New Personalised David Bowie ‘Life Book’ is a fantastic voyage through the legend’s life.

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Although a year has passed since his death, for many the loss of David Bowie is a wound yet to heal. Indeed, it may never heal. Since he left us I, along with many other fans, have taken solace in his back catalogue, in the numerous books celebrating his life and in productions like Lazarus – the thought-provoking musical he completed just before his passing.

Adding to the ways in which fans can celebrate his life and work this month is Historic Newspapers’ Personalised David Bowie: A Newspaper History (or a ‘Life Book’ as they’ve dubbed it). A 130-page, leather-bound, large format (31cm x 38cm) collection of news articles dating back to 1971, it’s an absolute treasure trove of rare stories, pictures, interviews and (occasionally totally bonkers) tabloid gossip.

bowie-vintageCulled from the world’s largest Original Newspaper archive, Historic-Newspapers.co.uk, the stories and pictures here come from the Daily Mirror and cover everything from Bowie’s addictions and fashion choices (“Back in stiletto heels!” screams one headline from ’73) to his thoughts on films and fatherhood. Beautifully produced on quality, off-white paper to give everything a suitably vintage feel, it brings together a superb selection of stories and images, from early ones about alter-ego Ziggy Stardust to those surrounding his untimely death last year, while the Mirror‘s original  pull-out tributes, published after he died, are included in full.

bowie-2As a teenager I used to keep scrapbooks on my favourite artists (I still did as an adult to be truthful) and sourcing everything was a laborious, painstaking and, in later life, an expensive business but thankfully Historic Newspapers have done all the hard work for fans like me with this artfully edited anthology. What actually makes this collection of newspaper clippings even more interesting reading is the fact that many of the Bowie pieces are presented with the news and ads that surrounded them. You could be forgiven for thinking that this robs the book of valuable Bowie-centric space but, if anything, it actually enhances them – helping frame the stories, both literally and contextually. In truth, discovering that a chicken cost 23p per lb back in 1975 is almost as fascinating as reading that Young Americans was tentatively called Somebody Up There Likes Me.

img_4573I have to be admit, I was worried that this collection would be some poorly produced, first anniversary cash-in but it’s not: it’s lovingly complied with superb attention to detail and the fact that you can have it personalised with your name embossed on the front cover and have a bespoke dedication added inside makes it a covetable gift for any Bowie fan. It’s a fantastic read but a sad one in places too. Perhaps the most poignant piece comes from July 1982 when he was promoting The Hunger. “The Immortal David Bowie” says the headline. If only.

Historic Newspapers’ Personalised David Bowie Newspaper Book is available from historic-newspapers.co.uk, priced £69.99.

 

Historic Newspapers kindly provided a review copy of the book but did not sponsor this post in any way and all opinions are my own.

Beaufort London’s new Discovery Kit has Christmas all wrapped up

beaufortlondondec16-57-cropBeaufort London is, without doubt, one of my favourite boutique fragrance brands. Everything they do is so carefully considered and artfully approached I defy any fragrance lover not to fall in love with them. Each fragrance has a backstory as interesting and complex as the juice itself and they’re delightfully and defiantly unconventional,  existing completely outside fickle fads or trends.

If you fancy trying them out for yourself they’ve just launched a new discovery kit, featuring five 7.5ml travel-sized fragrances from the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ collection which is inspired by Britain’s nautical history. Each fragrance is a corker (my personal fave is Fathom V which completely turns the concept of a ‘marine’ fragrance on its head) and each spray is refillable from a full-sized bottle of fragrance.

beaufortlondondec16-11-cropWhat takes this ‘taster’ collection to another level, though, is the presentation since the sprays come in their own beautiful leather wrap. Again, it’s this kind of attention to detail that marks Beaufort London out from many other niche brands and proves that, as with gift buying, when it comes to creating something truly special, it’s very much the thought that counts.

Beaufort London’s Come Hell Or High Water Discovery Set costs £85 and is available from beaufortlondon.com

Lab Series aim sky high with new ‘MAXELLENCE’ collection

maxellenceWith the economy finally picking up (sort of) it’s not surprising that a lot of skincare brands are eyeing-up consumers’ fatter-looking wallets and launching high-end products to empty them come payday. That Lab Series – one of my favourite skincare brands – should be one of them is a bit of a surprise, though, because I’ve always thought of them as a fairly democratic brand and they already have a premium MAX LS range for those willing to pay a little more for their skincare.

In January, however, they’re set to launch the MAXELLENCE collection – a pair of products that best even the MAX LS range’s premium price point. The new products – The Dual Concentrate (a serum which hydrates, firms an supports collagen production) and The Singular Cream (which moisturises skin and is infused with ‘galactic meteorite extract from the heart of an asteroid’) – cost a cool £130 and £105 respectively. Or, since they’re designed to be used together, a whopping £235.

The justification for this high price is twofold. Firstly, they’re using ingredients from outer space (the meteorite extract is rich in two – very earthly –  ingredients, calcium and magnesium, which assist skin function) and secondly the products themselves are made in small batches (a key plank of modern hipsterism). As you might expect, there’s only one logical stockist for MAXELLENCE outside of the Lab Series website and that’s Harrods – a store where price is always paramount.

max-lab-1The question is: are they any good? Having used them for a week I can tell you they certainly do the job though the concentrate doesn’t seem all that different to Lab Series’ excellent Future Rescue Repair Serum whilst The Singular Cream, isn’t dissimilar in feel to their Age Rescue+ Water-Charged Gel Cream. What really marks these new additions out, apart from some of the ingredients, is their fancy packaging and the colour of the products themselves: the lid of The Singular Cream, for example, is designed to look a bit like a meteorite while the cream itself is grey and the concentrate is both grey and white and is mixed at the point of delivery. As someone who associates Lab Series with no-fuss, almost clinical, functionality I personally find these new products oddly (and unnecessarily) gimmicky as well as expensive. They may be boldly going where few skincare brands have gone before but, for once, I’m not entirely sure whether I’m prepared to join them on the journey.

Lab Series MAXELLENCE The Dual Concentrate and The Singular Cream will be available from Harrods and online at labseries.co.uk from January. 

This Christmas’ blockbuster gift for Aramis lovers

aramis-1-open-med-resI have always loved Aramis. In fact, I’ve loved it since I was teenager (a mighty long time ago). Its warm, woody, leatheriness is irresistible. Elegant but muscular, it has a bit of a reputation as being a fragrance for dads but whilst it’s certainly a fragrance for grown ups (it’s often described as ‘authoritative’) its timeless appeal means every man should try it once – regardless of his age.

And whether you’re a hardcore fan like me or an Aramis virgin this new (and aptly named) ‘Blockbuster Set’ is a real treat. Featuring five products from the range housed in a swanky gift box, it makes a fantastic pressie for fragrance lovers. At £85 it’s great value, too, because buying all the products individually would set you back over £170. The only downer is that it doesn’t include one of my favourite bath products ever – the classic Aramis soap on a rope  – so the set isn’t quiet as ‘authoritative’ as the fragrance but don’t let that put you off: this is still one of the best Christmas gift sets out there.

You can read more about the fragrance itself here

 

Golden Greats: four new fragrances worth gifting this Christmas

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Every year, right about now, I’m asked by numerous pals what fragrances I’d recommend as gifts for Christmas. Over the past year I’ve sampled scores of new launches (some excellent, others mediocre and a few truly dire) but a handful have stood out. And here are four that I really rate. Like everyone, I have my own particular taste in fragrance, so make sure you try before you buy but do check them out because, in my book, every one of them is a winner.

alizarinPenhaligon’s Alizarin.  When I wrote about what to wear for a party in my Stella magazine column recently this new number from Penhaligon’s was my automatic fragrance of choice. Oudy and leathery, with touches of powdery orris, it’s an exceptionally grown up, sexy, slighty sherbety fragrance and has excellent longevity on the skin – which is exactly what you want from a party fragrance.

view_image-5kcx-01-fErmenegildo Zegna Essenze Musk Gold. Though I’m not a huge fan of Zegna’s mass-market fragrances their more luxe Essenze fragrances are, almost without exception, absolutely superb. This one is practically pornographic in nature: opulent and rich and with a kinky, leather-meets-musk base, it’s a ballsy, truly muscular statement scent and one of my favourite launches this year.

1962-edp-100ml-1200px_rgb-1Floris 1962. Part of Floris’ new Fragrance Journals Collection, 1962 takes bohemian Soho of the sixties as its inspiration and is intentionally retro in feel and character. I absolutely fell in love with it the minute I got a whiff of it at its press launch back in the summer and still can’t get enough of it. Citrusy and woody, with delightful touches of clove, spearmint and lily of the valley, it’s ludicrously old-skool in character and is the smell of men before the fragrance industry turned them into cake shops. A fragrance I’ve worn incessantly this year.

3432240501141_t1_1200x1200L’envol de Cartier Read the reviews of this brand new fragrance from Cartier and you’ll notice straight away that they’re almost universally positive. And it’s not just the juice – a not-too-overpowering blend of warm woods, honey and musk – that’s received plaudits – the bottle has too. If you can afford the extra moolah, go for the 100ml refillable version (pictured above) which is suspended in a kind of bell jar and looks ridiculously stylish.

 

GT Shopping: a one-stop destination for all your style and grooming gear

gt-shoppingWhen it comes to looking good and dressing well we all know that it’s all about the edit: about choosing just the right products for your skin, a fragrance that reflects your personality and clothes that suit your very personal sense of style. But with so much out there to choose from it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin when picking out the perfect moisturiser, fragrance or new winter jacket. Which is where GT Shopping comes in handy. A new site in partnership with Gay Times Magazine, it helpfully points you in the direction of the very best fragrances, skincare products and grooming gadgets on the market (along with some of the most stylish menswear picks and a whole lot more)  so you don’t have to go trawling  the internet to find just the product you’re after.

gt-page-1A lot of the products I mention in my monthly male grooming column in GT can be found there but that’s just the tip of the iceberg and you don’t have to be a reader to use the site, though there is an option on there to subscribe to the mag and get regular (very useful) style updates if you wish.

So whether you’re looking the perfect new fragrance for yourself  (bottle of Tom Ford  For Men anyone?), something to wear for an upcoming party or are looking for the perfect gift for a loved one GT Shopping is the place to head. To see what’s on offer go to shopping.gaytimes.co.uk.

 

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