The dark solid tie is a staple of the Sean Connery James Bond wardrobe. In Dr. No and From Russia With Love that tie was always a navy grenadine tie, most likely from his shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser.
The solid grenadine tie is one of the most versatile ties. Because it is solid it will not clash with other patterns, but its texture ensures it has interest. Other textures can work just as well as grenadine does, but few are as luxurious and as unique as the lacy grenadine. The grenadine tie is less formal than the satin tie—the dressiest of all neckties—and sits around the same level of formality as the less interesting repp tie. Unlike the satin tie it can pair nicely with most sports coats.
It Is Not the Same as a Knit Tie
Do not confuse grenadine ties with the knitted silk ties, which James Bond favours in Ian Fleming’s novels and what Sean Connery wears throughout Goldfinger. While the grenadine might look similar in texture to the knit tie, they are completely unrelated.
The knitted tie is a more familiar tie, which somewhat resembles a sock. Like a sock, the knitted tie is a tube of knitted silk. It usually has a straight hem at the bottom, though some, like Tom Ford’s knitted ties are finished with triangular bottoms. The knitted tie is a sportier tie and disliked by many due to its straight hem. Yet the literary James Bond wears it, and the film Bond occasionally wears it as well.
The director of the first Bond film Terence Young most likely made the decision to dress James Bond in the more sophisticated grenadine tie rather than a knit tie.
What Is Grenadine Silk?
Grenadine is a luxurious silk, very delicate and much more formal than a knitted tie. It’s a wonder it holds up to the wear and tear that James Bond puts his clothes through.
Grenadine silk is woven—not knitted—on a jacquard loom in a gauze weave, also known as a leno weave. Gauze weaves are very open yet very stable, though they have a fair amount of stretch. Whilst in ordinary weaves the warp and weft yarns go over and under each other, the gauze weave adds a third dimension to the weave by having warp yarns that also cross over each other.
Grenadine silk is woven by two mills in the Como region of Italy: Fermo Fossati and Seteria Bianchi. Turnbull & Asser gets most of their grenadine silk from Seteria Bianchi, while Drakes and Mason & Sons get theirs from Fermo Fossati. Sam Hober has the largest selection of grenadine ties available anywhere and sources silks from both Fermo Fossati and Seteria Bianchi. Fermo Fossati is the more prominent weaver of grenadine silk, and ties of their grenadine silk are more widely available.
Silk is not the only fibre used for grenadine. Polyester, wool and blends of silk and cotton, silk and wool, silk and cashmere, wool and cashmere have also been used for grenadine. Fermo Fossati also make silk shantung grenadine, which has slubs.
Though all of Bond’s grenadine ties are woven in a single colour, grenadine can also be found in two-tone with different colours in the warp and the weft, in striped patterns and with dots.
Types of Grenadine Silk
There primarily are two different types of grenadine silk: large gauze and small gauze. Both the large gauze, known by its Italian makers as garza grossa, and the small gauze, known by its Italian makers as garza fina or garza piccola are equally versatile, though James Bond prefers the large gauze, which has more character but is also more delicate. Fermo Fossati and Seteria Bianchi make both types of grenadine, and Bianchi nicknames their large gauze ‘Prometeo’ and their small gauze ‘Filolao’.
Other varieties of grenadine have been historically woven. It’s the twists and open weave that characterise grenadine silk. Without these characteristics it is not true grenadine silk. ‘Mock’ grenadine also exists, which has a similar texture to grenadine. The texture is created by floats rather than a gauze weave and does not have an open weave.
Two Sides of the Silk
Grenadine silk does not have a ‘right side’ and a ‘wrong side’, though each maker of grenadine silk has their own idea of what is supposed to the the right side. The right side of Fermo Fossati’s garza grossa is equivalent to the wrong side of Seteria Bianchi’s. This means that either side from either maker can be used without detriment to the silk or tie, and it’s a personal preference as to which side is better. Grenadine looks similar on both sides, but each side has unique qualities.
The right side of Fermo Fossati’s grenadine and the wrong side of Seteria Bianchi’s grenadine has a delicate, lacier and more web-like appearance. The wrong side of Fossati’s grenadine and the right side of Bianchi’s grenadine has more of a honeycomb look and more overall texture. This is the side that Sean Connery’s grenadine ties use. Because this side has slightly more texture, it shows up better on screen than the other side would.
Grenadine Tie Construction
The grenadine tie is constructed like any normal tie: it is folded on the bias, it has a wool interlining for body, and it is finished with a triangular tip. The wool interlining must be dyed the same colour as the silk so the colour of the interlining does not show through the open weave. Grenadine ties may be made in a seven-fold construction that does away with the interlining in favour of extra folds of silk to give it body.
Most grenadine ties, like most ties, have a tipping to fill in the backside of the ends of the tie and give a finished look to the tie. Some grenadine ties have no tipping, which necessitates hand-rolled edges for an elegant finish. Sean Connery’s grenadine ties in his 1960s James Bond films are made without tipping and are slightly see-thought at the tips.
Hand-rolled grenadine ties without tipping have more interest and involve a higher level of craft to make than standard tipped grenadine ties, but this variation does not effectively change the tie’s formality.
James Bond’s Grenadine Ties
Sean Connery wears large-weave grenadine ties in all of his James Bond films except Goldfinger, his only Bond film to not feature grenadine ties. In Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever he wears dark navy grenadine ties. In From Russia with Love he adds a lighter shade of navy, and in Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever he adds black and dark brown to the roster. In black it makes an excellent funeral tie, and this is exactly what James Bond wears to a funeral at the beginning of Thunderball. In Diamonds Are Forever he also adds an amethyst-coloured—a pale purple—grenadine tie. In Never Say Never Again he wears a large-weave grenadine tie in mid-grey. Except for the amethyst grenadine, all of the other colours are still available today.
When Roger Moore brings traditional English clothing back to the Bond series in For Your Eyes Only, he also brings back the grenadine tie in grey large gauze with his grey flannel suit.
Where to Find Grenadine Ties
Today, grenadine ties are more popular than they have ever been. They are easy to find from countless brands around the world and are no longer exclusive to the most luxurious brands, something that was hardly the case before the 2010s. Thanks to the internet, they have seen a renaissance.
Turnbull & Asser still sell the same large-gauze grenadine ties that Sean Connery wears in his Bond films, but in a different width and with tipping. They change their tie widths periodically to follow fashion trends. The same type of grenadine ties can be found at many other shops on London’s Savile Row and elsewhere in Mayfair, on London’s Jermyn Street, in Milan, and elsewhere. Sam Hober offer bespoke grenadine ties in a wide range of colours online at a reasonable price. Specify the wrong side of the silk to get the Connery look with their grenadine ties.