Brands

R.I.P Virgil, passer of the flame



Virgil Abloh Louis Vuitton

“I don’t come from where I’m supposed to come from. So I have to prove that this is design, that this is art, that this is valid.”
Virgil Abloh

Sad times in fashion. The news of Virgil Abloh’s untimely passing (from a private 2-year rare cancer illness) rocked the fashion world this week. But also created shock waves beyond. A pop culture icon whose influence stretched way past the boundaries of the catwalk, Virgil epitomised the modern-day Renaissance man who created product, music, happenings, communities and perhaps most importantly, the myth of the man himself.

Despite all the post-mortem plaudits, as a designer, he was polarising.

He was accused of copying, producing too many collabs, lacking finesse and focus. He was criticised for producing merch, not luxury. Was his brand appealing to me? Not really. Did it matter? Not at all. For the businesses he worked with, he had the Midas touch among a generation of fashion outsiders who craved participation and acceptance via owning the It thing. (He spoke of designing for ‘the tourist and the purist’.) He had a great sense of timing, repackaging the zeitgeist for the new young hype luxury customer. And he did so at any price point, from his Louis Vuitton menswear collections to his €10 version of the IKEA shopper.

Perhaps most tellingly from the outpouring of love on social, his legacy was not necessarily design, but a human connection with – and cheerleading of – those coming up the ladder after him. He certainly seemed to enjoy messaging any number of young creatives. Maybe excessively. ‘Clout’ DMs shared in the last few days show he seemingly was on texting terms with hundreds of people for whom his encouraging words propelled them to aim high.

All very admirable, but did this vast output lead to his demise? I’m curious to know what drove him to push himself so hard. Ego? His own need for acceptance? Or something else?

I remember in 2019, when his doctor ordered him to take 3 months off his relentless travel schedule. His doctor obviously knew something we didn’t. Yet, Virgil continued to push ahead, hustle harder than ever, cementing his place in fashion history while championing the new guard. It seems to me as if he felt a duty to continue his work clearing a path for the under-seen and under-heard, perhaps knowing that he only had a small window left to do it in. Quite a remarkable lack of ego, if that’s the case. As he once told Highsnobiety, “My goal with all my work…is that I want another person to come in after me and do things that wouldn’t have been able to have been done before.”

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Louis Vuitton menswear by Virgil Abloh
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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Highsnobiety just opened its concept store – in an airport



Highsnobiety Gatezero Zurich Airport store

Last week saw Highsnobiety open its concept store, Gatezero’ at Zurich airport. For six months, the bricks-and-mortar location will sell a hypebeast-friendly selection of products and exclusive releases from over 20 brands. Think Acne Studios and Gucci RTW and accessories, Comme wallets and Ambush jewellery. Plus travel essentials like toothbrushes and night masks.

From the pictures it looks perfectly pitched for the emerging new-luxury customer for whom brands and insider status are important. So, the hype fashion brands (Bottega, Balenciaga, Loewe and Saint Laurent) are also part of the buy, as well as beauty favourites Aesop, Byredo and Barbara Sturm. Naturally, there’s also a special Gatezero merch line (also available here).

As European cities start to tentatively welcome international customers again, the airport retail concept feels like a timely move for Highsnobiety to extend its media brand to a wider audience.

“Since before the pandemic, the idea of multi-brand marketplaces has been seeping into travel retail, and we’re now seeing more examples launching,” says DRG retail editor, Alison Farrington. “The Highsnobiety collaboration embraces new types of luxury customers, offering zeitgeist brands and exclusives that are a good fit for Zurich’s unique traveller profile. The attraction of a physical space where HNWI travellers pass through who are open to trying a curated mix of products, showcases how this type of editorial-meets-commercial concept can be reframed as luxury travel retail, with the core offer managed by a new type of changemaker ‘retailer’.”

Highsnobiety Gatezero Zurich Airport store



WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Highsnobiety Gatezero Zurich Airport store
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman
CLICK HERE to buy my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare



(Back) on my radar: Jigsaw AW21



Jigsaw AW21 trousers

I found myself in Jigsaw a few days ago and was very impressed with the new direction. I’ve not been in for quite some time and to be honest it had dropped clean off my radar.

The coats, knits* and trousers are especially strong, and of course, the silk shirts*. Creative director Jo Sykes first caught my attention for the silk shirts she designed for Matches many moons ago. It looks like she has duplicated the cuts and fabric quality for Jigsaw AW21.

I’m going back to try on these khaki Bardot pants* (although ideally I would prefer them in black or navy). Plus these square toe Cavalry boots*. I shall report back.

NOW CLICK BELOW TO SHOP THE POST (I MAY EARN A COMMISSION ON THE BASKET VALUE OF ITEMS BOUGHT*)…

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Jigsaw AW21 womenswear
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman
CLICK HERE to buy my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare



Did blogs change the fashion industry?



blogs in Vogue

Sad but true, blogging is considered something of a retro curiosity. Now that everything 2000s is trending, we’re seeing quite a few nostalgic deep dives into the early days of fashion blogs, aka the grass roots movement that upended the publishing industry.

Vogue US has a podcast here, which uncovers the anonymous online identity years, the democratisation of fashion shows and early Fashion Week street style (throw back to that time Tommy Ton’s team mobbed my friend at LFW for a photo of a hole in his sleeve!).

But you can also go back to this live discussion between myself and then Vogue UK creative director Robin Derrick, which took place at the Apple Store in Covent Garden. Robin tweeted me in November 2010, asking me to co-host the event which would take place in February 2011 to mark the launch of the Vogue iPad app. I remember the Vogue PR team telling me it would be recorded for a podcast and having no idea what that was. I was also terrified, as I was still a Gossip Girl-style anony-blogger up until that point and this was going to be my coming out party!

I relistened to the podcast a few weeks ago and found it fascinating how right Robin was with all his predictions. One question that has seemingly been edited out of the Q&A at the end was from Lyst founder Chris Morton, challenging Robin on whether blogs were ‘going to eat you for lunch’. I guess Vogue didn’t much like that question, although I recall Robin answered it pretty well. Anyway, Vogue is still here and so are blogs, so it looks like there’s still room for us all.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE:Matthew Brookes /Vogue
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman
CLICK HERE to buy my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare