best men's loafer shoes chain bertie surbitonThe snaffle loafer was over, I was busy gushing over Tom Ford’s chain loafer, last summer - here - and the high-street was playing catch up. Now, their versions have hit the shops and Bertie has this ‘Surbiton’ version and it is far from suburban. The suede square toe loafer in this rich brown is in an elegant, tapered shape with the chain making this an update of this masculine classic. Get in the Good Life!

Left & Below - Bertie - Surbiton - Brown - £110

best men's loafer shoes chain bertie surbiton

Review 
Jo Malone solid perfume palettes tried testedJo Malone has launched solid perfume travel-ready palettes featuring some of their most popular fragrances. A light, smooth texture, containing pure beeswax, ensures a rich scent when applied to the skin. Customers can fill their palettes with their choice of two Jo Malone London scents from Lime Basil & Mandarin, Basil & Neroli, Pomegranate Noir, English Pear & Freesia, Blackberry & Bay, Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Peony & Blush Suede, Mimosa & Cardamom, Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Oud & Bergamot. When it’s time to try a new combination, simply use the enclosed pin to pop the two scents out of the palette.

Left - Fragrance Combining Palette - £24, Solid Perfume - Cologne - £14, Solid Perfume - Cologne Intense - £16

TheChicGeek says, “Something new from Jo Malone. Affordable and fun, these solid perfume palettes are perfect for travel - you no longer have to worry about fragrance eating into your toiletries liquid allowance for hand luggage and also means you can have two fragrances at the same time, which works with Jo Malone’s famous ‘Fragrance Combining’ (Trademark!).

The formula is soft and creamy and allows for a different, more intimate way of applying fragrance. This feels like more about fragrance for you, than for others. The palettes aren’t huge, and I don’t think they’ll last very long if you’re using them all the time, but, I think constant refresh is part of the point.

They’ve missed a trick not designing the palette so the pin, to remove the fragrance, can clip onto it. But you could just use any pin if you lose it. This is a really fun idea and makes a new entry product for Jo Malone. It feels younger and I think they could have had more fun with the packaging and maybe they could offer palettes in brighter colours or designs. I guess, if this is a success, this will become their equivalent of a jewellery charm bar. It could also become the Nespresso of fragrance!”

Palette and Refills available at Jomalone.co.uk and Selfridges.com

Disclosure - The products were gifted by Jo Malone to review

Friday, 08 March 2019 13:11

Tried & Tested Armani Code Absolu

Review 
Armani Code Absolu for men Ryan Reynolds tried testedThis is the sixth edition in the Armani Code line-up which was launched in 2004. Armani Code Absolu for men is an oriental fragrance, in which the classic Code base fragrance has been amplified and warmed. Perfumer Antoine Maisondieu from Givaudan has constructed a fragrance which opens with sparkling notes of green mandarin and apple, which guide us towards the heart. Here, orange blossom, nutmeg and carrot seeds unite with Armani Code signature ingredient tonka bean, unveiling a liquorish accord of rum. The dry down reveals a touch of suede, the tonka bean intensity and sweetness of tinted vanilla. 

Armani Code Absolu - 30ml - £51, 60ml - £69, 110ml - £84 - Available nationwide from 24th April 2019

TheChicGeek says, “This is definitely an evening fragrance. Gourmand. with a warm vanilla dominating, it has a slight orange blossom wetness on the top. Tonka bean has become a stalwart of men’s mainstream fragrance, but here it’s less metallic and much warmer and lip-lickingly fragrant.

Armani has opted for Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, as the new face of Code, which could be confusing when he was the face of Boss Bottled and is dressed roughly the same in both commercials. I’m not sure if this is deliberate or not.

I’ve never given Armani’s fragrances much time before because, like the rest of the label, they seemed all quite safe and it doesn’t fire me up like other brands. With this, I’m pleasantly surprised. The bottle is very tactile, very Armani, and even has a grained cummerbund wrapped around the top. You don’t get more 'evening' than that!”

Disclosure - The product was gifted by Armani to review

Review 
Clarins Men Super Moisture Collection tried testedReturning to the classic moisturiser, ClarinsMen new ‘Super Moisture Collection’ contains 3 products all containing ‘Hydra Resist Phyto Complex’ a unique complex combining two plant extracts selected for their super hydrating ability. Organic houseleek lends its super hydro-resistant power to help offset the negative effects of testosterone, helping retain moisture even in extreme conditons, by reinforcing the skin’s surface barrier. Organic leaf of life encourages the natural hydration of the skin to help promote the production of ‘sponge molecules’ in every skin layer.

A ClarinsMen Complex contains a blend of gymnema extract and bison grass extract offering soothing and energising properties, stimulating and preserving skin’s energy while the Anti-Pollution Complex has extracts of nipplewort and furcellaria to help shield the skin from pollutants.

Left - ClarinsMen Super Moisture Collection - 50ml - £30

TheChicGeek says, “When a brand launches three identical looking products and it takes a few seconds of concentrated study to distinguish them, it would make sense to try and make them look slightly different. 

There are three moisturisers here: Super Moisture Balm, Super Moisture Gel, Super Moisture Lotion SPF 20.

I opted for the one with SPF, and so should you, to test. It has that classic ClarinsMen smell, and goes on like a lightweight sun protection product. While nothing revolutionary, it still a classic white lotion, it would be nicer if the gel format had an SPF, especially for the facial hair fans amongst us, this is perfectly acceptable daily moisturiser and at a decent price from Clarins.”

Disclosure - The products were gifted by Clarins to review

best men's loafer shoes Baudoin Lange made in englandNot since the Mr Hare brand disappeared have I seen such elegant loafers. These Made in England loafers were a welcome discovery at the recent Pitti Uomo in Florence. Delicate and well made, they are by Baudoin & Lange, a new shoe brand on me.

Left & Below - Lusitanias Dark Brown Loafers - £305 - www.baudoinandlange.com

Baudoin & Lange was founded in 2016 by Allan Baudoin and Bo van Langeveld. Allan Baudoin, a computer scientist and Apple alumni turned self-trained bespoke shoe maker, designed and handcrafted the first ‘Sagan’ - their classic loafer - in 2014. After hundreds of prototypes and two years of development later, the brand was born.

best men's loafer shoes Baudoin Lange made in england

When he and Bo van Langeveld, an ex-racing driver turned financier who was tired of suffering in his formal office shoes, met - they together developed the idea of a modern shoe brand that would combine the best of both worlds: comfort and style.

TheChicGeek says, "These are those delicate type of loafers that look almost like the male equivalent of a ballet pump - and just as comfortable. With tailoring starting to return, we should see a return to more formal shoes. These could be good for those who have spent their life in trainers. They are also a reasonable price for made in England."

Ray Kelvin resigns Ted Baker bully allegationsTed Baker CEO and Founder, Ray Kelvin, has resigned from his position at the British company following an internal inquiry regarding alleged harassment of staff. Kelvin had been on an indefinite leave of absence since December, when the initial allegations were made, but won’t be returning to the business.

Left - Ted Baker, Founder & Former CEO, Ray Kelvin

Ted Baker was founded in Glasgow in 1988 by Kelvin, initially selling men’s shirts and later expanding into womenswear in 1995. Ted Baker’s huge success, a yearly turnover of £590m and nearly 500 stores worldwide, is undeniably down to Ray Kelvin’s individual hand. On his resignation, Kelvin said, “The past few months have been deeply distressing and I’ll now be taking time privately with my family to consider what my next adventure will be. Bye for now, Ray.”

Whether you like the brand or not, you can’t ignore its growth and consistency over the past 30 years. Kelvin’s hard work, attention to detail, quality control and quirky aesthetic has amassed a huge global fan club. While the majority of people wearing Ted Baker would never have heard of Ray Kelvin, they have definitely experienced his overriding vision and eye. It’ll be interesting how the brand maintains that momentum without him.

Founders are very important to fashion companies and they are seldom as exciting after the founder has left. Fashion businesses need strong people with personality and a determined vision of the direction they need to go in. Arguably, fashion needs these people even more than other industries because it is such an instinctive industry. It’s unpredictable and data often won’t help. You need to follow the leader’s instinct and feel for things if you are to react quickly and timely. Design and decisions by committee is often more conservative and slower and why many companies quickly flounder.

Kelvin’s long-running desire not to be photographed or uncover the fact he’s the real Ted Baker can be twisted to make him look like he was trying, or had something to hide. Ted Baker, up until recently, didn't advertise and had a distorted relationship with the press.

This is not to condone anybody’s negative actions and anything illegal should be prosecuted, but when does a dominating character become a bully? One person’s clash of personalities is another person’s intimidation. One person’s eccentric way of greeting people, or “banter”, can be another person’s sexual harassment or racist allegation. The line of unacceptability is subjective and often blurred.

Whether it’s Philip Green or another titan of industry, people are, rightly, responsible for their language and actions and companies have to be seen to take any allegations seriously. Nobody is untouchable anymore. Good. We live in an age where you can’t have any element of doubt. If in doubt, then you are automatically guilty. Which puts potentially innocent people into a indefensible grey area and they are shown the door. You shouldn’t or can't hold onto people at any cost, even if they are the founder, and it’s a verdict of guilty, instantly.

Ted Baker had a tsunami of allegations following a petition signed by 200 staff and it’s very hard to accuse somebody that doesn’t appear to have anybody to control their behaviour. Nobody should feel like they are being bullied or pressurised into anything they aren’t comfortable with. It creates a toxic environment and may explain a high turnover of staff. People make a business' culture, but it needs to come from the top down.

The shift in society is, rightly, now, controlling these people and losing their positions of power is what will be their biggest loss. This isn’t a gender issue. This isn’t about men. It’s about people in positions of power abusing those positions. It’s that feeling of knowing people have to do what you say and pushing that into a different and negative dynamic. This abuse is what is a shame, as it’s the same energy, when positive, which makes these companies great. It’s the energy of trying something new, sticking your neck out or pushing a few different buttons. Again, particularly important in the fashion and creative industries.

Whether it’s Ted Baker or Arcadia, you wonder whether these companies’ successes could be replicated as big and as quickly in the #metoo era. You have to break a few eggs to get ahead and often upset and disagree with a few people on the way. Fashion businesses need strong and successful characters to make things happen, but it doesn’t mean they can do whatever they like. 

Drop out sports rugby shirt best menswearGarbstore’s newest label is 'Drop Out Sports'. Spotted at the men’s trade shows in Paris, last summer, I was first taken with the name, we're all a dropout somewhere along the line, and then their collection of handsome and modern rugby shirts, all authentically English.

Billed as 'The Authentic Rugby Collection for the Unconventional Sportsman' , Drop Out Sports centres on an original turn-of-the-century rugby shirt. Made using 100% organic yarns and sustainable textiles woven in England whilst retaining the authentic weight and feel of the original. Real men play in pink.

TheChicGeek says, "Preppy sportswear is returning and nothing is as easy as a white collared rugby shirt to make you look handsome. Go up a size because you'll want to wear this fuller and looser."

Left & Below - Drop Out Sports - Stripe Rugby - £150

Drop out sports rugby shirt best menswear

Karl Lagerfeld Chanel become the Marc Bohan forgotten aboutMarc, who? Exactly. Walk into the new Dior exhibition - Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams - at the Victoria & Albert Museum and you’ll be wowed by a glamourous exhibition dedicated to one of the world’s strongest fashion houses. A few rooms in, there’s a recap of the previous Dior Creative Directors, in order, from after Dior’s death in 1957 up until the present designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri. All getting equal billing and space is Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferrè, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Chiuri.

The least known, yet the longest there, is Marc Bohan. From 1958 to 1960, Bohan designed for the Christian Dior London line. In September 1960, Dior’s creative director Yves Saint Laurent was called up for military service and Bohan was promoted to replace him. He stayed at Dior until 1989 when he was replaced by Gianfranco Ferrè.

Left - Linda in Chanel. But, will we remember this in a few decades time?

Bohan’s career at Dior lasted over 30 years and yet he is almost forgotten about. Still alive, he didn’t create anything long lasting directly attributed to his hand at Dior. Or, that is widely known. And this is where I bring my comparisons to Karl Lagerfeld. He lead Chanel from 1983 up until his death. That’s a 36 year career, and yet in a few year's time, what direct influences will Lagerfeld leave on the French house? Will Karl Lagerfeld become the Marc Bohan of Chanel? #Discuss

Dr Kate Strasdin, Fashion Historian and Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Falmouth University, says, “I think he will be remembered just because of the length of time he was at the helm and that his time coincided with the expansion of mass media. He talked about being a caricature of himself, creating his own distinctive self-image.

“As for Lagerfeld’s legacy, many people criticised his work as derivative. but actually I think he was astute at managing a heritage brand, treading that line between designs that were recognisably ‘Chanel’ and simultaneously relevant for over 30 years....I would argue that was his distinctiveness.” she says.

Looking at Lagerfeld’s Chanel, he brought the house’s tropes into the late 20th century, but they already existed. The tweed, the camelias, the quilting, the interlocking Cs and gold chains all existed within the archive. The most famous bag shape, the 2.55, was created in 1955 and is still a juggernaut today.

Benjamin Wild, Cultural, Historian, Writer and Lecturer, says, “For sure, there are many similarities between the men - longevity and the ability to contemporise classical styles, not least - but it is interesting to note the increasing number of voices that are coming forward to comment on Lagerfeld's less savoury social attitudes and comments. In a week where major fashion brands have withdrawn items from their Spring/Summer collections because of their perceived racism and insensitivity, it seems to be a sign of the times that Lagerfeld's character and creations are also being examined in a forensic manner as people recognise that person and portfolio cannot be - and should not be - so easily disentangled; if we are to understand Lagerfeld's contribution to fashion, we need to be frank about who he was, and this will, I think, leave for a more accurate, but disputed legacy.”

Lagerfeld’s tenure at Chanel was through the boom of designer brands and luxury clothes. Bohan’s was in a much smaller industry and no doubt had to design few collections than the six Chanel creates every year. Lagerfeld’s Chanel was much bigger, so it’s interesting that even fewer designs of Lagerfeld’s have stuck. But, also, today, there is now so much more competition.

It’s often what comes after and how good it is that really pushes a designer into the background. When Galliano created his Dior, it was a fantasy of couture, yet still managed to leave behind his strong DNA - the Masai neck, the saddle bag and the famous Dior newspaper print are all Dior signatures still attributed to him today.

Chanel is privately owned by Alain Wertheimer and Gérard Wertheimer, the grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who was an early business partner of Coco Chanel. After Lagerfeld’s death, Virginie Viard, fashion studio director and Lagerfeld's right-hand woman at Chanel, was announced as taking over the creative leadership. No doubt she’ll be in charge to offer a respectful gap to Lagerfeld’s legacy, but, ultimately, this is one of the plummiest jobs in fashion and many designers would kill to fill those shoes and offer their own take on Chanel’s future. Like many brands, it may take a few goes to find the perfect fit and I’m not sure anybody would stick around, or be allowed to stick around, for over three decades today.

“I think to get the best out of Chanel, it now needs to push the brand boundaries - not in a Balmain or Balenciaga ‘sell out’ begging-for-attention from the Instagram generation manner, but it needs to become more relevant. I feel Chanel has sunk into a comfort zone that rich women seeking affirmation or middle class basic bitch types aspire to.” says Katie Chutzpah, Fashion Blogger.

Lagerfeld is, of course, respected for his prolific and long career, but, what left is distinctively “Lagerfeld”? You have to separate the man and his designs. When his domineering character is quietened by his death, it will be his designs and collections which will have to fight with what went before, and what will, now, come after.

“If Karl Lagerfeld had just concentrated on Chanel, then I think he would've been forgotten, but his influence was so pervasive across popular culture. Despite his work at Chanel, he was actually a modernist and early-adopter of technologies. From fashion to art, photography, product design, and even music, he was always there at the edge, and I think that will be his true legacy, not reinventing a tweed jacket every three months.” says Lee Clatworthy, Fashion Writer.

This isn’t about trashing Lagerfeld’s career, it’s an unemotional look at the things we can directly attribute to him. Clearly, Chanel has been a huge success under his guidance, but it had very strong foundations on which to build. In a few decade's time, will Lagerfeld’s chapter at Chanel be remembered as vividly and fondly?

Monday, 25 February 2019 17:25

Tried & Tested Primal Shave

Review 
Primal Shave Safety RazorHoping to reintroduce men to the joys of the safety razor, 'Primal Shave' is a new online razor supplier offering a ‘Primal Shave Safety Razor Starter Kit’ which includes a safety razor, 5 blades, shaving brush and shave cream, as well as individual products to reorder.

Founder, Andrew Barrett, says feedback from customers, so far, cite a close, irritation-free shave, even on sensitive skin. The single sharp blade of our safety razor allows a clean, crisp shave, whereas multi-blade razors can tug hairs and cause razor burn. The replacement blades are much more cost effective than razor cartridges. A year’s worth of safety razor blades cost less than a tenner. The razor and blades are plastic-free, helping reduce the huge number of plastic razor cartridges that end up in landfill. No subscription. No contract. No tie in.

Left - Primal Shave - Safety Razor Starter Kit - £24.95 www.primalshave.com

TheChicGeek says, “Believe it or not, but I’ve never used a safety razor before. Nearly 140 years after its invention, it is still an effective and cheap way to shave. 

There are clear instructions in the box and its all pretty straightforward. You unscrew the top, drop the razor blade in, screw it back on and you’re ready to go. They recommend a new razor blade every week. and at these prices, you really don’t mind.

This isn’t a shave to rush. This is a shave to take your time and carefully contour the face. Unlike modern razors, this razor is very rigid and, so therefore, the areas around the chin and neck need some more time and attention. You’ll need to feel with your fingers where you need to go back to, but the shave is close and comfortable. The razor is easy to wash. The shave cream and brush, are Italian, but I don't recognise the brand. 

It certainly reduces wastage and plastic consumption with the tiny packs of razor blades. This is old-school shaving at around £2 a month. Pitching itself as an affordable alternative to Gillette and Harry’s, the Primal Shave box costs £24.95 and is worth around £37, when individually priced. A pack of 5 blades, is under £2, so Primal Shave should offer this as a subscription as you’d barely notice £2 every 5 weeks and they could be delivered in a tiny envelope.

Primal Shave need to brand this stronger and own the box and contents more, otherwise, when the box is discarded, Primal Shave is nowhere to be seen. They could be really playful with older imagery and tap into that nostalgia associated with the safety razor."

Disclosure - The products were gifted by Primal Shave to review

Monday, 25 February 2019 16:02

Tried & Tested Evolution By Kings

Review 
Kings Evolution fragranceMade in Britain, palm oil and paraben free, ‘Evolution’ is the debut fragrance from men’s grooming brand, Kings. A mix of essential oils including patchouli, cardamom, vetiver, copaiba, ylang ylang and eucalyptus, Evolution has been approved by the Vegan Society and by Cruelty Free Bunny.

Started by founder, Blué O’Connor, as a result of a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kings will be helping to fund two charities in Blué’s hometown of Bristol, Mentoring Plus and Bristol Mind, as well as the national male suicide-prevention charity, Calm.

Left - Kings - Evolution 50ml EDT - £39.99, 10ml EDT - £14.99, 1.7ml EDT Sample Bottle - £2.49

www.kings-grooming.com 

TheChicGeek says, “Price isn’t a signifier of anything anymore, especially in fragrance, and this is great value. 

This is really good. It starts with a liquoricey top which turns into an attractive warm rubber. I’m not crazy about the branding, but nobody sees that when their salivating around your neck!

It is suppose to smell like a jungle in bloom, but it’s drier than that. It’s a slow mover from the top to the base, but the journey keeps you engaged. It’s a calming fragrance which also complements its mental health connections. In a nutshell, it smells like sexy car mats!"

Disclosure - The product was gifted by Kings to review