historical notes

"La cravate c'est l'homme" as you can read in the "Journal des dames" of May 30th 1835. It'a about a certainly essential accessory of the classical man clothing, but surely lacking in functionality. On the other hand just its "uselessness" has made it ever so an emblem of social distinction: through it the man can express his own nature and his own daily moods. The term " tie " (in ancient Italian " corvatta ", the modern Italian term is "cravatta") it is generally thought to derive from the French cravate, adaptation of the Croatian word hrvat (Croatian) and therefore it would mean Croatian. But according to some studious the word would not have Croatian orgins but it would be connected to the Turkish terms kurbac and the Hungarian korbacs, terms, that designate both long objects, as the lash and the whip. Anyway the French term "cravache" means whip, and in France the term "cravate" was already used in the XV century to define a long and thin piece of cloth. In Italy the term cravatta was used during 1500 as Caesar Vecellio testifies in the book "About the ancient and modern clothing in different parts of the world" (1590), in which with regard to the focale, (ancient Roman scarf) Vecellio writes that it was "a kind of cravatta." Going over the history of the man we meet the so-called "protocravatte" or raher mysterious accessories considered the progenitors of the modern cravatta. About two thousand years ago the Egyptians sometimes put round the neck of the mummies an ornament, probably an amulet that had the shape of a cord hold by a knot. A few centuries later in China people used a cloth to knot round the neck: we have come to knowledge of it after the discovery of the tomb of Shin Huang Ti (III century b.C.), the Chinese emperor famous for having let the Great Wall be built. In his tomb 7500 terracotta soldiers have been found, each of them wears round the neck something very similar to a knotted scarf. In China there aren't however other testimonies of this type of accessory. Three centuries later in the Western countries another "protocravatta" appeared. The iconographic testimony even in this case is respectful: it's about the Traiana column, raised by Traiano in 106 b.C. to celebrate the fortunate campaign against the Dacis. Observing with a lot of attention the Roman soldiers represented in the frieze, some legionaries have been noticed to have round the neck a type of handkerchief refolded under the armour.
Instead other soldiers are represented with this handkerchief simply knotted round the neck. Roman soldiers may have inherited this accessory just from the populations of the Dacia, probably using it to shelter themselves from the particularly rigorous climate. It is thought that following the campaigns in Dacia, the use of this handkerchief to be knotted round the neck had spread among the Romans, not only among the soldiers, but also among the countrymen. Some famous Latin writers, such as Orazio and Seneca, remember that the Romans sometimes used a scarf called focale, just because it wound the throat. Nevertheless it seems that above all sick or effeminate people had resort to this accessory. But only starting from the XVII century both the term tie and the same accessory make their official entry in the life of the man. The real birth of the tie is connected to a precise historical event: the Thirty years war (1618-1648). During this conflict the tie appears for the first time round the neck of the Croatian soldiers, skilled mercenary knights who sold themselves to the better bidder and that wore an uniform that provided something very similar to a tie. It was probably a long collar, of great fashion in that period, knotted however in a particular way. These soldiers became famous for their tie and they unintentionally launched its fashion, so that, for more than one century, the Croatian regiment at the service of the King of France was called "Real Cravatta." Before crystallizing itself in the modern cuts, the tie has passed through numerous transformations. A first change was in 1692. In that time the Steinkerques tie was born, by the name of the place where a bloody battle took place, fought and won by the French against William III of Orange. To face the attack launched by surprise against their camp, the French officers in the hurry knotted their ties with negligence, leaving the leaning extremities simply inserted in a buttonhole. Following such episode a new fashion was born, that spread first in France and soon after in Italy.
At first the tie was a simple scarf, adorned with lace and tulle that had a great success all 1700 long, and it was realized in very fine flax. At the end of the same century the tie became wider and was worn rolled up more times around the neck and knotted fore, leaving the extremities shorter and hanging. With the French Revolution also the clothing was crushed by a revolutionary wave and got a footing the fashion of the Incroyables, the nonconformists of the time, who wore very long ties to wind innumerable times round the neck. Since the first years of 1700 in fact both the men and the women often wore round the neck bands of silk, knotted as a bow, that could be worn naked-neck or placed on a piece of dampened cloth. The papillon (French term that means butterfly) was born as a simple and instinctive knot. It is a variation of the plain knot used by the sailors both to reduce the sail and to connect the extremities of two tops. At the beginning of the XIX century the tie started to be knotted in varied ways and the edges were left more or less long. A certain success had also the stocks or the mounted ties. Although the white tie firmly held the field, about the half of the century the black tie peeped out, that received a good success. During 1800 the tie started taking the modern physiognomy. The affirmation of the dark suit supported the opening of this accessory to the colour and to a wider range of materials. At the end of the century finally the "modern" tie made its appearance, its success was contemporary to the fashion of the shirt with a starched, tall and rigid collar. Its main characteristics were stabilized in a precise typology and only cut and width kept on varying according to the fashions.