Trend Watch: Men’s Grooming is Blooming in Poland
If you want to look your best and do it the manly way, the Poles can show you how it’s done.
The top-selling Booze & Baccy, Beard Oil & Moustache Wax has quickly made its way into the Polish cosmetics scene in cities like Warsaw and Krakow, but most interestingly, Poles from all different backgrounds are opening stylised and fashionable barber shops that are well worth stepping into. It turns out this is all part of a long tradition in Poland, a country where posh preening finds its natural home.
Early Polish Cosmetics
Poland may not be necessarily known for its barber shops or bearded men, but there certainly were key Polish figures in history who indulged themselves in the cosmetics business and became world-class magnates. Two names directly come to mind: Helena Rubinstein and Antoni “Antek” Cierplikowski.
Helena Rubinstein (1872 - 1965) was born into a Jewish-Polish family in the Kazimierz district of Kraków. After relocating to the United States at the outbreak of the first World War, Rubinstein established one of the biggest early cosmetics companies. It still operates under her initials, HR - Helena Rubinstein- Beauty, Care & Make-up Products, outcompeting names like Elizabeth Arden.
Respected not only as a self-made millionaire, but also as a proto-feminist, as well as a philanthropist and early collector of African and Oceanic sculpture who made friends with artists such as Picasso and Dali, Rubinstein’s life was most recently represented in a Jewish Museum in New York exhibition named after her famous quote, Beauty is Power.
Another famous name from the early 20th-century beauty scene was Antoni "Antek" Cierplikowski (1884 – 1976), known as the world’s first celebrity hairdresser. Working in Paris as Monsieur Antoine, Cierplikowski became known for his signature haircut, “the Bob”, which still remains a favourite among stars such as Katie Holmes and Rihanna.
Barberians from Warsaw
Following the footsteps of Rubinstein and Cierplikowski, certain barber shops and men’s cosmetics stores are blooming throughout cities like Warsaw and Krakow… There is more to the story.
Mark Twain once said: “What one experiences in a barber shop the first time he enters one, is what he always experiences in barber shops afterward till the end of his days.” With their various decor, from charming and sexy to trendy and hipster, Warsaw’s barber shops can be described as places offering unique experiences for men of all kinds - by this we mean death metal musicians as well, of course.
The Barberian Academy & Barber Shop at 25 Emilii Plater was established by Nergal, front man of the extreme Polish black and death metal band, Behemoth. Born out of curiosity and passion, The Barberian Academy not only provides haircuts but it’s an actual academy for barbers. It was the first place in Poland to hold workshops and trainings held by masters invited from around the world. Anyone interested in learning the craft from a death metal musician can check out the Barberian Barber Shop Facebook page.
The Beardshop is a web-based men’s cosmetics dealer, but it might be fair to call it some sort of curiosity cabinet for skater and motorcycle boys. Rostowski Barber Shop, another men’s grooming space with a compelling interior is located on Koszykowa Street.
The locations Warsaw’s barbers have picked for themselves aren’t random. If you trace the map between them on a casual street stroll, it’ll come as no surprise to see most of Warsaw’s hipster hotspots lined up along the way.
Krakow’s Butter Cut
Calling themselves “old school, but never old fashioned,” Krakow’s most famous men’s grooming salon by far is Butter Cut. They don’t take reservations and serve on a first-come first-served basis. Passing by Butter Cut, the usual scene is a group of young, urban, mostly tattooed men waiting in line to get groomed.
Another super-trendy dealer of grooming products is Lulua. They handle various brands of high-quality men’s fragrances, shaving lotions and accessories, as well as skincare products.
As sexuality remains a hot debate topic along with evolving life and fashion styles, it looks like the beard is here to stay as a big part of the contemporary flux. It’s exciting to stumble upon some of these fashionable barber shops as one strolls through the Polish urban scene.
Author: Elcin Marasli, August 2015