Bond is back! So here are a few style & grooming tips from the woman who dresses him…

bond style

The other day I had the pleasure of speaking to Jany Temime  –  award-winning costume designer for the new Bond film SPECTRE  –  about what men can learn from the way 007  dresses. We didn’t talk about the labels he wears in the movie – you can read about those elsewhere – but about what men can learn from Bond’s general style. If you want to read more (and discover how many pair of gloves Daniel had to be fitted with before the right ones were found) simply click on the pic above. This message will self destruct in 15 seconds.

Gillette aim for some of Spectre’s sheen

Gillette_SPECTRE_Giftset_RRRP £18.99I can’t decide whether it’s a testament to their power and reach, culturally, or a reflection on the inescapable joined-up nature of modern consumerism, but Bond films are now as synonymous with the partnerships they foster as the stunts and Bond Girls they feature.

The latest brand to announced an association with the franchise is Gillette who have linked up with Spectre, the eagerly anticipated 24th installment in the 007 saga, to produce Bond themed gift sets. There’ll also be a some TV spots and Bond costume designer Jany Temime will we providing some style tips from the Gillette Twitter account on Oct 10th. It’s all about having a little of that lustrous Spectre sheen rub off on the brand, of course, but since P&G, who own Gillette, are also behind the James Bond 007 fragrance brand, it’s a more predictable fit than you might think.

Go swivel! Gillette introduce new ‘FlexBall’ razor

GILLETTE FUSION PROGLIDE FLEXBALLNormally, when a ‘new’ and ‘revolutionary’ razor lands on my desk for review, I groan inwardly because, generally speaking, there are few places to go with razor technology these days and most of the new developments trumpeted as huge  leaps forward are, at best, minor tweaks made massive by over-enthusiastic marketing.

It’s refreshing, then, that the latest version of Gillette’s best-selling Fusion ProGlide does have feature something rather cute and worth shouting about in the shape of ‘FlexBall’ technology – a feature that enables the head to swivel from side to side slightly to allow the blades even better contact with the contours of the skin. The result is more a lot more manoeuverability and ultimately a much better shave. It’s eye-catching and fun to use and, frankly, anything that makes shaving more fun has got to be worth giving a  go, right?

Available nationwide from February 17th. 

Let’s stop moaning about Mos – and get on with the job of helping men beat cancer

merch(1)It’s strange, but criticising Movember now seems to be a national sport in my industry. Every year at least one of my colleagues breaks ranks and has a pop at the fact that Movember has become too commercialised, has too many official partners, or that success has ruined it and that – like an indie band who come up with a multi-platinum album –  it has somehow ‘sold out’. Others complain it has become a joke (wasn’t it always meant to be fun?) whilst some funsters suggest that it would simply be better to forgo the whole moustache growing part and just hand over some money charity.

It is, of course, easy to criticise a cause for not being perfect. It makes good copy and it has the allure of being controversial. It’s also fantastically mean-spittited and rather symptomatic of an industry that sees anything to do with women’s charities as worthy of praise and anything to do with men’s as either daft or cynical.

MOVEMBERWAXThe male grooming industry has a quite pitiful record when it comes to giving anything back to the men who buy its products. Come to think of it men have a pretty pitiful track record when it comes to giving anything back to men. And this is why I’m an ardent defender of Movember. Sure, it’s not perfect – and there are brands that rub up against it for a little of its feel-good sparkle –  but at the end of the day it’s one time of year when men actually get of their sorry asses and do something that helps other men. For this alone it should be celebrated rather than knocked.

So what if companies like Penhaligons, Gillette* and Kent get on board with their products? Who cares if Byron are getting bums on seats with their (rather tasty) Mo’Shroom burgers? Yes, they’re getting publicity. They may be even making a profit for themselves whilst raising funds for others (to be shocked by this is to not fully understand the mechanics of modern charity) but, hey, they’re supporting a great cause and their contribution generates a huge amount of press and publicity – and we all know that charities rely on the oxygen of publicity. On a more basic level, for me, our industry is proactively helping men, in a way that the beauty industry has been helping women for years. Whether the companies involved are doing it selflessly or selfishly, who cares? They’re doing it.

ELC 2013 BCA Campaign PR Visual with RibbonsThe cynicism about Movember comes into sharpest focus when compared with the industry’s attitude to Breast Cancer Awareness. Whilst sitting in the lobby of Estee Lauder’s London HQ a few weeks ago I was struck, not just by the effort that they go to in supporting that particular cause (even re-painting their front doors pink) but by their “We’re stronger together” call to arms. One of the beauty industry’s real successes is how it has united to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities (and by industry I mean cosmetic houses, beauty journalists, magazines etc working together to shine a light on the cause). Certainly, my industry could take a leaf out of the beauty world’s book and get behind men’s charities but it won’t if, every time it tries, scorn is instantly poured over its efforts. Just as women are ‘stronger together’ when united to combat cancer so are men. But we’re also weaker when we’re torn apart.

For more information on Movember click here.

*Last year Gillette donated over £100,000 to Movember via on pack promotions.

Mossentials – three must-have pieces of kit for moustache maintenance

A Moustache is a beautiful thing, especially if you’re growing one for charity as part of this year’s Movember, but they do need a little TLC if they’re to look their best. Which is where these three useful pieces of grooming kit come in…

Kent Movember Moustache Comb, £4.50 from kentbrushes.com

With £2 from every sale going directly to Movember this dinky comb is the perfect way to keep your ‘tache neat and tidy and free of food. It makes trimming easier too. But apart from all that combing a moustache is fun and therapeutic. Fact.

KENT

Penhaligons Moustache Wax, £5 from penhaligons.com

Lightly scented with Penhaligon’s Satorial fragrance this moustache wax is the perfect way to keep your Mo looking and smelling great and is great for creating definition and taming unruly hairs. What’s more, Penhaligons will give £2 to Movember for each one you buy.

MOVEMBERWAXGillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, £20. For stockists call 0800 44 55 38 83  

A razor and a facial hair trimmer combined this cool tool is great for mo maintenance and features three detachable combs to help you trim hair to just the right length and a precision edging blade to ensure your ‘tache always looks tip top.

Fusion_ProGlide_Styler_2For more information about Movember click here.

David Beckham reveals men’s worst grooming mistake

It could have been anything: rushing the morning shave, not wearing enough deodorant or just overdoing the aftershave, but when asked by Men’s Health what men’s biggest grooming mistake was David Beckham revealed his personal bathroom bête noir to be…overplucked eyebrows. Bad memories of the above advertising shoot maybe?

Check out the Icon Stylefile featuring Becks in the December issue of Men’s Health.

Unilever shake up men’s face care market with their new Dove Men+Care range

The mass-market men’s face care market has been pretty quiet of late but that’s all about to change with the launch of an entire face care range from Dove Men+Care.

I’ve been giving the products a go for a couple of weeks now and rate them really highly. Unlike many of their competitors they steer clear of strong, pungent fragrances and leave the skin feeling clean, without feeling dry, and hydrated without feeling greasy.

Especially good are the rich, creamy face washes (there are three variants, the exfoliating Deep Clean+ , Sensitive+ and Revitalise+) and the three moisturisers, with the Hydrate+ version also offering sun protection in the shape of an SPF15 moisturiser.

They’re certainly going to give brands like Gillette and L’Oreal one hell of a run for their money. And, given their quality and efficacy, rightfully so too.

The Dove Men+Care range is available now from Boots.

Want to slash your shaving bills? Will King’s “King of Shaves SUB” might be the answer

With Britain in a double-dip recession and belts tightening across the land, value-for-money grooming has never been more important. I talked to King of Shaves supremo Will King about his new initiative, King of Shaves SUB, which aims to help men everywhere ‘save while they shave’. 

GG: I think we’re all agreed that times are hard Will. In what ways do you think the current economic climate has affected the way men view shaving?

WK: The past seven or so years, since metrosexuality died a death in 2005, have been rather intriguing.  We’ve had A) a global economic meltdown since 2007 and B) a resurgence in men sporting stubble and/or facial hair – beards – in a big way.

I reckon this growth – to excuse the pun – has been down to a couple of factors, the cues taken from Hollywood A-Listers – the Brad Pitt’s, the George Clooney’s and from a sporting perspective, the David Beckham – who’ve adopted a ‘roughness’ to their approach, rather than a ‘smoothness’.  This, alongside a more relaxed approach to work (not necessarily clean shaven, suited and booted) has for sure driven growth in stubble.

In addition, there is a view that when things get tough – men get tough – and you look maybe tougher with a beard, designer stubble – a little more ‘caveman’ (with a small c). Fight or Flight?  Fight.  Right now however, I’m seeing more A-Listers (eg Ashton Kutcher in the new Two and a Half Men series clean shaven, and more celebrities clean shaven.  These things go in cycles, I think smooth is starting to come back – but will only really get traction when the world is in a happier place.  Has it affected sales of razors & blades – yes – I think it has – looking at the negligible growth of brands in this space…

GG: Do you think that the resurgence of the beard has been a direct reaction to the price of blades? 

WK: Maybe.  I don’t think so though – I just think that men are relaxed being a little stubblier, or have a nicely groomed beard right now.  Blades, for sure ARE expensive – hence us just launching our King of Shaves SUB – but I’m not sure people are growing beards to put two fingers up at razor & blade companies.

GG: Do you think that many companies treat their consumers with cavalier indifference, especially in these difficult times?

WK: I think that’s maybe a bit harsh.  We live in a world that is changing extremely fast right now, with new ways to do things coming down the track all the time, for example Twitter this time a couple of years ago was pretty widely derided.  It’s a great way for companies, brands to connect with their purchasing consumer – yet it’s only recently they’ve started taking to it to keep close to their customer.

Back in the day, it was all about ‘Brand Broadcast’ but now it’s about ‘Digital Dialogue’ and by the nature of dialogue, larger companies find it hard to handle – and more than a little scary. I’m pleased to be a ‘CEO who Tweets’ – as it offers people a way to directly chat with me – maybe makes the face of our brand a little more human. Some like how I go about things, some don’t.

What does annoy me though is the ‘assumption’ that your consumer will always stick with you, irrespective of what you do…  For example, a Gillette Sensor razor blade in 1992 cost 41p per blade.  Now a Fusion ProGlide Power Blade costs £3.50.  You’re not telling me that’s down to inflation, or adding three more strips of stainless steel?  If you take people for fools, then one day – you end up the foolish one.

GG: What was the inspiration behind your latest venture King of Shaves SUB?

WK: I’m sure everyone who reads this has seen the awesome video by US start-up Dollar Shave Club.  To say I’m ‘well jel’ of how they did it, and the global traction they got, let alone calling out all that’s wrong in the razor, blade world and more – would be understating it.

However, they are selling generic, private label razors on a subscription model, using a 1970’s ‘Trac 2’ equivalent as a loss leader.  So, I knew as soon as I saw the video, we HAD to respond – and fast – to open up a direct to consumer sales channel – a digital & commercial dialogue – with our customers, and simply use the ‘contact lens direct’ model, sending an Azor, Azor 5 or Azor S through the post, with 3 cartrdiges, for between £3-4/month.

Because we were able to strip out the RRP  – Retail Ready Packaging, and streamline the ordering/fulfilment cycle – we are able to make a margin (despite Royal Mail’s best efforts) on sending through your razor SUB each month.

GG: And what’s in it for you?

WK:  Well, It’s been really great  because of how we’re able to (once again) connect directly with our customers.  After all, we’re all – or most of us – on a social network these days – we increasingly subscribe to connectivity and conversation, and our King of Shaves SUB is a much about that, as it is delivering the King of Shaves each and every morning.  It’s all about the UX – User Experience – these days. As Apple well know…

GG: So how does it work? 

WK: Visit KingofShavesSUB.com, select your razor (Azor 4, £3/pcm for example), fill out the easy-to-fill-out form, enter your debit card details (or PayPal) and – ta da – you’re done.  You can cancel after 30 days – the SUB lasts for 24 months – and we simply send the King of Shaves through to you nice and easy, in a lovely metallic blue envelope with a little card from me!

GG: Anything else in the pipeline?

WK: We’re looking at including our shaving oils in the next few weeks – these are going through transit trials right now, and we’ve launche our latest Azor S for Women on the site too.  So, you to can be a ‘Money S(h)aving Expert’ – as is Martin Lewis, who gave us a great plug on Lorraine on ITV this morning!  Oh, and we also picked up coverage on Forbes.com   Not bad for a brand that sells shaving stuff, eh?

For more info about King of Shaves SUB click here.

Beauty Magazine unveils its Grooming Gongs for 2011

One of my favourite events in the beauty & grooming calendar is the annual Beauty Magazine Awards. As one of the panel of judges it’s my job to whittle down a huge selection of possible nominees to put forward to a public vote (think of me as the Len Goodman of Grooming) and as such I’m lucky enough to attend the swanky annual awards do. This year it was held at Vinopolis and The Saturdays (well, four of them) were in attendance.

There were a stack of awards presented on the night but the ones that interested me, of course, were the grooming gongs. Gillette’s Fusion Proglide razor picked up the Grooming Launch of The Year Award, Lynx Excite walked away with the Best Ad Campaign of The Year and Best Tie-Up for securing Kelly Brook for Excite and Boss Bottled won Best Classic fragrance. Classic Grooming Product of the Year, meanwhile, was won by Philips for their Sensotouch 3D Electric Shaver.

Finally, the Haircare Launch of The Year award was won by Regaine for their innovative Extra Strength Scalp Foam. More importantly, though, I got to dress up and drink wine. Well, judging’s hard work you know…