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Fashion meets function at The Natural Shoe Store

Natural Shoe Store Charlie May

 

The Natural Shoe Store and I go back a long way. To the eighties to be precise, when its Bass Weejun loafers were the height of cool, albeit far out of reach of my meager pocket money budget. Founded in 1976 by Robert Lusk as a destination for all things earthy and comfort-soled, it was always a bit of a stealth influencer. From appealing to London’s affluent muesli munching post-hippies, it carved itself a niche as more of a luxury stop-off for those seeking functional style and comfort.

Eventually I did grow up to avail myself of its Bass Weejuns, not to mention my favourite red Sanita clogs a few years ago, plus endless pairs of rugged German-made Hirsch socks. Then there were the Birkenstocks. Lusk introduced Birkenstocks to the UK in the seventies, but it wasn’t until the 2000s that insane queues coiled outside the Neal Street flagship store, necessitating full time security staff to keep the peace. The rest of course, is history.

But with global brand availability, it’s harder for retailers to monopolise their niches. They have to expand, diversify and modernise. And so The Natural Shoe Store has had a revamp, enlisting Kuni Awai (formerly an in-house designer for B Store), as its chief buyer.

The Natural Shoe Store 70 Neal Street WC2

 

The remit has broadened to include newer brands and more fashion-forward styles, while staying true to Lusk’s dedication to quality and thoughtful design. German-made Trippen is a key brand. These jolie-laide comfort shoes have an avant-garde appeal and are ethically produced with environmentally-friendly materials. They get an entire wall of the new store (which has recently relocated to 70 Neal Street). Bass loafers are still present and correct, alongside new entrants, Grenson shoes and Charlie May for H By Hudson. (Charlie May’s laceless boyfriend shoes in the main pic attracted a lot of love on my Insta.)

BELOW: TRIPPEN, TRIPPEN, G.H. BASS, GRENSON
The Natural Shoe Store Trippen
The Natural Shoe Store Trippen
Natural Shoe Store G H Bass Loafer
Natural Shoe Store Grenson

 

Birkenstock may have grown into its own behemoth brand, but there’s still a big presence at The Natural Shoe Store. (Awai told me that these Birkenstock £19.99 slides are a huge consistent seller and you can easily see why.)

BELOW: BIRKENSTOCK X 2
Natural Shoe Store Birkenstock
Natural Shoe Store Birkenstock

 

A part of me misses the quiet charm of the old Natural Shoe Store, but Neal Street is a huge tourist destination and Lusk is mindful that passing footfall needs to be attracted by exciting product, not just brand values. That explains the saturated suede designs of French brand Arche as well as Salt Water’s classic seaside-y sandals and Tracey Neuls’ sculptural offerings. It’s eco chic for today’s design-conscious generation and should secure a bright future for The Natural Shoe Store.

BELOW:ARCHE, SALT WATER, TRACEY NEULS, NATURAL SHOE STORE
Natural Shoe Store Arche
Natural Shoe Store Salt Water
The Natural Shoe Store Tracey Neuls
The Natural Shoe Store 70 Neal Street WC2

 

Visit The Natural Shoe Store at 70 Neal Street, WC2 and Thenaturalshoestore.com

WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
IMAGES: Disneyrollergirl and The Natural Shoe Store

Buy it now: Chanel Collection Mediterranee make-up

Chanel Collection Mediterranee

Here’s a brief respite from no make-up make-up. Chanel launched its Collection Méditerranée about ten days ago, a celebration of the Riviera inspired by Coco Chanel’s casual summers of the 1920s. Of course, Chanel invented tanning as a luxury pastime, so the hero item is the limited edition Creation Exclusive Lumière d’été, a camellia-embossed talc-free illuminating powder to gently add a golden highlight to cheekbones and decollete (below).

As with Les Beiges (of which more news coming soon), this has miniscule golden flecks to add warmth but it’s really all about the fabulosity of the packaging. The mirrored compact comes in its own velvet pouch, accompanied with this mini brush for using on the go. (I would definitely recommend the Chanel retractable kabuki brush too.) This is £40.50 but for something this pretty that you’ll use all summer, it’s a good buy.
CHANEL LUMIÈRE D'ÉTÉ Illuminating Powder

I love Chanel’s Fresh Effect Eyeshadows (£23) in these creamy, twist-up pencils. They’re super-blendable and both shades I have are wearable statement makers. Caroube is the kind of minky, bronzy shade that I like as an evening neutral, while I would wear Campanule (a bluey-violet) sheered right down, although I imagine it would look lovely amped up with a tan if you’re in holiday mode.

Chanel Collection Mediterranee stylo eyeshadow in Campanule and Caroube

For nails, it’s all about colour-pop shades of turquoise, violet and red. I know Chanel is famed for its weird colours, but I always revert to its reds and ballet-slipper pinks and beiges. There are some gorgeous beiges coming soon, but for now my favourite is Coquelicot – a pitch perfect summer red. (The other shades are Lavanda – deepest lavender, and Méditerranée, a sharp turquoise.)

For lips, there are five Rouge Coco Shines (£25) and two lip glosses (£22). I have Rouge Coco Shine in Insoumise, a juicy coral, and the lipgloss is Rose Paradis, a scorching pinky-red.

Chanel Collection Mediterranee nail colours in Lavanda, Coquelicot and Meiterranee
5 Chanel Collection Mediterranee

In other Chanel news, this limited edition Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere packaging came out not long ago and is still available (there are ten variations). If you follow me on Periscope you will have seen me wrestling one-handed with all the Russian doll style boxes within boxes! This costs £96 for 100ml and is available on Chanel counters…

Inside this silver sleeve is the elegant white box…
Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere in limited edition silver packaging

Slide apart the white box and there is a smaller silver sleeve within, with a box of perfume inside – the lipstick is there for scale
Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere in limited edition silver packaging

Here’s the bigger white box next to the smaller interior package
Chanel no 5 Eau Premiere in limited edition silver packaging

WORDS AND IMAGES: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl

SHOP THE POST BELOW…

On Trial: Creme De La Mer Reparative SkinTint

Creme De La Mer Reparative Skintint

I’m apologising in advance for the deluge of bronzers and tinted moisturisers you’re about to be hit with. Starting with Crème de la Mer’s Reparative SkinTint with SFF 30. First the bad news: it’s £65 for 40ml. But the good news is it has a tiny nozzle that squirts out the product in miniscule amounts, so there’s zero wastage. And the finish is beautifully glowy and natural-looking. It comes in five skin tones from Very Fair to Tan. (more…)

Hot or not?

Lightweight knits for Spring

What to wear when it’s spring, sunny but chilly in the shade? I default to merino knits that are lightweight but warm and don’t pill up like fluffy cashmere. And denim of course, but I’m looking beyond just jeans to all the clever shapes that have emerged in stiff deep indigo, or gentle chambray blue.

Some of my best merino wool finds come from the men’s department, especially Reiss, whose menswear is brilliant right now, while Paul Smith menswear has lovely extra fine merinos is gorgeous colour palettes. J.W. Anderson is another find, and Vivienne Westwood’s knits are all-year perennials. I can’t not mention my favourite Sibling sweater right now, featuring Madonna in the ‘Borderline’ days. Hell yes please to that.

Denim-wise, Joseph is killing it with its structured shapes in classic sky blue – a bit offbeat but still very wearable. And MIH Jeans just gets better and better – I’m still obsessed with this kimono jacket

WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
IMAGE: Bruce Weber

Rouge Dior Brillant: Goodbye lip gloss, hello pigmented lip oil

Rouge Dior Brillant lip gloss

If this is the future of lip gloss then please count me in. The new generation of hybrid balm-gloss-lipstick is a brilliant innovation and from those I’ve tried, I can’t see any downside.

I’ve talk about YSL’s Volupte Tint-In-Oil before; now here’s the Dior version, a new, improved take on its Rouge Dior Brillant lipgloss (£26.50). (more…)

The Chanel Coco Crush fine jewellery store at Netaporter is open

Chanel Coco Crush fine jewellery netaporter

The Chanel Coco Crush fine jewellery pop-up shop at Net-a-Porter has been open for one hour and already pieces are sold out. (So if you were thinking of splashing £13,500 on the 18-karat yellow gold cuff, sorry you weren’t quick enough). What you can still buy (at time of writing) are the five gold rings. In white gold or yellow gold, they have the signature Chanel ‘quilting’ effect and range from £1,400 to £2,325. You can buy them from the pop-up e-com shop until 6th May.

Click quickly now…

Perfect pairing: Levi’s 501s and fancy flats

levis 501 Repetto

Stretchy skinny jeans are out and old school boy-cut Levi’s 501s are back in a big way, if my Pinterest feed is anything to go by. I wear my 501s with as few rips as possible and I get them custom hemmed at the Levi’s store to sit just on the ankle bone. Spring feels like the right time to switch my heavy-soled Church’s lace ups for my balletic Repettos with gamine ankle ties. On top I’m thinking puff sleeved Victorian blouses or something similar from MIH jeans, Chloe or Margaret Howell.

Repettos are best worn sans socks, but then there are the many options of fancy flats cropping up everywhere which look great with fine gauge Falke socks or fluffy cashmere equivalents. My favourites are pancake flat with a pointy toe and an ankle strap or T-bar.

Miu Miu, Tabitha Simmons and Bionda Castana are on my fantasy wish list, the more bejewelled the better. Shop the edit below…

WORDS AND IMAGE: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl