Hommage Manhattan Travel Razor
Male fashions for facial hair have had one one of their most sustained periods of visibility since the nineteenth century. Variations on a hip hairy face just carry on coming; the full beard, the handlebar, the revival of the Dali moustache, et al.
In fact, you would have thought that times were tough for those in the business of producing razors. However, there will always be many men – or their partners- who find unchecked facial hair a monstrosity, abrasive, inconvenient or a little too close to our barbarian roots for comfort. And there will always be companies producing shaving apparatus to suit their needs.
Some, like the niche brand Hommage, understand that for certain men, it’s not simply a matter of bamboozling the male punter with the latest fads offering crypto-scientific promises of why some new-and-improved razor is so much more effective than anything that came before. Fundamentally, a good razor remains based on the same application of a blade to the surface of the skin that has been with us since ancient Roman times. Producing something in plastic that looks like a handheld version of a sports shoe or better suited to putting together flat-pack furniture might take in some with its promises of improved performance. But for many men, the real essence of shaving lies in its ritual, a private moment as grooming in an otherwise frenetic day.
Hommage understand this implicitly. It’s not that they ignore the more scientific approach to dealing with whiskers. On the contrary, the precise balance of its razors and easy-to-hold broad handle shapes are designed expressly to get in close to the skin. You can see this very clearly in the Monaco razor, the design that first hurtled vaunted industrial designer Wolfgang Joensson into the limelight for his new ergonomic venture in domestic grooming. It has remained a classic must-have design ever since its first arrival almost thirty years ago.
Similarly, Hommage have understood the importance of good design and aesthetic appeal. Producing a limited range of luxurious design objects in top-quality materials fits perfectly with the psychology of the ritual for which they are needed. What could feel better than savouring a private grooming moment with the best design available?
Ironically, though steeped in its appeal as a design object of desire, the Monaco also acquired a reputation for practicality, not only for shaving, but also for traveling: its broad handle tended not to pierce other liquid contents of a wash bag in a bulging suitcase. Since then Hommage have paid more specific attention to their customers’ travel needs. What could give your hotel bathroom more chic than their durable Manhattan Travel Razor with its slick black acrylic finish and sensible rubber base?
Monaco’s razors are stocked internationally by a broad range of luxury product stockists and, of course, in Hommage’s own ‘ateliers’, their new concept stores-cum-male grooming service. Hommage razors come in seven different designs. They range from the classic Monaco in its shiny chrome finish to models with knurled or gun metal finishes. Most models remain based on the wide-handled practicality of the original Monaco design whilst some, such as the Madrid, have adapted this to offering a smaller head end to the razor.
No one can doubt the precision design of Hommage’s razors, but the brand’s offer is much more about understanding a self-image of masculinity constructed through ritual. It’s there in the way it profiles the services of its ateliers and the functions of the other luxury grooming products that it now offers in addition to its razors and shaving sets. For example, the common sense of the Manhattan Travel Razor has a broad appeal to many men who travel regularly and like to spoil themselves with well-designed boy toys. But the gift sets that feature versions of a Monaco razor housed in its own humidor lapse into the excessive. The logic of combining classic razors and cigars seem baffling. Unless quite a lot of your clientele are Bond villains. That said, it is a very beautiful box in grey Italian and anigré wood from Tanzania. If you don’t have a collection of good Havanas that need a home, it’s an indulgent way to keep all those cuff-links, tie pins and other fiddly bits that go astray within easy reach.