Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grooming – A timeless tradition - Part Two

To Michael M. who does not need any of my tips on shaving!!!

+ Q Perfume Blog chose one very cool BAR & BARBERSHOP just for you!

The Blind Barber - NYC

Combining the classic barbershop style with our contemporary urban vibe, it looks very plain from the inside and pole spinning outside (like the old days), but once you are in you will understand what barbershops have to offer. The blindness is just in the name. All barbers hired have at least 10 years of experience and they are trained to give 2 services: haircut and shave (including the Hangover Remedy Service - a reinvigorating 04 towels process - 3 hot ones and one cold). You will find a vintage bar and an antique lounge with amazing beautiful furniture where you can sit and sip the amazing cocktails. Clinging of scissors, ice cubes dancing inside the get to party and leaves with a perfect haircut. Worried about mixing alcohol and cutting objects? Only clients are allowed to drink, so the question is? Can you stay still after a few tequila shots?
One more curiosity - besides the classic barbershop experience you will also find an antique medicine cabinet and surgical trays (as barbers performed were once surgeon-babers) and the grandpa's den - a plethora of antique settees.
But you don't have to travel all the way to NYC to have a great grooming experience. I am sure you will find a nice local barber to have a perfect haircut. besides the hair, you can have a great grooming experience at home. So, in order to create the original experience, commit to what you are about to do. Find some quality time for yourself and fully enjoy your grooming experience. Separate and organize all the products and shaving utensils you need, including the robe, the slippers, the towels and the music for background. Cell phone is not allowed during this ritual!

Here I give you some ideas where to buy the best grooming products:

Creed - UK & Ireland - since 1760 providing excellency and elegance! - click HERE for the website an on line shop. They have exclusive fragrances for men, body lotions, soaps, etc... Cary Grant was a fan. And you know he is till today an icon of masculine elegance! 

D.R. Harris & Co. - London - in St James street for more than 200 years now - click HERE for their website and shop on line. They have a great pre shaving lotion with citrusy notes and fern.

Czech & Speake - London - in Jermyn Street - click HERE for the website and on line shop. They have a great selection of fragrances, robes, shaving products, candles...a must!

Gentlemen's Tonic - London - mayfair/Selfridges & Co - click HERE for their website and on line shop. You can also set an appointment for treatment! They have special products, such as the daily foaming cleanser with babassu Oil, Quillaja, Bergamot oil and water chestnut. Their daily shampoo with ginger, nutmeg, bergamot and babassu is very delicate.

Molton Brown - London/International - click HERE for their website and shop on line.They have an exclusive shower gel with black pepper. Winner of Men's Health Grooming Awards in 2010. It has a rich foaming lather with a scent that spreads in the entire bathroom. Pure luxe!

Edwin Jager - London - impeccable since 1988  - click HERE for their website and on line shop - They have beautiful traditional elegant safe razors and amazing gift sets.

Acca Kappa - In Italy since 1869 - click HERE for their website. They have amazing brushes and combs.

Baxter of California - USA - luxurious grooming since 1965 - click HERE for their website and on line shop. They have a beautiful hand made razor with a beautiful leather cordovan. Really impressing!

Crown Shaving Co. - Canada - click HERE for their website and shop on line. They have a smooth, silky, rich shaving cream.

Here you will also find 05 Tips to the perfect shave, that I looked up for you in the best grooming & styling and barbershop's website:

1.Never shave when you are in a rush. perfect shave needs time to be completed. Irritated skin or small cuts hurt and they are not appealing!

2.Shave after the shower and not in the shower, using warm water instead of hot water. Hot water dries the skin!

3.Start with a clean moisturized face. Spread the shaving soap or balm evenly, working up a thick, opaque layer of lather as you skim the brush back and forth across your face, and neck in and up-down motion.

4.Hold the razor firmly to the skin. Never drag your razor or hold your skin back.

5.Wait till your pores close naturally, washing your face with cold water to help the pores to close faster, than apply the aftershave, and you are ready to go!

Now, since I have already worked in a Spa I strongly recommend that you do the hot/cold  towel process - but make sure you have prepared the skin with a moisturizer! Finish your grooming with what we love the most: a great fragrance.

A tip for all guys - women love men who takes care of himself, who looks and smells clean - but don't over do it. We don't like our men to compete with us!

(photo credits: All Brands mentioned)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grooming – A timeless tradition - Part One


Some things never go out of style. One of them is performed by men, every morning as they stand in front of the mirror, to shave and fix their hair before going to work. But there were times when a man did not touch his beard!
From the very beginning, grooming was done by barbers only. They performed sacerdotal ceremonies of cutting hair to remove evil spirits in ancient times; as barbers surgeons, surgical interventions and dental extraction during the Middle Ages; wig design and maintenance during the 17th century; and since 1850, barbers practice only the art of cutting and styling hair & trimming beards (grooming as we know today).
Men did not did not shave by themselves. They went to barbershops, or received the visit of a barber at home.
The golden era of barbershops lasted from 1880 to 1940. During this period, going to the barbershop was a weekly, or even a daily routine. It was an opportunity to meet and socialize with others. Besides getting a haircut, a trimmed mustache or a clean fresh look, clients had the gathered to catch up with the local news and politics.

In the late 18th century Jean Jacques Perret invented the safe razor inspired by a joiner’s airplane, but it was only in 1904 that men began to shave themselves, with the invention of King C. Gillette: an inexpensive, double-edged blade that could be clamped over a handle, used, and then discarded.
The use of safety razors was the first cause to the decline of the barbershops era, followed by WWII, the Hippie movement, the creation of hair salons in the 80’s and the metrosexual movement of the 90’s.

Today you can still find some nice classic barbershops, but there are only very few exceptions to bad haircuts available. The good news is: there are brands  still investing in the traditional art of grooming, by offering luxurious toiletry products, such as high badger hair shaving brushes, elegant razors, traditional shaving soaps and balms, fresh aftershaves and fragrances, etc… It means that you still can recreate a classic barbershop grooming experience in front of very own mirror!

to be continued... part 2 will bring you more secrets under the beard!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Culture, Tradition, Modernism, Luxury Brands and Perfumery - The NEW ERA CONT

Continuing our journey through luxury brands and their history, we finally arrived to our present times. In this final part of the article, we will reflect on the changes and major challenge companies are facing to pace up with the velocity of the digital era, and how marketing strategies are developed in this new context.

Lovely EDP by SJP - the website

The beginning of an era:
Once most Luxury brands understood that launching a website did not drove them away from the image of elegance and exclusiveness, that ads in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle wasn't just going to be enough to bring consumers attention to their brands, and once they understood that fast and continued accessibility was the key to survive in the present times, they ran to hire web and graphic designers to launch their digital luxury space. The challenge was how to bring the elements of tradition and high quality standards to their website. As we mentioned previously, French brand Hermés cleverly presents hand made illustrations, bringing online, the concept of handcraft tradition. Names like Marc Jacobs launched fragrance campaigns offering to his customers one web site that reveals an experience. He invited his public to share ideas and to even grow virtual daisies of their own (campaign for his Fifi award winner, Daisy EDP). Thierry Mugler went to the same direction by asking people all over the world to help him build a mosaic of images for his newest launch, Womanity. Samples of future launches began to be distributed before the perfumes reached the counters. In 2005 Sarah Jessica Parker invited all her fans to join her Lovely website to receive samples of the fragrance.
Web sites also brought a different way to purchase. On line boutiques sell virtually what was once sold personally. The relationship sales person-consumer was broken, and instead consumers began to explore the sales experience via Internet.

Moving forward:
As brand's website and on line shops were established and successfully reaching consumers, luxury brands learned that they were still one step behind consumers' behavior in the internet. For a long period of time they turned their back to social medias and blogging. They did not realize that the more we advance into the digital era, the more we go back to the simple one-to-one way of communication. 

As blogs about perfume began to pop up in 2005, people were exchanging their preferences and impressions about fragrances on line for the first time . Soon brands realized that some of these blogs were a great space to advertise their products and began to send their samples to be reviewed, risking in the beginning, to get also a lot of criticism. The next step was to sponsor them. On line shops also looked for new places to advertise their links. In one hand, this sponsoring took a lot of blogger's independence to give a truthful opinion about the products they were sampling. In another hand, it also gave them more income to acquire more fragrances to try and write about. (before anyone jumps now, I am not here to judge anyone, just to mention how things are developing. Each perfume blog knows how to manage their own business and consumers know who to trust or not). 
Perfumers and Fragrance House were several times giving statements that they didn't care about what was said in these blogs, or that they had no influence on sales... Little did they know! Today, perfumers and fragrance houses took one step down of their pedestal and they do give interviews to blog writers, and they DO monitor what is said on line. Sometimes they even link to these comments in their websites under "press release".
But back to luxury brands... most recently luxury brands had to face the real challenge: how to introduce this type of channel of communication to their brands? In the fashion industry it was easy to manage blogs. They had runaways to promote, trends to talk about, press releases to link to, etc... But what about fragrances? Is it easy to manage a corporate blog about fragrances? As we know, image is everything for luxury brands. 
Another key word for this market is PASSION. Creating a blog  estimates the passion people has for the brand. It gives to their most passionate fans opportunity to celebrate it on line. Their voice is now heard and published. They feel they became a part of the brand by writing in the brands blog. They live the brand through their postings. In the other hand, the challenge is to remain exclusive. 
How to balance the accessibility with exclusiveness? How to jiggle desirability with full disclosure and the element of surprise? Many questions brands have to ask today.

The internet expands one-to-one communication - The new era of social medias:
As we move forward into digital history, getting social is a huge challenge to luxury brands. Most of them are still trying to understand how to build a social media strategy. The think is, if you don't talk about your brand on line, other people will do the talking about you in your place! That is the first rule on Twitter! (come to my TWITER by clicking HERE)
Communication is personal, less formal, less "snobby", but crucial. When fans create their own page to talk about a luxury brand, the brand itself looses the control of what is published. To make things worst, Twitter gave the possibility to spread the word globally, in seconds. Brands have to run fast and bring good strategist who knows how to deal with compliments, but mostly, the ones who knows how to cope and answer to criticism.  Social media comments are also great thermometers of the market. A good digital marketing team knows how to profit from it. Brand have to monitor their websites and social medias.

So, pages in facebook and Twitter were created and people began to chat and comment the posts. But do they all offer original content? Brands are still baby walking in terms of content production. Some luxury brands are still delivering non stop commercial messages, such as their sales and promotions. Which is crucial info for shoppers by the way, but very very boring, and easy to decide to stop following. Consumers are now in a stage that they want inspiration, they want to feel amused, to connect to the brand.
Some brands have created sharable artifacts, such as applications for Iphone, Ipads etc..., special gifts, wallpapers or pictures for downloading, etc...
As they are still figuring out what to exhibit in their blogs, facebook became what is call today a micro blog. Fragrance groups in facebook were created to share experiences and preferences. I is hard to follow us!! They will need to speed up indeed before we move to the next thing! (Come to PERFUME TALKS - my group in facebook where we discuss fragrances, by clicking HERE).

The future is here:

With the creation of internet gadgets, such as Ipads, iPods etc... luxury brands also saw an opportunity to launch new luxury products such as Chanel's Ipad leather case displayed above, or Louis Vuitton's cell phone case.
The same market has to be explored in terms of applications and technologies, as cell phones are the next trend. Everything we do online will be concentrated in one mobile device: the cell phone. Knowing that Givaudan has already teamed up with Osmoz to launch an Iphone application which fragrance passionates can have info about launches, their favorite brands, info about the nearest perfumery shop with an geolocator etc... The application offers an advisor too.

So we are back to where we started. Influencing and passing  the  traditions, cultural values, trends, preferences, likes and dislikes in a  one-to-one/mouth-to-mouth. The difference now is that we are doing this GLOBALLY and ON LINE. ;-) 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Modernity in video - Chanel

As Chanel’s Global Creative Director of Makeup, Peter Philips’s instinct for trend forecasting is unmatched. Since his appointment in 2008, the Belgian beauty guru has rolled out one hit after another—from his limited-edition nail varnish Jade, which sold for a breathless $100 a bottle on eBay at its peak, to his “temporary tattoos,” a project with Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel’s spring 2010 show, which had a waiting list of 3,589 names before the designs went on sale. For today’s film, directors Jauretsi and Crystal Moselle visited the onetime makeup artist at his Manhattan home to discuss his early memories of his mother, Irving Penn’s light-sculpting ability, and the inspiration behind Philips’s robot-themed animation for Chanel.

Image of the Month - vintage & modern Luxuries



Vintage lotion

Modern gel

Yesterday treatments

Modern lifting

From the attic

From the website

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Culture, Tradition, Modernism, Luxury Brands and Perfumery - The NEW ERA

+ Q Perfume Blog invites you to a journey through history, to reflect on culture, styling, traditions and luxury. We will see how luxury brands developed their business and how their clients changed as time passed by. We will finally arrive to our present time: the Digital Era, and understand challenges luxury brands are facing. In first part of this journey we will understand how consumers of luxurious products passed their values and preferences from the most primitive way from mouth to mouth, to global branding, visiting for a while Hollywood, and its golden era. And of course, we will get to fragrances, thus this is a blog about them :-)

There were times when professional expertise was passed through generations, from artisans to their apprentices, from father to son, as many businesses belonged to families, and things were mostly tailor made, and everything crafted by hand. Even when guilds were formed, children at the age of 07 were sent by their families to learn to craft with a master. The apprentice would live his home and move to his masters'. During years he would develop his skills and learn all the secrets of the profession and trading with his master.  Profession was passed from person to person, mostly orally.
While the less privileged were learning a way to survive, the consumers of the products they were crafting - the nobles and aristocrats, learned how to recite poetry, to sing, play the piano, hunt, master the arts of chivalry and court ball dancing. 
Noble women during the middle ages were sent to live with another noble family in order to be taught a number of subjects and skills, such as manners, etiquette, courtesy, how to ride, how to dress and style hair. Mostly, culture, traditions and fashion trends were passed to them orally, from noble to noble. As nobles detained the wealth, they also detained access to luxury and fine products, that were proudly ostentated in public during social events.

During the Renaissance artists lived under commission of their noble wealthy patrons. Due to patronage, aristocracy controlled all the artistic production and also continued to dictate social lifestyles.

English Anthropologist Edward Tyler was the first to define culture as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society".

In that sense, the standards of quality and luxury were determined by the most privileged. Tradition and culture were created by them, to be followed by others. Luxury by tradition was elitist and exclusive from the early beginning of social history.

Society suffered a major change with the Industrial revolution (18th/19th century), as a new social class was created - the business men. A new bourgeoise aroused and enriched from mercantile function in the city. Once they successfully prospered, they began to dictate the values, the manners, the upbringing and fashion trends. The new labor aristocracy became capital owning millionaires. The revolution made available products that provided new comforts and conveniences to those who could afford them. The industrial revolution gave a major impulse to technology and manufacturing in general. Besides the industrial innovations that raised quality standard for all products, a new life style was created, and consequently, a new concept of luxury. As an example, with the invention of the sewing machine internal paddings were added to suits and vests. More sewing decorations, such as ruffles and pleats were added.

In the beginning of the 20th century the US industry produced many features and created many stars. The major film studios set their facilities in California - Los Angeles (1912) and in 1930, MGM created the star system. The golden era of Hollywood also created a new social class - the rich and famous. Either because they were stars with huge salaries or executives collecting the profits of the movies produced. After the WWI, motion pictures became the most established entertainment media, and gradually, the stars featuring them slowly replaced the aristocrats as fashion icons and trend setters. But they still had some influence in the luxury business, with their royal behavior of the precedent decades. Fashion designers and luggage manufactures, such as Louis Vuitton, providing services to their restricted clientele were in high demand.
The post war (WWII) period, from the 40's to the 50's also changed the outlook of fashion. Actresses as Marilyn Moroe, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor and Brigitte Bardot increased the influence of Hollywood  as trend setters. Dior, Givenchy, Balanciaga gained worldwide recognition.
The biggest change of all was the fact that high societies standards and traditions were no longer passed from father to son only. Advertising and visual medias slowly replaced the intimacy of family and social rituals. The moving picture heroes and stars were passing those values through their films. Consumers were educated and motivated to purchase products. 

THE 80's - 90's
The yuppies, or young urban professionals, mostly working with stock markets, were making fortunes overnight during the 80's. They were self-absorbed young people enjoying cultural attraction of the sophisticate urban lifestyle, spending a lot of money in frivolous and ridiculously expensive things, to ostentate social status. The richer you looked back than, the more you would reflect success, more money you would make. Yuppies were having what was called -  The Luxury Fever. The affluent lifestyle associated with the yuppie demographic included well-appointed apartments or homes, nice cars, expensive food, and an assortment of luxury goods. To luxury brands it was a very prosperous era.

In the end of the 19th and the early 20th centuries brands like Cartier, Chanel, Prada, Burberry, and many others were created. Many luxury brands such as Cartier and Burberry had already registered their logo and brand name in the early 1900's (Louis Vuitton created his logo in 1896). 
They have survived, and maintained their heritage, tradition and values till today, as they continue to be references to luxurious lifestyle and high quality products. They became global.

After becoming global, brands had another challenge: to be global but to understand & respond to local culture. 
But the other problem they were facing interests me more: The most faithful and traditional customers were no longer around. In order to conquer new clients, luxury brands had to modernize their image and reinvent themselves. The grandsons and granddaughters of their previous clients were much more demanding and much more assertive. Their expectations toward  luxury brands were much higher. 
Several brands invested in trend tracking, consumers insights, concierge services, exclusive clubs and most of all to modernize and reinterpret their style, while keeping their values, heritage and continue to be recognized as a reference to quality, exclusivity and elegance. In 1997 Louis Vitton hired fashion designer Marc Jacobs to be their artistic director to bring innovation, creativity and a modern look to brand. The challenge was to blend the new and the traditional not to loose LV's cultural values. A great example of this marriage is the graffiti bag, mixing the most urban form of art, the graffiti, and the LV's leather bag.

In 1983 Karl Lagerfeld took over as chief designer of Chanel Inc. Since the beginning he made many changes in the Maison. The ones I feel are more important to point out is the launch of Chanel Nº5 Eau Premiere EDT and Mademoiselle Chanel EDP (click HERE to read my article about these fragrance) targeting the granddaughters of Chanel Nº5 faithful consumers, and the spring summer fashion show of 2010, when British rock singer Lilly Allen performed in the Grand Palais transformed into KL's barnyard. She also featured in a campaign for Chanel's bags.

One of the most subtle and most genius strategy of modernization in my opinion was made by Hermés, the French luxury leather goods brand (and also fragrance). As they sell the idea of handcrafted bags since 1837, they manage to bring the same experience to their website as the drawings used are subtly underlined, giving an artisanal character to it. Also, to bring a reinterpretation of their classical prints for silk ties, the opened a competition for young design students, so they could present their ideal print. Hermés understood that quality, elegance and exclusivity must e combined with modernity in order to be able to compete in our days.



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shisheido & Serge Lutens Off-bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

From April 8 - 17th, the Italian museum Museo della Scienza e Tecnologia in Milano, in a joint project with NCSGlobal Color ResearchStudio original Designers 6R5Shiseido and SergeLutens will present a very exquisite exhibition called Wonderline 2011 New Art, completely dedicate to colors. An exhibition that blends modern painting, avant-garde poetry, alternative music, color and emotional photography. Visitors can experience aunique way, involving all their senses!
The protagonist of the show (designed and built by Studio Original Designers 6R5) is the color, by its nature a universal language.
There are two experiences provided for visitors to the exhibition. The part called "Concept Color - Trend Color - Color Philosophy" dealing with the psychological analysis of the color according to the theories of Kandinsky, Itten and Wittgenstein to the latest developments in contemporary thought.
Than the path moves on to the real heart of the exhibition, dedicated multi-sensory experience divided into multiple sections, full of visual and auditory stimuli. Each color is recounted by poetry, photographs, paintings and sound. The spaces are dedicated to Creativity (Green Room), Inspiration (Blue Room), Imagination (Violet Room), Inventive (Orange Room), Technology (Black Room), Sensation (Turquoise Room), Legend (Purple Room), Passion (Red Room) and Emotion (Yellow Room).
Colors will be also presented by Shiseido make up brand and the olfactory journey will be composed by Serge Lutens niche perfumery brand.

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!
DATURA NOIR by Serge Lutens

Every room presents a different fragrance by Serge Lutens, telling a stories of those who were inspired by legends and ideas that led to the creation of the fragrances, such as Datura Noir from his Beige Collection.
The fragrance is inspired by Datura, a vespertine flowering plant with toxic properties, used in the Middle Ages used to burn witches and their evil essenceThe olfactives notes of Datura Noir are: Myrrh, bitter almond, tonka bean, musk, osmanthus, heliotrope, mandarin, lemon blossom, tuberose, vanilla, coconut oil and apricot.
Also perfuming the exhibits is Fille En Aiguilles, an intensive, warm and aromatic scentcombining pine needles, incense and bay leaf, with accentuated fruity and spicy notes. The inspiration for this composition was scent and sound of pine forest in summer sun. The olfactive notes are: pine needles, vetiver, bay leaf, spices, fruit and incense.

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Chipre Rouge will be also enjoyed. A sensual fragrance with sweet honey notes, amber notes and oakmoss. According to SL, this is a scent of west France. A scent of a fairy tale forest. Chypre is represented by oakmoss with its woody deep smell and a heavy earth note. Top notes are thyme and pine tree needles; middle notes are honey, bees wax, jasmine and fruity resins; base notes are patchouli, moss, amber, musk and vanilla.

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Serge Lutens' Nuit de Cellophane and Chergui will be also there for you to smell.

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

The project includes four focus on color. Colors in the World (developed by Studio Original 6R5 Designers Network), the cultural nuances that distinguish the various continents and their inhabitants (for example South Africa is unethical, yellow, green, orange, red and blue, Italy is blue, from cobalt to turquoise, across the seas that lap its shores, India is an ascetic, pink, fuchsia, red, blue). Colors in the Sciences (in partnership with Focus), a photographic journey between peoples, cultures, worlds, atoms, nanotechnology and nature. Colors in the Arts (curated by Giancarlo Graziani). Colour and Trends (ed. NCS Colour AB), the future color trends in design.

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!
09 rooms display

The 09 ambiances (called color rooms) present images and photographs. A different scenario for a distinctive color and a different proposal:

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Green room: creativity/Blue room: inspiration/Purple room: legend/Turquoise room: sensation/Black room: technology/Orange room: inventing/Yellow room: Emotion/Red room: passion/Violet room: imagination.



Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!


Shiseido & Serge Lutens Off Bottle!

About Serge Lutens and Shiseido:
Serge Lutens started working when he was 14 in a hair salon in Lille. In the 60's he moved to Paris and worked for Vogue Magazine, creating make up, jewelry and photographing. One decade later, Lutens directed 2 movies. Shiseido hired Lutens in 1980 to develop their product image. Throughout the 1980s he shot various advertising campaigns and films and designed makeup and packaging.In 1982, Shiseido commissioned Lutens to create a fragrance called "Nombre Noir".

Entrance is free of charge: from 9:30h till 22:00h.

Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci"Via San Vittore 21, 20123 Milano

I would give the world to loose myself into those rooms! If you have the chance to go, please let me know more details!!

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