Pre-order my new book: Face Values

DROP EVERYTHING, it’s a major news day today!

I’m finally able to talk about my second book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare Secrets, which will be appearing in warehouses any day now and in shops on September 16th.

Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare Secrets is not your average beauty how-to book. It’s beauty through a lifestyle lens, a show-and-tell of identity stories, beauty philosophies, wellbeing rituals and relatable skincare revelations from a truly wonderful global line-up of contributors.

What is Bethann Hardison’s unusual relaxation ritual? How did a frustrating skin condition influence Gucci Westman’s make-up line? What’s Linda V Wright’s grey hair hack? Which superstar DJ can’t live without her Byredo candles, Weleda Skinfood and her neti pot? The key takeaway is not to sell you products and ‘perfection’ (although there are product recommendations) but to celebrate the sensorial everyday rituals that make us feel good in an overwhelming world.

While the official launch date is September 16th, the pre-order is almost as important, so if the book piques your interest (or you enjoyed my first book), do consider pre-ordering it from Waterstones*, Barnes & Noble, Walmart*, WHSmith, Foyles, Hatchards, or Amazon* to give it a head start and some added visibility. (Oh, algorithms!)

For more info you can see inside the book here

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Credits to come
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 pre-order my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare Secrets

Can Gen Z save Gap?

“Gen Z likes to look for Y2K trends that haven’t become popular yet, so they can be the first to find things. They come across brands from the aughts, like Gap and Von Dutch, and try to rework them and style them in a way that’s fresh.”
Gen Z TikToker Domynique Badillo on saving Gap, Refinery29

I went into Gap in Oxford Street last week to see if there was anything I could buy before all the UK stores close down. The only thing I fancied were a lone pair of stripy PJs that were way too big (I bought them online instead) and some racer back tanks that I left on the rail as the fitting rooms were closed – #Covidtimes.

The piles of jeans didn’t appeal and the once coveted white cotton shirts just seemed unalluring and neglected. By the entrance were benches laden with Gap logo hoodies and tees. Which might, possibly, be the one hope (along with this one of course) Gap currently has for future success – Gen Z. This Refinery29 story maps out the resurgence in interest from the young demographic tapping into its 90s-noughties appeal. The question is, will it be enough?

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Emma Chamberlain in Gap
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 pre-order my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare Secrets

Suddenly I want to smell like a coconut again

 Maya Njie Tropica fragrance

Well this is awkward. After a lifetime a year in relative isolation during which my longest journey away from home has been the decidedly unexotic Hastings pier, I find myself craving tropical coconut-laced smells.

That’s maybe not so surprising though. As with the power of touch and what’s known as ‘skin hunger’, the pandemic has not only literally stolen the sense of smell from some unlucky individuals, it has also heightened the link between scent and nostalgia.

“Fragrance can control your mood,” says perfumer and founder of her eponymous brand, Maya Njie. “If you’re feeling low and you need a boost, put fragrance on and it will elevate you.” Njie’s popular fragrance Tropica* (above) does exactly that with its transportive notes of fig, pineapple, fresh citrus and musk, blended with what we all consider the smell of eau de suntan lotion, the all-important coconut note.

Coconut is the omni-present heart of such classics as Tom Ford’s sultry Soleil Blanc* and Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess*, a summer ritual so popular it has inspired a mini sub-brand of ancillary products. (I 100% recommend the Smoothing Body Crème*). So potent is its power, it appears to have spawned an entire TikTok aesthetic. ‘Coconut Girl’ is this summer’s teen trope that encompasses hibiscus prints, 90s Roxy bikinis and the nostalgia of grainy disposable camera photos. Or in short, “youthful summer optimism” according to Nylon. Even supposedly avant-garde Comme des Garcons got the ‘Coconut Girl’ memo. Its brand new collab with cult L.A label ERL is a coconut-heavy eau de toilette called, unashamedly, Sunscreen – aka ‘the scent of Venice Beach’ (below).
ERL X Comme des Garcons SUNSCREEN fragrance

Coconut won’t do all the heavy lifting on its own though. To really bottle beachy escapism, you need the sweet notes of vanilla or its more sophisticated sibling, tonka bean, a sultry waft of white floral – jasmine, ylang ylang or neroli – and a juicy twist of citrus. Juliette Has a Gun’s Sunny Side Up* eau de parfum says it all, a unisex ‘skin scent’ that starts out fresh, bright and floral, leaving behind a musky dry down. Vanilla Vibes* (below) is less about the sex-on-the-beach coconut note and more about the après-beach warmth of vanilla, sea salt and musk.
Juliette Has A Gun Vanilla Vibes

For the less floral-inclined, citrus is the way to go. One of the most enduring summer classics is Creed’s Virgin Island Water (below). Still going strong since 2007, its blend of coconut, lime and white bergamot, with a floral heart and sweet, rum-laced base notes is familiar, wearable and cool. Another light citrus is Sunspel’s Neroli Sun eau de parfum* (below), a Lyn Harris creation that blends bitter orange, English herbs and neroli. It’s my gentle citrus of choice and a good holiday-esque scent for the coconut-shy. Meanwhile, Byredo’s Sundazed eau de parfum* couldn’t be a more timely release. Olfactory escapism in a bottle, this sweet-and-sour cocktail stirs up mandarin and lemon with candyfloss, neroli and musk.

Sunspel Neroli Sun

Back to ‘skin hunger’, the combination of tactile body oils and creams with mood-boosting aromatherapy ‘feels’ is perfect for a summer of back garden staycations. Summer Fridays just launched its Summer Silk Nourishing Body Lotion*, an indulgent cream scented with coconut and almond, as well as its Pool Time Glowing Body Oil*, a blend of macadamia, jojoba and sunflower oils infused with coconut, warm almond and vanilla blossom.

Then there’s my eternal favourite, NARS’ Monoi Body Glow I. This elusive deep bronze oil – scented with tiare blossom, white frangipani, ylang-ylang, and vanilla – is currently having stock issues but if you’re quick, Fenwick has it here. Or try the equally lush untinted version, NARS Monoi Body Glow II, here. One other sensorially uplifting recommendation: the Urban Apothecary Coconut Grove Luxury Hand and Body Wash*. I discovered this line at The Conran Shop and it’s so nicely formulated. Coconut Grove is clean, sweet and citrusy with a tropical coconut heart sharpened by bergamot, lime, mandarin and mint.


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Maya Njie, Comme des Garcons X ERL, Juliette Has a Gun, Sunspel
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

Stroll on – could city revamps be the passport to retail rebound?

It’s re-entry time! While the world’s flagship shopping cities have seen their fair share of retail casualties, they’re starting to pick themselves back up again. From London to Paris to New York and even Zürich, it’s clear the battle for tourist dollars is stronger than ever.

“La Samaritaine is like a really pleasant stroll. And when you’re strolling, there are surprises, you discover things, you feel good,” says Eleonore de Boysson, region president of Europe and Middle East at LVMH’s DFS Group. In case you blinked and missed it, La Samaritaine is LVMH’s recently reopened Paris department store, after some 16 years of renovation. Located on Rue de Rivoli and restored to its Nouveau and Deco splendour, the multi-building emporium also encompasses a Cheval Blanc boutique hotel and twelve restaurants.

De Boysson’s description is an excellent one to sum up what’s special about Paris retail. The city of flanneurs (definition: a French term meaning ‘stroller’ or ‘loafer’ used to identify an observer of modern urban life) invites its visitors to engage all their senses, exploring at leisure. As such, La Samaritaine’s Pont-Neuf neighbourhood has been revamped with the Rue de la Monnaie now traffic-free – apart from a newly enthusiastic cyclist or ten.

This all feels part of a plan to reassert Paris as the destination for all things romantic and cultural. Nearby, François Pinault’s new art museum joins the Louvre and Notre Dame, while La Samaritaine’s store design (above and below) is noted for its blend of modern architecture with classic heritage (think Liberty on steroids).

As well as its roster of luxury designers and Europe’s biggest beauty hall, the store celebrates what de Boysson describes as a “young, friendly and inclusive take on luxury” with Loulou, its high-low concept store that marries souvenir merch with hi-tech gadgets. La Samaritaine’s food offer is equally democratic. As well as the high key tourist restaurants, there are reasonably priced eateries intended for local office workers to grab a lunchtime bite.

In fact, food has become a major component of the post-Covid retail-scape. As fashion stores remained low on footfall, their owners got inventive, parking café tables kerbside to lure passers-by. Ralph Lauren may have lost its Regent Street store’s bar and café (my meeting place of choice – R.I.P), but for now those customers can convene on the outside terrace of its New Bond Street flagship. Meanwhile, Browns’ new Brook Street townhouse is as popular for its courtyard ‘Native’ restaurant as its ‘frictionless’ technology. Vogue Business reports that Native accounted for a third of visitors across the store in its first two months of opening.

Likewise, when Dior’s headquarters reopen in Paris, they will include a superchef-helmed restaurant, while Fendi is getting plenty of social clout for its various pop-up ‘Fendi Caffés’ around the world. These convivial additions are proving to be a big draw for those people who want something more experiential than shopping by phone, especially after a year of enforced e-commerce. Plus, these more casual eateries serve a further purpose; they’re a great entry point for people dipping a toe in the luxury arena. For example, a Fendi croissant and coffee could suffice when a Fendi Croissant handbag is out of reach.

While Paris is celebrating the ‘art de vivre’, London is playing catch up. Alas, we don’t have any dazzling department stores opening (in fact, we have lost Debenhams in Oxford Street and our beloved Topshop flagship), but we hope to numb the pain of Brexit and duty free shopping woes with the Elizabeth Line tube line opening next year. Fingers crossed it should help to reinvigorate the Bond Street social shopping scene. Like Pont-Neuf, plans are afoot to pedestrianise Oxford Circus later this year, providing ample opportunity for alfresco gathering and traffic-free flanneuring.

In other cities, it’s the business of beauty that’s ramping up retail. In New York, Condé Nast’s Allure magazine just opened its much-hyped Soho store, bringing its editorial authority to the sales floor (below). Its point of difference is a product edit reliant on endorsement by the magazine’s editors. If products haven’t been featured in Allure’s pages, they won’t get stocked on the shelves. Product is accompanied by interactive technology such as smart mirrors and scannable codes that give out consumer reviews. In-store events, masterclasses and panels are also scheduled in, a logical way of editorialising the bricks and mortar format. And ‘beauty guides’ are well placed on the shop floor (in Glossier-style pink jumpsuits) ready to answer questions, thus reinforcing Allure’s tagline as The Beauty Expert.

Meanwhile, Glossier is experiencing its own retail resurrection. While it was forced to close its cult stores during the pandemic, an $80 million cash injection will pay for new openings in Seattle, Los Angeles and London later this year. New York will follow in 2022. The beauty brand built its success on its online community and direct-to-consumer nous but it’s clear that the IRL try-and-buy model still holds appeal. Stores these days serve as billboards for digital companies and as online advertising costs rise, beauty brands see stores as an alternative customer acquisition tool. With their unique, location-specific interiors, Glossier’s stores have become key tourist destinations while their ‘phygital’ hybrid nature offers real time data on how customers interact with the product.

The shift from media brands to retail destinations is another growing trend. Magazines suffered hugely during the peak of lockdowns, causing publishers to look at additional revenue streams. Aside from Allure, Condé Nast is looking at retailising Bon Appétit and The New Yorker, a testament to the strength of those publications as brands beyond the printed page or screen.

The media-to-retail shift is also happening in another recently barren area – airports. Specifically Zürich Airport, which somewhat unexpectedly is positioning itself as a hub for the new-gen global luxury consumer. In November, Highsnobiety will curate an experiential concept store called GATEZERO selling 15 international brands including Comme des Garcons, Byredo, Jil Sander and Balenciaga across categories from fashion to grooming to watches. Alongside the concept store, an activation space will host limited-edition product drops and collabs as well as a GATEZERO print magazine.

“Travel retail environments are full of luxury brands and products, but none of them focus on the new generation of luxury consumers like we do,” said Highsnobiety CEO & Founder David Fischer to explain the strategy. “New luxury is inclusive, value-driven and inspirational. Together with Zürich Airport, we will build a shopping experience that reflects just that and brings luxury brands to the airport, which have not been seen before in this kind of environment.” With luxury brands rapidly aligning themselves with young status-hungry consumers, travel retail is the perfect gateway to reach this captive audience.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: to come
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