Fashion doesn’t happen in isolation. Large corporations can influence fashion and push their aesthetic through with the help of wads of cash. This, sometimes, makes the companies bigger and more money and so the cycle continues. But, a shift can often beach the whale and sportswear has thrown the preppy baby out with the bath water. Apologises.
I’ve written about the troubles with preppy before, Read more here, usually focussing on Ralph Lauren as the flag bearer, quite literally, of the look and its reluctance to change or evolve to suit the current taste in comfort and dress down.
Left - Brooks Brothers' 200th Anniversary Show at Pitti Uomo 93
That was a while ago, and with people soon to get bored of looking like a charity shop reject or a retro sportsperson, it’s inevitable that it will return.
So, we move to Florence for the 93rd edition of Pitti Uomo. Brooks Brothers is one of the chosen brands to show and they are celebrating their 200th year. Which, for any retailer, let alone an American one, is something to be very proud of.
Under the painted ceiling of the Palazzo Vecchio, a deep presidential blue curtain pulled back to reveal an orchestra playing ‘Empire State Of Mind’. So far, so good. Out came the models in various guises of preppy, yet it had been styled to mute their greatest hits. Cable knits over jackets and suit jackets tucked into trousers, it looked like a collection embarrassed to brushed with the preppy magic.
Brooks Brothers can lay claim to dressing presidents and charting the evolution of American style over the last 200 years. This should have been preppy so good that you’d bounce out of the show and be googling ‘John F Kennedy Jnr’ before you hit the cobbles of Florence’s Piazza della Signoria.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. This should have been a celebration of America’s 20th century power and the handsome, dashing evolution of that dressed style into preppy and the history of American fashion.
Brands like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren need to push in order to return to fashion favour. There’s no point in sitting back and waiting for the tide to come back in on your style. Push preppy, push suiting, push people looking like they give a shit. There was was no fight here.
Preppy isn’t fully dead, it just needs to be really good. There are new American brands like Rowing Blazers, and British brand, Drake’s, is a perfect example. They manage to make preppy feel artistic, creative and beautiful. It’s the colours, the prints and the detail that makes you want to explore the fun and exaggerated side of preppy and, shock horror, put a tie on! Maybe.
Created by David Beckham in partnership with L’Oréal, HOUSE 99 is said to take a holistic approach to grooming, merging British barbershop culture and style with hair, skin, beard and tattoo creativity to build a home for every man’s next look.
Twenty one products named after David’s favourite year; he has ’99’ tattooed on his hand to mark a momentous year in both his personal life and career. He married Victoria, his eldest son, Brooklyn was born, and Manchester United won the treble.
The current HOUSE 99 must-haves include: Going Big Thickening & Purifying Shampoo, Get Groomed. Purifying Beard Scrub, Seriously Groomed Beard & Hair Balm. You get the idea…
Left - HOUSE 99 - Going Big Thickening Daily Shampoo - 250ml - £16, Get Groomed Purifying Beard Scrub - £18 Exclusive to Harvey Nichols until March
Quinoa and spirulina form the heart of HOUSE 99’s formulas, chosen specifically by David Beckham for their health-boosting properties, as a prominent sportsman. These natural protein-rich actives combine the essential constituents needed by hair and skin that can’t be synthesised by the body.
TheChicGeek says, “Does the world need 21 new grooming products from David Beckham? Probably not. Will it be successful? Probably. The thing about the current grooming market, this massive need for new shelf space will displace or replace existing brands. I’m not sure why L’Oréal didn’t just put David Beckham into their Men Expert range or make the new Barber Club his imput. Both need more identity, editing and personality.
But, I can see why they’ve done a separate range when I look at the prices. It’s more expensive than I initially thought or looks - £17 for a face wash, £22 for moisturiser.
I tried three products: Greater Look Face Moisturiser, Purefectly Clean Face Wash and Truly Brighter Eye Balm. The only thing of interest was the peppermint tingle in the face wash. The ‘Eye Balm’ is a bit too thick for such a delicate area.
Overall, I’m not sure where this fits. It’s priced to compete with Clinique and Lab Series, but it's packaged to compete with Nivea and Bulldog. I’m not sure what you’re paying a premium for other than for Golden Balls’ name. I also think launching 21 products at once is overwhelming and it’s a lot for anybody to take in. Modern grooming needs to be simple.
The tattoo products make sense with Beckham as the face and if they do box sets for gifting, I can see this being a popular present come father's day or Christmas.”
Lara Djandji, Menswear Buyer, Harvey Nichols
“From Raf Simons, SS18 saw the re-launch of key pieces from Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album and I can’t get enough of the entire collection – my favourite piece being this jacket - it’s the perfect mix between fashion and music. For real fans, we’ve also bought the cap to complete the full look.”
Left - Raf Simons - New Order Oversized Denim Jacket - £1135
“Amiri’s exceptional quality and craftsmanship of each pair of jeans makes it easy and chic to wear them everywhere – from a flight to a night out.”
Left - Amiri - Broken Black Distressed Skinny Jeans - £645
“I love this iconic Dries Van Noten look – it’s so effortless yet still elegant and can easily be worn with the signature boxed shoulder coat to transition between seasons.”
Below - Dries van Noten - Reedley Checked Wool Coat - £1010, Carlton Printed Ramie Shirt - £565, Patrini Checked Wool Trousers - £390
“I love this vintage inspired jacket by Dior. Designed by Kris Van Assche, it references the punk and rave designs of the 70s and 80s, but also makes anyone looks instantly cool.”
Bottom - Dior Homme - Jacket - £490
This year’s limited-edition range of Jo Malone scents is inspired by English fields. “Sunlight skipping across golden fields. Plentiful. Rich with precious grains. Hearty oat. Fluffy barley. Earthy rye. A warm and wholesome celebration. Cooled by the freshness of flowers. Poppies. Primroses. Cornflowers. Alive with colour. Dancing happily to the hum of crickets. The buzz of bees. The essence of the English landscape in five captivating scents,” or so the blurb goes. I can feel a Sting song coming on!
Left & Below - Jo Malone - English Fields - 30ml - £47
TheChicGeek says, “ The five scents are; Poppy & Barley, Primrose & Rye, Oat & Cornflower, Honey & Crocus and Green Wheat & Meadowsweet. The middle, gourmand three are the most interesting; the other two I think you can find elsewhere.
Primrose & Rye is pure holiday sunshine. It has that dry sun-tan lotion smell - a bit like Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc - from the mimosa and vanilla. The Oat & Cornflower smells really oaty with a hint of hazlenut, while Honey & Crocus, many people's favourite, smells like an almond biscuit, in a good way. The honey and almond milk will certainly get those saliva glands operating. I think they need to pump this into supermarkets to make us buy more!
This is a really fun collection and, like I’ve been saying for ages, these small sizes make it more playful and something you take away on holiday, plus they run out before you get bored. They just need to make the names on the bottles larger as you really need to concentrate to read them.”
Whether religious or not, Lent is that perfect time of year, and a decent length of time, to challenge yourself to give something up or try something different. I’ve been thinking of trying vegetarianism for a while now and while I could have easily done it after Christmas, as a New Year’s resolution, but it could feel a bit like jumping off a cliff edge, after the indulgence of Christmas, and I wanted to give it a proper go.
Lent is perfect, being in the middle of February, you feel mentally prepared and can block off the next 6 weeks as you countdown to Easter.
Christians traditionally abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and with Vegetarianism and Veganism growing in popularity, it felt like the right time to give it a go.
A few of my friends are vegetarians, so I’m going to tap them up for recipes and advice. I’m going to put some Quorn in the fridge for those days I may need something meat-like. My main worries are getting bored and also feeling hungry quickly after meals. I also don’t want to pig out on carbs or turn to sweet things to fill me up. I think I’m going to have to be more organised with my meals and less lazy with the snacking.
If I lose loads of weight and feel like a bag of bones, I’ll think about stopping. But, the main driving force is, it’ll be healthier for me and for the environment, and I want to take more vegetarian options into my everyday and maybe find a few things that I will enjoy and carry on eating. I’ll keep you updated.
Bulldog Skincare For Men has added a fragrance-free and gentle face scrub to their ‘Sensitive’ range. The new, skin-smoothing scrub contains sustainably sourced quinoa husk - a by-product of the food industry - sweet almond, baobab and oat oil, and willow herb. It helps to improve skin texture by removing dead skin and leaving a fresh complexion.
Left - Bulldog Skincare For Men - Sensitive Face Scrub - £5
Baobab oil has a high emollient power and is known for its skin smoothing and moisturising properties. Oat oil, grown and harvested in the UK, is known for its effective skin emollience and natural skin softening properties. Canadian willow herb, a unique plant from the Northern Canadian prairies, has developed strong multi-functional phytochemical properties to survive the harsh climate.
TheChicGeek says, “This looks and smells good enough to squirt on your breakfast cereal. The recommended usage is once to twice a week or pre-shave, but I’d say you can use as often as you like.
It’s soft and gentle and being ‘sensitive’, it’s less likely to irritate even the most sensitive of skin. You can feel the ‘beads’, but it’s not coarse at all. If you like your face scrubs like sandpaper then this probably isn't for you.
I also like the fact Bulldog’s new packaging is now made from sugarcane."
French beauty company, L’Occitane, opened their huge - the largest in the world - new flagship store on London’s Regent Street last night. This isn’t just another standard branch, it’s spacious, has a luxurious yet homely finish and even has a Pierre Hermé macaroon counter to boot. It feels like a cross between an airport lounge and a store. It’s definitely somewhere you could happily spend time in.
Left - Upstairs at L'Occitane Regent Street February 2018
Anyway, chatting away, somebody mentioned their boyfriend had come into the store previously and was looking for hand cream. The sales assistant said it was upstairs. As he went upstairs another sales assistant came over and said, “You’re looking for hand cream?”.
Mind reading is a skill that modern retail needs. Clearly, the sales assistant, downstairs, had radioed ahead. Not only is this great service, it’s also a form of human cookies - the chain of information your internet journey/history leaves behind allowing brands to track your movements and also recommend appropriate stuff.
It’s not magic, it’s just clever data, and I, for one, don’t mind having things recommended for me or being reminded I looked at something previously. You can clear your history every now and again if it becomes annoying.
What this shows is a linked up journey in a physical store. The customer is looking for something and rather being lost somewhere on the journey or not finding what they want, the sales links became strong and would obviously have more conversion in sales with the added bonus of wowing the customer and making them feel they had received great service.
Right - The flower filled ceiling installation from above inside the new L'Occitane Regent Street store
This is what physical stores need in order to compete with online: sales assistants quickly talking to each other, directing the consumer and having that want to please and fulfil expectation.
I understand many stores are too busy, some of the time, for this type of individual attention, but many luxury brands can offer this type of service if the sale assistants are motivated. It’s about a personal, human touch, which in the future we will miss from online shopping and something that can become a physical store USP.
‘Human Cookies’, as a concept, would definitely put new meaning into a physical store’s customer journey.
Business geek gets his professional head on in a new Remus Uomo suit. Throwaway that skinny fit and go for something for classic, more grown-up and generous. This blue Remus Uomo suit has a subtle micro check with handsome pocket highlights.
Express your personality through your choice of shirt, socks and accessorises. Think pink in a classic work shirt and matching socks, while a timeless leather briefcase is given an injection of fun with a crocodile bag charm. Snap!
Left - Credits - Suit - Remus Uomo, Pink Shirt - Remus Uomo. Kipper Tie - Vintage from eBay, Socks - Pantherella, Shoes - Dune London, Bag & Bag Charm - Furla
Inspired by Epigenetic - (Dictionary definition) relating to or arising from non-genetic influences on gene expression - science, QMS’ EpiGen Daily-Detox Serum has been specifically designed to address the damage increasing levels of pollution is having on our skin.
Central to its formula is the innovative Epigenetic-Peptide which mimics the function of Royalactin (royal jelly protein), this has a positive effect on the regeneration of the epidermis and in combination with the other advanced-performance ingredients delivers targeted action against the impact of pollution on the skin. Key ingredients include PCW-Skin Relaxing Extract from the Swiss stone pine which reduces local redness and age spots, resulting in a more even skin appearance, Matrikine Complex, a special messenger peptide (matrikines) playing a role in skin repair processes and GCI-Peptide which maintains genomic integrity by protecting and repairing DNA damage.
Left - !QMS - EpiGen Daily-Detox Serum - 30ml - £167 (30ml)
TheChicGeek says, i “I hadn’t heard of QMS before, so this was the first product I’ve tried. I was fortunate to meet the brains behind the brand, Dr. Erich Schulte. A plastic surgeon from Germany, he founded QMS to get his patients’ skin into tip-top shape before they went under the knife. Ouch.
He says one of the biggest stressors of skin, after UV damage, is pollution and with London’s current problem, this is easy to believe. The rising levels of microscopic pollutant particles in the air can lead to skin irritations, increased sensitivity, hyper-pigmentation, premature skin ageing, clogged pores and acne. These particles are so small they can penetrate right down to the epidermis and this is where the damage starts.
Schulte says, “The highly innovative active ingredient complex in EpiGen Daily-Detox Serum helps to deactivate the negative chemical markings that are having a detrimental impact on the skin whilst accelerating epidermal regeneration, activating the cellular cleaning process and delaying skin aging.”
This goes on once a day, in the morning, under your moisturiser. It’s probably one of the most expensive products I’ve tried - £167 for 30ml!!
It’s good, but it’s hard not to be shy with it when you think about how expensive it is. Though, as it’s once-a-day, it should last a reasonable amount of time.
QMS stands for 'quick magic skin', and Dr. Schulte says the exclamation mark, before !QMS, was inspired by German designer, Wolfgang Joop - JOOP!. He thought it would intrigued people to know more about his nascent skincare brand.
These Doctor brands just keep getting bigger and bigger, as people want to pay for the science rather than the packaging, brand and marketing campaign. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.”
Created by Antoine Maisondieu and Olivier Pescheux, who set out to reveal “the charisma of the wearer”, Montblanc Legend Night is a woody fragrance with aromatic notes of clary sage and peppermint, enhanced with cool spices (cardamom) and sparkling bergamot.
The middle notes contain cedar wood blended with floral lavender tones, and slightly powdered violet.
"In the base notes, we wanted a strong and memorable signature, full of contrasts,” explain the two noses. “On one side some dense and vibrant woods with a duo of Vetiver and patchouli wood, and on the other, the enveloping depth of musk and velvety black vanilla.”
Left - Montblanc Legend Night 100ml - EDP - £67
TheChicGeek says, “The first Legend arrived in 2011, and has proved to be a commercial success. This is the third in the series after Legend Spirit.
It starts off fairly standardly and unmemorable, but then warms into a soft, vanilla wood with a background of violet. There’s nothing especially distinctive here and it doesn’t feel particularly ‘night’. Maybe not heavy enough?
I think Mont Blanc as a brand could go for a more upmarket feel and better quality ingredients with their fragrances. There’s a disconnect between a £500 pen and a £67 fragrance available from The Perfume Shop and, I think, as consumers become more used to nicher, quality fragrances, the people running these brands should take note and aim to copy or emulate the finish and feeling or get left behind. I do like the ombré bottle, it has that 80s ‘Fahrenheit’ feel, but I’d probably stick to the original Legend."
Montblanc Legend Night will be available exclusively at The Perfume Shop from 12th March 2018. Nationwide from 3rd April 2018.