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

 

The 2015 Aramis umbrella is here!

Aramis Great Scott Umbrella Low ResARAMIS UMBRELLAFew companies can say that their GWPs (Gifts With Purchase) are collectors’ items (usually they’re they kind of old tat that makes you seriously question your purchase) but the Aramis umbrella has become something of a  legend freebie-wise. Excellent quality and genuinely useful, it’s available with any purchase of an Aramis fragrance over 60ml in size and this year’s version comes in a delightful tartan and with a handle that makes it,  quite literally, ‘the dogs’.

Grab one during April, while stocks last. For stockists call 0870 034 2566

The Grooming Guru’s Top 5 Autumnal Fragrances

I was going to compile my Top 5 fragrances for Autumn for a blogpost on here but since Men’s Health pipped me to the post and asked me to compile a list for them I thought I may as well simply share the link with you. So to discover why I think Dsqared’s Potion is magical and Roja Dove’s Danger Pour Homme is positively pornographic simply click here!

Aramis: back to the future with ‘all a man is’ campaign

I’ve said on many occasions that Aramis is one of my favourite fragrances ever. Launched in the mid-sixties (only a few years before I myself was ‘launched’) it’s a truly iconic fragrance – warm, sexy and ferocioulsy masculine. The fact that it’s still around all these years later is a testament to its enduring appeal and how fundamentally right it is as a fragrance. As a brand, I’ve always thought it rather stood apart from the crass commercialism of some of the other large fragrance brands too, eschewing D-list actors and flavour-of-the-moment pop stars.

So it was with mixed feelings that I watched the launch of it’s new TV and ad campaign featuring Brit model Paul Sculfor last week. I might not wholly approve but I can hardly blame Aramis for wanting to get  a ‘face’ to front the brand in the run-up to the lucrative Christmas market. It’s completely ‘of the moment’ to do so and in an increasingly-competitive marketplace one of the easiest – cynics might say laziest – ways to catch a customer’s eye.

What’s fascinating, though, is the absence of women from the majority of male fragrance print ads thesedays (a woman is nowhere to be seen in the Aramis print ad and she’s barely there in the TV one). Is it a sign, perhaps, that men no longer want to buy fragrances simply to get the girl but to be attractive and desirable for themselves? In today’s ads the man is the object. You want to be him, have a meaningful bromance with him, rather than have his power over women.

Or is it simply because a huge percentage of men’s fragrances are still bought by women? I mean, what better way to attract a female buyer than with an ad featuring an attractive man but no competing female?  Answers on a postcard please – or in the comments section on here if it’s easier.

What also struck me about this campaign – from the moment the ad and slogan were unveiled at the swanky W Hotel – is how seventies it is. It so reminds me of those ads I grew up with as a child – you know the ones with slogans like ‘the scent of a man’, which is why I called this post ‘back to the future’. Whether the ad’s retro feel is intentional or not I don’t know, though I certainly hope it is or some poor soul in the ad agency is stuck in a Gene Hunt-style timewarp.

I must confess I have absolutely no idea what ‘all a man is’ means and frankly, don’t have the energy or inclination to figure it out either. Actually, I suspect that, like so many catchy slogans it simply sounds good without meaning anything at all, in the same way that some works of art are compelling but intentionally impenetrable to prevent mere mortals from picking them to pieces and exposing their faults. Still, the reassuring thing is that Aramis the fragrance is good enough to rise above such fluff and ephemeral marketing to retain its place in the pantheon of truly great men’s fragrances.

Insider Interview: author, journalist and ‘motherfather’ of the metrosexual Mark Simpson

Few people know more about the rise of the well-groomed man than Mark Simpson. Described as ‘the world’s most perceptive writer about masculinity’ and the person credited with coining the term ‘metrosexuality’ (something that’s gained him praise and opprobrium in almost equal amounts), like me he’s lived through what amounts to a revolution in how men relate to their appearance. His lastest book Metrosexy: A 21st Century Love Story has just been released, providing me with the perfect opportunity to speak to him about how men’s interest in grooming (or beautyas ardent Simpsonistas would have it) has burgeoned over the last twenty years as well as to take a more intimate peek into his own personal regime…

GG: You and I are pretty much contemporaries and we both saw the beginnings of the grooming boom in this country. Having written my first article on male grooming back in 1985 I feel a bit like I was there at the birth and the graduation! Can you isolate one pivotal moment when taking care of their appearance suddenly became a totally acceptable pursuit for men?

MS: Well of course the youth cults of 70s Glam Rock and early 80s New Romanticism – which I believe you were pretty part of, Mr Kynaston: I’ve seen the kabuki photographic evidence – played a big role in telling men it was OK to be Prince Charming. That ridicule, in the immortal words of Adam Ant was ‘nothing to be scared of.’

But much more globally important was… Top Gun. The Tom Cruise cold-war fly-boy movie directed by Tony Scott in the style of a pop promo which came out in 1985, the year you started writing about male grooming.

After all, it’s a block-buster movie about male hair gel. Pretty much all the men in that film look fabulous, darling – even when they take their helmets off after a long, hot, sweaty dogfight. The famous volleyball sequence and long, lingering locker-room scenes also introduced a generation of young men to the delights of working out.

Despite being quite possibly The Gayest Movie Ever, Top Gun, an all-boys’ action movie, gave a generation of young straight men permission to take care over their appearance. It presented male narcissism as traditional, Republican, and patriotic. The young Tom Cruise as an All-American glamour boy.

GG: Is the rise of male grooming/beauty simply a reflection of men’s desire to be desired? Or is the availability and acceptance of grooming/beauty products driving narcissism?

MS: There’s a feedback loop between the two. On the one hand consumerism wants men to buy product – it effectively doubles the potential market for cosmetics. On the other hand… it turns out that men don’t need much persuading. Or much permission. Their desire to be desired, especially in an increasingly visual, Facebooked, webcam culture like ours, turns out to be pretty insatiable when given half a chance. So we’ve seen a kind of exponential growth in men’s interest in products that get them noticed. I mean, just a few years ago the working class orange male poseurs of ‘Geordie Shore’ would have been unthinkable, except perhaps as gay stereotypes….

GG: What’s your favourite men’s fragrance and why?

MS: To be honest, I don’t like men’s fragrances. At least on me. I like them all for about five minutes but then I get sick of them. On other men I like old stalwarts like Acqua di Gio. Even Aramis. And Jean-Paul Gaultier. Stuff like Brut or Old Spice was crap when I was a kid and is still crap, despite big recent marketing pushes. Irony doesn’t smell so good.

GG: What’s the one male grooming/beauty product you wouldn’t be without?

MS: My Phillips SensoTouch electric razor. I’m terrified of growing, even accidentally, one of those fashionable Soho beards. Wet shaving brings me out in a rash. The SensoTouch, in addition to looking like something you’d find in Darth Vader’s bathroom cabinet, is the next closest thing to a wet-shave – but with zero irritation.

GG: Ball-shaving, hair transplants, guyliner. All were once considered rather exotic but aren’t any more. Are there any taboos left in terms of male grooming/beauty?

MS: I remember that when women started having Botox injections it was said that men would never have them. And then when men started having them it was said they’ll never have them on the forehead. And now men are having them on their forehead.

It’s pretty clear that pretty much everything – with the possible exception of vajazzling – that women have used to enhance their attractiveness will eventually be taken up by men. (There is such a thing as a Pejazzle, of course, with Vajazzle.me.uk claiming 40% of customers are men. GG)

In the meantime however you see cosmetics manufacturers going to frankly camp extremes in trying to reassure the few (mostly middle aged) men who are holding out against metrosexuality that using moisturiser or deodorant is a really, really masculine, utterly butch thing to do. And not at all gay. Which is very good news for Gerard Butler and Eric Cantona’s agents.

GG: Describe your own morning grooming/beauty routine.

MS: It’s less a grooming routine these days – more damage limitation exercise. I rise and stumble into the shower. Where I remain for as long as I possibly can. I use Nizoral shampoo because I’m balding and studies suggest it can help slow that process. I use a buff-puff even though it makes me feel vaguely ridiculous because I’ve found it best for getting rid of dead skin, which I have a lot of, and unclogging pores, which I also have a lot of. Then I shave with my electric razor. I don’t use moisturiser, because I have rosacea, which gives you a big red face unless you use a prescription gel which I apply after my shave.

GG: How manscaped are you on a scale of 1 – 10?

MS: Probably a 9-10. I’m very Graeco-Roman in regard to body hair. Shave it off, I say. Show off the musculature – and add an inch where it counts. But also, in the words of the ‘YMCA’ song, get yourself clean. Which I don’t think you can do too easily if you’re hairy. In fact, I think they should bring back strigils, the curved metal scrapers Romans had their slaves use on them in their bath-houses.

GG: Make up for men has pretty much been a flop in commercial terms with many companies who launched products having since discontinued them. Why do you think this is when things like manscaping and even eyebrow shaping have taken off?

MS: Oh, I suspect male make-up will make a comeback in the near future. I hear it’s already been a success in the Asian market. After all, make-up is just another, more ‘in-yer-face’ form of cosmetics – and even good old Gillette shaving gel is choc full of cosmetics these days.

The problem though for men’s make-up and the reason why most men in the West are still holding out against it is that it isn’t something you can deny. Most other male cosmetics come with the alibi that no, you haven’t fake-baked you’ve just been working in the garden a lot….

The problem for men is that while they are increasingly expected to and indeed want to look good, unlike women they often feel they have to go about it semi-secretly. They need to be beautiful but they should also feel slightly ashamed about it. There’s a double standard about male beauty now. Men are expected to look fabulous, but pretend that they haven’t tried ‘too hard’. Make-up is currently defined as ‘trying too hard’.

On the other hand, Russell Brand gets away with it all the time.

GG: Many commentators complain that men are ‘becoming more like women’ with their grooming/beauty regimes. What would you say to this?

MS: I think it’s more a case of men no longer tying one hand behind their backs when it comes to the increasingly important business – both in private and public life – of looking good. Happily married Lord Sugar, for example, sometimes seems to display a weakness for an attractive, nicely turned-out male candidate. And of course, more and more bosses are female.

Instead of men becoming ‘more like women’ what we’re seeing is men being less inhibited in their behaviour by worries about what’s ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, ‘gay’ and ‘straight’. In much the same way that women have been since the feminist revolution of the 1970s. Likewise, ‘male beauty’ is no longer a completely verboten conjugation that has to always be euphemised with ‘male grooming’.

Basically it’s the end of the Victorian division of bedroom and bathroom labour that persisted for most of the 20th Century. Men want to be beautiful and sensual too now. And no one, even bitchy commentators, is going to stop them.

GG: Finally, who are your top three best-groomed men?

MS: David Beckham (now that he has dropped that Das Boot beard). Andrej Pejic. And my dad.

metrosexy is out now on Kindle. For more info click here.

For more information on Mark go to www.marksimpson.com. You can follow Mark  on Twitter @marksimpsonist

* Note: I don’t have a problem with the term ‘male beauty’ at all but do believe that had ‘male grooming’ been called ‘male beauty’ all these years the uptake would have been much, much slower. I’ve spent a decade at the coal face of the industry, encouraging men – in a very practical way – to take an interest in their appearance and whilst I know male ‘grooming’ is an artificial construct to give beauty a butch face I also know it has allowed metrosexuality to flourish in a way male ‘beauty’ never would have. It may be beauty by the back door but that’s fine by me. As long as men’s interest in their appearance continues I don’t care!  GG

Insider Interview: Richard Sawyer, Global spokesman for Lab Series

When it comes to male grooming Richard Sawyer is, without doubt, one of the most knowledgeable people I know. As Global Spokesman for Lab Series (you know you’ve made it when you’re a ‘global’ something) he jets around the world, spreading the word about the brand’s extensive range of skin savers for men. Right now he’s expounding the benefits of Lab Series’ brand new anti-ageing product, Max LS Age-Less Face Cream.

So impressed by this new wrinkle buster (and believe me I’m hard to impress) I grabbed him for an insider interview. So here’s what he has to say about the latest addition to the Lab Series family, along with some handy grooming tips and a few thoughts on why hairy shoulders are scary shoulders.

GG: So, Richard, what makes MAX-LS different from other anti-ageing creams?

RS: What is unique is the revolutionary formulation. Using a highly precise hot/cold method creates the unique transformational texture.A first of its kind in men’s skincare, this special processing method creates a smooth, rich cream with micro droplets of moisture throughout that applies with a cool burst of hydration.

In use, what at first glance appears to be a rich cream, simply disappears into the skin leaving nothing buts a sensation of cool moisture and comfort for a mans skin. It’s also the first time we have used Sirtuin-inspired research in a product specifically for men. This technology helps keep skin looking younger, longer. In addition the formula contains skin rejuvenation ingredients such as Whey Protein and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 to help keep skin looking firmer, smoother and more lifted.

GG: Men’s biggest grooming mistake?

RS: Not washing before wet shaving. This might sound simple, bit the single most important step in getting a close and comfortable wet shave is cleaning the skin.  Washing the face before shaving removed the build of oil, dead skin and dirt, which can clog up your razor and cause excess friction.

GG: Best skincare tip for men?

RS: However late it is, no matter how tired you are, try your best to but on a moisturiser before you go to bed. In the morning you may feel rough, tired and a little hung-over from last night, but at least you will look half-human. You really will have to try and work miracles to get yourself looking good after a heavy night if you forget to do something with your face before you sleep.

GG: What are your favourite fragrances?

RS: From being a teenager I have genuinely always loved fragrance. Back then there was far less choice but it also seemed there was great originality and the compositions available had real personality.

I have recently being on a voyage of rediscovery from the scents of my youth.

Pride of place in my bathroom right now are three classic Aramis fragrances. Yes I do work for Aramis, however I absolutely will never wear any fragrance unless I truly love it and have an emotional connection with it.

The first rediscovery was JHL. Back in the 1980’s I didn’t really understand it but as you grow form your teenage years into adulthood your tastes change, develop and mature.  I totally “get it” now and delighted that now it has been reissued, it is available for discovery once more. I love Aramis 900 too. It was my scent when I was 18 and I spent every spare penny I had on getting the range. I had very little money back then; however I knew that it was better to have just a few high quality products than loads of ineffective or cheaper alternatives.

I’m now wearing Aramis Devin, which has a lovely fresh green note. I work in an office surrounded by scent but whenever I wear this the reaction from everyone is always amazing. (A dickybird tells me he loves Guerlain’s Jicky too)

GG: Desert Island grooming product?

RS: Sunscreen every time.  Everyone should apply some sun protection to any exposed parts of their body after any skincare system. SPF 15 is fine for everyday exposure for people who work mostly indoors and just pop out at lunchtime for a sandwich. Higher factors are a must for anyone who loves the great outdoors even if you don’t plan on sun bathing.

My biggest regret is not knowing about the potential damage over exposure to the sun can do to the skin. I’m not alone in this respect as it’s only more recently that everyone is more away that we should use sun protection. I truly love the sun and getting a tan, however a couple of years ago I made a conscious decision to avoid prolonged sun exposure. It may be too late to reverse all of the sun damage I know I have suffered, but at least I can help to stop it getting worse.

GG: Body hair: to shave or not to shave?

RS: Maybe a bit of both! It’s really down to personal preference. I personally don’t like hairy backs and shoulders so for me on these areas, the hair has to go. A little trim on the chest now and again doesn’t go a miss. If you have been working out at the gym, shaving can show off your definition and hard work. Tattoos also look better if you can actually see them.


GG: How has the internet changed male grooming?

RS: I think its empowered men to be able to research and discover what’s out there without feeling uncomfortable.  You can compare and choose at your leisure and get really get the SP on something. The internet has dramatically changed how people shop and retailers have needed to evolve.  I research new skin care products and technologies on an almost daily basis. Like other men I can then visit a store and touch, and try a product, have an understanding of what it is and what it can do. Personally I still like to see new product in “the flesh” first.  However as with many men I’m more than comfortable buying online when I want a repeat purchase.

GG: Fantasy grooming product?

RS: It seems with each season that the perfect moisturiser is getting closer and closer.  I want a product that does it all. It has to be day and night, for lines and wrinkles and be protective and repairing.  An all singing all dancing product used to be like searching for the Holy Grail.  I’m convinced that with the convergence of idea’s and research form the west and Asia, we are closer than ever to the ideal skincare product. Something that addresses chronological and photo ageing.

MAX LS answers my needs right now. However as time and technology march on, I’ll be waiting for the next big thing.

Bookmark and Share

Bag this from Aramis!

 

The Aramis Classic Traveller Bag - bag it while you can!
The Aramis Classic Traveller

Generally speaking I’m very skeptical of GWP’s (Gifts With Purchase). More often than not the ‘freebie’ in question wouldn’t even pass the rigorous selection procedure of an EastEnders market stall.

But I’m here to tell you to look out for the forthcoming Aramis traveller bag which comes free with any Aramis classic purchase over £29 from 30th July. I was lucky enough to road test one a couple of weeks ago on a birthday trip to Cornwall and it passed the test admirably.

Okay, so it ain’t leather but it’s roomy, robust and stylish too, so that ticks all the boxes for me. It’s a limited offer, though, so grab it while you can!

For stockists call:  0870 034 2566

Bookmark and Share