January 2, 1997
Front and Center (Fashion)
The formal necktie is back, and in designs that will catch the eye. By Lisbeth Levine
Budding tie mogul: Cigar ties are what got Chicago designer Lee Allison noticed. The tiny, bald figures smoking stogies could be brothers of the little man on Monopoly boards. They were instant hits with stores.
Allison, 36, weaves together clever designs with a retro sensibility, making ties, braces and cummerbunds that get noticed. "Itís retro, fun, whimsical stuff, but itís still elegant," says Allison, who works out of a Bucktown loft and whose business has grown from ground zero in 1994 into a quarter-million-dollar company.
The ties are hand-sewn in Chicago using European fabrics. They sell for about $75 at stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Marshall Fieldís, Mark Shale, Bigsby & Kruthers as well as the boutiques Motif and Jennings in Lincoln Park.