Yesterday I awoke with one of those inexplicable feelings of esprit. The energies were flowing, the early autumn weather stimulating in its tension of changing seasons, and life felt good. Soon I realized that despite no particular place to go save where whim might take me, I found myself in a pleasantly drawn-out session of grooming. I haven’t had a haircut since the lockdown and am in full Ivy-hippie mode as if it’s 1969. But I took extra enjoyment in running the badger bristles along my neck, working the coconut oil into my beard, trimming my mustache, and moisturizing the creeping crow’s feet around my eyes.
Grooming is one of civilized man’s great rituals. In its proper place it is not the narcissistic act of the vain, but something more ascetic. In the tumultuous year of 2020, one thinks of the Mod concept of “clean living under difficult circumstances,” which we posted about during the early stages of coronavirus. We also ran an inspiring post about British reserve and keeping up appearances as a way of maintaining morale during times when it is most in danger of falling into despondency. One also thinks of Baudelaire’s celebrated 1863 essay on the monastic and Stoic rituals of dandyism as “the last stroke of heroism in times of decadence.”
While bay rum has been called the scent of Madison Avenue, St Johns has dubbed vetiver “the scent of sophistication.” At this moment in time you could think of it as a perfect blend: not only in ingredients, but in concept. The vetiver blend created by St Johns is based on herbs man has used for thousands of years — sandalwood, cypress, cardamom, cedar and amber — plus the primary ingredient, which is a grass native to India. You could say the ancient ingredients represent the return to nature many are feeling these days as the antidote to uncertainty, while the concept of sophistication raises these earthly ingredients into the realm of culture, of man’s aspirations to that which is noble and refined.
St Johns vetiver offerings include cologne, soap and soy candles priced from $14 to $75, which you can find right here. Not only will it make you smell and feel sophisticated, vetiver has been used for centuries to both promote mental alertness as well as calm the nerves, and who couldn’t use some of that? — CC