By Donalevan Maines
A boutonnière adds “a pop of color” to a smart summer suit, says dependably dapper Stefan Eade-Hill, while a silk boutonnière will wink of whimsy.
The Montrose fashionista recently began wearing the fun fashion accessory as a companion piece to the bow tie that has become his trademark around town. At a corporate event in May, he popped a tony red boutonnière (which is French for buttonhole) on each member of the board, instantly marking the privileged 12 men as the evening’s VIPs.
January 1, 2012, was Eade-Hill’s “Je suis bow tie” moment, when he wore a bow tie to “tie the knot” in support of marriage equality, then fielded so many compliments that he started wearing one every day.
“I have, personally, about three hundred,” says Eade-Hill. “I make my own bow-tie patterns, so that my own aesthetic is heard.”
In January, he launched an online store, KnottingHill Bowties, with a wide selection of bow ties that he crafts by hand. By Valentine’s Day, fans were showing off their KnottingHill bows in selfies they posted on social-media sites to support marriage equality.
Some of them were custom orders, such as a trendy leather gem that Eade-Hill says “looks great in a tux.”
“It’s all about getting people to think outside of the box,” he explains. “Houston is very fashion-forward and great about embracing trends; people here like to participate,” says the San Diego, California, native. “People in Houston like to look good and feel good and have fun with fashion. That’s what fashion is about!”
Eade-Hill was only four or five when he wore his first bow tie, and he remembers that he never wore a wear a shirt to school unless it was ironed and starched. “My grandmother taught me to sew when I was about nine. At first, I thought I was going to sew my fingers together, but it became a passion.”
About clip-on bow ties, Eade-Hill admits, “I’m not a fan. I’m a purist. My favorite quote and mantra is, ‘Real men tie their own bow ties.’ I published a video to help people learn how to tie a bow tie, and it’s helped quite a bit; customers say they’re having a lot easier time now. It takes a while to learn, but once you get it, it’s like any other repetitive thing. It takes me 20 seconds.”
KnottingHill bows have become coveted items on the fundraising circuit, with Eade-Hill creating four or five bow ties each time there’s an event benefitting an LGBT cause.
Next up, for example, is Outreach United’s Vegas Night in July, which will tempt deep pockets for KnottingHill bows and boutonnières. “I am thrilled because I have always been partial to them, but they were always hard to find,” says Eade-Hill. “You would see them at a wedding or at a prom, but they can be an everyday thing, too—even casual. I get a lot of compliments.”
Likewise, a bow tie is a guaranteed “conversation starter,” he smiles. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a person wearing a bow tie that I haven’t carried on a conversation with.”
Eade-Hill explains there are two styles of boutonnières. “It depends on what event you’re going to,” he advises. “There is fabric, which is heavy-textured, and there is silk, which is much more whimsical: think patterns, polka dots, stripes—a myriad of colors.”
KnottingHill fans might have to wait a minute for the designer to unveil his upcoming fall line, he says, due to Houston’s longer summer season. “I started figuring out things early, but the line will come out a little later, with colors that are a little more muted.”
Prices begin at $25 at www.knottinghillbowties.com, with the company donating 10 percent of sales from items designated as HRC bow ties to the Human Rights Campaign.
Donalevan Maines also writes about Steve Kalbaugh in this issue of OutSmart magazine.
Bengali Fashion Comes to Houston
The 35th North American Bengali Conference (NABC)—which highlights Bengali culture—welcomes a fine collection of artists, musicians, dancers, jewelry and fashion designers, health and fitness experts, speakers, business tycoons, and traders from all over the world. Antique jewelry, contemporary bezels, Indian handloom and handicrafts, glamorous fashion apparel, and fine jewelry will be seen in abundance.
At the “Love Yourself” fair, guests will be treated to a plethora of health and beauty events, with platforms for massage and health awareness, yoga and ayurveda, astrology and palmistry, acupuncture, martial arts, fitness dancing, free health screenings, and much more.
Join the Tagdore Society of Houston for NABC 2015, July 10–12, at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. General admission is free and open to the public, while the NABC 2015 cultural events require entry passes. To learn more and register, visit nabc2015.org. —Lucy Doyle