In Picton, a historic inn captures its owner’s exuberant aesthetic
Jordan Martin de Rosales’s foray into innkeeping began in verdant Cumbria in northwest England where he thought he had discovered the perfect project, revamping a 13-bedroom castle that had been operating as a boutique hotel. In the end, Martin de Rosales, who grew up in Southern Ontario’s Hastings County, decided to bring the style of British country house hotels back home instead.
What he ended up buying in 2019 was Merrill House, a landmark property on the east side of Picton, Ont. “When I was looking for a place, I knew that I wanted something with a story, something with interesting heritage and then something with great bones,” Martin de Rosales says. “My background is luxury brand management. Thinking about that storytelling element is so important to me so I wanted there to be some material to start with so I wasn’t building that story from scratch.”
Merrill House’s tale begins in 1878, when the grand gothic revival house was built by Judge Edwards Merrill. In the 1980s, it was converted into an inn and, for the decades leading up to Prince Edward County’s hospitality boom, was its go-to spot for a weekend escape. Martin de Rosales’s careful revamp has retained and restored all of its original splendour but it’s also layered in his appreciation for unabashedly eclectic interiors. “Country houses – generational ones – evolve organically and each generation layers onto it and adds their own personality but without removing that which came before,” he says. “I do want it to feel like a home.”
Today, the inn’s 14 rooms each have their own, unique personality (the owner’s suite is layered with William Morris wallpaper, House of Hackney accessories and Zanzibari textiles). Dinner guests are seated in Merrill House’s cellar, lined with the county’s best bottles assembled by wine director Astrid Young. “I want it to be a centre for joy but also art, wine,” Martin de Rosales says. “The beautiful things in life coming together.” – Andrew Sardone
Stays from $295 through merrill-house.com.
Alex Mill’s elevated staples find an international audience
After launching as a men’s shirt label in 2012, New York-based Alex Mill built up a legion of devotees who were drawn to its detail-oriented designs. Helmed by Alex Drexler – the son of Mickey Drexler, founder of Old Navy and Madewell and former CEO of Gap and J. Crew – the company began with a focus on well-considered cuts and craftsmanship, but within a few years, Alex Drexler says, his pursuit of the perfect shirt changed course.
“We thought we could do something bigger,” he says of a conversation in 2018 between himself, his father and former J. Crew creative director Somsack Sikhounmuong. “At that point, we had seen a lot of women buying our shirts for themselves.” So, the trio relaunched Alex Mill to include women’s wear as well as more men’s garments and accessories.
Alex Mill’s offering of polished yet comfortable classics including pleated chinos, jumpsuits and cozy cashmere struck the right chord throughout the pandemic. Sikhounmuong, who grew up in Oshawa, Ont., also touts the brand’s sustainably-minded initiatives. Its ReWork program sees surplus stock given to local creatives to be upcycled through novel design and dyeing techniques.
Throughout the year, the brand also proffers limited edition pieces that are tinted with botanicals including indigo, Madder root and pomegranate at a Pennsylvania dye house. “We feel that we’re doing something that other brands in the market are not doing,” says Alex Drexler, adding that they recently released the first Alex Mill catalogue (yes, there’s a print version), opened a store on Madison Avenue and have started shipping internationally.
This growth has been the result of a seemingly obvious but often overlooked mission: “It’s the idea of being able to capture the pieces that you always dreamed were out there somewhere, but you couldn’t really find,” Sikhounmuong says. – Odessa Paloma Parker
For more information, visit alexmill.com.
With its new grooming range, Clarins translates its skincare expertise to facial hair
French skincare company Clarins has long touted the benefits of botanical ingredients for skin. Now, it’s combining that expertise with the knowhow of master barbers based in France, Norway and the U.K. to create a line of products geared toward shaving. The four additions to the ClarinsMen grooming range include a foaming shave gel, a shave and beard oil and a soothing after shave gel and toner.
When creating the new offerings, Marie-Hélène Lair, director of responsible communication and Clarins brand spokesperson, says that it was important to consider skincare and shaving simultaneously. To that end, the master barbers guided Clarins toward achieving a more seamless regimen that addresses skin prep, efficacy while shaving and post-shave comfort. “They need products adapted to men’s skin, which is specifically thicker, oilier and weakened by daily shaving,” Lair says.
Clarins focused on creating lightweight textures that melt quickly into the skin. Lair says that formulating products geared toward caring for facial hair posed a unique challenge, as it requires its own specific moisturizers and cleansing agents. “To maximize comfort, we have selected soothing organic black currant bud extract,” she says. “Combined with vitamin B5, it is able to instantly calm down the harsh effects of shaving.”
The growth of grooming options is part of a bigger shift in the expectations of men who are increasingly aware of improving their skincare habits. “That is why they are more demanding about product quality and efficacy,” Lair says. – Caitlin Agnew
For more information, visit clarins.com.
A Dyson debut illustrates the brand’s growing interest in wearable devices
It’s indisputable that Sir James Dyson revolutionized small home appliances. You can chalk up his knack for elevating what we expect from our vacuum cleaners and hair dryers to his formative years spent in Swinging Sixties London, where he studied design at the Royal College of Art before becoming an engineer. Dyson makes flair out of function but, until now, he’s never attempted to translate that ethos to wearables.
Coming soon to Canada, Dyson’s Zone combines noise-cancelling headphones with a contactless visor that provides personal air purification. Those features are all combined in a futuristic, lightweight package that’s meant to form a personal bubble around you on a busy morning commute, a walk around a smoggy city or a full flight. “I have been quite interested in what’s going on outside for some time with pollution, so I suppose this is the ultimate answer to the diesel exhaust pollution [problem] that has been going around in my brain for many years,” Dyson said in February at a talk he hosted at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Although Dyson is secretive about the brand’s future plans, the launch of Zone hints at where his engineering team might be focused next. “It’s given us a huge interest in audio,” Dyson says.
Despite this shift, the company isn’t abandoning its roots – or our roots for that matter. The brand’s other spring debut is a new hair care tool launching this month, a dryer-meets-straightener called the Dyson Strait. Taking hair from wet to dry and smooth in one simple action, it joins the Supersonic, Airwrap and Corrale devices in updating grooming tools to improve hair health as much as styling. – Caitlin Agnew
For more information, visit dysoncanada.ca.
At the 2023 edition of Watches & Wonders, idiosyncratic concepts stole the show
In late March, the watch industry converged on Geneva for Watches & Wonders, the industry’s top annual trade show. It was the watch world’s largest gathering since 2019 and showcased new timepieces from 48 of the most prestigious names in watchmaking, from A. Lange & Söhne to Zenith.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Rolex’s exuberant take on the classic Day-Date with its colourful champlevé enamelled dial in a puzzle motif. Available in yellow, white and Everose gold, the watch features inspirational keywords such as Peace, Love and Hope in place of the day of the week, and a selection of 31 emojis in place of the date.
Chopard is known as much for its advanced mechanical watch movements as for its use of sustainable materials such as ethically sourced gold. The newest Alpine Eagle, the 41 XPS, brings both of those strengths to the fore with an exquisitely refined movement measuring just 3.3-mm thick, a case made from recycled Lucent steel and an eye-catching “Monte Rosa” pink-hued dial.
Mechanical watchmaking is a meticulous business, but aside from the highly accurate Oris Calibre 400 movement that makes it tick, there’s nothing serious about the brand’s tribute to Kermit the Frog. In addition to its green dial, it features a portrait of the beloved Muppet that appears in the date window on the first of every month.
The Carrera has been a mainstay of TAG Heuer’s watch lineup since the 1960s, but thanks to a recent design overhaul (and a little help from celebrity ambassador Ryan Gosling) it has never looked fresher. That’s particularly true of a trio of new 36mm models with dials in blue, green, and hot pink. – Jeremy Freed