Dave Mancuso and the Art of the Perfect Shave


A Master Barber guides us through a classy and classic experience for men…

You may have noticed that this writer has been on a journey of self-improvement…and I’ve taken you along on the adventure. Together we’ve experienced a men’s spa day at Westgate Serenity Spa. Then we shot over to Cosmopolitan for a visit to STITCHED Haberdashery, followed by a series of sessions at Therma Slim Med-Spa. It was only a matter of time before our next must-do experience would be an expert straight-razor shave.

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There’s no question that when you look your best, you feel great too. And it doesn’t matter what brought you to Las Vegas. Even if you’re here just to sight-see or to attend a special event, those photos and memories are going to last a lifetime. Why not indulge in something that will relax, pamper and improve your looks all at the same time? You’ll get all that and more when you schedule a Premium Shave Experience at The Art of Shaving,

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The Art of Shaving at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place is much more than the usual retail outlets you’ve seen. It’s one of about fifty locations that also features a full-service Barber Spa. The AOS Barber Spas offer precision haircuts, beard trims, scalp treatments, express facials and Premium Packages. But as the name would suggest, The Art of Shaving Barber Spa is home to the world’s best straight-razor shave.

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Dave Mancuso has been with The Art of Shaving since coming to Las Vegas eleven years ago. His first nine years were spent at The Palazzo before transferring to Mandalay Place. It’s at their Barber Spas that Mr. Mancuso can fully utilize the skills he’s developed through thirty-nine years as a Master Barber.

The expertise and elevated level of service from a licensed Master Barber gives this Youngstown, Ohio native a distinct edge over traditional barbers. Dave keeps his license and craft up to date by attending regular Continuing Education courses. The fact that Dave’s also a licensed Cosmetologist ensures that your face and skin will be in the best possible care.

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A visit to The Art of Shaving is often a rite of passage. Men bring their sons here for their first professional shave. It’s also a popular must-do for Vegas visitors when arriving in the city. Just like ladies look forward to the many Vegas spas, men often make it their tradition to receive a straight razor shave when they come to town. And of course, many locals make this part of their regular grooming regimen. “We love our locals” says Dave.

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Walk-in visits are usually available, but it’s easy to schedule an appointment. The meticulously-presented retail area leads to a welcoming counter where you’ll be escorted to the Barber Spa. That short walk from the entrance will take you back decades in time, when the Barber Shop was a masculine cultural experience. The spinning barber poles and classic leather chairs set a wonderful mood for what’s to follow.

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Dave guided me through the entire process beforehand, describing every step in their famous Premium Shave. First comes the cleansing process, followed by hot moist towels to soften the beard and open pores. They’re infused with fragrant essential oils…and incredibly relaxing.

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It was at this part of the process that I started to go into a zone of deep relation. “Many of our guests fall asleep ” Dave told me. “Don’t fight it. I’ll wake you up in forty-five minutes or so” he joked. Fair enough….so I’ll let Dave take it from here in his own words.

I start with a warm steam towel, apply Peppermint Face Wash and cleanse the face using the Art of Shaving Power Brush. Next Peppermint Face Exfoliant is applied, massaged into the skin and removed. Pre-shave oil is applied and then a warm lather on top of the oil.

The Royal Shave is performed using a straight razor with a disposable blade (which is required by law so there is never any cross-contamination). I shave with the grain in which the hair grows, re-lather and shave against the grain. Another warm towel is applied to open the pores.

Rosewater Eye Pads are placed on the eyes and a Rose Clay Mask is applied to soothe and moisturize the skin. The mask is removed and then I give a face and neck massage using AOS After-shave Balm. I mist the face with rosewater and finish with a cold towel to close the pores…and more often than not to wake the guest up.

 

After that refreshing towel brought me back to my senses, it was time absorb the experience…and enjoy the feel and appearance of my smooth, immaculate face. Dave then took me into the retail and demonstrated some of the products that have made The Art of Shaving such a gold standard for men’s grooming.

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The New York City-based company was formed in 1996 by husband and wife Eric Malka and Myriam Zaoui. The two combined their skills to create the ultimate shaving products from natural and aromatic ingredients like those found in the kitchen. They published a book about their research, discoveries and a valuable guide to the ultimate shave in 2002. The company was acquired by Proctor and Gamble in 2009, so now the stores also feature Gillette razors and blades.

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While their high-end product line has been expanded to include all manners of body wash, beard care, grooming and fragrances, the core of their business is what they call 4 Elements of a Perfect Shave. These basics start with their pre-shave oil, a highly concentrated shave cream, a natural-bristle shaving brush and an after-shave balm. I picked up the 4 Elements set and was eager to try them in my own shower.

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“You only need to use a very small amount of our items to get the best results” Dave cautioned me. “One jar of our shave cream, for instance, will last for over eight months. In the rare event that someone is unhappy, it’s more than likely because they’re using too much. Once they use less, they’ll fall in love”.

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I left The Art of Shaving feeling like a million dollars and ready to enjoy a Saturday night on the town. Dave’s departing words were echoed a few days later after I’d given my Art of Shaving products a whirl at home. I wrote to express my appreciation…and my pleasure with the 4 Elements Gift Set. “I love my face again!”, I told him.

Mancuso’s response was priceless: “That is almost always the reaction we hear once someone plays with our products themselves. It will even get better with continued use. ENJOY!!!”

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The Art of Shaving/Barber Spa of Mandalay Bay is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm. It is located at Shoppes at Mandalay Place, 3930 Las Vegas Boulevard South. Call 702-632-9356 to make an appointment with Dave Mancuso. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feel Like a Kingsman at STITCHED


Cosmopolitan’s haberdashery is the ultimate clothier for men of distinction…

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In the 2014 box-office smash KINGSMAN: The Secret Service, master spy Colin Firth passes on some valuable wisdom to young Taron Egerton. “The first thing every gentleman needs is a good suit. Manners maketh man” he tells his protege from their base of covert operations…one that happens to be disguised as a shop for bespoke tailoring.

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You may not find a lair for international intrigue hidden inside Cosmopolitan Hotel Casino. But you will encounter the most stunning and exquisite men’s boutique in all of Las Vegas. Located on the second level, just a whisper away from gorgeous Chandelier Bar, STITCHED Lifestyle Men’s Clothier and Boutique is your gateway to an incredible world of sophisticated possibilities.

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I was first introduced to STITCHED through Mr. Gordon Prouty, Director of Publicity and Public Relations at Westgate Las Vegas Resort. This absurdly handsome gentleman is well-known throughout the city via his position at Greenspun Media Group…and his ongoing involvement with many local organizations.

No matter where I’ve seen him, Mr. Prouty is always impeccably dressed…so much so that I couldn’t help but ask about his dazzling and unique wardrobe. “STITCHED at Cosmopolitan” was the answer. “I’ll take you there some day if you’d like. It could make for an interesting article”. (let’s hope he was right)…

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Gordon Prouty (left) brings his winning STITCHED lifestyle to an outdoor event…

True to his word, this dapper gent arranged for me to meet Ricci Lopez-Hammargren. Mr. Lopez is General Manager and Vice President of Sales at STITCHED. This native of Las Vegas is also an accomplished journalist, voice actor and the newest board member of the Las Vegas Fashion Council.

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When I arrived at the haberdashery, Lopez was finishing up with one of his VIP clients. As I looked around the establishment, the flamenco guitar of QUEEN’s “Innuendo” strummed overhead, creating a marvelous mood for what was to come.

Soon I was receiving a wondrous tour while Gordon tried on some new arrivals. “Shall we begin outside?” Ricci suggested, eager to describe the care that went into creating the STITCHED frontage. Rich woods, tufted wall panels and sconces will undoubtedly grab your attention as you stroll through the resort. Don’t be surprised if your eyes drift upward to the distinctive red-leather lettering that spells out the shop’s name.

Below that, a magnificent door with custom-made hardware beckons you inside. “It looks a bit like a dungeon” Lopez laughed, pointing to the huge slab of dark wood. “And a little like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia” I added in my mind. For once you pass through that doorway, you leave Sin City behind and enter a time when elegance and frivolity strolled hand-in-hand.

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The main area of STITCHED is a dazzling festival of gorgeous shirts, colorful jackets, daring neckties and classy accessories. World-class brands like Tom Ford and Scabal are displayed alongside their own signature XXXX line on racks of re-purposed metal. Those unique displays come from the biking world of Roland Sands Design. Mr. Lopez told me that in the early days of the haberdashery (it opened with the Cosmopolitan in 2010) they actually had a Roland Sands motorcycle on display…along with a Vespa or two.

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While the main selling floor of STITCHED evokes at atmosphere of sophistication, the details lend themselves to moments of the more outrageous variety. Adorning the walls are pieces of taxidermy (not my thing to be sure), photos of well-outfitted celebrities…and shelves of colorful sneakers. High-end sunglasses, luggage, hats, pocket squares and belts are lovingly displayed in glass cases and on stands next to tastefully-weathered tables and cabinets.

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“This space is much more than just a store” Ricci proudly stated, his voice as elegant as our surroundings. “We’ve held parties, art showings, celebrity meet-and-greets, fundraisers….even weddings. I’m very happy that people choose our store to host their events. It’s an honor”.

As we headed towards the back section, I informed Ricci that I’d taken some photos upon my arrival. “Would you mind if I had a chance to straighten things up first instead? I’m a bit of a perfectionist”. Naturally I agreed, but later decided to mostly use existing photos from their Official Facebook page. After all, why attempt to duplicate what’s already been done flawlessly?

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                 Men of all shapes and sizes can benefit from a custom fitting…

To our left was where the STITCHED experience really begins…the measuring room. “Notice the platform where the gentleman stands for his fitting. It’s covered with red carpeting. Being fitted for a suit should make someone feel like a star”. And indeed the atmosphere appears stellar…standing in front of a three-sided mirror as dozens of measurements are recorded.

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Customers can choose clothing from in-stock selections and have them tailored for a perfect fit. Or for the ultimate STITCHED experience, you can have a one-of-a-kind outfit completely designed for you. Ricci and Sam Glaser (Vice President of Purchasing and Operations) have everything necessary to create a suit down to the finest detail.

There are limitless combinations to create your own design. Endless selections of fabrics, buttons, stitching and linings can be ordered from stacks of books if their huge existing selection doesn’t quite make the cut. You can pick your style, cut, lapel width, etc. or have one of the team….even Ricci himself…create one that reflects your style and personality.

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Ricci showed me a stunning jacket that had just been completed for a valued regular customer. The lining displayed a series of personal photographs that belong to the new owner. The final touch was a pocket square depicting the customer’s beloved grandmother. It was a surprise gift on behalf of STITCHED.

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Beyond that area, bathed in natural light courtesy of an enormous wall of glass, the “Santa’s factory” of STITCHED is open and inviting. An actual functioning work space, it’s home to the tailors and their craft. All of the cutting, sewing, embroidery and more occur here. “Other tailors hide this area away. It’s typically just four white walls where unseen craftsmen do their work. To us it’s the heart of our operations, and we like for it to be seen”.

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Along with their usual services, the team at STITCHED are pleased to act as concierges for customers. They’ll gladly arrange for transportation, entertainment…and perhaps even a bottle of their favorite spirits. Many other clothiers have their tailoring done at the Cosmo location. It’s a true reflection of the reputation they’ve built through an epic eight years in operation.

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“We have people fly in into Las Vegas just to come to STITCHED. They arrive at our store, spend a few hours here, then return. They can relax in our lounge, have a cocktail from their own private locker and enjoy the company of friends and other guests”.

Wait, what? A lounge with personal storage areas? As amazing as that sounds, it’s the absolute truth. Our next stop was indeed a lounge that has become the stuff of legend. Offering a fantastic view of the Strip, this man-cave is like nothing you’ve ever seen. The characters of KINGSMAN would feel right at home in this hidden retreat.

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Never before has this writer felt so at home in a place that was completely out of his realm. The STITCHED lounge is indeed the ultimate hangout for athletes, musicians, celebrities and top-tier movers and shakers.

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Across the back wall, dozens of locked cubicles (72 to be exact) display the names of their “owners” while inside, personal collections of spirits and libations await the next visit. Sitting in an enormous tufted-leather sofa, I was almost tempted to reach for a cigar…and I’ve never even smoked one.

“There’s a bit of a waiting list to get one of these” Ricci explained before zipping off to address an urgent matter. While sipping some fine whiskey with Mr. Prouty,  I chatted with Glaser and JJ McKay, a Seattle entrepreneur and creator of lifestyle website The Fresh Toast.

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It was easy to envision that plenty of business deals, influential decisions and memorable moments have taken place in this rather secretive location. From a retailer’s dollars-and-cents perspective, this space could be considered as wasted. But STITCHED is much more than just a retail outlet…it’s a lifestyle. An attitude. An experience to be desired.

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The Vegas flagship STITCHED has become so renowned that Mr. Lopez and his skills are now in demand in other cities. Ricci recently returned from Houston where he was flown in to do custom suits for the Astros team. Two additional STITCHED locations now provide dazzling clothing and accessories for the men of Washington D.C. and Miami.

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The greatest plaudits for STITCHED come from fashion-forward athlete Bryce Harper. He may not have started as an official spokesman, but that didn’t stop him from praising the wonders of his favorite clothier to his legion of fans. Bryce even got married in a tuxedo created by STITCHED for his nuptials.

Back here in Las Vegas, names like the GOLDEN KNIGHTS and Jaymes Vaughan (Celebrity Page TV, The Talk, Chippendales) have permanently-engraved plates identifying their own stored collections. Vaughan frequently shares his @StitchedLife fascination on Instagram. And you’ll see Ricci and team’s creations adorning hot local celebs like Micah Manalo (KTNV-TV), Matt Goss and Ricardo Laguna.

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It would be understandable to feel humbled in the company of such elite clientele. Ricci assures us that everyone is worthy of a quality suit…and he couldn’t be more proud to provide great clothing for the guys of Sin City. “A gentleman always dresses for the occasion” he says. “Strive for excellence and make your work worthy of being in front of a camera”.

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With the holidays and a new year nearly upon us, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to impress…and create memorable photographs. You owe it to yourself to step onto that red-carpeted riser. Enjoy one of the finest things that Las Vegas has to offer and indulge in some custom-tailored clothing from STITCHED. I know I will….see you there!

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STITCHED is located inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel Casino. Hours are from 10 am through 11 pm daily. Call 702-698-7630 for more information. To schedule a personalized fitting, click here.

Photos: STITCHED, Sam Novak, Ricci Lopez/Jaymes Vaughan/Ricardo Laguna/Micah Manalo/Bryce Harper/Gordon Prouty via public social media

 

 

 

Going “Down South” on the Vegas Strip


My latest article spotlights the far southern end of the Las Vegas Strip…

Continuing with my series of freelance articles published via BestOfVegas.com, here’s an exploration into the far reaches of Las Vegas Boulevard….once you venture past the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” landmark sign.

It’s a trip worth taking.

www.bestofvegas.com/articles/down-south-vegas-strip/