Ali, British Library, London.
[All photographs by Jonathan Daniel Pryce].
Atip, Shoreditch High Street, London.
I've been an admirer of the photographers over at street style blog Les Garcons de Glasgow for quite some time, as well as offshoot men's style blog Another Garcon, and was pleased to see that Jonathan Daniel Pryce was launching a new project, 100 Beards. The idea is simple but very engaging: snap a different man and his beard for 100 days, recording the results on a dedicated Tumblr. Seeing this week that he'd completed the first quarter of the project, I was keen to find out how things were going.
"The beard trend has been growing for the last five or six years, I'd say, and it's now reaching public consciousness on a widespread level," says Jonathan. He believes that it has "another three or four years" before the fuss dies down. Not only is now the perfect time to look at facial fuzz in terms of it's value in fashion, but also because it's something that really interests Jonathan: "I think there is a real subculture - every man with a beard seems to have a knowing look in his eye."
Gregory, Swanfield Street, London.
The current hot favourite in terms of popularity is the portrait of Gregory on Swanfield Street, which has been the most shared photo so far. My personal favourite is Ali, photographed at the British Library; there's a real intensity to the image and I also love how his beard merges into the rest of his hair and yet it's a completely different style, peppered with grey. I'm also drawn to Derek in London Fields, the knowing look of Michael on Leonard Street and the piercing that cuts through Atip's beard (shot on Shoreditch High Street). What's more, Atip's stripy loose-fit Comme des Garcons t-shirt is cleverly set against rigid striped shutters, making for an interesting mixture of lines.
I wanted to ask Jonathan if there was any correlation between how a man keeps his beard and how he dresses, assuming that the neatness of one would equal the neatness of the other:
"What I have noticed is those with sculpted beards tend to dress in a sporty, high street looks. My favourite though is actually an inverse correlation, which is something I find quite frequently. By that I mean a big, bushy, unkempt beard with a sharp, tailored suit and button down shirt."
The project already seems to be spreading like wildfire, with Twitter users in particular getting excited about both the concept and execution. "People feel they have ownership over it, which is a great feeling," says Jonathan. "I'm really pleased with how it's going, although it's much harder than first expected!"
John, Evelyn Street, London.
These days it's not uncommon for blogs to turn into books or for bloggers to become hot property. So where does he see the project going? "In terms of end results, I'm really looking forward to the exhibition which I'm planning at the moment and looking into getting a book published." I can certainly see these images working on a larger scale and lighting up a gallery. There's also Jonathan's other project, Superior Interior, which finds out if your dress sense extends to how you dress your home, and is hosted on Another Garcon.
One concern that Jonathan has is that "I don't want it to just become the hipster show," referring to the current trend for beards (and what I called the 'Shoreditch/Hoxton hipster style'). His solution is to be as diverse as possible, "selecting a broad range of facial hair." You can definitely see this just by scrolling through a small range of photos, but on a grander scale it's going to be a fascinating look at different approaches to the beard. I had no idea it was such a personal and idiosyncratic thing, but now I can see that it's a huge form of self-expression for those who decide to put down the razor. Not only that, but individual participants have their own stories to tell. Jonathan enthuses:
"The most touching photo for me is John. He emailed me last week thanking me, as his mother has days left to live and smiled for the first time in weeks when shown the photograph. It's those sorts of moments that mean a lot to me."
If you want to see the photos and learn how to participate in 100 Beards then do check out the Tumblr site and see for yourself, as well as looking for the #100Beards hashtag on Twitter. It's great to see that men's style is being given platforms such as these, and I look forward to seeing how it concludes.