Replicating a Michael Freedberg (/u/cadinsor) shave with Barrister & Mann Cologne Russe and the iKon X3
I blogged the video of Michael Freedberg’s shave earlier, and I think it’s worth watching. It’s interesting how much information can be effectively imparted with a well-structured and well-produced video.
I used Mr Pomp, a very nice brush from a UK vendor who has closed up shop. With Cologne Russe Barrister & Mann has changed the packaging and also the formulation. The packaging is exceptionally good. The jar has a substantial feel, a squat cylinder with a flat top and bottom that will stack well. Although B&M follows common practice in not filling tubs (which helps lather novices load the brush without making a mess), the empty space is not excessive.
The side of the jar indicates the fragrance (extremely useful to have this information visible when jars are stacked), and it includes “05 Shaving Soap with Lanolin and Shea Butter.” I assume this marks the specific formula used, and that there are probably B&M shaving soaps 01, 02, 03, etc. If that is the case, it is nice to have the formula easily identified. EDIT: It’s not the case, though: see update below.
This is a tallow-based soap. The ingredients:
Potassium Stearate, Aqua, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate, Potassium Tallowate, Sodium Tallowate, Potassium Ricinoleate, Potassium Shea Butterate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Coconut Milk, Fragrance/Parfum, Sodium Shea Butterate, Carthamus tinctorius hybrid (Hybrid Safflower) Seed Oil, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Allantoin, Lanolin, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Citrate, Tocopherol Acetate, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein
The lather is excellent and easily aroused. The fragrance is extremely nice. B&M notes:
Based on one of the oldest forms of perfume, Cologne Russe is a throwback to a scent created by the House of Guerlain for the Russian Royal Family and discontinued in the early twentieth century. Notes of lemon, bergamot, petitgrain, and herbs dry down to violet, rose, bay, and amber. The scent is distinctly warmer than most other cologne-type fragrances, owing largely to its inclusion of castoreum, benzoin, and vanilla. Clean and elegant without the aloofness of some other scents, Cologne Russe is the perfect way to brighten your morning before another cold, bitter winter. . .
We blend all of our fragrances in house and by hand; we do not and never will use pre-blended fragrances for our soaps. Each batch of fragrance is individually blended for a specific batch of soap; we blend our fragrances each and every time to ensure the absolute highest quality.
The price of the soap is $20, so it’s on the high end (though less than, say, Meißner Tremonia, another excellent artisanal shaving soap, which is $25/tub. For that sort of price you expect something better than the run of the mill, and B&M deliver in Cologne Russe: exceptionally good package, presentation, lather, and fragrance. This one is definitely gift quality, so mark it for some future gift occasion for some traditional shaver.
Like Freedberg, I used the iKon X3 (to be released any day now), with mine on a UFO handle. Once again I get an easy, trouble-free BBS result. Its a fantastically good razor (for me), and I’m hoping that it will be released this month (surely!).
The aftershave is excellent, and one of the good things a video allows is demonstrating how to detect the various fragrances. By drawing your attention to the “unfolding” of the fragrance, Freedberg helps the novice understand that it can be more than “splash, slap, and go” for those who pay attention. The aftershave, like the soap, is $20. Its ingredients:
Denatured Alcohol, Hammamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Aqua, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Fragrance, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Extract, Panthenol, Sodium Lactate
Altogether a great shave, and the Barrister & Mann products contributed substantially to the quality of the shave.
UPDATE: An email from B&M clarifies one point:
“05″ actually refers to the so-called “Mighty Handful,” five Russian composers active in St. Petersburg in the late Nineteenth Century who developed a very distinctive form of Russian music. Each soap will have a number that refers partly to the origins of the fragrance; The number designation on Seville, Number 04, which is the next soap to be changed over, refers to the four major political leaders who were elected in the city after the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in Spain. The numbers are definitely not obvious references, but it was something kind of neat that we wanted to incorporate into the packaging, much like the specific topographic maps that make up each animal (Cologne Russe’s map comes from Siberia).