Review Buly Shaving Cream Mr PorterIf Gucci did grooming, this is what it would look like. I first heard/saw of Buly - full name L’Officine Universelle Buly - a few months ago when they were just about to open a counter in the new Dover Street Market. It has just gone onto MR PORTER, as a global online exclusive, so is much more widely available.

Here’s a bit of background. It was originally founded in 1803 in Paris and was rediscovered by owners, Mr Ramdane Touhami and Ms Victoire de Taillac, who reinvented the brand in 2014 and has since become highly-regarded for its naturally sourced products and handmade grooming accessories.

They sell over 700 products including tens of different types of combs and interior fragrance products. 

Left - Buly - Crème Pogonotomienne - £33 from MRPORTER.COM

TheChicGeek says, “For something that looks so old, Buly is surprisingly refreshing. It is part of the trend for richly decorated products which give the impression of ancient manuscripts and knowledgable elders. These products look like something da Vinci or Michelangelo would have used and feel like a discovery. I've wanted to try some since I first saw it.

I tried the Crème Pogonotomienne (shaving cream). It's a mouthful and means to cut the beard in Greek. Buly is anti-plastic so all products come in metal tubes or glass packaging. This is a metal tube with a metal top and adds to the historical feeling. The reason, Mr Touhami says, is that plastic packaging, as you squeeze it, lets air into the product and therefore bacteria.

This is a light, white shaving cream containing burnt hinoki wood and goes on and washes off easily. The smell is strong. I think it smells like burnt marzipan and when I look at the ingredients it does contain sweet almond oil.

It’s often hard to review a shaving product as it’s usually as good or as sharp as your razor. Unless you have a reaction or breakouts, they are usually all pretty passable. That said, the smell of this makes shaving something different. You’re transported to the world of Buly; dusty mahogany drawers and stone floors making ancient magic. It’s not cheap, but it sure looks nice next to the sink, but, there is substance underneath all that beautiful packaging”. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016 15:34

ChicGeek Comment The Glen Luchford Fan Club

amber valletta 1997 prada glen luchfordI’m not going to lie, photographer, Glen Luchford’s, name wasn’t in my style vocab. until he teamed up with Alessandro Michele for the recent maximalist makeover at Gucci.

Left - Making minimalism sexy in Prada's 1997 campaign

When you don’t read glossy magazines, anymore, it becomes more difficult to learn and credit the images with the photographer, even though he’s been working way before the digital revolution.

It turns out the British-born photographer produced one of my favourite images of the 90s. Model, Amber Valletta, slouched in a boat for Prada's 1997 AW campaign was a seminal image. It heralded the start of minimalism. A new sexy and seductive minimalism and the start of Prada entering the pantheon of luxury brands. 

I remember seeing it take up a full double-page spread of the broadsheet newspaper I was reading at the time and it was part of my awakening to fashion and the power of fashion images. It was the end of 1997 and luxury fashion was on the cusp of reaching into the mainstream of people’s lives and this image seemed to define the introverted sexuality of the time. 

tom hiddleston gucci tailoring

Fast forward nearly 20 years and Luchford has gone to the other end of the fashion spectrum by teaming up with Gucci’s new Creative Director and giving the great clothes Gucci are producing the life and context needed to really lose yourself in the OTT images. 

Right - Tom Hiddleston in the latest AW16 Gucci Tailoring campaign

Each campaign has continued to develop the Gucci fantasy of symbols, colour, print and geek-chic sophistication. From peacocks to flamingos to chickens to Afghan hounds, Luchford’s images are a menagerie of people and interiors too. This is the age of dress-up: a clashing of influences and inspiration, Luchford's campaigns are a lesson in richness while feeling light and not being the sole preserve of money, but an eccentricity in taste.

In the age of Instagram, producing images that make you stop and pause is getting harder and harder. It helps that I like the clothes, yes, but these images are really defining this moment in fashion and style. 

Below - Shot at Chatsworth and starring actress, Vanessa Redgrave, the new Cruise 17 Gucci campaign

The new Cruise campaign - below - has a Pre-Raphaelite busyness that would satisfy the most fussy of kleptomaniac Victorians. And, this brings us full circle to the Prada image - above - even though the time was 90s minimalism it could have just as easily been inspired by Millais' Ophelia or Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot. It's not just beautiful, it's also clever.

gucci cruise chatsworth vanessa redgrave glen luchfordgucci cruise campaign Chatsworth chickens Glen LuchfordGlen Luchford Gucci horse chatsworth

Monday, 26 September 2016 23:33

Tried & Tested L’Envol de Cartier

Tried & Tested L’Envol de Cartier fragrance men'sA new men’s scent from French jewellery house, Cartier, the name ‘L’Envol' means ‘take flight’, and plays around with the idea of the Cartier timepieces developed for the first aviators. 

An oriental woody fragrance, it contains musk blended with the powerful and masculine gaiac wood with honey notes and balmy facets.

TheChicGeek says, “Tell me, who doesn’t like the smell of honey? But, would you want to smell of it?

This smells like a jar of clear honey - maybe it’s the colour of the juice - made from white flowers. Close your my eyes, lie back and think of all those busy bees buzzing around jasmine and orange blossoms and you basically have L”Envol. 

Left - The fragrance bottle is a refillable glass bulb inside a plastic sleeve

This is a very feminine ‘masculine’ fragrance and one I’m sure woman will wear just as much as men. It smells of honey, but without the stickiness you often get with cheaper fragrance ingredients and has a dash of patchouli while drying to a warm, comforting wood. 

The bottle is interesting, it’s a glass bulb surrounded by a plastic case (*I've been corrected, the outer case is also glass) with a metal stopper that twists to reveal the opening. The glass bulb looks fairly delicate, so not one for the bathroom floor, and reminds me of one of those fancy oil/vinegar bottles.

It’s refillable, which does reduce the cost, but at £97 for 100ml, it’s really pushing that psychological £100 barrier. The £100 fragrance market is a tough one to crack, especially if this is sitting on a shelf next to cheaper fragrances. I understand that Cartier is a luxury brand, but if they’re going to introduce themselves to a younger, newer audience it still needs to be accessible.

The ingredients do smell of quality though and it’s certainly different.

Monday, 26 September 2016 15:25

Buyer's Guide AW16 TRUNK

Mats Klingberg, TRUNK founder

Begg & Co Kishorn cashmere scarf"I’ve been a big fan of Begg & Co and their washed Kishorn cashmere scarves for several seasons, now. The wash gives them a nice and fluffy finish which nicely adds some texture to any outfit. The Kishorns generally come in lots of nice solid colours, only, so I was very pleased when I came across this Kishorn woven in a khaki/camel block medley pattern”.

Left - Begg & Co - Kishorn Scarf Khaki Block Medley - £270

"The Gigi keeps going from strength to strength and it’s always a joy to visit their showroom to discover what they’ve created for next season. We’ve got lots of nice things from them this season, but I particularly like this heavy knit cardigan jacket. Will look great with a Trunk Oxford shirt and a pair of chinos or jeans paired with a chukka boot from Alden or sneaker from Common Projects”.

Below - The Gigi - Chunky Knit Jude Jacket Green - £355

The Gigi Cardigan Menswear

Nanamica Cordura bag menswear"Our bag selection in Trunk LABS has this season seen the addition of this great bag from Nanamica, made in Japan, from an ultra-durable cotton Cordura fabric. The bag can be carried in three ways - as a backpack via the foldaway straps, as a briefcase by its side handle, or as a messenger bag. The bag has a main roll-top compartment, with large zip pockets on the front and back, each containing a system of handy dividers. A highly functional bag, it provides ample room and organisation for anything you might need to carry with you on a daily basis. What else do you need?”

Left - Nanamica - 3 Way Cordura Briefcase Khaki - £410

"A pair of Alden’s is the perfect match with any smart casual look, so works equally well with a pair of flannel trousers, chinos or jeans. I need a new pair of chukka boots, so am definitely getting a pair of these for myself this season”.

Below - Alden - Unlined Chukka Dark Brown Suede - £475

Alden Chukka boot Trunk Clothiers

WienerBlut perfume fragrance London Vienna"Most of the brands in Trunk I’ve discovered on trips near and far and when I went to Vienna, last year, I came across WienerBlut for the first time, a fragrance brand from Vienna created by the very talented Alexander Lauber. I think the bottles are beautiful and thankfully its content matches the outside. A subtle, slightly spicy fragrance, Ex Voto comprises key notes of pink pepper, nutmeg, santal and ambergris”.

WienerBlut - Ex Voto - £130

Wednesday, 21 September 2016 19:39

TheChicGeek Visits Burberry’s Makers House

burberry makers house soho gardenThere are two types of Britishness: urban London Britishness, which is too often clichéd and touristy, involving bowler hats, red telephone boxes and the like, and, then, there's the Britishness of the countryside, which comprises of green rolling hills, National Trust properties with colourful herbaceous borders all soundtracked by the theme of The Antiques Roadshow. 

Left - The not-so-secret garden at the entrance of Burberry's pop-up Makers House

The British countryside is basically a giant garden dotted with the history of people aiming to perfect their little corner of it and that's why we all love to be tourists in it, regardless of where we are from. 

Makers House Burberry menswearAnd, it is this Britishness that Burberry has mined for its latest show and show space, which has been opened to the general public for a week afterwards and is called Makers House.

Right - Makers are gonna make. The day I went it was bookbinding

Located in the old Foyles book store on Charing Cross Road, on the edge of Soho, Burberry has teamed up with British craft collective, The New Craftsmen, showcasing their hand-working skills, making everything from tassels to keys to scissors. There are different people displaying different skills, on each day, creating theatre in the bottom of the space.

burberry shearling makers houseJust to be clear, these people didn’t produce anything for the new Burberry collection, but it’s an illustration of the type of skills involved. I guess Burberry needed huge volumes and a long lead time if they were able to be the first brand to fully deliver their new ‘See Now, Buy Now’ concept worldwide, all at the same time, both offline and online.

Left - One of the standout pieces of the menswear show

Burberry fabric print V&AYou can buy their products in a small shop here, but I think Burberry missed a trick by not including a few of their own products. Maybe a few of the classic pieces.

Right - A print taken from the V&A archive and used in the collection and on the show seating

Alongside them is a pop-up branch of Thomas’, the Burberry café from Regent Street, which has to be one of the best of the big brand versions of this type of thing, offering seasonal British fare all served on British made tables and chairs, and in this case, leading onto a garden of white busts and classical plaster casts contrasted with lush green planting that welcomes you at the entrance.

burberry chic geek staircaseIt’s like Daylesford Organic has comes to Soho, hostas and all, in this mix of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Nancy Lancaster’s decorating skills, (she was the owner of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler), and a celebration of the great and good of British history all lined up like a friendly who’s, who. I feel like we may have been given a glimpse of Christopher Bailey’s Yorkshire lifestyle. He has to spend all those millions somewhere after all. This is the fantasy perfection of British country living that we never seem to tire of and one which Burberry has used as inspiration before such as Charleston in Sussex or gardening at Sissinghurst.

Left - TheChicGeek on the poetry staircase doing his best Rapunzel impression!

burberry ruffUpstairs, where the catwalk show was, 83 mannequins show off the full collection of men’s and women’s wear, 250 pieces in total, where you can look at the details and touch the fabrics. Everything is available now, if you can afford it, and the collection was Bailey’s usual strong balance of wearability and fashion. Think artist-like relaxed shirts with ruffled collars and cuffs interplayed with brocade and cropped shearlings and slouchy trousers. I particularly like the orange/biscuit coloured shearling and 30s style printed pyjama shirts. The green carpet design was taken from a garden print from the V&A.

Right - The Tudors are back! Taking the ruff with the smooth

Burberry makers house sculptorBurberry took a risk on the ‘See Now, Buy Now’ concept, but I think they’ve pulled it off. Unlike other brands, this show season, who have made it a token gesture to gain attention and PR, this is full on and took some organisation. I guess many items had to be comprised or changed to fulfil the tight delivery dates, but it doesn't show. 

Left - Pieces of Michelangelo's David looking over his shoulder while a sculptor builds up his clay maquette 

Nancy Lancaster's bed burberry I like the way it’s been opened up to the public. You spend all that money on the show space, you may as well as justify it by making it customer facing, especially now they’re selling the items straight away. I can’t wait to see how they will top this in February.

Many other luxury brands will be watching this enviously and wondering whether they could or should do the same. 

Right - Nancy Lancaster's bed from her house, Ditchley Park

In a post-brexit world I think Burberry should take this whole concept on a world tour. Tokyo, Shanghai, and Mumbai would relish this little outpost of Britishness, pots plants and all. We have to remember there’s a big world outside of London.

Burberry Makers House Open Until 27th September 2016, 1 Manette Street, London, W1D 4AT

classical figures burberry makers house

How many of these great British figures can you name?

Thursday, 15 September 2016 16:32

ChicGeek Comment Does Style.com Stand A Chance?

style com thoughts ideas the chic geekSince its inception, e-commerce has been a difficult nut to crack. When it was growing fast and taking market share, from offline, it was easy to justify spending vast sums laying the foundations for something that you will reap the benefit of later on.

Today, the luxury market is contracting, so trying to grow, whether offline or online, is particular hard, at this moment in time, especially when you're not in control of the choice of products.

Luxury fashion was slow to get fully behind e-commerce and only now are the brands giving it the attention and respect it deserves. The reasons for the change being companies like Net-a-porter and matchesfashion.com having pioneered this area and shown the riches to be made and also being able to communicate with a future consumer and grow a direct database.

Publishing house, Condé Nast, has just launched its e-commerce offering in the form of style.com This has been coming for the past couple of years and has been put back and put back and then, it surprised me, two weeks ago, by appearing on my Twitter timeline. A reported £75 million has been spent - The Times - and with over 100 employees - The FT - this is a big commitment. 

There’s always room for something different/good or both, in any form of retail and the idea to combine trusted editorial with shopping is a good one, especially in a tastemaker environment like this. It makes sense.

Unfortunately, the launch site looks nothing different from a luxury site from 10 years ago. The choice is limited and being run on affiliates - which means they earn a commission on each sale - all the items are distributed from various sellers at different costs in different locations. It’s going to be a nightmare for Condé Nast to deal with returns. They want the money, but don’t want to get their hands dirty. Don't we all?!

The biggest surprise is, where is all the editorial? People have tried shoppable magazines before, they don’t work. That’s fine. But, use the budget and teams of Vogue and GQ and give me the best of the season’s images and shoots and if there’s only one shoppable product, then so be it. It’s the magic that people buy into. It’s the world that these magazines live in.

It feels as though the editors aren’t playing ball and have washed their hands of it. It probably doesn't help that style.com is based in Camden and the magazines are over in Hanover Square.

After the delayed launch, the launch now feels rushed. I think they would have been better off keeping style.com as it was - runway reports and party pictures - to keep the traffic up and instead, now, they have to cannibalise digital advertising, which is hard to generate money from at the best of times, in order to push shoppers over to the site from the magazines' individual websites.

It launched with free shipping on orders over £350, very generous! Now, it’s free shipping and returns on all orders. Clearly taking some feedback. (Mr Porter had the same issue when it launched). It has only launched in the UK, atm, and there is nothing on there you can’t get anywhere else. It's interesting too that Condé Nast invested in FarFetch.com, another high-fashion portal, and is, now, technically a competitor. Maybe the two will merge?

I think style.com is too little, too late. They’ll spend the next 18 months finding out that this business model is particularly hard to make money from, while blowing millions and millions of pounds. They'll be lucky is they ever make a profit. This could be the Ocado of fashion! In hindsight, it would have been better to have had a chat with Natalie Massenet about 15 years ago.