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The art of shaving

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Shaving bowl, designed to rest in the palm of your hand...
Made from genuine horn exclusively for Classic Shaving 
by a small family-owned business in France.


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After JamesXVI (check out his blog here), commented on the bathroom vanity (above) featured in Friday's post , I immediately imagined various male grooming accoutrement added to the display- I could just see a man's old-fashioned shaving brush and razor alongside a bottle of Côté Bastide's "Amber" or "Fig" Eau de Toilette (Fig is a favorite I personally wear.)   


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Solingen straight blade, horn handle from


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In my internet travels, I ran across this beautiful 
antique men's grooming kit (Spain, 18th Century)

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Red gilt-decorated morocco over wooden board book-form box, lettered "Arte de Remoza" on spine, silver clasps and catches, hinged to reveal inner carved compartments containing 4 steel straight-razors with tortoise-shell handles, a tortoise-shell and silver-bound mirror, a tortoise-shell and silver comb, scissors, scent bottle and strop. Provenance: purchased from Emil Offenbacher, 7 April 1962.   Sold at Christie's for $3150

. . .


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Ephemeral, Côté Bastide

As the famous William Morris quote goes:  


"If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it:   Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

I might amend that to:  . . .to be useful or AND believe to be beautiful.  —Why not aim to meet both criteria in every object possible?  

Thoughtfully consider those useful items around your home- is there a beautiful alternative that could function just as well?
 
In our rushed, convenience-oriented world we have created, we may have to remind ourselves that there could be an alternative to those items we look at and use every day.   

For the last few decades, consumerism so quickly expanded and our quest to mass produce was so blinding, it seems we just recently woke up and started questioning all the excess.  We are finally starting to question the wisdom of all those disposable items lining our shelves and the excessive packaging that is such a part of our modern day existence.


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Note Fraiche/Fresh Note by Côté Bastide


Not only is it a question of what is good for our planet,  it is a question of what is good for our spirit.  Whether we are aware of it consciously or not: 


"What surrounds us either uplifts, inspires and energizes us or bogs us down, overwhelms us and depletes us." 


So today I challenge you to take a tour of your home.  Try to imagine you are visiting it for the first time and see if there is anywhere you can shave a bit of the excess.  Pretend you are an archaeologist unearthing evidence to ascertain how a people lived and what objects were important to their existence.  From this perspective, what do you notice about the everyday items on display and stored there?  What story do they tell you about how that person must have lived?  What do the objects tell you about their experience -their quality of life? 
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Fleurs Blances/White Flowers by Côté Bastide

I'm challenging myself in this matter, too.  As I've written about previously, I do try to edit my possessions on a regular basis (see Breathing Roomand I try to eliminate as much commercial packaging as possible (see Thinking Outside the Box ) That said, there's always room for improvement and nothing can highlight this as well as living through a renovation... 


Argan, Côté Bastide                               (10)



In February, we began a complete remodel of our kitchen with new flooring and radiant heat throughout which meant that the front half of our house somehow had to be re-located to the back half of our house while all that work is accomplished.  Then, of course, in a few weeks time we will be completely flipping the contents of the house once again when they finish the front half and begin working on the back.  (Suffice it to say, this shines a spotlight on any excess in your life as no other exercise can.  gulp.)


Figuer/Fig, Côté Bastide



Renovations aside- any organizing expert will tell you, don't attempt a major overhaul of your life all at once.  It's too daunting.  Instead, set a goal of assessing one area each day or a couple of days each week.  




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For instance, take a few minutes one day and look at the line-up of products in your shower.  Is it a display of beautiful bottles and loofahs and sponges. . . "spa-like" and inviting?  Or could it use some sprucing up?  Could you get rid of some (or all) of the commercial packaging greeting you every day and instead transfer your shampoo, conditioner and other necessity items to jars and dispensers that make you feel pampered and inspired each time you see them?  


French Empire Bath Cabinet by Restoration Hardware
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Ambre/Amber, Côté Bastide

It may take stepping out of our usual mode of thinking about things, but once you set your mind to it, you will see many opportunities to enhance your environment that cost virtually nothing and will reward you every day.  






. . .

As an aside:  In researching for this post, there appears (to me) to be quite a deficit in the selection of beautiful, elegant razors for women.  Another tidbit I found interesting is that it seems there are varying opinions about whether there is and/or should be any difference between a man's and a woman's razor from a purely functional perspective.  (Some believe it is just a marketing ploy: they claim that a woman's razor doesn't need to be designed any different from a man's.)

Personally, I use what is marketed as a man's razor and I find the "men's" options above to be aesthetically pleasing for a woman and would be happy to own any one of them myself.  However, I did find it surprising that the luxury design market isn't catering more to women in this regard.  Where are all the tortoise shell handled women's razors?

I'd venture to say that the average woman shaves more square inches per year than most men (yes?!), yet I found site after site devoted solely to men's products and "the art" of men's shaving.  The few sites where women's shaving was represented, just one or two quality shavers were offered.  And not nearly as attractive as the men's options, in my opinion. 

In fact, (stepping up on soap box and donning critic's hat) when a manufacturer did make a concentrated effort to market to women, the offerings were most often plastic or pink or plastic and pink!  I won't mention names, but one site's campaign strategy actually featured scantily clad girls in garters, heels and bows on their derrieres!  —Seriously, guys?!)

Hmmm.  I find it hard to believe in this day and age,  -surely manufacturers are more aware than that. There must be  sophisticated designs  out there I've missed.  -I'll continue my research.  In the meantime, I have readers from all over the world, so let me know, will you? –Are you privy to something we Americans aren't?  Has the rest of the world been holding out on us?!   First bidets and now this?! 


Razor History - Interesting trivia on the invention of the razor and subsequent improvements over the years.

More interesting facts and 
images of  antique grooming and travel kits
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Baudelaire - Shaving products and advice (for men).  Browse the rest of their site for Provence Santé Soaps (love their Vervain fragrance) and a variety of products for bath and shower.

images:
1&3-Classic Shaving 
2-Côte Maisons  
4&5-Truefitt and Hill 
6-Christie's
7,8,9,10,11,13-Côté Bastide
14-Rasor de Rêve 
12&15-Restoration Hardware

linen & lavender
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Pharmacy Wall Mount Cabinet, Restoration Hardware





You might also like:  Thinking Outside the Box

4 comments:

jamesxvi said...

LeAnn,

Thanks for the mention and for great advice on creating a peaceful space. I could use an 'edit' here as well.

These razors and brushes are beautiful! My grandfather shaved like this, and I'm tempted now to try it. The bottle next to my kit is likely to remain Bel Ami by Hermes.

Peace out.

La Maison Fou said...

Like the post, love the horn bowls pictured above, such a weakness of mine!
L.

JoAnn Locktov said...

I've asked the exact same question~ why are women's razors so horrid. I've always used a "man's" because at least you can find a simple one. So LeAnn maybe this is your calling in life. Tortoise shell, glass, sterling, beautiful razors for women that would compliment their bottles of potions from Santa Maria Novella!

LeAnn said...

Yes! Brilliant idea! Or at least send a letter to a manufacturer, eh?
I must say I have a list about a mile long of "letters I should write." In fact, that's an often expressed joke my daughter and I have: "We should write them a letter." e.g. be it a vacuum re-design or the way a television show is put-together/produced. It happens so frequently, we laugh that by now we would have quite a volume had we actually ever followed through.
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. ~L

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