Ape to Gentleman recently had the honour of interviewing Aaron Hales, editor of the new concept luxury online magazine, The Montebury. No-one can explain the tale behind its conception better than the founder, so I started with the question:
EA: What made you decide to start The Montebury Magazine?
AH:The Montebury Magazine is the result of one aim – to take the men’s luxury fashion magazine online. Our Creative Director (Benoît Durand) and I sat down in early 2009 to discuss exactly what was missing from men’s fashion magazines. We wanted glamourous, sophisticated, product-focused editorial that stepped outside of the box and dared to acknowledge the diversity and experimentation that exists within men’s fashion, whilst all the while emphasising luxury and quality. We wanted to exhibit great products and work with companies who produce exceptional pieces. There was nothing online that covered luxury fashion for men and anything that was portraying men’s fashion, usually did so without any refinement. So, we set to work on combining the quality and luxury found previously in paper magazines with the efficiency, reach and flexibility of the internet. The first issue of The Montebury Magazine was published in May 2009.
EA: How do you see the future of the magazine?
AH: As human beings, we do not like change. The concept of the paper magazine has been around for a long time and there will always be those who will be willing to champion it. We are in a transitional period at the moment, but in my mind, the future of the magazine is very clear. The way in which we access and engage with media has completely changed, and as technology develops and becomes ever more integrated into our daily lives, we will see the magazine become digital as standard. One cannot deny the economical and ecological advantages that digital publishing has over print.
EA: You’re a man of very honed and exacting taste, what would you say was the main influence in developing your current style/tastes?
AH: [laughs] My style has unfortunately not always been as honed as I would like. I have learnt to be very honest with myself, which is essential. I know what works for my body and what makes me feel great. I also know and accept what looks awful. Your clothing, hairstyle, fragrance etc. should represent your personality, because people will remember these things. If people sense that you are confident with your style, then they will have confidence in you. Personally, my style is constantly developing but I always return to some basic rules. I prefer the colours to be limited to no more than three, I insist on a maximum of two ‘key pieces’ (a patterned jacket, a decorative scarf, an intriguing tie etc.), and I always opt for matching. I adore formality and uniformity with variation, and I have a soft spot for pattern. This is all perfectly represented in Rigaud’s painting of Louis XIV of France. The fabric, pattern and texture is numerous but everything is seamlessly integrated. 18th century men’s fashion was really onto something…
EA: What do you think of the current relationship between Men’s Fashion and Male Grooming?
AH: Unless dictated by a trend (such as the need for a particular hairstyle), male grooming is heavily neglected. I have unfortunately met plenty of men who are happy to brag about their designer garments, but fail to master the basics of hair and skin care. Regardless of style and taste, it is important that all men keep themselves well-groomed. Healthy skin and well-kept hair go a long way.
EA: Do you use any male grooming products and which one would you identify as your favourite product? Favourite brand?
AH: Through my work, I have had the opportunity to test the majority of the products on the market. I follow a strict schedule of cleansing, toning, moisturising, microdermabrasion, face masks, eye treatments and much more. Saying that, before any man considers grooming products, he should ensure that he is drinking enough water. Keeping the skin hydrated is absolutely essential. It is also important to know a bit about ones skin. Is it dry, oily, somewhere in between? A lot of men are surprised when expensive products do not work, but this is simply because they have not taken the time to find out whether the product is right for their skin. One product is not going to work for everybody, so it involves a bit of trial and error.
However, there are some products that really work for me. The Anthony Logistics deep pore cleansing clay mask is a light but effective mask that is great for controlling blocked pores, particularly across the nose. I like to start the week with a microdermabrasion from Alford & Hoff, which has proved to be quite efficient. It removes flaky cells and leaves the skin feeling polished and fresh after an active weekend. As a daily moisturiser, I use Crème de la Mer, which has been the most effective at keeping my face glowing without appearing shiny, and moisturised without feeling oily.
EA: I’m sure you have come across many unique and luxurious fragrances both in your own time and in writing for The Montebury Magazine. Which fragrance would you say really struck a chord with you, and why?
AH: Fragrance is very important, which is why time must be taken to find one that suits. It is fine to change fragrance, but a solid image is based on consistency. One of my personal favourites has to be Silver Musk by Nasomatto. It is an extrait de parfum (contains a high volume of perfume oil) and has such a unique scent. It is not overpowering, but it manages to mix fresh and cool with pure seduction, which certainly leaves a lasting impression on those in the vicinity! Tom Ford’s ‘Private Blend’ collection contains some interesting fragrances, my favourites being ‘Bois Marocain’ and ‘Tobacco Vanille’.
EA: And finally Aaron, if you had one piece of advice you could give to anyone, what would it be?
AH: When I was a child, I was given this advice: be yourself, nothing is impossible and always ensure that your shoes are polished. I’ve lived by these ever since.