Shaving Product Review - Barrister and Mann "Vespers"
Value (Cost, Packaging and Performance)
Lather (Density, Glide and Feel)
Post-shave (Healing, Moisture and Feel)
Scent (Quality, Strength and Longevity)
Every year, the Christmas Market of Goslar, Germany opens in late November to international acclaim. Arguably the most famous Christmas Market in the world, the idyllic setting and beautiful forest of lit fir trees have captured the imaginations of artists and dreamers alike for hundreds of years. Barrister and Mann is proud to be among them.
Vespers is the product of a specific picture, the image of a quaint mountain town in late December, snow falling gently on the peaked roofs, lights twinkling in the square. As one of the historic meeting places of Lower Saxony, we felt it necessary to incorporate our legendary version of Mousse de Saxe ("Saxon Moss"), in all its velvety darkness, into any fragrance representative of the village. Onto this we layered cranberry, cardamom, balsam, and a fern accord for a spicy-jammy-forest character. Patchouli, rose, sandalwood, and bergamot round out the rough edges to produce a scent one might expect to waft from a merrymaking hall on a chill evening. Vespers is the ultimate comfort scent for the dark months and we're very excited to release it this winter.
I've done a lot of reviews of #BarristerMann goodies over their history - in fact, almost every product they've released! Click on the hashtag to browse them all, or check out the History of Barrister and Mann for a more targeted approach. I actually got the Vespers trio shortly after release on November 15, 2018 - and have used it numerous times since... But haven't gotten around to reviewing it until now.
Not only is Vespers a new scent for the 2018 holiday season, the soap also heralds the arrival of the new Excelsior formula. Right up front, I'll say that both are winners, big time. The scent is a sleeper; probably dismissed as "another seasonal, holiday scent." But Vespers is so much more than that. Likewise, the soap base is a bit of an evolution; combining the best properties of White Label, Glissant and Barrister's Reserve soap bases in a tallow and lanolin formula, while addressing complaints.
Let's talk about the soap base in detail first. We all loved the White Label (and by extension, Black Label) soap bases. Then along came Glissant which improved glide and slickness but was a softer product - like Barrister's Reserve. While I didn't mind the former, the latter I never totally warmed up to. Of course, when it was dialed in it was absolutely great. But more often than not, lathering was a little finicky; the proto-lather being kind of stringy and just a little weird. The product to water ratio lay in a narrow tolerance. This new base brings all the performance improvements of the past together while addressing the softer, odd consistency that bothered many.
So how is it in actual use? Just about perfect. It's a harder soap, more like White Label so loading with any brush and water temp is easy; no stringiness at all. The lather is bountiful; thick and creamy. I was able to generate a scuttle full with my fairly standard loading time of 30s, no problem. Water tolerance is fairly wide as well. Performance wise during the shave, the lather had loads of cushion, with excellent primary and secondary lubricity. After the great soap reformulation race of 2018 it's plain to see that Barrister and Mann has still got it. If they chose this base alone going forward, I'd be a very happy camper. The downside (you knew there would be one) is that it contains lanolin, which some people are sensitive to. For them, the Barrister's Reserve soaps are the way to go, which will continue in parallel.
Now, about that scent... I call it a sleeper because many may have dismissed it as a seasonal/holiday scent or maybe not taken it quite seriously. Yes, it has elements that lend themselves to such an accord... Like notes of cranberry, cardamom and balsam. But there's a lot more going on here - additional notes including a fern accord and a base of patchouli, rose, sandalwood and bergamot. Sounds good so far, right? What caught my eye immediately, and made this a must-have is the inclusion of their awesome recreation of Mousse de Saxe ("Saxon Moss")...
This accord is amazeballs all on its own. It's deep and rich, warm and elegant. Enjoying it immensely, in Lavanille it made picking up the full monte of Vespers a no-brainer. You can think of both fragrances as sort of siblings. Whereas the former is more citrusy and floral, the latter is more fruity and herbaceous. Both have interesting, contrasting bright and dark elements to their accords that are wonderfully balanced.
Scent strength of the soap is a healthy medium; the aftershave a touch stronger. The Eau de Toilette really seals the deal and extends longevity to most of the day from the fairly standard few hours of the aftershave. Projection and sillage are both about a medium. You can easily detect the fragrance on clothing the next day. This is the real deal.
Hardware today consisted of my newly refurbished #TimelessRazor #TRBR38 in bronze. Wait, what - refurbished? You may remember this razor after receiving a heavy patina treatment making it appear like a lost relic, dredged up from the sea floor. I loved the look, but missed the bright, golden finish it's so easily capable of - and needed a good cleaning anyway. After a (old) toothbrush and toothpaste pre-cleaning... I grabbed some Noxon Metal Polish and a microfiber cloth and hand polished the shit out of it (I did the same treatment on the stainless razor). Some spots exhibited a little bit of etching or otherwise just stubborn oxidation, requiring judicious use of crocus cloth and additional polishing. The end result is a better than new finish! A fresh #PolSilver blade, a complementing #WildWestBrushworks brush with a 24mm Tuxedo knot and the #GTP scuttle rounded things out.
As luck would have it, you can still get Vespers as it will be produced until March 1, 2019... While the soap and EdT are available, the aftershave is currently shown as out of stock on the Barrister and Mann site. So check back and also check third-party/vendor sites as well. If you're a fan of Lavanille and similar deep, elegant fragrances - you're going to want to scoop this up. This is a win-win-win for the Barrister and Mann gang.