You can never have enough rainbows in your life. Paul Smith’s SS17 collection was a confection of coloured stripes and rainbows as a continuation of the love and peace themes that take him back to his shaggy-haired youth.
This mesh T-shirt is perfect for the summer with a design looks like a floor pattern by the artist Jim Lambie. Peace out!
Left & Below - Paul Smith - Men’s Multi-Colour Mesh Stripe T-Shirt - £260
This tank top is kinda amazing. The deep V is back, (check out TheChicGeek's favourite cricket sweaters - here) in knitwear, this season, and this mongrel-type confection of clashing colours and stripes is the perfect bad taste piece for the season. Prada's knitwear is really strong at the moment - the rainbow cardigan from AW16 - here - was a favourite, and this just continues the lust. Wear with sportswear. Clash.
Left & Below - Prada - Intarsia Wool Vest - £655 from MRPORTER.COM
In last week’s Evening Standard, Hatton Garden jeweller, Sam Hunter, brother of director, Sophie Hunter, wife of Benedict Cumberbatch, said, “People are bored of the little blue boxes, extortionate prices and minimal design that is now completely characterless,” he went on “It’s the name you’re paying for and nothing else… It’s fine if the piece is exquisite, but they’re producing less and less of those!”
He was, of course, talking about the American jeweller, Tiffany & Co., but he could have easily have been describing the majority of modern luxury brands.
There was a time when you wanted everybody to know your brand. There was a time when success was built on brand awareness. There was a time when consumers wanted you to know the brand they were wearing in order to convey status, but times change and this awareness and ultimately saturation has breed predictability and boredom.
For example, I was recently in Berlin. I walked past their fanciest department store, KaDeWe, and in the windows were great looking clothes. I always like to try and guess the designers and then, like a museum piece, look at the labels on the glass. I didn’t recognise a single one of them. In the past you would dismiss this as being a second rate store or inferior because the ‘big labels' weren’t there, but instead it was far more interesting and refreshing.
Inside was another story. The usual luxury shop-in-shops: Bottega Veneta, Valentino, Gucci, acres of marble and the same look, the world over, but the element of the unknown is what will get people off their sofas and into stores.
It’s much more exciting, today, to not recognise a label and go purely on quality and design. It’s a sign of good taste and a good eye rather than blindly buying a ‘name’. It's also a sign of confidence. But, it’s hard to stay unknown forever and why shouldn’t brands that are good be celebrated, but it’s the level to which they are exposed and rely solely on the name or label that I have a problem with.
A good example would be the Italian brand, Slowear, soon to open another store on London’s Marylebone High Street, they are understated and their multiple labels - Incotex, Montedoro, Zanone - aren’t household names and don't seem to want to be. Slowear, while not cheap, offers better quality, fit and value than clothes at twice the price. This isn't about being a contrarian and always different and obscure. It's about brands that have a humility, aren't a vehicle for a designer's ego and are understated with a ‘we’re too busy making great clothes-to-focus-solely-on-the-label’ attitude which makes it very democratic and far more interesting.
Go seek out the unknown. I've never heard of them. Tell me more.
So, Raf Simons unveiled his first full collection for Calvin Klein. As about exciting as New York fashion gets, it was an accomplished - of course it was, he's had plenty of experience - collection which, no doubt, Americans are breathlessly hailing as the 'New Look'. but it just looked like yet another Raf Simons collection. Where was the sex?
From Left - Bruce Weber advert for Calvin Klein underwear (1982), FW17 Calvin Klein Collection
Raf Simons showed his own eponymous menswear collection, the week before, with the same leg-warmers-as-sleeves idea he put on the catwalk here. This Calvin Klein Collection was wearably different, yet without any of the minimal sex appeal that Calvin Klein was built upon. Who could forget Kate Moss' nipples in that sheer, simple dress circa '93?
Raf Simons should have added athleticism to the collection in the casting of the models to differentiate between his and this collection. Maybe that'll be coming in future advertising, but if Raf Simons is going to connect and drive sales with the masses who have never heard of him and probably don't care about him, then it needs sex.
Fashion has a strange relationship with sex, but Calvin Klein pioneered the objectification of men and their bodies in advertising through the 80s and 90s. What looks quite tame, today, was revolutionary at the time and the first time men and women really looked at men's bodies.
But, whether it's the 80s or, as Instagram proves, today, people will never tire of looking at firm and worked out men's bodies. Ultimately, as always, sex sells and that's what the new Calvin Klein needs.
Left - Calvin Klein Obsession advertising (1987)
The first jewellery house to move to Place Vendôme in Paris in 1893, Boucheron is one of the magical names in fine jewels. The Boucheron Collection is inspired by travelling and includes six unisex scents: Iris de Syracuse, Néroli d’Ispahan, Tubéreuse de Madras, Vanilla de Zanzibar, Oud de Carthage and Ambre d’Alexandrie. Five perfumers created the six perfumes and include Nathalie Lorson, Christophe Raynaud, Fabrice Pellegrin, Jean-Christophe Hérault and Dominique Ropion.
Left - The Boucheron Collection - 125ml EDT - £175
TheChicGeek says, “Boucheron are quite late to the party on these luxury sets of one note fragrances. Does the world need another luxurious oud or tuberose fragrance? Probably not.
And the packaging and branding, at this price range, all seems to blur into each other.
Obviously tailored for the wealthy, visiting Harrods customer, but then so is the Zegna, Boss and Armani and numerous other versions of these generously boxed sets.
There’s nothing wrong here, but then neither is there anything original. People who want large volumes of expensive fragrance seem to shop at Harrods, but I think even they’re being saturated with these fragrances and none are offering anything new of different: the finest raw ingredients respectfully presented.
They are all unisex, but I would say the most male facing is the fresh neroli or the richer oud. Perfectly enjoyable and passable.
These big boxed fragrance collections are a bit like simple couture clothes: limited distribution and, ultimately, very few people experience it, so really what is the point when nobody can tell the difference? At this price point there are many options to find something individual rather blending in with this crowd”.
The fashion business likes a ‘category’. The more categories the more product and the more money, hopefully. If only it was that easy.
Designers and brands like to enter a category, be it jeans, underwear or sunglasses, usually partnering with a manufacturing expert in that field, and expand their businesses one category at a time. Take Tom Ford for example, he is just about to go into underwear after mastering jeans, sunglasses, beauty and trainers, in no particular order.
Left - N/A Necessary Anywhere socks available at Oki-Ni & Harvey Nichols
Underwear is one of the biggest money spinners for brands. People will pay a premium for somebody else’s name on their waistband - not really sure why - and entire brands like Calvin Klein and Versace are built on their underwear categories. They can charge a premium for something that is cheap to make.
And while the underwear category has matured into a reliable cash cow for many, the sock business seems so much trickier. There aren’t many designers or brands who have owned the category. With the exception of Paul Smith, designers produce the odd sock for collections, but don’t fully enter or develop the category. It wasn't that long ago that Burberry pulled out of the category and they make everything.
It’s interesting how people are willing to spend on underwear, but not on socks. We do have quality sock brands such as the German Falke and the British Panterella and Corgi, but there seems to be a ceiling on the pricing. People think socks should be cheap and when brands like Vetements and Gucci do socks at high prices - think nearing three figures - they seem like one of the most frivolouss purchases you can make and are usually a one-off show piece rather than entering the category.
The branded sock market seems to fall into two categories: sports and colourful office-type socks. There’s definitely a gap for something in between. So, it was at the recent CIFF fashion trade show in Copenhagen that I found N/A from New York.
When I searched ’N/A New York’ I got plenty of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, but it actually stands for ‘Necessary Anywhere’ and is influenced by the ‘everyday grind’. To the British that's walking (thought Americans didn't do that anyway!). They believe it’s vital to get up every day with the aspiration to move ourselves forward.
Founded in 2015 by Nick Lewis with six socks, these premium knit socks marry innovative textures with classic colours and patterns. When people pay for socks they usually go for something colourful and playful, N/A seems to have produced a cool sock which marries sports and fashion. They’re about £15, which, while more than your average three pack, aren’t extortionate. They fit somewhere between your smart socks and your sports socks and could, potentially, signal a new category within this difficult category.
2012 - This could be standard outfit of classic winter items such as the duffle coat and cords but by adding the over sized scarf and matching spectacles it becomes a statement. The purple/bluey colours almost looked blurred in the cold and add to the drama this winter weather look.
Blue Spectacles - Market in Palermo, Duffle Coat - Aquascutum, Scarf - Market in Florence, Cord Trousers - 4OW, Socks - Happy Socks, Brogues - From Italy
It all started with Raf Simons with his AW16 collection and, now, it’s the knitwear neckline du jour. The quintessentially British cricket jumper has been grunged up and distressed and become less gentleman's summer sport and more urban and edgy thanks to designers such as Alessandro Michele at Gucci. Brands such as Stella McCartney and Kent & Curwen have all done their interpretation of the cricket V and there's plenty of mileage in this style as many brands such as the Spanish knitwear brand, Sweaterhouse, is showing them for AW17. If you don't want to pay designer prices then pop to your local sports store, university or school shop and buy the largest size they have.
Left - Raf Simons AW16
Left - AMI - £225 - matchesfashion.com
Below - Prada SS17
Left - Stella McCartney - £570 MRPORTER.COM
Left - Gucci - £560 - MRPORTER.COM
Below - Kent & Curwen - £495 - MRPORTER.COM
Left - Raf Simons AW16
Left - Smart Turnout - £149
Below - Cambridge University - Magdalene College Cricket Sweater - Ryder & Amies - £110
Based in East Yorkshire, Dr Katerina Steventon has launched an anti-ageing serum to address concerns about wrinkles and vertical lines. Named ‘4’ after the four regenerative plant oils - jojoba, rose hip, camellia, echium and four technologically advanced active ingredients - marine micro algae, Indian gentian leaves, Renovage, (the brand name for trepenone, developed by the French skin care company Sederma and used for anti-ageing and skin stress) and liquorice and it is promoted alongside her ‘Faceworkshops’. Over her career she has worked at La Prairie, Shiseido and Smith and Nephew wound healing.
Left - Katerina Steventon 4 Anti-Ageing Serum - 15ml - £52.90
TheChicGeek says, “A new Doctor brand, Katerina Stevenson says over 20 years' experience has gone into this serum. It’s light, non-greasy and is applied before your moisturiser twice a day.
For Katerina it is all about the massage and the ritual of applying the product and with it being an oil-type consistency, this makes it easier to do this.
It’s labelled a serum, but I would call this an oil. I like oils as they feel nourishing and feed the skin. They feel more physical than a normal cream type product.
Katerina says it’s a hybrid product: serum in the morning, massage oil in the evening. The ‘Vertical Line Massage’ - she shows you how to do this on her site - is a prep before the product, but also an exercise for the facial muscles. I’ve seen this promoted before, when Creme de la Mer launched their Renewal Oil - see review here - but I didn’t do this with this product.
It says you need only a few drops of the rape seed coloured product, but I felt I needed more and the more I used the less it felt like an oil. It has a good consistency, absorbs well and smells good. Interestingly, people said how well I looked a few days after using this. A coincidence maybe?
These type of products are for the long-term, but I like a product somebody puts their name and face behind. A lot of these products you have to have an instinct for on whether they are working. This one I would say yes and would definitely look into trying the massage techinques. People can't expect to reduce ageing by simply and lazily apply a product. It makes sense you need to exercise, like the rest of your body, in order to keep it firm and looking its best.”
Tailored to your face. Delivered to your door. Grüum is a new concept in male grooming that they say will revolutionise how men shop for their bathroom essentials.
Founded in the UK by four friends who thought there was something missing, grüum was created to deliver personalised quality, simplicity, form and function.
The grüum concept is designed as a monthly subscription service and is free from EDTA, parabens, sulphates, SLS, SLES, artificial fragrances, colours and made in the UK.
Grüum kits starting from just £6 per month.
TheChicGeek says, “Men are inherently lazy. We’re not very good at replacing our products, especially razor blades, using them even though they are well past their best. I like these new start-up mail-order/internet grooming brands - see the Dutch Boldking here - they offer something fresh and seem to speak in a modern way to guys.
The website looks good and you answer a few questions to see which kit/products suit your needs.
I think I got sent a deluxe kit as it had everything in it: from beard oil to face wash to razor and blades.
This clean Scandi-type packaging, which is everywhere ATM, all starts to lack personality and isn’t very memorable. It also doesn’t make the products feel ‘special’.
I felt the kit centred around the razor so decided to focus on that and the complementary shave products. The razor design, in particular the handle, is good, but the razor feels and shaves like a cheap, plastic disposable. I used the shave gel, but no amount of product made this comfortable or easy. I used the face wash and daily moisturiser on a recent trip to Berlin and the packaging and sizes make this ideal for travel.
Nothing stood out here, but then again I didn’t use every product. I think it’s important they get the razor right as this is the fulcrum in most men’s grooming regimes and a bad one doesn’t start your day on the right foot.”
Feb' 2017 - Update - After reading my review, Bethanie, one of the co-founders and Marketing Director, sent me their new tweaked cartridges to try. They don't look any different, but they are a massive improvement. The shave was much more comfortable, even with the long stubble I had, and a regular amount of product.