Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Beards Boudoir

Illustration by Damian

The one place I thought I would never visit, I did so this week:  the barber shop.
Niched in and about Paris are a few adresses solely dedicated to the caring and up keeping of that manly trademark. Me, being of Asian descent, I have been genetically programed without a beard and with a sparse, nearly inexistant moustache. Thus, my daily morning routine consists of a morning wash and scrub, followed by, at tops, a 15 seconds electric shave.


So having to enter this temple of male grooming, was at first a bit awkward. But the common atmosphere of old world camaraderie which I found in each shop was inviting and discreet. Almost like the private men’s club one encounters in London. And if smoking was still allowed in public places, I imagined a musky smell of cigars and scotch, mixed with impeccable freshness.


During my visit, conversations whispered between clients and each barber, and I felt like I was been scrutinized as members discussed my possible admittance into their club. But upon leaving, a friendly nod, sealed my approval in their select club of men, who knows how to enjoy the simple things: like getting a shave.

Each barbershop had its own distinct atmosphere even though the basic ingredients were the same. KIEHL'S on rue des Martyrs (Paris 9eme), tiny but luminous, is situated for that quick détente while doing the daily shopping. ALAIN, Maître barbier (Paris 3eme), is a step back into a time in Little Italy, where men’s grooming was a rite of passage. Even the shaving cream is from a recipe passed down from generation to generation. LE BARBIER DE PARIS’(Paris 9eme) mirrored and chôme fixtures, had an edgy Berlinoise feeling of the new, the classic but subversely unconventional. My last stop at the LES THERMES DE LUTÈCE (Paris 4eme), is a total retreat, offering not only grooming but fully organic services.


I guess, this ritual which have been endured since Roman times, really makes a man feel like ceasar. 

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