A small shop window in Čika Ljubina street, adorned with silk ties, each one an art piece in itself, hides a forty year old secret. Those who know what they are looking for will find an old treasure, freshened up with renewed energy, translated into paintings on silk. It was at this very place that Mr. Neven Vrgoč started the journey which would, out of a local and later a planetary symbol of city prestige, turn him into one of the icons of Belgrade. An idea about one of a kind neck and bow ties first started out as a wish by then young Neven to fight everything that is poorly made, short lived, in a word, ephemeral. 

The idea was born in 1971 when Neven started hand making and hand painting ties at his home. He packed them in a suitcase and set off on a several years long journey in search for partners, investors and a way for his ties to reach customers and find their place on their shirts. Seven years later Neven will finally arrive at his shop in Čika Ljubina where he will set the foundation for his visions that will grow into a tradition.

Neven’s dreams went beyond the corners of his shop. They were accompanied by a story that went beyond the piece of a fabric, a love toward everything beautiful and that which makes life so enticing. For this reason, around Neven’s ties there were always lovely events, poetry evenings, dance parties, fashion shows and bohemian evenings that took place in Belgrade in the early 1980s. Among them were several grand ventures that secured Neven’s ties a place in the Guinness Book of Records, more than once. The first project was the 23 meter long tie that impressed passerbuys who could see it hanging unfolded from the top of a building. The second was made possible with a help of several assistants, including a surgeon with his fine instruments. With joined efforts and armed with patience, the team under the direction of Mr. Vrgoč, made the smallest tie in the world, only 19mm in length.

The innovative thinking that supported the idea that art should be wearable took Neven across the ocean. For several years, Beverly Hills hosted the twin store to the one in Čika Ljubina, when some of the most prominent men of the times became his customers.

An especially interesting revelation that Mr. Vrgoč liked to make known was that his creative work was actually dedicated to women: „The women are the real buyers of ties, while men most of the time don’t know what they are buying. They get an idea, they buy them for their husbands, boyfriends and lovers, this way creating a tie between them. Because a tie is a medal, a totem, it shows someone’s inner nature, it stands on the most sensitive part of the body protecting the soul.“

His words dedicated to women can be found imprinted on some of the tie labels and also today on some of the accessories. We would especially mention our cotton tissues meant for „tears of joy“. They were inspired by a thought that Neven had that the only tears that a woman should cry are those of joy. The extravagant artist also did not shy from venturing into the erotic. He suggested, for instance, that the art of tying and untying one’s or the other person’s tie, offered us an insight into someone’s sensibilities and love life.

These were only some of Neven’s artistic innovations, which managed to find their way to the customers. Others were fascinating, miniature paintings on ties, painted by brush and inspired by great artists, pearl coverings of the ties’ backs, personalized messages, initials and original labels that were as unique as the ties themselves. One of them said: „If you are not asked three times about where you got the tie, please free to return it“.

King Juan Carlos and Neven Vrgoč

Milos Forman and Neven Vrgoč

Oliver Reed and Neven Vrgoč

Despite the competition with industrial giants, Neven’s continued presence to this day is a testament to the lasting word of this unusual artist that had spread all over Yugoslavia and beyond. If you have ever found your way to Čika Ljubina 15, you probably noticed the „Thank you“ notes from many prominent individuals who appreciated Neven’s work, including Arnold Schwarzenegger,Yves Saint Laurent and George Bush. The wide appreciation and mutual respect that Neven enjoyed with his customers translated into a first ever Belgrade fashion carnival and numerous fashion shows in Belgrade and Paris.

The rich and eventful life of the Belgrade legend sadly came to an end in April of 2014. Only a year prior, Mr. Vrgoč promoted his book of poetry „The Songs to a Muse“, with which he again expanded his artistic contribution, the one not possible to define in a word. His ideas, however, still live today in the hands of his son, and are waiting for you at the same address.

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