though there is room for further improvement, if another version is produced.


  1. Actually, I drew up the pattern of the second draft Magnoli tie from scratch based on screen grabs of the Eleventh Hour tie, which did have a matching pattern to the original. That pattern was never really questioned later when I managed to get my hands on some photos of that tie, which I used to try to get the color gradient on the swirls figured out. The lack of smooth fades and overall placement of the pattern were the result of the mill that produced the ties being unable to execute the weave and taking liberties with what they considered unimportant details, and color matching anything without an original in hand is impossible, so we did our best.

    1. Thanks for the additional info - always good to get the full story.

  2. They do look simular I think if you unstitch the magnoli one and use the actual one as a guide you could make the magnoli one just like the real one if you iron out the back creases and then fold it in such a way to make it look simular to the real one not sure if it will work but its worth a try

  3. Future_Tennant here,

    In January 2010 I "reverse engineered" the tie's pattern to a very high degree of accuracy, based on both the original and the series 5 copy, and shared the results with the cosplay community: Swirly Tie design

    There was guesswork in making the part of the pattern that disappears into the knot.

    I have suspected that Magnoli borrowed the artwork I made when producing his improved version of the tie, which is fine with me.

  4. Some of the better closeups of Tennants are in 'The Girl in the Fireplace', while it's on his head (naturally).