What is Ancient Madder?

Over the course of the autumn and winter, there’s a good chance you read the phrase “ancient madder” somewhere on the forum, and you may have wondered what it is. Although madder itself has a very, very long history, ancient madder now refers, at least in menswear parlance, exclusively to silk ties. These ties are specially treated to have the characteristically matte – or “chalky” – hand, then dyed with the traditionally dark and dusty colors of the madder plant.

Initially, the “madder” part of ancient madder – or any kind of madder – came from the dye’s origins as an extract of the Rubia tinctorum plant, otherwise known as “madder.” Use of the plant dates back to the Egyptian Empire of 1500 B.C., and it has been found in Africa, Greece, Italy, and central Asia. Most regularly, it was used to produce reds and oranges, including the red coats of the British Army. Like indigo, natural madder dyes were phased out upon the discovery of the plant’s coloring agent, alizarin, and its subsequent synthesis in 1868. It doesn’t help that some of the chemicals present in natural madder root have been shown to cause cancer in rats (that’s not something you have to worry about with the modern, synthetically-dyed ties).

In America, Madder ties became a standby of Ivy style, often found in paisleys and geometric prints alongside stripes and club logos. The colors given by the madder root, and hence by its synthetic replicas,  are generally muted. Think of sandstone, changing leaves, and soft ochres – geometric madder prints remain an Ivy standby, but they’ve also been embraced by men who are after striking but conservative colors. They’re particularly well-suited for fall, when thicker textures and jackets come out of the closet for the changing weather.

Essentially, “ancient madder” refers to very handsome neckties in dark, chalky colors, with a similarly chalky hand. Several companies make “ancient madder” ties, though Styleforum members will be most familiar with names such as Drake’s, Shibumi Berlin, and Sam Hober. Larger brands such as Brooks Bros., Ralph Lauren, and Ben Silver also regularly carry madder ties.

Once you have one, Mr. Bruce Boyer recommends wearing it with a tweed jacket, though most jackets with some heft and texture to them will pair well with madder ties. When wearing a madder tie, do recommend embracing other natural or natural-looking dyes, such as indigos, which pair beautifully with the dark hues of ancient madder ties.

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Holiday Parties With House of Kydos

Dear Friends,

With festivities already underway, have you decided yet on what to wear during the holiday events? Paris, the family’s voice behind necktie maker the House of ΚΥΔΟΣ (that’s “Kydos”), has prepared an outfit for each event using his personal wardrobe and selected ties and accessories from our AW’16 collection.

Styleforum members can use code sf2016 for a 15% discount on all items until the 18th of December.  Tax Free prices (that is 24% less) are always available for all non-EU shipments.

Family Dinner

Family dinner has always been our family’s highlight moment of the year. It is the time when we all gather together around the fireplace, relaxing and contemplating the events of the year, making plans and discussing dreams for the year to come. The men always wear casual jacket or a cardigan, so here is a combination that I am contemplating for this year’s dinner: a brown herringbone jacket with white shirt, a blue silk tweed tie, a blue silk pocket square with a traditional Greek pattern, and a lapel pin in colors which can be found both in the tie’s weave and in the pocket square’s design.

kydos styleforum holiday office party silk tweed tie


The KYDOS unlined, 8-fold necktie used has been created solely by hand sewing, using the same knowledge and skill our great grandfather used over a century ago. The silk – with a small quantity of wool, viscose and linen – has been spun at Como, and as per custom, only 33 ties of this design and color have been created.

In Greece there is a long tradition of embroidery, with designs varying among regions, local traditions and social or economic status. This specific pocket square has been designed in-house based on our family’s inherited embroidery. The design, which symbolizes fertility (hoopoe), the passage of life (ship) and youth (flowers), originates from the island of Skyros, where the ruling class’ families created such designs for adornment, but in secrecy both to avoid copying and to preserve them over the passage of time. Using silk spun at the Greek silk village of Soufli, we created two more color variations in burgundy and in green. Then, our seamstress hand-rolled their edges for an elegant finish.

Office Party

Office parties have already started, with lawyers and bankers leading the way.  A classic, deep blue single button suit looks proper to blend in with the crowd. A burgundy necktie is an ideal choice for a touch of elegance. A personalized, hand-embroidered white pocket square, folded in a “sails” shape, can add a playful note.

kydos styleforum holiday office party burgundy silk tie

 The burgundy tie is – as are all Kydos’ premium ties – totally unlined, 8-fold, and 100% hand sewn in house, in a process that can take up to 4 hours for each necktie to be completed. All edged have been hand rolled with an invincible seam so meticulous that the points of the blades are perfectly shaped, and with the aid of a silk monk’s stitch the tie’s layers join together creating perfectly balanced folds.

As you may have noticed, the white cotton pocket square is not simply hand rolled. Its edges have been hand embroidered by our seamstress for a very unique and elegant finis,h and in this case my monogram has been hand embroidered as well to make the pocket square even more personal.

New Year’s Eve

kydos styleforum holiday office party black velvet bow tie

New Year’s Eve is usually the most glamorous night of the three. Our plans though are different this year, as we will host a house party without a defined dress code, so the tuxedo will have to wait for now. Being the host, a navy jacket with some texture will be combined with a black silk velvet bow tie and a formally-folded white Egyptian cotton pocket square.

This pre-tied bow tie, which is also 100% hand sewn, has been created using the finest silk velvet and silk satin. The intention has been to create a visual effect by combining two different weaves, the velvet for the front bow and the satin for the back bow.

The white Egyptian cotton pocket square can be either hand rolled or can be hand embroidered and personalized. Here it has been hand embroidered using blue thread both for the edges and the monogram.

Wishing Happy Holidays to all of you and your families from sunny Greece!

 – Paris Anastopolous, House of ΚΥΔΟΣ