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
The Met Gala - you may have seen the film, The First Monday in May - is the opening night of the annual fashion exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This year’s exhibition is a retrospective of Japanese designer Res Kawakubo, the brains behind Comme des Garcons. As per, the opening party is the most fashion night of the year with celebrities and designers making a statement, both good and bad.
Here are the 12 menswear things TheChicGeek learnt from last night:
Left - Bow ties - the floppier the better. Future in custom H&M & Matt Smith in Burberry
If the Met Gala can make Mr Safe, Roger Federer, try something different then that’s inspiration enough. A Gucci cobra on your back, anyone? Asp-leisure?!
Go conceptual. If your hair looks like wheat-sheafs then take them with you. Jaden Smith in Louis Vuitton
The Met Gala red carpet is not an audition for Star Wars. Puff Daddy in Rick Owens
When your parents don’t want to buy you a suit you’ll grow out of. Frank Ocean in Balmain
Below - Dress for the city, not the designer. Nick Jonas in Ralph Lauren
Bad taste Claire’s Accessories. Let the whole jewellery shop fall out. Migos
Below - Red was the colour of the night. When a suit fits this well it works. Rami Malek in Dior Homme.
Leave the Thom Browne to Thom Browne. Wiz Khalifa & Diplo in Thom Browne.
When you’re tall and thin, a la Alexander Skarsgard, in Ermenegildo Zegna, you can wear anything.
When you try and do that cute-couple-colour thing and it doesn’t work. Ryan Reynolds
At Comme, anything goes, so dress down is the new dress-up. Teletubbie optional! Pharrell Williams in Comme des Garcons
We need some good news, and with new footwear label, Good News, it’s coming in spades. I first saw Good News at the Designer Showrooms during the last LFWM, where they were previewing their new AW17 collection. What I liked was it was a twist on the classic American baseball shoe, but in material of the season - coloured corduroy.
Left - 80s styling from Good News SS17
Good News is a British contemporary footwear brand founded in 2016 in London by co-Founders Ben Tattersall and Nia Jones with the shared aspiration “to bring the world a little bit of GOOD NEWS”.
Nia was a shoe designer at Topshop and Ben has a background in marketing and sales. The shoes have a unique thick natural rubber sole that gives ultra-comfort for men and ladies looking for a fresh contemporary sneaker at an affordable price. Fresh bold designs and colour is at the essence of the brand’s identity and the styles that are available for the SS17 season.
Each piece is named after a traditional baseball term; ‘Dinger’ and ‘Bagger’ after a homerun, ‘Hurler’ the fast pitch, ‘Babe’ after legendary Babe Ruth and ‘Slugger’ after the ball is hit out of the park.
Hurler is a traditional baseball stripe, which comes in monochrome striped canvas with a natural rubber sole. The Bagger style comes in cotton canvas white, black or navy. The Dinger introduces colour into the collection with primary blue, red, green, off white, 70s burnt orange and black. This striking style has a contrasting white tongue that comes in cotton canvas. Babe is a canvas and nylon mix combining vibrant multi-coloured tones and Slugger is an easily styled black canvas with a noticeable white lace or matching black laces.
The collection ranges from £50 for the low height styles, to £60 for high-tops.
Right - More Good News SS17
Good News look to create a positive change in the world. From ethical product monitoring fairtrade and supply chain, to collaborations with charities and brands that share the Good News values. The aim is to engage target audiences and communities through raising awareness on important issues.
Now, just ask yourself, why buy a pair of Converse when you can get a pair of these?
Instagram @goodnewslondon Facebook @goodnewsldn www.goodnews.london
Below Right - Everything is coming up corduroy for AW17 - Good News Rhubarb Low AW17
Left - Hurler Hi AW17
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!
Over the centuries, the humble beard has been through many styles and transformations, but British men continue to love them and use them as a means of expressing their individuality. So far, we’ve witnessed everything from the glitter beard bomb of 2016, to intricate plait designs and wax styling wonders that would make most catwalk models jealous. Just when you think there’s a lull in beard trends, some crazy new twist is put on them to bring them back to the here and now.
So, which style do you go for when it’s time for a trim? Whether it’s the artistic goatee, the traditional gentlemen’s moustache, a bohemian style with funky dyes, or the full fisherman’s beard, each of these styles have something to say about your personality. However, it appears your facial hair can also be determined by where you live. In the following infographic, not only will you learn about the most popular beard trends of 2017 in Britain, but you’ll see why those who hail from Leeds are more likely to opt for the chin curtain, those from Sheffield prefer the mutton chops look, and Geordie’s choose the goatee. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see how our facial hair trends in the UK compared to those overseas, and some handy ideas on grooming.
It must be all that Flemish DNA because Dries van Noten mined a rich tapestry of ideas, quite literally, for this SS17 season. He said he was inspired by the British Pre-Raphaelites and their love of turning their art into woven wall hangings and this transfixed itself into quilted bombers, wide trousers and crocheted scarves.
Dries always does a good theme and is one of the best menswear designers there is. The shirt, here, will look great with shorts, a sort of renaissance Hawaiian shirt, and the wide trousers is part of the movement away from tight, slim trousers. This is classic Dries.
Credits - Clothes & Bag - Dries van Noten SS17 from MRPORTER.COM, Shoes - Tim Little X Grenson, Spectacles - Salvatore Ferragamo, Grooming Products - Omorovicza
Join the conversation #FollowTheCarrot #TheChicGeekCollections
Shot on OlympusPEN by Robin Forster
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The full title for this is Clinique For Men Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate and is said to “deliver a turbo-boost of cool supercharged hydration to increase skin’s moisture reservoir with an immediate 179% moisture boost that is retained for 24 hours at 65%”.
The breakthrough weightless formula transforms from a gel to a liquid, releasing a cooling burst of oil-free hydration that’s instantly absorbed by your skin leaving zero tacky residue. Skin is left feeling soothed, comfortable, and fresh.
Formulated with dual-action Liquid SphereTM Technology, new Clinique for Men Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate, helps to break the cycle of dryness and oxidative damage, releasing vital antioxidant protection.
The Liquid SphereTM Technology encapsulates spheres of Vitamin E and Vitamin C that burst instantly on application to release potent antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage and fend off free radicals. ‘Moisture Holding Matrix Polymer Technology’ uses moisture-magnet polymers to seal and lock in hydration, helping to boost skin’s moisture retention
For best results, apply AM or PM to face and neck on clean skin. Also ideal to use after shaving to soothe and calm irritated skin. Safe for eye area.
TheChicGeek says, “Thirsty?! Well, your skin definitely is. This does look the part and you can see the vitamin spheres inside the gel. Unfortunately, they don’t pop on the skin, which gives it that oh-so-satisfying sensation. Can you remember Mr Radiant from Givenchy?
This is very light and you don’t need much of it. It goes on easily and is non tacky. It just doesn’t hydrate as much as you hope. I wanted something dewy and it just seems to disappear. Clinique already has a Maximum Hydrator, in white cream form, in their range and I don’t think this is really offering anything new. You could use this as a moisturiser and then apply an SPF sun product on top".
Left - Clinique For Men Maximum Hydrator Activated Water-Gel Concentrate - 48ml - £34
Like clear moisturiser? See Clinique's new Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly - here
I didn’t really know very much about Tim Coppens, I actually thought he was American, until I attended his AW17 show in Pitti in Florence. Born in Belgium and graduated from the acclaimed Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, according to his website, he has worked with various prestigious luxury and sports-performance brands before founding his own label in New York. In 2012 he received the Ecco Domani Award for “Best New Menswear Designer”. The following year he was awarded the Fashion Group International Rising Star of the Year. Most recently Coppens was the 2014 winner of the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear and a top 10 finalist for the LVMH Prize.
This year he has been nominated for the CFDA “Menswear Designer of the Year” Award and the ANDAM Fashion Award.
His collection was luxury sportswear with retro references and styling. And he knew how to fit a trouser which always puts a designer in my good books. This quilted coat is a very versatility piece, but add shorts and a T-shirt and you're ready for an English summer.
Credits - All clothes Tim Coppens SS17 from Harvey Nichols, Spectacles - Salvatore Ferragamo, Fragrance - Paco Rabanne 'Invictus Intense', Shoes - Tim Little X Grenson, Soothing After Shave Balm & Easy-Glide Shaving Emulsion - Pevonia
Shocking! Well, TheChicGeek looks a bit shocked. Paul Smith's latest men's collection is a feast for the eyes with a confection of rainbow collars and bold checks and accessorises.
Nothing says 'fun' like a man's jumpsuit. Here TheChicGeek has teamed it with a the must-have cricket jumper - see the top picks of the season here - and sporty bomber jacket.
Credits - All clothes & shoes Paul Smith SS17, Spectacles - Salvatore Ferragamo, Fragrance - Boucheron 'Vanille'
Shot on Olympus PEN by Robin Forster
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Perricone MD has launched this new face mask that is designed to be used in the shower. How is a mask meant to be used in the shower you ask? Well, while you're shampooing, shaving, lathering up, the heat and steam of the shower activates the ‘Refreshing Shower Mask’ gel formula. And as an added bonus, it’s designed to protect your face from hot water, and the gel consistency clings to your face, so it doesn't wash away.
The purpose of the mask, which has a cooling factor, is to revitalise leaving skin feeling smoother and softer, while using Dr Perricone’s Nrf2 Antioxidant Support Complex to support your skin when fighting off environmental and oxidative stress. Ingredients such as squalene and jojoba are included to moisturise and increase skin elasticity.
TheChicGeek says, “Now this is a mask idea I can get on board with. Anything that is easy to use and effective will make it into a man’s regime. Men like to try and multitask, even if they are bad at it. Move over sheet mask, we’re going ‘in-shower’!
Firstly, it doesn’t suggest how often you should use this, but it seems quite gentle, so I’d say maybe twice a week. It’s a green gel, not too thick, and goes on easily. It’s tempting to just wash it off, like you would normally a face wash, but you resist. Resist I say! It does also depend on how long your showers are, but by the time you’ve washed your hair and body it should be pushing 5 mins. *checks hot water bill* It does warn it may tingle in a cooling way, but I didn’t feel any reaction.
It didn’t ‘set’, or change and washed off easily, which is usually quite satisfying with a mask. The end result: my face felt extra clean and well prepped afterwards”.
Left - Perricone MD - Refreshing Shower Mask - 74ml - £32