At this time of year, fragrance is oh-so-important. The flowers, the cut grass and smoky barbeques fill the air with a welcoming whiff. While your senses are heightened during the summer months, so are those of your contemporaries. It’s one of the curiosities of the season that just a little more effort is made. People dress better, act more amiably and, invariably, smell more alluring. Some of the scents currently available perfectly capture the ineffable glow of summer. Gentry looks at both Acqua di Genova and Classica by Santa Maria Novella.
Category Archives: Grooming
It’s only when we no longer need someone that we can have a real relationship with them, and so too, with hair and it’s disappearance. Only when a man loses his hair can he truly appreciate it: one of the true and few ironic tragedies of above-brow human geography and an explanation, to some degree, of the New Bald philosophy: a state of mind that urges the rest of the body to clean up its act. It’s a kind of infectious Zen-like observance of grooming and ritual. When today’s man loses his hair he doesn’t simply paste limp strands across his greasy head, he doesn’t spend his days downloading vampire porn, fiddling with his ringtone – rather, it’s his wake up call, his moment of absolute clarity, his rebirth.
New Bald can be traced as far back as the early 90s, with Andre Agassi and Bruce Willis blazing an imitable, stubbly trail through the unsuspecting and complacent world of the non-balds. These anti-Sampsons are examples to the rest of us – hairless heroes, warriors beyond the comb who have taken what life has given them, and polished it. Continue reading
A smile is a beautiful thing – an unconscious burp from your soul’s inner depths, an escaped dream pleasantly parting with fantasy, breaking onto the surface of reality. A grin is a reminder of the relationship between the physical and emotional world that a human being (yes, you!) wobbles constantly between. Like it or not, we’re largely only defined by what people see. We meet more people than we know and it’s undeniable that we’re glanced at by more people than we’ll ever meet. In fact, most people who see you will never speak to you, will never introduce themselves: the woman pressed up against you on the tube: the besuited masses you pass on the busy streets; the lonely old man you avoid in the changing rooms – the only perceptions these people will ever have of you is the look on your face as you glide by, momentarily part of their lives. Give them something to see, flash them a smile.
The crushing realities of living are enough to wipe the smile from any of our faces. But,
Film has always been attracted by the possibilities of its own image, defining and re-defining moods and modes, styles and fashions in a playful, unusually discursive way. The overriding texture and impression of an era is often synonymous with the icons of the period. Think of Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in the 1920s, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn in the 30s, Humphrey Bogart and James Stewart in the 40s, Rock Hudson and Marlon Brando in the 50s, Alain Delon and Marcello Mastroianni in the 60s, Warren Beatty and Edward Fox in the 70s, Richard Gere and Tom Cruise in the 80s, Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the 90s. Tailored to perfection, buoyed by their own charisma, these cultural icons stand on both sides of the mirror, looking good. Below is our pick of the Top 5 most stylish, inspirational actors in their most elegant incarnations. What do you think? Let us know your own contenders in the comments section. And if you’re in need of a new style, you know where to go…
1. Richard Gere – American Gigolo
Quite simply, no-one has ever looked smoother than Richard Gere in Paul Schrader’s glaring film about the male escort industry. He sashays his way through the movie, enslaved by his own searing sexual appeal. Defined by a sly athleticism and self regarding arrogance, the scene where Gere prepares for a night out is beautifully voyeuristic and one of the most mechanically pleasurable scenes committed to film.
2. Warren Beatty Shampoo
Beatty’s poodlish bouffant, open-necked shirts and paint-on jeans combine for a look that Russell Brand seems to have transposed wholesale into his own rakish style. But Beatty gives these otherwise Continue reading
Inspired by the film classic The Third Man, Caron’s titular fragrance also goes by the names ‘Number 3’ and ‘Le 3me’. Drawing upon the unpredictable and irrepressible, avant-garde flair of Orson Welles, Caron’s 1985 elegant, smooth aroma has been blended in the flickering magic of the movie beam. The cinema screen is a projection of desires, of aspirations and dreams, and it is no surprise that other creative industries should be captivated by the magnetism of the medium – just recall Cindy Sherman’s melodramatic photography or Miles Davis’ real and unreal scores. Individual films, beyond their own generic classification, are ‘a style’ in a very different sense. They are a mélange of music, image and performance – as much an indefinable coming together of essences as any carefully procured perfume. The seduction of Caron by the beguiling élan of Harry Lime and his irredeemable but awe-inspiring character smells of a conceptual richness that befits both industries.
Hair grows out of your face, so persistently that you have to scythe it off with something sharp enough to slit your own throat. With the recent release of Sweeney Todd, the blatant terrors of the shave have never been more in the public eye. But there’s nothing to fear, not really. At Murdock there are safer hands than the trembling, vengeful mitts of Benjamin Barker. In fact, shaving is a strangely luxuriant, invigorating ritual, it’s the grooming equivalent of pulling up your socks or rolling up your sleeves – shaving means business, energising a kind of innate professionalism like nothing else. There is a distinct joy in the daily taming of the wild man that lurks beneath, or, even better, teasing out just enough stubble to allow it to think it’s on the verge of victory, before a deeply restorative smoothing of the skin.
The straight razor shave adds the gentleman’s touch to your morning routine. This method of shaving stretches back to the Iron Age, when men, desperate to disassociate themselves from their furry wives, would use bronze or flint to scrape their beard away. Even earlier incarnations would be made from clam shells or shark’s teeth, leaving the alluring aroma of fish stink. The razor as we might recognize it was introduced in ancient Rome by king Lucius Tarquinius Priscus a hundred years before such grooming tools were common use. The razor was, in truth primitive andLucius would often be found clutching his face and rolling on the ground, a tradition still practiced today by arch-Romanista Francesco Totti. Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1740 that the first hard steel grade was commercially produced, by Benjamin Huntsmen of Sheffield. Daily shaving is relatively recent as a common practice, introduced by American men in the 20th century, desperate to give a false impression of prosperity during the Great depression. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was far more common to receive a weekly shave, usually on a Sunday – a delicate, civilized procedure by a servant if you were wealthy enough or a far less accurate slice in the back alley of a gambling house if you were at the other end of the social scale. Easily slipped behind the trouser belt and readily available, the straight razor was also often used as a particularly unfriendly instrument.
The rarified art of bespoke men’s tailoring, epitomised by Savile Row, is popular again – on the internet. Vegard in Norway is looking for a suitable jacket to hunt in: would an Ulster be appropriate? An anonymous correspondent has a pressing need for a knitted silk tie with a pointed rather than straight-ended blade: where can he find one? And “Couch” would like to know if alum tawed pigskin would be suitable for making a pair of bespoke shoes.
Obscure requests, maybe, but all three men receive answers and advice from their enthusiastic peers. They, and hundreds of others, are members of a burgeoning community of gents who meet online to debate, in sometimes obsessive detail, the minutiae and history of fine bespoke dressing.