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Croatia, Cravats, International Fashion

Buzz Poole
10/23/2012 - 06:12
Moises Saman, via The New Yorker

Did you know that the necktie originated in Croatia? Neither did I. But according to this item on The New Yorker's Photo Booth blog, October 18 is Cravat Day in Croatia, a day when the country celebrates its status as the creators of cravats in the seventeenth century. James Pomerantz has put together a great slide show of male neckwear-related photographs shot all over the world by Magnum photographers.

I've never been a fan of wearing ties so it should come as no surprise that I've never given much thought to the invention of a fashion accessory I think of as a decorative noose. Plenty of people have devoted time and energy to thinking about it, however, as Academia Cravatica makes clear. This non-profit has been in existence since 1997, having been started to promote and educate how the cravat is an important part of both Croatian and world heritage.

According to the site: "These neck scarves were a part of Croatian battle dress and a kind of identification because uniforms did not exist at the time." Because of all the warring going on across Europe during the seventeenth century the trend covered some ground and was adopted by the French, Belgians, and the Dutch. Academia Cravatica posits that "theoretically, [there are] 85 ways to knot a cravat, only a dozen of knots suit the usual notions of symmetry and balance." But it was the English, in the nineteenth century, who overhauled the cravat, tweaking it into the ascot and then the more traditional tie, with a knot named after the Duke of Windsor.

Of course, Magnum is the world's preeminent photography agency and the images collected in this slide show really drive home how male neckwear has traveled around the world, folded and knotted into indigenous traditions and lifestyles. Yes, there are photographs of Japanese salarymen riding the train and a early '80s New York Wall Street type slumming it in a graffiti-covered subway car, but the most surprising, and interesting, images come from war zones and developing economies where the tie represents some sort of normalcy, no matter how out of place it might seem to outsiders looking in from afar.

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