I met with clothing designer and filmmaker Alexander Olch at his shop on Orchard Street in New York’s Chinatown to learn more about him and to learn more about his tie that Daniel Craig wears as James Bond in No Time to Die.
Alexander Olch designed the tie that Daniel Craig wears in the Matera, Italy scenes of No Time to Die. It is his “Avery” tie in burgundy, and it is the most interesting tie that we have yet to see on James Bond in No Time to Die.
Here is part of the interview I did with Mr Olch. The entire audio interview will be on the From Tailors with Love podcast at a later time.
Matt Spaiser: What do you do here?
Alexander Olch: We’ve been designing now for 18 years. I think the first necktie [I made] was around 2001. It was a souvenir for the crew that worked on my thesis film while I was at college at Harvard. Instead of getting the crew a present like a t-shirt or a baseball hat, which was the traditional thing then, I thought I would design a necktie.
MS: Are you still working in film?
AO: The last feature film I directed was called The Windmill Movie, which was out in 2009. It opened at Film Forum here in New York and then on HBO. Since then I’ve put my cinematic efforts into opening Metrograph, and as we now look to open additional Metrographs I’ll also be making another movie pretty soon.
MS: Is your tie business and design connected to your films?
AO: I like making things. I group things into two categories. The first would be things that exist in time, so I would say that’s movies, music, drama; things that have a beginning, middle and end. And then there’s things that are more objects that just are, that don’t have a beginning, middle and end. That would be painting, sculpture, fashion design, space design. So for me I like to always be working on one of both, so whether that’s the design of a fabric, the design of a physical object, design of a space, and then also be work on something that exists in time.
MS: I see this is the tie that Daniel Craig was spotted wearing in the No Time to Die trailer. Can you tell us anything about the design of this tie? Your inspiration for it?
AO: What I like to do in fabric design is play around with tradition. What I’ve talked about before is some idea of mixing something old and something new. And this is a design called the “Avery”, which is sort of a mix of two things. On the one side it’s a traditional polka dot, which is a step and repeat, meaning the design steps over one, and would be otherwise a traditional polka dot on a silk twill ground except for the fact that the dots are quite unusual.
When you look in closer, they’re woven with what’s called a silk bourette thread, and that bourette thread is something that is rough, unfinished. It is something you would normally not mix with very fine silk threads, and so the contrast between the two is very unusual. And then on top of that I created a stripe in the polka dots, so you have one stripe of light blue and one stripe of black.
What’s created there is, I would like to think an interesting design where you’re mixing something quite traditional in terms of the burgundy ground with something that’s quite unusual in the texture of the spots.
We also make what’s called a “pocket round”, which is our version of a pocket square. It happens to be round. When I open it you can see the back side of the fabric. A neck tie’s constructed so you never see the backside of the fabric, but here you can see how much work is going into producing just the spots. So underneath the spot is all the threads, what’s called “floated” underneath the back of the fabric. So you have this light blue and this black that’s floating all under the entire surface of the red silk, so it gives it quite a weighty feel so the tie also knots really nicely because it has a lot of density to it, much more than a typical silk repp weave.
MS: Have you considered doing a tie without a tipping so you can see some of that? Those are become more popular these days.
AO: One of my trademarks has been the self tipping, when in traditional tie-making the tipping is made of something else. It’s usually made of a thin silk of some kind. One challenge has been, when you go to a traditional tie maker they would say, “no, you can’t do it, self tipping, it’s not going to work.” I always get very interested when craftspeople tell me, “no, it can’t be done.” So we’ve made it a trademark that every one of our ties is all self-tipping.
MS: When everyone saw this tie in the No Time to Die trailer, did you know it was going to be in there?
AO: We had been working for about six to nine months with the costume team on the Bond film. We were not sure, as anybody would, what would actually make it into the film and what wouldn’t.
You’ll notice that this is a width that we don’t normally offer. We offer custom-making of ties that can be as skinny, as wide, as short, as thin. Our standard is 2 1/2 inches. We have also offered 2-inch and 3-inch. This is actually 3 1/2-inch, which is a new shape for us, so that was something that we collaborated with the team from the Bond costume department to create.
MS: Is this tie now available ready to wear in this width?
AO: There has been tremendous amount of interest in this tie, which is very exciting for us. And in fact we now do have the size available for purchase online in 3.5-inch, exactly as seen in Matera, Italy.
MS: Has Daniel Craig been in this shop?
AO: To my knowledge, no, but I can’t answer that definitively.
Alexander Olch’s ties and pocket rounds (round display handkerchiefs instead of square) are displayed on a counter in an artful display to make it easier to experience the products. Many more products from current and past seasons are available from the drawers underneath. Customers can ask about other products, such as their wide, droopy butterfly bow ties.
The shop may look minimalist inside and out, but on the corner of Canal Street and Orchard Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown, the bright white shopfront cannot be missed.
A special thanks to Peter Brooker for making the connection and getting me to meet with Alexander Olch at the shop. Look for more with Mr Olch on the From Tailors with Love podcast coming soon.