Title of Work
“The tie is one part of a man’s outfit where he can be more experimental,” says New York designer Jonathan Meizler, whose accessories company Title of Work makes the ties for Just William. “It is a window on his personality. The tie you choose says something about you, whether you’re very conservative or more of a peacock.” It’s fair to say that many of Meizler’s tie designs would appeal more to the latter than the former.
As a brand name, Title of Work is redolent of art galleries. With a background first in art and then in high fashion, Meizler founded the company to a fusion of the two. And the tie became his canvas. “As an artist the tie is a small space to play with, and it’s also a very specific niche market,” he says. “I’m transforming the tie into a piece of wearable, collectible art.”
The canvas itself is a length of Italian wool or English silk, 6.5cm wide. “I think my width is a modern measurement: it’s not skinny and it’s not wide” says Meizler, who comes across in person as a combination of the film director Baz Luhrmann and the polymath Tom Ford. The tie fabric is then embellished with details such as fine beading, semi-precious stones, draped chains reminiscent of watch fobs. Hand-cast sterling silver “grommets” are inlaid with Swarovski crystals or black diamonds. He also adds toggle bolts to the grommets so that when worn, the front and back of the tie are held in place, like an ornate tie bar. “Fashion with function,” says Meizler.
For a time Meizler worked as couturier, making women’s dresses, and he brings these delicate skills to the fore in his tie work. “We have this clash of masculine and feminine going on,” he says. “The tie is the symbol of masculine refinement but the beading is very feminine and you don’t normally associate it with men so I tread that line very carefully.”
Meizler understands that most men will shy away from things that are too sparkly or look too feminine so he keeps the colour palette dark and muted and balances shine with matte so that any glints from the metal, bead or stone embellishments are off-set by fabrics like wool, cashmere and twill.
The art motif runs through everything. Each collection of ties is a work of collaboration with an artist or photographer. All designs are limited editions and each tie is individually numbered. Since the ties are hand sewn in New York and many are hand beaded, no two ties are the same. The back of every piece is finished with a metal amulet of some kind – a hand, a circle, or the designer’s thumb print. A hangtag detailing the materials used and the collection’s inspiration is hand signed by Meizler before being rolled into a black canister, inspired by the packaging used to transport fine art prints. Finally a red dot is added to the canister, the art gallerist’s sign that a work has been sold.
While ties are the artist’s métier, Meizler has also expanded his repertoire to include masculine accessories including cufflinks and tie bars which he calls “architectural jewellery”. The space in which he and his small team of artisans work has the light and airy feel of a gallery – it is a penthouse studio with full windows that frame uninterrupted views of one of the world’s most iconic architectural jewels: the Empire State Building. Around the room, some of his ties are framed like art, others are encased in glass domes like taxidermy.
In each collection Meizler tries to ensure that there is something for all his customers – from the very outré to the more reserved. “There’s a balance between creating something special and it becoming too costumey,” he says. Meizler stress tests each piece by asking himself: would a man wear this?
The truthful answer is that not all men would. But everyone, at least, should appreciate the work of art. “Style is subjective but craftsmanship is objective,” says Meizlier. “You might not like something aesthetically but at least you will have to say well it’s really well made.”