Happy New Year, Chic Geeks. What a year. Fashion years are a bit like dog years, so much happens and so much is forgotten about, while other things, unpredictably, have such an impact and filter out into the mainstream. Here's what I can remember from 2016. Tweet me your thoughts on #TheChicGeekAwards
Best Label of 2016 - Loewe
There weren’t many labels to rival Gucci this year, and while I (still) love it, I wanted to recognise something else. J W Anderson creates ‘fashion’ which is becoming harder and harder to find these days. Being the head of the Spanish label, Loewe, pronounced Loo-wavay, it has allowed his ideas to be polished with their skills in leather goods and skins.
He has created a clean high-fashion label out of Loewe, it’s almost like a male Celine, but with touches of humour and seasonal difference which gives it life without being too gimmicky and themed. If only we could afford it. He’s done such a good job here it wouldn’t be a surprise if he got the top job at Louis Vuitton, eventually.
Best New Label of 2016 - Gosha Rubchinskiy
‘Designing’ since 2008, this Russian designer is part of the non-fashion, sportswear trend that infiltrated the po-faced - read East London - side of fashion, this year. While he didn’t create anything new, he subverted like a professional and hit the sweet spot when it came to pricing the designer market. There’s a real market for affordable designer clothes and the Comme backed Gosha is cleaning up with his sweatshirts and skater style pieces. We’re spending more time in the gym and this is being reflected in our clothes and this is where it meets high-fashion with a side order of 80s charity shop.
Best High Street of 2016 - ASOS
With annual sales now standing at £1.4bn, ASOS is the ‘high-street’ giant of the internet. It’s obviously doing something right and it wins TheChicGeek Award for best high-street for its pure experimentation and ridiculousness. From Yeezy inspired Mad Max looking outfits to Gucci pussy-bow shirts, ASOS has the depth of choice at a price everybody can afford.
Where once the high-street copied designers, now, due to the sheer volume of product needed, they come up with their own ideas and run with it. Just don’t buy the ‘Super Skinny Fit’. Sequinned trousers, anybody?
Best Grooming Product 2016 - Boldking Razor
The razor market is dominated by the big players who out discount each other to monopolise the supermarket and pharmacy. They do innovate, but slowly, so it was nice to hear of a small player thinking differently.
The big difference here is the blades are further apart to prevent clogging, which, if you have thick, coarse hair, will happen a lot. Plus the razor comes with a suction cup to put on your mirror or sink, out of the way. Simply yet effective.
The branding is really good. Gone are the muscles and steamed up mirrors: replaced by cute graphics and chatty instructions. This feels modern, it feels like there’s no pressure to be a certain type of man, it’s simply about shaving and doing a good job. Time to start shaving again. Hello, Boldking. More here
Best Grooming Brand 2016 - Buly
Parisian brand, Buly, takes you back to a fantasy time of apothecaries and Renaissance snake oil salesmen where there’s a tortoiseshell comb for every part of your body. Where things have more meaning than is obvious, at first, and time-honoured traditions are bottled and squeezed into metal tubes and glass jars. This brand is all about the packaging which is always a big thing when it comes to grooming and beauty products.
I’ve tried the toothpaste - orange, clove and ginger - and the shaving cream - read more here
They add a difference and excitement to the grooming routine and the products work. They’re not cheap, but they’re special and feel like a historical treat.
Fragrance of the Year 2016 - Dunhill Icon Absolute
2016 was a bit of a disappointment from mainstream fragrance brands. The power of the fashion brand has waned and their offerings don’t feel as special or as premium as they once did. People are moving towards niche and specialised fragrance houses which offer something of quality, but at a higher price, usually.
Fashion brands and their licensees are too quick to release and they don’t commit to the fragrances they produce and thus fall by the wayside very quickly. I wanted to choose something more mainstream. Technically, this came out in 2015, but I only discovered it, this year. Even though Dunhill Icon won TheChicGeek Award last year, this Absolute version is completely different in a good way.
The top notes are bergamot and black pepper, middle notes are saffron, black rose and jasmine and base notes are agarwood (oud), tobacco leaf and leather. It smells really exotic and rich and warm and keeps you coming back for more. It doesn’t really last, but that’s okay, it’s not ridiculously expensive. I’ve smelt this on a few people over the year and it’s instantly recognisable. This really is rather good if you like something rich and intoxicating.
Most Stylish Programme 2016 - Deutschland ‘83
Forget the shoulder pads and power dressing, Deutschland ’83, was a lesson in Eastern European sportswear and military dressing. It was the great pop soundtrack of 80s classics that got us channelling our East Berlin realness and Vetements irony that made us want to stay firmly behind the wall.
Best Menswear Collaboration 2016 - Craig Green X Bjorn Borg
Affordability seems to be the word of 2016. Collaborations needs to tap a new market or appeal to those priced out. That’s why H&M always seem to do so well. Craig Green teamed up with Bjorn Borg this year to produce a collection that didn’t meet in the middle, it just gave the great unwashed Craig Green at a price they could afford. His samurai favourites were here in a capsule collection of unisex pieces. Doubles your market, natch!
Special ChicGeek Award 2016 - Dover Street Market
While the world tipped towards online, and the high-street continued to try to pile it high and sell it cheap, Dover Street Market moved.
It became what it should have always been. It got a proper retail space and had a flow and order to it. It’s dedication to designers and their visions will make Dover Street Market the hardcore venue and destination for devotees of the catwalk and its silliness. This is serious fashion for those who can’t see the humour in it all, but mock what you will, it’s nice that a Dover Street Market as good as this one exists in London.
Most Stylish Man of 2016 - Jared Leto
If you’re going to be a ‘style icon’ you need to take risks. We can all do a Thom Sweeney three piece suit with a horseshoe waistcoat and look the part, but it’s those little touches and breaking-out-of-the-mould outfits that gets TheChicGeek nod.
I’ve never been a fan of Jared Leto, not really sure why, but since he became Alessandro Michele’s dress-up doll, he’s really committed, with both GG logoed feet, to the Gucci renaissance. Some have been hits, other misses, but it’s definitely not safe and hats off to him.
Turkey of 2016
We got a lesson in how not to launch a website this year with Condé Nast’s style.com. The much delayed and anticipated site was supposed to use their expertise and kudos in the luxury market to rival Net-a-Porter and matchesfashion.com by using the power of their magazine brands and offering a new take on curated commerce. What we got was a quiet launch of something that didn’t have much content, was a shopping portal and didn’t offer anything new in a saturated luxury market. It will be interesting to see whether they further commit to this or quietly shelve it and put it down to experience. Read more here
What are your thoughts? #TheChicGeekAwards
First things first, what exactly is Lurex? Lurex is a type of yarn or fabric which incorporates a glittering metallic thread. It gives the knit a sort of Christmasy makeover which is on just the right side of glittery.
It’s perfect for this time of year, under artificial lights or candles, and adds an element of reflective fun to a suit or evening wear.
I remember Prada produced a collection with lots of lurex in AW 2011 , below, and showed how it could look fresh and interesting in knitwear and accessories. I ended up buying a knitted tie. Lurex on men shows an element of confidence in the wearer and somebody you instantly gravitate to at a party. Get involved!
Here is a selection of what is available this season:
Far Left - Joseph - Lurex Merinos Polo - £195
Left - Vintage - Prada AW 2011
Left - ASOS - Knitted Metallic T-Shirt - £25
Left - Gucci - Lurex Jacquard Tank Top - £440 from LN-CC
Below - Balenciaga - Men’s Slip-on Lurex - £325
Left - AMI - Men’s Round Neck Pull In Lurex - £235
Left - Topman - Lurex Top - £20
I’m a believer that Black Friday is a good way for fashion retailers to get rid of stuff. Let’s be honest, if you haven’t got rid of most of this season’s fashion by the end of November it’s probably going into the sale anyway. Rather than wait until after the Christmas glut and the fatigue that takes the shine off most of these items, it’s a fresh and early sale that can still make the current season look alluring and new-ish. A late mid-season, maybe?
Left - Somewhere in the world there is a sale on
For an important season it is very short. It really only has between September and November to shift fashion. By the time you get to December fashion is dead and it’s all about Christmas. Many brands, now, deliver their new season in November, so again, another reason to mark down on Black Friday and ride the hysteria of, mostly, internet sales.
For some reason, unbeknownst to me, many retailers still think the clock strikes September and we all crave polo necks and thick tweed coats. Autumn is warm, now. Maybe a few more layers, but the idea that it nosedives to below zero the minute summer is over seems old-fashioned or stupid and people don’t want to plan or buy ahead, they want to wear now.
Men like discounts and a bargain and I think there’s enough time between Black Friday and Boxing Day to probably get the sale driven person twice.
Black Friday may not work for all types of retailers. but, for fashion retailers, it’s another sales opportunity basket to put their eggs in and they need as much help as they can get at the moment.
TheChicGeek finishes his picks of the best of the AW16 collections with CMMN SWDN. (See all the season's others here).
It's all about the cropped suit with cargo details and a strong Chelsea boot. A new, relaxed way to wear coordinating pieces, team it with a simple knit. It's the suit of the season.
Credits - Full outfit CMMN SWDN
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
See video & more images below
Beirut based, IDEO Parfumeurs, takes inspiration from 1930s Morocco and Egypt with their new fragrance, Tarbouch Afandi. The name refers to a traditional gentleman's hat - the 'Tarbouch' - while 'Afandi' means both mandarin - a central note in the fragrance - but also the respectful 'Sir'!
Notes include green mandarin, pine, peppermint, honeyed tobacco and Lebanese cedarwood.
TheChicGeek says, ”I’d not heard of IDEO before, but if this is anything to go by then they are using the best ingredients in an interesting way. What makes this stand out is the animalic notes. Parfumeurs often stay clear of these musky and sexual ingredients as they can often have that primitive reaction of warning you off.
What hits you first is wet violet leaves which quickly dries to form a warm animalic scent. It's a bit like smelling a fresh fur coat, you can smell the fur and the heat from the body of the animal, but with a freshness. the mandarin, that stops it from being too much. This goes as far as many want to go with this fragrance family, but if you want more and you're a fan of a sweaty arse crack then you’ll probably love this - here
It is perfect for this time of year: it stays with you, but doesn't become annoying or dirty. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the packaging. It’s a bit generic for something as interesting as this.”
Left - IDEO Parfumeurs - Tarbouch Afandi - 100ml - £140 Exclusive to Liberty of London
The word of the season is 'oversized'. The bigger the better. It just means getting dressed just got easier: one item covers all, well nearly.
We've been a fan of this AW16 collection since we saw it at Pitti Uomo at the beginning of the year. Handmade in Hackney by knitwear designers Anna Wilkinson and Lindsay McKean, Cats Brothers is known for its quirky crochet and colourful knits. Putting the craft into fashion, their pieces are ingrained with humour and style and feel more art-piece than yet another fashion item with a creature or icon.
Credits - Red Monkey Jumper, Oversized Black & White Jumper, Tiger Bag - Cats Brothers, Tracksuit Bottoms - Lyle & Scott, Velvet Trainers - Russell & Bromley
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
More images & video below
TheChicGeek is all about pink and green ATM. He's named it 'prawn cocktail & avocado', (you can see more here fresh from the catwalks of Milan) and it has a fun freshness that will see you right into the new year.
There is a lot of baby pink in menswear at the moment, thanks to Kanye and his Yeezy. Don't wear it in his Mad Max style, but team with primary colours, like here, such as blue and green.
Finish the look with quality accessories and plenty of peace & love!
Credits - Full look Paul Smith AW16
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
More images & video below
You know times are tough when you have to sell your Jeff Koons dog. This is the predicament Amy Adams, the lead in Tom Ford’s latest film, Nocturnal Animals, finds herself in as her relationship falls apart.
Left - How many redheads can Tom Ford get into one film?! The lead, Amy Adams
An art dealer, this perfect redhead lives in her perfect Neutra-style house with her perfect looking husband (Armie Hammer). All very 'Tom Ford' so far.
I was never a big fan of Tom Ford’s first film, A Single Man. While it looked beautiful, I didn’t really care about the characters and, ultimately, that’s what a good storyteller will make you do. The film was more a long commercial, while Nocturnal Animals has less fashion, isn’t so design obsessed and is divided into two opposite parts: a warm, violent, poor, rural Texan story and a cold, harsh, rich and clinically urban story and leaves you wanting more.
There are three main storylines running throughout the film albeit with a slightly confusing timeline, but Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal hold it all together.
Right - Michael Shannon as the police officer & Jake Gyllenhaal as the witness
For somebody with Tom Ford’s taste you’d think he’d exercise more subtly. The art is big-hitters like Koons or Damien Hirst, the Republican mum has Margaret Thatcher hair and one of the main jarring moments, a wanky art gallery assistant is wearing something that felt more Ab. Fab 'fashion' than believable and her flippant attitude really rammed home the vacuous point. None of these things really add anything. But, these are minor points. What the film majors in is suspense, in spades. It’s the suspense that draws you in and nervously keeps you there. The Texan bulk of the film is of the raw Steinbeck variety that is scary in its lawlessness, but doesn’t romanticise it. There are the big Texan vistas, but it is for more a sense of place than a cinematography award.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays the ringleader of a gang who bullies, rapes and murders. Michael Shannon is great as the police officer and Armie Hammer is the ice-cold husband. The soundtrack is great and the shaky film style adds to the thrill. There are a couple of Tom Ford fashion and beauty moments, but it feels like decoration, which it should, rather than the main gist of the film.
This is good. I’m not sure if it's a great film, I’d have to see it again to decide that, but, I’d definitely give it the chance.
As menswear has become more streamlined, fitted and influenced by sports it was inevitable, particularly with its rise in popularity, that cycling would start to play its part off the track.
Designer, Paul Smith, is a renowned cycling fan and references always appear on his catwalk or collections. The zipped funnel neck, fitted cycle-inspired knit is a key piece this season and has been appearing all over menswear, both designer and the high-street.
Left - Paul Smith AW16
This example by Ted Baker from House of Fraser is the perfect thickness for winter and can be worn easily under tailored jackets or coats. A rich, deep grey, it will dress down a suit or dress up a pair of jeans or tailored sports trousers. Comfortable, sporty and always a winner, it's the Bradley Wiggins of knitwear!
Far Left & Below - Ted Baker 'Pinball' Funnel Neck Jumper - £109 from House of Fraser
The Chic Geek's latest vlog looks at his favourite grooming brand of the moment, Buly, Tom Ford launches body sprays as a new way to wear fragrance, pimps his old Sperry Topsiders with a Vibram sole and shows you how to do Gucci black tie with a couple of pieces of velvet ribbon. Watch TheChicGeek video below and subscribe to his YouTube channel here