As someone who writes about male grooming for a living nothing shocks me more than when display a lack of good grooming. Well, actually, that’s not true. What shocks me more is when men groom inappropriately. For an insight into what I mean read the piece I wrote for Telegraph Men this week by clicking the pic below. You filthy swines you.
I was lucky enough to attend a special Fragrance Symposium at The Barbican centre recently in which perfumer Francis Kurkdjian – the man behind Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male - and the famous fashion designer himself discussed all things fragrance. An interesting discussion it revealed that the enfant terrible has lost none of this cheeky charm and give a fascinating insight into the creation of his fragrances. Below is a video of the event, so if you get a spare few minutes have a watch. Oh, and make sure you check out the wonderful exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, of which the symposium was a part.
Taking an olfactory tour of Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo fragrances recently re-inforced for me the notion that fragrance is often the ultimate travel agent – whisking you off to far flung places with the merest hint of sage or whiff of tangerine. The Blu Mediterraneo range now takes in everywhere from Calabria and Capri to Amalfi and Sicily and the latest addition to the range, Ginepro di Sardegna aims, as the name suggests, to capture the essence of the beautiful island of Sardinia.
With that in mind, it puts at its core a sparkling gin-like juniper note (the juniper bush flourishes on the island), then adds sage, pepper, pimento, bergamot and cedarwood. The result is a fragrance that’s spicier, warmer and altogether more ‘eveningwear’ than some of the other fragrances in the range and also one that’s a touch more mainstream and commercial. Well worth a sniff, particularly with summer on the horizon.
Available now from Harrods.
Apart from David Beckham I can’t think of another Brit that looks as well groomed as model David Gandy. Surprisingly, though, the man himself is remarkably low maintenance, something I discovered when I played a little word association game with him earlier today. Reassuringly, I also discovered that even although he’s as near-perfect a masculine specimen as you’ll ever find, even he’s not 100% there. In fact, there’s one physical attribute many men take for granted that he’s rather jealous of…
DG: “Ok, I’ll give it a go!”
DG: “Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue of course. The fact is, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that iconic ad with the white trunks! It’s where it all started for me and is what led me to where I am today.”
DG: “Yes! Have some! Actually my hair has a life of its own. It’s so thick and curly it can be a real nightmare. Luckily I have a guy called Larry King who looks after it for me. Everyone in America laughs when I say Larry King does my hair. I have to explain to them, no, not that Larry King!”
“I don’t. Well, I don’t wet shave anyway. Haven’t for years. I just maintain a little bit of stubble with a beard trimmer.”
DG: “Hey! That’s my word! It’s one of my favourites. You’ve got to get a bit of manscaping in there I think. Absolutely!” (note David’s always-tidy trunkline).
DG: “Organic Rosehip Oil. I mentioned this a while back in an interview and everyone’s gone wild about it ever since. A make-up artist introduced me to it and it’s absolutely fantasic for hydrating skin – especially if you’ve been on a long flight.”
DG: “Never polish them! I’m all for male grooming – and it’s important to keep your fingernails – and toenails – tidy, but highly polished fingernails on men? Noooooo.”
DG: “Jealous. You know, I really wish I could grow a beard but I can’t. I have a friend who has a great one but if I try to grow one it’s just patchy – like a badly maintained lawn! I wish there was a Miracle-Gro for beards!”
DG: “Paul Newman”
DG: “Fragrance. I think it’s essential to find something you love and that suits your personality. And something women find attractive obviously!”
David Gandy also writes for Telegraph Men.
In the last few weeks I’ve found myself having numerous (nay, endless) conversations with colleagues about the magazine industry. Titles, even those that only a year ago were doing pretty well have seen devastating plunges in circulation which, let’s call a spade a spade here, means their readers are actively rejecting them.
As a former editor myself, I sympathise hugely with the people who helm today’s magazines. In my day, the internet was still its infancy, the market was still bouyant and the hot topic in the industry wasn’t survival but whether you should really stoop to sticking sunglasses on your cover to boost sales.
Much is made, of course, of how the internet has utterly decimated the industry (to a degree it has but then, did no-one in the big publishing houses see that coming?) but let’s not make out print media itself is blameless here. Whilst pioneering and offering an entirely different business model to conventional magazines and newspapers free titles like Shortlist and Stylist (and then the Evening Standard) didn’t just shake up the market, they mortally wounded it in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, all three are excellent publications but, to me, the fact that they are handed out like club flyers devalues the idea that journalism and photography have an intrinsic value. After all, if there were people standing outside your local train station handing out free household cleaner every week would you ever consider paying for it? Unless I wanted really good household cleaner I know wouldn’t.
So how do magazines survive? In truth, I don’t have the answers and I share the pain of those who are expected to come up with them – especially as they’re increasingly expected to offer more bang for a diminishing buck (and with fewer staff too). I suspect the glossies will hang on in there because they’re still able to do what most websites, blogs and free publications can’t – they can provide luxurious, decadent content, spread over numerous pages. Vogue can still do the indulgent 12-page fashion shoot in Machu Picchu with three world-class supermodels and Men’s Health can still do a six page in depth-feature about men and mental health. At some point we’ll get sick of the two-paragraph stories magazines are so fond of feeding us these days and will demand the read again.
Or maybe the industry survives by stealing some tactics from the music industry, with which is largely comparable. In the same way the music industry has responded to falling sales and pirating by turning music in to an artefact – producing high value special editions, boxed sets and collector’s sets – I can see some magazines producing high-price issues and limited editions (Vogue logo in real gold anyone? Limited edition Lady Gaga cover signed by…Lady Gaga?). Certainly more will have to do digital (I subscribe to a couple of digital editions of popular magazines so can’t see why people won’t cough up if the content and – crucially – the interactivity is there). Others will have to think out of the box – not replicating what the internet can offer (that USP is taken) but delivering what it cannot.
As for the weekly gossip titles I honestly don’t know what the future holds for them. I loathe the Daily Mail‘s website but as much for its genius as what it stands for. After all, if a reader wants to see what shoes Helen Flanagan is ‘walking out in/showing off’ on any given Tuesday why would they wait until the following week to find out when the Daily Mail is scrutinising her every move on an almost hourly basis?
There are those that advocate a charity-like approach to the salvation of the magazine industry, imploring us to ‘use ‘em or lose ‘em’. I sympathise with the sentiment but that’s an awful lot like saying we should have shopped in Woolworths just to save it from closure. Yes it was a dearly-loved institution but it closed because it couldn’t keep up with its customers’ changing needs and, as a result, was fundamentally…rubbish.
If magazines are to survive they have to earn our love again. Though I work mainly in the digital arena these days I spent half of my working life in magazines and have a real and genuine affection for the format. And I really hope they make it – or at least that the deserving ones do – as much as anything because I don’t want to see all those talented journalists, subs and designers out of jobs, not to mention all the other creatives who rely on their existence. But at the end of the day, there might well be a case for doing the decent thing and putting some titles out of their misery. When your number’s up, your number’s up – especially when that number’s down 40% year-on-year.
There are some amazing fragrances in the Ralph Lauren portfolio. Safari is one of them, as is the original Polo For Men. And I loved the bold modernity of the Big Pony Collection. Alas, Polo Red, the latest fragrance from the iconic American fashion house, has shifted things out of the black for me. Sweet, cakey and derivative (it reminds me of a host of fragrances currently riding atop of a particularly crowded gourmandy bandwagon) it’s perfectly okay but just…disappointingly lacklustre. If you like smelling like Mary Berry’s kitchen on baking day I suppose you’ll love it but it doesn’t do it for me. The opaque red bottle is fabulous mind.
Top: red grapefruit, Italian cedrat, red cranberry
Heart: red saffron, lavandin, red sage
Base: red wood, amber, coffee berry (or Mary Berry?)
If you’ve never come across singer/songwriter Matt Alber I do suggest you look him up. I’ve seen him perform live three or four times and, big softie that I am, have never ended a performance of his end-of-relationship tear-jerker End of The World with a dry eye. I’m featuring the video here because it reminds me of my recent hols (I managed to catch him in concert whilst in Provincetown and then bumped into him in a bar one night) and because it’s set in a barber shop so there’s a (very) tenuous grooming link. I will warn you, though, it ends with a fleeting same sex kiss, so if you’re easily offended, watch to the end to feel the rush that comes with outrage. Or try getting out a little more.
I’m very sensitive to a micro trend me. And the word on the street (not to mention in the bathroom) is that A.P.C Post Poo-drops are big. A product that emerged through a collaboration between trendy fashion label A.P.C and uber-cool skincare brand Aesop they’re an absolute must-have in the office of one of my friends, where everyone seems to have a bottle and, one presumes, particularly obnoxious bowel movements.
If you’re unfamiliar with the product it’s essentially a posh way of masking any unwanted smells after you’ve visited the toilet. A Swedish friend of mine used to do this by striking a match, which worked a treat, but I must say I was reluctant to adopt the technique in case I accidentally blew up my bathroom in the process (I love baked beans).
These drops are much safer and, thanks to a delightful combo of citrus oils, smell much better too. To use you simply administer three drops to the toilet bowl post-fush. Surely the ultimate gift for the person who has everything, except fragrant plops.
Baz Luhrmann, Carey Mulligan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, get the look, Leonardo DiCaprio, male grooming, Matches, matchesfashion, pomade, slicked back hair, Star Trek Into Darkness, the great gatsby, Tobey Maguire
Alongside Star Trek Into Darkness it’s the film everyone’s talking about right now and since Jay Gatsby’s look is a little easier to emulate than Spock’s (copying those pointy ears is hard) I thought I’d focus on how to groom like The Great Gatsby rather than how to Vamp it up like a Vulcan. So to discover how to get the Gatsby look check out my piece for MATCHESFASHION by clicking on the pic below.