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TIE THAT BINDS; PRINCE FREEING NECKS OF DUTCH UNCLES, DADS.

Byline: William J. Kole Associated Press

With the simple tug of a tie, a Dutch prince has touched off a revolution in the Netherlands.

In a speech opening a show of African fashion, Prince Claus ceremoniously wriggled free of his Windsor knot, yanked off his navy blue necktie and tossed it rather inelegantly at the feet of his wife, Queen Beatrix.

``A snake around my neck,'' the 73-year-old prince snarled to a standing ovation.

Reporting the story that evening, one TV anchorman peeled off his tie. In solidarity, so did the sportscaster who gave the soccer scores. Now, a week later, Claus is a folk hero, and an open collar has never been more in vogue.

The phenomenon already has a name: ``Claustrophilia,'' which celebrates the prince for denouncing ties.

``I also suffer from the prince's tie phobia, so I'm shouting for joy at his call for a ban on neckties,'' Wouter van Winden, a businessman in the central city of Delft, was quoted as saying in Monday's De Volkskrant newspaper.

``No piece of clothing combines so little function with so much potential to show bad taste,'' he said. ``For me, a necktie is like a dog leash: Both symbolize a limit on freedom. Why else does Nelson Mandela never wear one?''

Amen, says Claus, who proclaimed the South African president ``the best-dressed man I know'' during Wednesday's fashion show at the royal palace in Amsterdam.

That even a prince could find a tie a royal pain has resonated across Holland, where neckwear remains the standard in business but is no less loathed.

The necktie as a nemesis has Internet chat rooms abuzz over Claus and his fashion statement, which the German-born prince humorously dubbed the Declaration of Amsterdam.

``I have never worn a necktie in my life,'' said Coen van den Heuvel of Eindhoven. ``On my wedding day 17 years ago, my mother ran out and bought a tie. It's still in the box.''

With the necktie a popular, if dreaded, Christmas gift for millions of Dutch uncles and fathers, all this contempt for cravats has the fashion industry rushing to do some damage control.

A suit without a tie, said Franco DeMartino, a buyer for Amsterdam's tony Society Shop, ``is like a car without hub caps.''

``This isn't the end of the necktie,'' insisted Dutch fashion designer Alexander van Slobbe. ``It's still a must for men. It's a form of security.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

PHOTO (1) In a tug felt round the world, Dutch Prince Claus rips off his necktie.

Joergen Caris/Associated Press

(2 -- color) no caption (red necktie)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 15, 1998
Words:433
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