Grooming Boxes – specially curated sets of grooming products that give a chance to sample brands at a discount price – are, at the best of times, somewhat hit and miss. Trust Mr Porter to come up with probably the best one that’s appeared though. It’s luxurious Grooming Kit features a raft of full-sized and sample-sized products including brands like Escentric Molecules, Penhaligon’s, REN, Perricone MD and some of my personal favorites like Czech & Speake and Malin + Goetz. Beautifully edited and costing £50 it’s also that rarest of things – a true bargain (the Escentric Molecules Body Wash and Bamford Grooming Department’s Exfoliating Face Wash alone cost more than that). Which may explain why the kit sold out within a week of its launch at the end of October. I am reliably informed, however, that new stock will be available next week so keep an eye out for it here!
At £25 for two 65ml bottles Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge Shower Wash & Body Lotion Duo isn’t cheap but if you’re a lover of luxury and superb fragrance this delightfully dinky travel set is the ultimate addition to your weekend washbag. The cologne spray itself – a finely balanced blend of French lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Bergamot essential oils – is probably my favourite lavender fragrance (it’s one of the few that doesn’t leave you smelling like your nan’s knicker drawer) and I take a travel-sized bottle with me almost everywhere. If you’re already a fan or, once you’ve tried it, about to become one, these additions to the range will be your new grooming essentials. But probably not your nan’s. Which is a relief.
Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge Shower Wash & Body Lotion Duo is available here.
Now let me get this out of the way first: I love Czech & Speake. When I was a teenager back in the Eighties, I eyed their products (and especially their No.88 fragrance) with a desire that bordered on unrestrained lust. I still adore No.88 and can heartily recommend it if you like woody, floral, barbershoppy fragrances that pack a punch and have serious longevity on the skin.
But anyway, enough about that fragrance and on to their latest one, Spanish Cedar. Warm, woody, fruity, spicy and smoky it’s a great evening fragrance but, in truth, not nearly as distinctive as some other C&S fragrances and certainly nowhere near as interesting as No.88. To me the cedar is slightly lost amongst the sweetness of the plum and blackberry notes and its longevity could be better but if you like your scents warm and spicy it’s certainly worth investigating.
Without a doubt, terrorism has made air travel a royal pain in the ass. Much of the additional hassle, of course, comes from the restrictions as to what you can take on board the plane with you (who’d have thought a bottle of orange squash or a large tube of body moisturiser would be considered lethal?). Anyway, here’s a fantastic product that allows frequent fliers to arrive at their destination beautifully manicured. Czech & Speake‘s Air Safe Manicure Set includes everything a man needs for immaculately-manicured nails and has been designed to conform to international hand luggage restrictions. Especially good for businessmen I could have thought. Get it now, before some idiot tries to down a plane with a pair of nail clippers.
The Air Safe Manicure set is available on www.czechandspeake.com
It was the worst kept secret in the industry: that Mr Porter was going to start selling grooming products alongside its fashion brands. And finally the day has come.
With Mr Porter, of course, it’s all in the edit and they’ve managed to bring together a range of brands that embrace both traditional, gentlemanly reliability and uber-cool modernity. Amongst the usual suspects (Baxter of California and Malin + Goetz amongst them) are some of my personal favourites like Aesop, Czech & Speake (I’ve been wearing their No88 fragrance since the Eightes), Le Labo and Santa Maria Novella.
The latter is a truly inspired choice. A fantastic Italian brand that’s nearly 800 years old it’s been difficult to track down in the UK, and if you’ve ever been to their shop in Florence you’ll know how difficult it is not to blow a small fortune on it.
It doesn’t appear to be available to buy just yet (I’m told it’ll be online from November) but is the one to look out for – especially for the candles, shaving products and amazing soaps – so make a note in your dairy.
As a Grooming Editor one of the most common question I get asked is what my favourite fragrances are. To me, scents are a bit like lovers – you can play the field and sample everything that’s on offer but you always retain a certain fondness for your first true love. In my case, my ‘signature scent’ (i.e. the one I wear most and always return too) is Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene. Launched in the States back in 1975 it’s something of a curio in the UK these days. In fact, I’ve only ever met one other British Grooming Editor who’d even heard of it. But I love it now as much as did when I bought my first bottle of it back in 1985. A simple combination of violet, lemon, orange, oakmoss, sage and sandalwood it has a sweet, floral smell (think parma violets) that still manages to be masculine and quiet different from the raft of generic smelling fragrances around today. If you like something a bit different, give it a go.
What else in on my shelf? Well, Tom Ford’s smoky Oud Wood is a recent favourite and is one of the warmest and down-right sexiest men’s fragrances you’ll ever come across. Creed’s Original Vetiver is another of my all time favourites and is as masculine as it is expensive. Not everyone likes vetiver’s grassy earthiness but I love it. It has a strength and longevity that’s also present in Givenchy Gentleman, another classic men’s fragrance (which has also been around since the mid seventies) but this one’s signature note is patchouli. If you want something that lasts all day (and well into the night) it’s an ideal choice!
And finally, in my desert island fragrance list there’s Czech & Speake No 88 – for me the ultimate smell of the Eighties! Launched at the beginning of the decade, it’s a powerful mix of fresh bergamot, geranium, vetiver and sandalwood and comes in a fantastically Gothic bottle. If you want proof that the Eighties wasn’t actually the decade that style forgot this it it!