What matters most: authenticity

PS_PORTRAIT_FOR_MEN_PACKSHOTMaybe it’s because I’m a Northerner. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family where straight-talking was the norm. Or maybe I simply just enjoy the shock and awe that accompanies brutal honesty. Whatever it is, what matters most to me is authenticity, and especially in fragrance.

Having written about male grooming for over 13 years and interviewed scores of perfumers, skincare experts and brand ambassadors about their products I like to think I can smell a fake a mile off. You can tell when somebody is keeping it real by a certain glint in their eye and by the way in which they talk about their product.

Interviewing new generation perfumer Barnabe Fillion (creator of the new Paul Smith fragrance Portrait for Men) a while back I was struck by the genuine passion he exuded when talking about his creation and the creative process which led to its birth. Authenticity, he told, me was absolutely key to everything during the creation of the fragrance and that everything was underpinned by it. He kept this notion at the back of his mind throughout the entire process.

Tom-Ford-London-GQ_25Jul13_pr_b_1And authenticity, I believe can be bottled. It shines though the Portrait For Men (where notes are included due to a direct connection to the designer) but Creed do it, Roja Dove does it and Tom Ford does it with his fragrances, which never compromise or pander to the needs of focus groups.  So when I look for a great fragrance I don’t just look for notes I love –  like vetiver, patchouli and lavender –  I look for one buried deep in the base of the scent and it’s one that’s never listed. Yep, you guessed it – it’s called authenticity.

I wrote this little post as part of the John Lewis Vine campaign #Whatmattersmost. If you are passionate about something – if something matters to you like authenticity in fragrance does to me – you can enter a great competition they’re running to win two £1000 John Lewis vouchers and a Canon SLR camera.

Anyone can enter the competition – all you have to do is create a stop motion animation on Vine about what matters to you and Tweet it using the hashtag #whatmattersmost. So far people have vined everything from their vintage clothes collection, their camera collection and their rabbit (click here for some examples).

To enter simply click here. The competition ends on Sunday 8th September, though, so get your finger out!

Kindly be a gent and check out Givenchy Gentlemen Only…

GIVENCHY GENTLEMEN ONLY

Keen readers will know the I’ve written about Givenchy’s brand new fragrance Gentlemen Only a couple of times on here already. An elegant and modern fragrance which takes some of it olfacory and design cues from one of my favourite fragrance of all time, Givenchy Gentleman, it’s an aromatic, woody and spicy blend of green mandarin orange, pink peppercorns (this year’s must have fragrance note), nutmeg, birch leaves, cedar, patchouli and vetiver.

Featuring Australian heartthrob Simon Baker the ad campaign (below) focuses on the forgotten art of being a gentleman, revealing that even though times may change good manners never go out of fashion.

 

To celebrate the launch of the fragrance Givenchy have a trip to New York (along with €2000 to spend in Bergdorf Goodman), as well as  80 “instant win” bottles of the fragrance up for grabs via a great little Facebook App. To enter simply click here.  It would be ungentlemanly not to!

 

Give your skin a sporting chance with Palmer’s MEN Cocoa Butter Formula Body & Face Lotion

PALMER'S MEN BODY & FACE LOTIONWhenever people ask me what my best grooming tip is I often fire back with one simple word: moisturise! Of all the steps you can take to protect your looks it’s the probably the most important and, luckily, the simplest too.

It’s no good just looking after the stuff on your face though: you need to take care of the skin on the rest of your body too. This is especially important if you’re a gym-goer and shower a lot (all that hot water can strip skin of its natural oils) or play a lot of outdoor sport and subject your extremities to the elements.

Palmer’s MEN Cocoa Butter Formula Body & Face Lotion is the perfect way to moisturise both your face and body with one easy-to-use product. Containing skin-nourishing Vitamin E and high-quality Cocoa Butter it smells great and is ideal for keeping skin in tip-top condition, whether you’re an office worker or a rugby pro.

And speaking of rugby, to celebrate the Six Nations and the forthcoming Lions Tour Palmer’s are running a great competition where you can win one of 20 Palmer’s ‘Be Smooth’ packs (featuring a 250ml and 400ml Palmer’s MEN Body & Face Lotion, along with other Palmer’s products,  plus a selection of Kooga Rugby products including a rugby ball, watter bottle and sports bag. There’s also a Grand Prize you really won’t want to miss out on! For more info click here.

Palmer’s MEN Body & Face Lotion is available in the Bodycare section of the larger Boots, Sainsbury’s and Wilkinson.

 

Win! The Ultimate Summer Skin Survival Pack

As Grooming & Lifestyle Ed of online grooming emporium Niven & Joshua I’m often asked what my favourite products are. But this week, the site are giving you the opportunity to win some of them too. I’ve chosen five of my essential summer skin savers to form a useful survival pack. To find out what they are and how to bag a complete pack yourself just click here. Hurry though, the winner of the pack (worth £80) will be notified on 1st June!

The Grooming Guru scoops prize in Lacoste’s Unconventional Chic competition

 

By nature I’m a fairly low-key, modest kind of person but indulge me for a moment if I blow my own trumpet briefly to tell you I was thrilled to win 1st prize in a competition at the Lacoste ‘Eau de Lacoste L.12.12’ fragrance launch last Friday.

Part of the swanky launch event for the new Lacoste men’s fragrances, the competition asked people to come up with their interpretation of  ‘Unconventional Chic’ using a classic Lacoste L.12. 12 Polo Shirt. You can see my ‘unconventional’ approach to the competition here.

Anyway, a huge thank you to everyone who cast their votes for my entry on the night – it was an excellent evening (obviously!) and I can’t wait to raid the Lacoste shop with the vouchers I won as my prize.

The evening was also a great opportunity for everyone to sample the three fragrances – Blanc, Bleu and Vert. Blanc is the signature fragrance but of the three Vert – with its fresh, woody greenness and outdoorsy freshness – is my own favourite, though there’s something there to suit every man’s tastes – whether he’s unconventional or not.

PS. The cake you see was part of the goodie bag. And welcome it was too – especially for soaking up all the fancy cocktails I sank on the night!

My definition of ‘unconventional chic’

To celebrate the launch of the new Eau de Lacoste L12.12 men’s fragrance, Lacoste’s PR agency came up with a rather clever (and fun) ruse: customize a classic L 12.12 Polo shirt to express your own vision of ‘unconventional chic’, blog a picture of it and be in with the chance of winning a prize.

Now, I don’t normally  submit to this kind of subtle arm-twisting from PRs but on this occasion I am giving it a whirl, in essence because I happen to love the L12. 12 shirt.

And above you can see my own exciting interpretation of ‘unconventional chic’. Oh, I know what you’re thinking: that’s just a ordinary white L12.12 Lacoste polo shirt! You’re thinking that I haven’t customized, tampered, styled or accessorised  it any in way. That I haven’t put a fabric pen near it, haven’t ripped it up, reversed it or drawn a giant penis on it to be scary or shocking. Hell, you’re thinking, there’s nothing remotely St Martins about my entry at all!

And you’d be right. I haven’t touched one bit. Why? Well, not through a lack of imagination (honestly) but because, for me ,the Lacoste L12.12 Polo shirt is unconventional chic just as it is. In fact, it is the very definition of unconventional chic. It was back in the late Twenties when French tennis champ René Lacoste first wore it (creating a sensation by doing so) and it still is now.

The shirt did much more than defy tennis etiquette, though, it  heralded a new dawn in contemporary sportswear. It was quintessentially Lacoste – unconventional, daring and effortlessly stylish. At the height of his powers Lacoste’s game (not to mention his legendary perfectionism) was unmatched too. So in that spirit, I can’t honestly see how I can improve on his most famous fashion creation.

Oh I know it’s a cheeky to approach the competition in this way but Lacoste himself challenged the rules at almost every turn – and look where it got him! So my definition of Unconventional Chic is the Lacoste L12.12 Polo shirt just as it is – simple but never plain, fashionable but never flash, history-making but never history.

Having said all that if, like me, you’re a man of a certain age, opt for the darker colours. The pale ones make your manboobs look massive.

The new trio of Eau de Lacoste fragrances for men - Vert, Blanc and Bleu