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In the Beginning, it Was the Cravat… Posted on 14 Jul 12:52

Ivan Gundulic

I was hibernated many, many years ago, during the “Age of Style”. I have no idea who did that to me and why, although I think the culprit might be a very well-known Romanian vampire… but to you this doesn’t really matter. The fact is: somebody woke me up not so long ago and what matter is: I am a style dinosaur, the last of the Mohicans, a testimony of good, old-fashioned style. My morals are obnoxiously conservative, at least as much as my outward look. I don’t advocate for gay rights, I’m not an animalise, I don’t think humans should try and save the word and I regard liberals individuals and ideas with much suspicion. Also, I love the smell of un-refined gasoline and I truly believe that the internal combustion engine is a divine invention which saved the world. I don’t like Pagans and I think that women are very different from men and they should attempt to become soldiers and they should indulge in any other manly occupation, either. I think that what you call “feminism” (I’m guessing you are referring to the Suffragette Movement…) is despicable and utterly anti-women. Feminism is so anti-women that actually negates femininity. I also despise Yoga, because I want nothing to do with the God Brahman, I’m not dying and I am not a Hindu. Much in the same fashion, Vegans give me the goose bumps. Meat is good for you.

But there is one thing I love and that is: style. And since, in order to win my bread I must do publicity for a reknown brand of neckties in the capital of Italy I’ve also came to love neckties. Here’s why I love them… In a sense, we own the existence of contemporary neckties and bowties to the Habsburg Monarchy. Why? Well, it’s because they were the ones who founded the Croats or Crabats or Crabatten, if you wish. You see where I’m going? Yes, it’s the “Cravat”. Modesty apart, I was born with a cravat and therefore I believe I’m entitled to talk about this, also given the fact that my name is John Cravatta. In the beginning, it was the cravat. But who were the Crabats? you might ask. Well, they were 17th century men-at-arms recruited from all over Eastern Europe. They were Croatians, Hungarians, Serbs, Albanians, Transylvanians, Poles, Cossacks, Walachians and Tatars. They were many, they fought well and hard. For example: they took part in in the 1623 Battle of Stadtlohn as well as in the Thirty Years' War, but most importantly they fought with style. In fact, they use to wear a neckband, apparently made of linen, which served them for hygienic purposes, but maybe also as some sort of psychological protection.

Now, that’s why the origin of the modern tie could be traced back in the 1600s; That was definitively a bloody century, some called it “the century of the soldier” in fact. The term “cravat” itself was originally used by the French to describe somebody from Croatia. Anyway, sometimes good things come from bad things and like most gentlemen's styles sandwiched between the 17th century and the First World War, also the cravat came from the martial society. Curiously enough, even though the modern descendant of the Crabat is a businessman and doesn’t go around killing people, he still needs a “cravat”. Right, cravat history 101 ends here, you get an “A+”, but what is a contemporary necktie or bowtie and why do we need it? Good question. My educated answer would be something along the lines of “a tie” is a piece of art, because, like any other artwork, it does not have any practical function. It’s an aesthetic tinsel, hanging from a suit. It was Charles II of England, who gave the first modern definition of a necktie in 1660:

A cravatte is another kind of adornment for the neck being nothing else but a long towel put about the Collar, and so tyed before with a Bow Knott; this is the original of all such Wearings; but now by the Art and Inventions of the seamsters, there is so many new ways of making them, that it would be a task to name, much more to describe them”.  

Even before that: the very first known picture of a man wearing a cravat comes from 1622 and it depicts the Croatian-born baroque poet Ivan Gundulić. 

It was is more like a scarf than a necktie, and it was white and probably made of linen, but still: it was rather dandy. Notice how that simple white muffler tied loosely around his neck adds style to the figure of this ancient gentleman. Gundulić, likewise known as “Gianfrancesco Gondola”, was probably the most well-known Croatian Baroque poet. He was a Roman-Catholic and utterly against the Lutheran reformation and he was also opposed to what he used to call “the vanity of this world”.  How ironic, right? Anyways, we would like to remember him for his sense of style. Gundulić's most celebrated play was a pastoral called “Dubravka”, written in 1628, here’s a passage. 

Fair liberty, beloved liberty, liberty sweetly avowed,

thou are the treasured gift that God to us endowed,

all our glory is thy true creation,

to our Home thou are all the decoration,

no silver nor gold, not life itself could replace

the reward of thy pure and sublime grace.”

 

Mr. Gundulić might have been a stylish poet, but you have a chance to be a stylish gentleman, which in my humble opinion, is even better. And remember: style is what you do while no one is watching. So choose your cravats well and don't ask your wife about colours! Ask me, instead. At your service.