Photos: Croata archives

As with many things that marked the history of humanity, so too the story of the necktie originated in – and was inspired by – love.

In the olden days, Croatian girls would tie a scarf round the necks of their fiancés, marking their mutual love and fidelity.
This was done to show their commitment to each other, as well as to let the world know about their love. This act was especially important in times of war as it was a way for the girls to show their promise that they would wait for their fiancés no matter how long, and it provided comfort and encouragement to the fiancés – soldiers – in the worst moments on the battlefield.

The key moment of the story of the necktie happened during the Thirty Years’ War, which took place in Europe in the seventeenth century, when the Croatian light cavalry, renowned for its great heroism, joined the French Royal Army. In addition to their military skills and bravery, Croatian soldiers boasted one original detail – a red scarf worn around their necks. Fashionable Parisians noticed this immediately. Unlike the high rigid collars worn at the time, Croatian scarfs were simple, colourful, light, and tied into a handsome knot. The court of King Louis XIV was quick to adopt this new fashionable accessory, and it was not long before the cravat, as a token of dignity and decency, style and ceremony, started to dominate the bourgeois fashion of the time, conquering the whole of Europe, as well as today’s entire civilised world.

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