Tom Chamberlin

The moustache is back

The moustache is back
Timothy Chalamet, The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures)
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It is a grand British tradition, that when trying to raise money for charity, we make ourselves look silly. Nowhere was this more true than with Movember. When Movember first came along, you’d see someone on the streets wearing a moustache and the gut reaction was very much along the lines of, 'Poor lad, he’s doing Movember, good for him for sticking it out.' The alternative is doing something strenuous, and most of us would rather not. In fact the graver the cause and the more insidious the disease, the more irreverence we lather onto it.

This year however, I saw the ads on the side of buses, appealing for support, and it occurred to me that I needed to read the poster before figuring out what it was for. Why? Well because the moustache is back, and everyone has one these days. In a nation that seems increasingly upset with its past, haven’t we all gone Imperialist in our visage? I cannot personally grow facial hair but those that can seem unable to resist it. We are reverting to the days where the moustache was mandatory in the British Army in the mid-nineteenth century. We were tache mad, and society followed suit, publishing a report that said that infra dig, clean-shaven America lost 36 million working days in a year because of men spending time shaving. Our lads in India would 'go native' and follow the local custom of moustaches.

Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Power of the Dog (Getty)

The current trend is not quite a revival of silver-screen matinee idols like Clark Gable; it’s leaning more towards the eighties in its tone. And, if you can't take my word for the moustache being back in vogue, both the Fashion Director and Style Director of GQ are wearing them (Luke Day and Teo van den Broeke). Most famously of all at the moment is the eponym of the wonderful Ted Lasso, who doesn’t exactly imbue it with street cred but nevertheless, a moustache is worn by the good guy rather than a villain. 

Television is a moustache hot spot, Pip Torrens playing Tommy Lascelles in The Crown seems to hold all the posters of state accorded to the Private Secretary to the Sovereign beneath his nose. Christ Pine, Pratt and Evans have all given it a go. We recently shot Benicio del Toro for the cover of The Rake. Here he is looking remarkably cool not just by Greg Williams’ photography and his fifties quiff, but the moustache too. 

Taika Waititi, who is perhaps the most in demand director in the world at the moment, not to mention being achingly cool, is often seen with a moustache. In my world, Jeremy Hackett, he of Hackett fame, is a rabid stroller of Mayfair streets and over Covid has grown out his upper lip with suitable aplomb.

There could be an argument that Movember paved the way for the trend to return, but I fear it to be an unfortunate twist. Adoption of this cause means doing something that stands out, that is different, and that spreads awareness. Like wearing a red or pink ribbon the moustache was about quietly getting a message out there, and so when Elliot Daly or Johnny May lined up to sing the national anthem at Twickenham, it was distinct. Now, prevailing trends waters down the moustache's impact, and I say this with every hope that I am wrong, it could mean less is raised as a result.