Dapper, dashing and debonair, the notoriously sophisticated bow tie has acquired an artistic injection from a Queens creative.
Nicholas Ruiz constructs imaginative bow ties from found objects, fashioning his original accessories from everything from pills to newspaper, film negatives to wine corks.
Originally from Florida, Ruiz attended college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he studied merchandising and design. After graduating in 2010, he moved to Forest Hills and got a job in the Special Programming and Events department at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
A chance meeting with singer Janelle Monáe in November, 2010 sparked Ruiz’s idea to create bow ties.
“She wears this fantastic bow tie in her music video ‘Tightrope,’” said Ruiz. “I started looking for a similar one in N.Y.C., but couldn’t find anything, so I decided to just make one myself.”
Ruiz revealed his first bow tie, made from colorful guitar picks, at the opening of “Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914” on February 8, 2011. Each bow tie created thereafter was inspired by exhibition openings and benefitted events Ruiz worked on during 2011 at MoMA.
“They were all created during different moments in my life in 2011, so each bow tie represents that unique moment of time,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz created the LEGO bow tie to wear to a party following The Armory Show, a modern art fair held every March in Manhattan, featuring a performance by British singer, Kate Nash. The chanteuse took a liking to Ruiz’s unique accoutrement and asked him to make a similar one for her to sport in her hair. Delighted, he obliged, and decided to define the project, assuming the challenge of designing and hand-crafting nine more bow ties.
In his spare time, Ruiz can be found spinning records at events around New York City as DJ Bow Tie Boy.
During the summer of 2012, The Bow Tie Collection (2011) will be showcased at a gallery in Fairfield, Connecticut and several of the 11 total bow ties will be available for purchase.
Ruiz also has a new collection in the works.
“My future bow ties will include tie-able forms hand stitched from cloth, denim, suede and other unique materials,” said Ruiz. “They will offer more classic looks for the office as well as zany prints if you want to spice up your style, and also more modern dapper looks for red carpets. I would absolutely love to design custom wedding bow ties for someone’s special day.”
Recently, Ruiz was asked by the Virgin Company to design an exclusive bow tie, constructed from one of their signature red balloons.
While the bow tie has long since been considered a distinguished accessory, Ruiz enjoys taking something “elitist” and creating it out of everyday objects.
“I want people to see the bow ties and feel inspired and wear them and feel confident,” said Ruiz. “The bow ties allowed me to express a bit of myself without saying a word.”
Ruiz plans to launch an online shop sometime in the fall of 2012, called www.NicholasTee.com and has since launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for it. Fans can purchase handmade bow ties made of recycled and traditional materials while browsing future collections.