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Capturing the Swedish West Coast with L:a Bruket

L:a Bruket Products
I’ll admit that I was first drawn to L:a Bruket by their unmistakably Scandinavian packaging (nominated for The Swedish Design Award in 2012). I kept seeing photos of the line, but never ran into it here in the States. Finally, I got my hands on a good selection, and looks aside, could not be more pleased with the products.

L:a Bruket is produced in the town of Varberg, on the west coast of Sweden. Sourcing local, raw, and organic materials for their formulations, the small company takes no interest in trends of the beauty industry as a whole, avoiding chemicals or filler at all costs; this rustic but modern approach results in a decidedly Swedish, simple-but-effective line.

L:a Bruket SeaweedPerhaps L:a Bruket’s most interesting product is not so much a “product” at all, but Tångbad: dried, hand-harvested Swedish seaweed. Because this variety, Fucus Serratus, lives by filtering the ocean for nutrients, it amasses large quantities of vitamins and minerals. Possessing many health benefits, including circulation improvement and muscle relaxation, as well as antioxidant compounds that help with the signs of aging and treatment to skin irritation, the seaweed helps to recreate a restorative dip in the coastal waters of Sweden, especially when combined with L:a Bruket’s minimalist white envelope of Havssalt.

Like many of its other exports, Sweden excels in the grooming department (think Sachajuan, Verso, Byredo) but perhaps what L:a Bruket demonstrates so beautifully is that simplicity is the premier luxury.

More at: L:a Bruket

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

1. Papabubble Hard Candy, $15; 2. René Redzepi: A Work in Progress, $60; 3. Massimo Vignelli Clear Mug, $12; 4. Pat Kim’s Soap on a Rope, $16; 5. Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrush, $7

6. Acne Studios Pajama Shirt, $320; 7. A Lab on Fire Perfume, $110; 8. Gabriela Artigas Tusk Ring, $195;
9. Lite+Cycle Vetiver Pillar Candle, $36; 10.Takahiro Kurashima: Poemotion 1, $25

Nightscape by Ulrich Lang

When Ulrich Lang set out to create Nightscape, his direction was clear: the strength of patchouli, but not the patchouli you know and are afraid of. Nightscape is not a fragrance that could be classified as “hippy,” or even very earthy, for that matter; the potency works in another direction, one that reads as herbal and heavy-hitting, but not in-your-face.

Many fail to realize that though a common, recognizable, and often discounted note, patchouli, done correctly, can be extremely elegant. One example is Chanel’s Coromandel, by Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake: an incensey oriental that opens with bitter orange and develops into a sensual, rich warmth. And those who have had the pleasure of being in a room fragranced by Diptyque’s patchouli candle know that the smell is familiar, but new in all the right ways.

The thing Lang does beautifully with Nightscape’s composition is avoid the expected. The formula does not deliver a vanillic, overly sweet, or even terribly warm message. It has a crisp, green opening, that then clouds up and lands in a carnal and suggestive place, a sort of comfortable minimalism. A heart note of jasmine lends grace, while geranium and leather balance the unisex wearability. Though the sillage is not incredible, Nightscape’s message is best left close to the skin, all the better to hypnotize with.

When interpreting his fragrance visually, Lang asked photographer Matt Licari to hit the streets of New York, carrying a small lab sample of Nightscape for inspiration. The result, featured on the bottle’s box, is a glittering image of the city that is both modern and decidedly classic: a smart representation of Nightscape’s narrative.

$110, available directly from Ulrich Lang, or at Barneys New York

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

1. Gizmon iCA Military iPhone case, $35; 2. Fort Standard Brass Bottle Opener, $70; 3. Thirdman Eau Profonde, $250; 4. Formosa Wall Calendar by Enzo Mari, $320; 5. Jonas Damon for Areaware Wood Tool Set, $95; 6. Cast of Vices Handcuff Bracelet, $250


6. Prospector Co. Burroughs Beard Oil, $28; 7. Molecular Mixology Kit, $59; 8. Arne Jacobsen Banker’s Alarm Clock, $150; 9. Acne Studios Snowdon Blue, $120; 10. Amy Glenn Safety Pin Lapel Pin, $210



Solid Perfume by Mox Botanicals

The solid perfumes by Mox Botanicals, a Portland, Oregon-based maker of natural grooming products, are made with essential oils and absolutes from both the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Suspended in a base of organic jojoba oil, fractionated coconut oil, Oregon beeswax, and Vitamin E, the wax-like perfume is a quiet alternative to alcohol-based fragrance.

With just three scents, the company has concentrated on quality and unique formulations. Mox describes their fragrances in the most minimal of terms, but the perfume reads as much more niche, and frankly, expensive smelling than the simple notes specified. For instance, Actium, my favorite, and the most male-friendly (though one should not subscribe to the obsolete masculine/feminine rules of perfumery), is listed as containing oakmoss, sandalwood, and neroli; those notes can be detected, but in unison, Actium reads as almost avant-garde in composition, with a balanced accord that suggests motor oil or mechanic’s grease (in only the best way, of course); the scent stays close to the skin, and has no burn of alcohol. Their other fragrances, Arsinoe and Asp, venture in the direction of floral, both with a true sandalwood tone, but not excessively “natural” smelling.

Packaged in recyclable Miron glass, Mox’s perfumes are paraben, sulfate, chemical preservative, and synthetic free. On top of that, the product is priced fairly, and you can be confident you are wearing something unique and sophisticated, but also handcrafted and natural.

Available online at Mox Botanicals, or Woodley and Bunny in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, $44

Cousu de Fil Blanc

Cousu de Fil Blanc is a line of handmade soaps that are produced in the traditional manner by a master soap maker in France. Vegetable-based, color and paraben free, the line consists of a few specific collections, incorporating such ingredients as essential oils, mountain-made honey, clay, tea, and seaweed.

Each soap is wrapped in a sheath of paper with a line of stitching and minimalist tag. The brand’s interest in print and paper work, married with superior formulations, make for a refined and especially beautiful product.

Available at Cousu de Fil Blanc, as well as Colette, $12/bar

Brad Biophotonic Skincare

Brad Hunter originally began formulating his namesake line of BRAD skin care products to counteract the harsh effects of air travel to the skin. Having a history with such major names in the industry as Estée Lauder, La Prairie, and Lancôme, Hunter knew what worked, and combining that experience with his interest and knowledge of the science behind skin care, resulted in a pared-down, to the point line of effective products.

Using a combination of natural components and advanced-light science, referred to as biophotonics, BRAD’s potent solutions implement bio-fermentation, as well as self-stimulating rays of violet light. By taking advantage of the known healing and regenerating powers of these ingredients, this scientific approach restores vitality to the skin via stimulation of the dermal cells, activating collagen and elastin networks.

The unisex line is sleekly packaged in special density Miron glass, which blocks the spectrum of visible light, allowing only violet rays that both protect and improve the quality of the solutions. Bio-fermentation increases the natural value of the ingredients, and allows them to be more readily absorbed and, in turn, more effective.

Scientific jargon aside, most products with this sort of aim come with wildly inflated claims and promises, but I’ve been nothing but impressed by the BRAD products I’ve used; and during a recent visit to Woodley and Bunny in Brooklyn, employees were raving about the line and subsequent miracles it induced. I am especially a fan of the Anti-Fatigue Mist ($65), a concentrated wake up for the face with ingredients such as colloidal silver, geranium, and camu camu berry. Also worth noting are the clinical strength Ultra Elastin ($195) and Ultra Elastin Lift ($210), both of which produce near-immediate restorative results. Because there is no heavy perfume or old-fashioned fillers, the products are both corrective and preventive, without feeling mis-prescribed for a person just starting to show early signs of aging, but shudders at the thought of heavy creams or wrinkle reducers.

BRAD products are available online, as well as at the BRAD Studio in Los Angeles.

Above: Sea Minerals Purify, $45; Universal Cleansing Gel, $55; Ultra Peel, $175

Ron Dorff

Ron Dorff, the men’s sport and athletic-wear collaboration by Swede Claus Lindorff and Frenchman Jérôme Touron proposes a perfect medium between pure Swedish functionalism and simple French classicism in design. The carefully edited, highest-quality collection relies on the classic sportswear design of yesteryear, abandoning excess embellishment, and relying on smart, clean staples – gym clothes with considered design, but not overly-designed (as most big brand gym wear seems to be).  The Ron Dorff signature slogan “Discipline is Not a Dirty Word” finds its way onto several of the garments, and is clearly applied to the brand’s design philosophy, as well.

In addition to the sportswear collection, Ron Dorff also offers a men’s body care line, Skärgård. Developed exclusively by Face Stockholm, made in Sweden, and with a fragrance inspired by the bracing winds of the Swedish archipelago, Skärgård positions itself as line that fits perfectly into the lifestyle Ron Dorff clothing inspires.

The Ron Dorff collection is available worldwide at such stores as Colette in Paris, Harvey Nichols in London, and Jeffrey New York. The full collection is also available online at

Above: “Discipline” Sweatshirt, $130
More at: Ron Dorff

Acca Kappa

Established in 1869, near Venice, Italy, Acca Kappa has built a reputation for fine Italian quality and dedication to simple, but luxurious product. Originally focused on the production of hair brushes and accessories (of which Acca Kappa is still renowned), the brand has developed a full line of bath and body product, as well as dental amenities. With a distinguished history, from royals to luxury hotels, Acca Kappa does not need to rely on any modern gimmicks or trends. Still in the family’s hands, Acca Kappa is presided by Ms. Elisa Gera, the great-great-granddaughter of the original founder, and the company’s products are still being made in Italy.

One of Acca Kappa’s primary draws is stately, simple packaging design, the ultimate representation of what is inside.

My favorite of Acca Kappa’s catalog is their Muschio Bianco (White Moss) line. Based in two of the most lauded Mediterranean plants: lavender and juniper, White Moss reads as warm and clean, with a discrete sillage, and no cloying soap smell, suited to both men and women. Also worth noting are their top-notch men’s shaving accessories – finished in chrome and badger bristle, and elegantly fitted with White Moss shave soap.

The commonality that runs through all of Acca Kappa’s product is that simplicity and integrity reign; from best-quality botanical ingredients, to the subtle impartation of fragrance in their products, everything translates as minimal, without being linear.

Above: Muschio Bianco Aqua di Colonia, $60; Ivory Shave Set, $225
More at: Acca Kappa

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

1. BeeRaw 9-Varietal Honey Flight, $78; 2. John’s Phone, $100; 3. Sachajuan Ocean Mist, $28; 4. Ecosphere, $79-$409; 5. Byredo ‘Fleur Fantôme’ Candle, $65; 6. Billykirk No. 95 Shoulder Satchel, $325

7. Aesop ‘Celestial Mechanics’ Skin Care Set, $115; 8. Papabubble Hard Candy, $25; 9. Cor Sine Labe Doli Ceramic Bow Tie, $175; 10. Le Labo Rose 31 Eau de Parfum, $220; 11. Lanvin Leather & Chain ‘Fleur Naturaliste’ Necklace, $890; 12. Chemex 6-Cup Hand-Blown Coffeemaker, $84