In the modern world, where the male body is constantly objectified, you’d be right for thinking there isn’t much we haven’t seen. Naked men are an everyday occurrence on TV, advertising and social media. But, there is one part we haven’t seen or appreciated before, until now.
Left - Nackt, 2, 2014, Wolfgang Tillmanns from the recent Tate Modern exhibition
Is it time to appreciate the male undercarriage? Are men’s bollocks having a hirsute moment?
These aren’t the manicured porn-star-type bollocks from the nougties, but masculine, hairy and au naturel. Artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Celia Hempton are focusing on the sack and crack, giving them some love, in the visual sense.
Right - Celia Hempton (2013)
The male ball sack is going mainstream. Definitely not social media friendly - damn your American uptightness - but it’s the new the erongeous zone and is a signifier of the growing appreciation, and acceptance, of the male derriere.
Stephen Fry once said his favourite statue was 'David' by Francis Derwent Wood, on the Hyde Park Corner roundabout, because of his arse. Niche gay publications like Butt and the celebration of gay art at Tate Britain in the 50th year of the part legalisation of homosexuality in 'Queer Art' all make 2017 the year of the masculine arse crack.
So, put that groomer and razor away, the male undercarriage is going mainstream, just don't mind the hairy bollocks!
Below - ‘Ben’ (2017) by Celia Hempton from Counter Editions
I hadn’t tried anything from Daimon Barber before. They invited me to try their new men’s facial which has just gone on the treatment menu at Harvey Nichols in London.
Daimon Barber was conceived in 2011 when two London based brothers, Leo Neelands and his brother Daimon, with backgrounds in design and classic barbering had a shared vision to create men’s grooming products.
Daimon disappeared off to New Zealand and the business is now run by Leo and his business partner Steve Crosby. The extensive men’s grooming range is expanding into fragrance, this year, and they are looking to double their turnover while keeping the brand in selected locations.
One of the products that was used during my treatment was the “Softening Beard & Stubble Serum’ and I was given a sample to try at home.
This easily absorbed conditioner softens tough stubble and leaves beards feeling soft and silky with hydrolyzed silk protein. It contains nutrient rich avocado oil and aloe vera to keep facial hair healthy and the skin beneath feeling moisturised. Kahai oil contains a high level of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps to protect, repair and replenish moisture levels in the hair. This serum is also infused with our exotic and sophisticated No.5 fragrance of Ouhd and Egyptian mallow. This product is free from parabens and all the ingredients are sourced from the UK.
Left - Daimon Barber - Softening Beard & Stubble Serum 100ml - £24
TheChicGeek says, “I have a love and hate relationship with the beard. I like the look of it when it’s that perfect length and, then, it gets thick and uneven and becomes high maintenance to get it to back to that optimum point.
Anyway, first world problems and all that. The big issue for me is beard dandruff. You look down at you top and you feel like you’re a human snow globe. My skin get really dry under the beard and I’ve tried numerous oils and products over the years to try and remedy this embarrassing problem, but to no avail. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve shaved it off recently. I thought I’d grow it out to review a shaver and then I was invited to try the Daimon Barber facial. This serum was part of the treatment and it had the noticeable effect of limiting this problem afterwards.
I continued to use it at home. It has a light texture and is easy to get under the beard. You need a few pumps of the product, and I would be generous, 100ml is a decent size, so it should last a while. This really did the job to eliminate the beard dandruff. It has a nice scent, I’m not sure what it is - maybe the Egyptian mallow? but it’s not overpowering or something you’re conscious of like many beard products, particularly the scented oils.
This clearly does put a lot of moisturise underneath the beard and eliminated the dreaded beard dandruff. Now, where's that black jumper?!”
Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino collection introduces three new ‘All Over Body Sprays’. Lightly scented, the sprays are said to add a new dimension to experiencing the notes of their eau de parfum counterparts. Packaged in an aerosol bottle, each one is easily transportable. The three include: Costa Azzurra, this evokes the fragrant and sun-baked landscape of coastal and island Mediterranean woods where pines and oaks mingle with wild-growing herbs and salty water. Fleur De Portofino is inspired by the cascades of flowers from the white acacia tree, a beloved shade tree that dots the Mediterranean’s gardens and avenues, this fragrance contains notes of Sicilian lemon, bigarde leaf, violet leaf, jasmine and acacia honey and, finally, Mandarino Di Amalfi, capturing the calm idyll of the whitewashed villas lining the cliff sides of the Amalfi coast, this fresh fragrance contains mandarin oil, lemon sfumatrice, basil spearmint and a duet of jasmine.
TheChicGeek says, “I’m classing these under 'fragrance' as they are ‘All Over Body Sprays”. Gents, not to be wasted on your armpits! And that helps to justify the £44 expense. But, when compared to the fragrances, these are very ‘entry point’ and for the summer why not try one of these instead of committing to an expensive bottle of perfume? Or get all three for the price of the fragrance?
Firstly, these look better than the previous body sprays because of the colours. These feel more of a treat because of the aqua palette and are obviously aimed at summer and something you’d want to take on holiday.
These are all really nice, there's nothing not to like, but if you held a gun to my head, out of the three, I prefer Fleur De Portofino. It smells the most summery and it’s the the white flowers including jasmine that gets me every time and reminds me of warm summer nights.
These are also good for those who find the fragrances too overpowering or heavy and just want a light but 'still there' scent”.
Above - All 150ml - £44
Clinique introduces Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser with Pure Vitamin C and Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%, a simple way to reinvigorate your de-ageing skin care routine.
Far Left & Left - Two steps - Booster & Powder Cleanser - Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C, contains Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10ml and Fresh PressedTM Renewing Powder Cleanser with Pure Vitamin C, 7 x 0.5g - £25
The new Clinique Fresh Pressed System harnesses the full power of pure Vitamin C at their highest concentration to brighten, even and re-texturise skin. Vitamin C naturally degrades over time and is most powerful when it is fresh. Specialised stay-fresh packaging isolates the pure Vitamin C until activation, maintaining its freshness and full power, to deliver remarkable results in just 7 days.
TheChicGeek says, “Who doesn’t like a 7 day treat?! There are 2 parts to this: 7 sachets, which is the cleanser part and then a small 'booster' dispenser that you mix with your standard moisturiser.
I usually cleanse in the shower, but ripping the sachet open, putting the powder in my hand and then on my face felt a little bit complicated with the backdrop of a power shower, so for this, I splashed by face first with water, then I emptied the contents into my hand and mixed with another splash of water and then applied to my face and then rinsed off in the shower. It’s a really soft cleanser and goes on and washes off easily and it left my face feeling like it had instantly experienced something good.
Then once you’ve dried your face you are ready to apply the ‘booster’ part. Rip the silver foil off the top and shake with the cap on. You simply press the top and add 2 drops, it seems to come out as one large drip which I guessed as 2 drops. You repeat this am and pm as you would your usual moisturising regime.
I’ve probably made this sound more complicated than it is, but it’s simple. Once in the routine it’s a wash and then an added ingredient to your moisturiser.
This all makes sense to me. You want something strong, but it’s obviously unstable - it is the most unstable of the vitamins - to last long-term in a product and then there’s only so much a one-off treatment will do.
This left my skin feeling refreshed, but not overly fed which often leads to breakouts. It was easy to use and I’m going to carry on using the booster until it runs out".
It was at the launch of the new men’s grooming destination, Beast, - more info here - in Covent Garden that I was introduced to Leo Crabtree, the man behind the Beaufort London fragrance brand. There were a few samples of his fragrances in the selection of products to try and I was impressed by the originality of the scents. Historically based, they are a dramatic concoction of rich and smokey scents inspired by Britain’s maritime history. I wanted to know more, so, TheChicGeek asked Leo a few questions:
CG: What’s your background and why and when did you start Beaufort London?
LC: My background is mainly in music and I studied history at university. BeauFort London came about as a vehicle to market some homemade grooming products I was making around 4 years back. I found myself getting bored of the stuff that was available at that time and I thought I could do a better job. This project then developed into something a bit different, particularly when I started to learn about making fragrance. This area really interested me and I’ve kind of followed this path for the last 3 years.
CG: Where does the name come from? 1805 is a special year for you, why is that?
LC: The brand’s name comes from the Beaufort Scale which was thought up in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort - a way that sailors could gauge and report the wind strength. It’s still in use today.
This idea of invisible strength resonates and seemed appropriate for a brand that initially was only selling very firm moustache wax. The metaphor works nicely for fragrance too.
Aside from this detail, 1805 was also a pivotal year for British fortunes at sea… following the win at the battle of Trafalgar (October 21st 1805) British sea power was established and continued unchallenged for a century or so… I think these naval events still echo in the way we Brits perceive ourselves. And there’s something about the early 19th century that fascinates us - it seems to pop up a lot in popular culture at the moment.
CG: How many fragrances are in the range?
LC: The ‘Come Hell or High Water’ Collection consists of 5 Eau De Parfum each representing a different aspect of our relationship with the sea: Tonnerre (Trafalgar/warfare), Coeur De Noir (adventure stories / tattoos), Vi Et Armis (The opium / sea trade), Lignum Vitae (ships clocks / time) and Fathom V (The Tempest - weather). We are launching a 6th later this year too and we recently released a leather discovery set of the whole collection - refillable 7.5ml vials of each which is really popular.
CG: What is the idea behind the packaging?
LC: Well the caps were at one point going to be made out of pieces of old ships, but this didn’t work all that well. So, now, they are made from ash, which is a bit more stable and safer to reproduce.
The boxes ended up becoming almost like books or possibly sarcophagi - this is a pretty important thread in all this. The past, history, books, it’s all in here. I like to include snippets of things I’ve read, pictures inspired by the events that inform the fragrances. Each box is embossed with a little latin phrase which I found on a medal that was given to those who fought at the battle of Trafalgar. All these little things build a coherent picture of the brand I think.
CG: I like Tonnerre, which is inspired by the battle of Trafalgar, how do you get that smokey effect?
LC: Lots and lots of birch tar. This is an intensely smokey material made by boiling birch sap. This has been used a lot in the past to create a ‘leather’ effect (Famously in Chanel’s 'Cuir De Russie’ - historically Russian soldiers used Birch tar to waterproof their boots). In the case of Tonnerre the perfumer uses it in far far higher concentration than anyone has before to produce a gunpowder effect. I love the intensity of it… and the smell of tar immediately reminds me of boats.
CG: Any highlights from the others? What is the most popular and why do you think that is?
LC: We actually use birch tar in a lot of our fragrances. That smokey tar effect is almost our signature so if you’re looking for fresh you’re in the wrong place…
Vi Et Armis is really popular, I think because it’s so ‘in your face’ and unusual - dark as all hell. And Fathom V is an intensely strange aquatic fragrance which seems to be doing well too. We use a lot of strong materials, a lot of wood, tobacco, spice and booze. I think people like our brand because we offer something very different to traditional fragrances.
CG: You also sell other products like candles and moustache wax, how did these come about?
LC: The candles were due to popular demand, we had a lot of people who loved the scents asking if we could make them, so we tried it, and it seemed to work. Again, it hasn’t really been about planning these products, they just seem to make sense, and so we do them. I like experimenting with ideas.
CG: Has it been easy to produce in the UK?
LC: The perfume industry is rooted in mainland Europe for sure, but there’s a rich history of British perfumery and some really interesting newer British brands.
It was always a key aspect of this project that we would only work with British companies, and that has made things tricky (and almost certainly more expensive) at times. But it can be done, and I’m proud of it.
Our perfumers are based just outside of London, our boxes are made by hand in Sheffield, our bottles are filled and packed in the Cotswolds, the candles are made in Derbyshire and the moustache wax cases were made in Coventry.
CG: What do you think about the current perfume industry? Is it welcoming to niche producers? Is there too much product?
LC: When I first launched the range we went to Paris fashion week to have a look around. I was talking to a guy who works for a very long established French perfume house and he said to me quite unequivocally, “now this is war”, which seemed pretty ridiculous at the time. However, as time has passed, I think he’s right. There’s so many brands all trying to get a piece of the pie and the pie isn’t all that big in the first place. New launches happen all the time and it seems like (as with everything else) attention spans are short and the temptation is to churn out ’newness’ (a word I particularly hate) to grab attention fleetingly.
In the next few years, we may see some of these brands falling away as saturation point is reached. In my mind, starting a brand is the easy bit. Establishing longevity and maintaining engagement with your customer over a significant period of time is much harder… Time will tell.
CG: Is there any advice you would give to men about choosing fragrance or how they apply or use it?
LC: As with anything, the most rewarding experiences are those you invest some time in… do some research, get some samples of things that intrigue you. Spend a bit of time getting to know the fragrance in different environments as the best fragrances can develop massively throughout a day. Don’t rush… I’ve always said that YOU should wear the fragrance, don’t let IT wear you which is particularly important with these strong, heavy fragrances. There just too much for some people… they should blend with your character somehow rather than take over.
CG: What’s next for Beaufort London?
LC: Put it this way, we have been researching Georgian vices… I can’t say much more than that but it’s going to be an interesting couple of years!
Ermengildo Zegna’s Acqua Di Iris takes on a splashy transparency from the high-quality, citrus freshness of Zegna Bergamot - they grow their own - and dewy violet leaves. Elements of spice serve to drive the immediacy of the signature and invigorate the top. Sleek woods and cistus labdanum absolute power the signature with strength in order to zero in on the iris’ masculine heart. All are lightly softened by musk.
TheChicGeek says, “When I first saw ‘Iris’ on the label I was pleased as these is one of my favourite ingredients. Often called orris and derived from the root of the iris, it is mega expensive and as such is very much prized in perfumery. It’s also very Italian, which works with a brand like Zegna.
Orris is said to smell like violets and this is where I have the problem. By adding violet leaves they are taking the fragrance in that direction and it’s too dominant. The woods and musk softens it, but ultimately reminds me that Zegna also do a fragrance called ‘Florentine Iris’, in their pricier Essenze Collection, which I prefer”.
Left - Ermenegildo Zegna - Acqua Di Iris - 100ml - £82 Exclusive to John Lewis
So, we’re coming to the end of the sugar free experiment and it’s gone quicker than I thought. The cravings are still there, but the thought of caving in, this close to the end, keeps me strong.
What I’ve noticed is you definitely over compensate with other things, so I’ve been eating more crisps and drinking more alcohol.
I’ve tried sugar-free chocolate - tastes okay, like cheap chocolate - I made a sugar- free chocolate cake, which was from a packet mix, so probably not the best anyway, but was dry and not to be repeated. The picture on the packet showed it served with cream and jam which probably would have helped, but they didn't have any sugar-free jam.
I’ve eaten more dried fruit that before and fresh fruit, especially for breakfast. I’ve discovered plain coconut yoghurt with honey. Even though it is high fat, this is a keeper.
I haven’t had a miraculous moment of change, where I’ve thought I’m over cold turkey and floating on cloud nine, and, like I said before, I don’t think I had that much refined sugar to start with so it hasn’t been such a drastic change.
It's been an effort, but it hasn't been really hard. Like I said in Part 1, my teeth and gums feel much healthier and this is definitely a reason to keep it up give or take the odd Jaffa Cake.
See Part 1 here