AJ, I'd opt for Carmina over C&J. I think Carmina's finishing is a tier above C&J benchgrade. Also, as far as more chiselled lasts go, the Simpson is a lot better looking than the Lowndes, IMO. The Lowndes in sizes above an 8.5 tends to show off its elongated toe, while the Simpson achieves its chisel without being as aggressive. Would you consider other Carmina lasts? Perhaps the Inca double monk in black?
Thanks Brownman. I have tried on the Lowndes with Christian at Herringboe in suede in a size 10 UK (which was a little too large for me). I did not mind the shape too much, but I do know what you mean about an elongated toe (as C&J's strap part seems to end higher on the shoe that the Carmina).
I would look at other Carmina lasts, just a matter of availability and cost as well as look and fit too. Saw GN in the Carmina Simpson loafer and it looked great and I know he has a pair of Lowndes and Carmina monks (not sure of which last though). I might have to search the forum (yes people you can do this, using the Search this thread button at the top of the page!) to get the information a few people (GN included) gave about Carmina last sizing.