SS21 trend report: What will our ‘New Look’ look like?

Christian Siriano SS21

I feel rather disconnected from Fashion Month this season but this image caught my attention.

It’s last Thursday’s Christian Siriano SS21 show and the colours, plus olde worlde Slim Aaron’s-esque glamour (tempered with the now-normal sight of a Covid mask), place it firmly in the space of aspirational longing. Longing for parties, whimsy and unbridled joy instead of caution and pragmatism.

My overarching goal for following the SS21 shows is to understand what ‘fashion’ is going to look like for all of us for the next few years. This season’s shows will set the tone for that. For the first time in my lifetime, I think we could have a Dior’s New Look moment.

What do you think will be the 21st century New Look and who is going to create it?

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE:  Simbarashe Cha / New York Times
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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How to work from home (and actually get things done)

office chair with Hermes throw

While certain sectors of society are keen to get workers back into their offices, others are looking at a longer-term future of working from home. What that future actually looks like is anybody’s guess. But I think we’ve adjusted to the idea that we’ll continue to spend a certain amount of time kitchen table-bound – at least for the short-to-medium term.

Or maybe things have progressed beyond the kitchen table?

As a long-term work-from-homer, I’ve always had a desk in my own office space, although ironically, pre-Covid my ‘working from home‘ routine involved being at home as little as possible. I much preferred working from a local café with all the ambient noise that offered. But now I’m at home a lot more, I’ve become more mindful of my rituals and productivity processes. Here are the hacks that work for me (with a little input from my friends).

MARK YOUR TERRITORY. If working from home is going to become part of your new normal, get a proper desk or corner that you can call your own. It’s so much easier to focus and switch off with physical boundaries. I use a secondhand three-drawer desk with a single shelf above it for my pen pot, scented candles and lucky brass egg. If space is tight though, I like the idea of a simple wall mounted desk*. A decent desk lamp is also essential. I love my BTC Hector that can clip onto a shelf, or try a classic Anglepoise from Manufactum (but try not get seduced by the sea of office supplies and body care potions).

how to work from home - space saving fold out desk
Architectural Digest - wall mounted desk

While it’s good to limit visual clutter, a framed abstract or graphic art print can be a handy focusing tool while waiting for inspiration to strike. “I framed up a massive Ed Ruscha ‘Hope’ poster, a small, frugal change that transformed my living space,” says my accountant friend Joe. “It’s more Zoom-meeting friendly too.”
Hope Ed Ruscha poster
LEARN HOW TO SIT PROPERLY. Back and posture problems have increased nearly 25% in the U.K during Covid times, according to research by Lenevo. A sofa, kitchen chair or bed may work short term but if home working is going to be a permanent reality, you need a proper, supportive chair. Ideally an adjustable, swivel one that will prevent you being lodged in one position, like the classic Arne Jacobsen Oxford*. Or the popular Nova* from John Lewis (but soften it up with a sheepskin throw or cushion). As an alternative you can also go for the super lo-fi option – a Swiss ball. Seriously, this is what I have used for nearly 20 years. It keeps me mobile and doubles as my exercise ball when I feel like doing some impromptu sit-ups. If you have back issues, check out posture and Feldenkrais expert Maria de Sousa, whose YouTube has some useful pointers on how to correct bad sitting habits. Which brings me to my next point…

TAKE BREAKS AND DRINK WATER. If like me you’re a reluctant water drinker, encourage the habit by investing in nice glasses or a carafe. The trip to refill the carafe is also a reminder to take a screen break, walk around and keep all your limbs moving. Coffee breaks are important too. My friend, journalist, author and founder of That’s Not My Age, Alyson Walsh is an advocate of the fika (Swedish coffee break) to break up the morning. “I mastered the art of coffee making during lockdown and I’m pretty chuffed about it. All the coffee shops were shut so I had no choice.” She uses her coffee break to enjoy a quality brew on her balcony, a good way to get away from your screen, while upping your intake of vitamin D at the same time. (Incidentally, what is it with men and their intricate, oversized coffee contraptions? Are coffee machines the new cars?)

GREEN UP YOUR DESK. With no outdoor space to speak of, Joe turned his tiny London flat into a mini Columbia Road Flower Market, with an abundance of garden plants. “The oxygen from them is probably what’s been keeping me alive. The plants are a welcome distraction and unintentional mindfulness practice,” he says. Having some control over his botanical brood during the bleakness of lockdown also felt somewhat empowering. “I felt small doses of achievement seeing my plants thriving in this micro environment. I find myself taking breaks from work to rearrange the pots and water the thirsty but glorious hydrangeas. I believe in taking breaks so we’re ‘working from home’ and not ‘living at work’.” This sentiment is echoed by Olivia Kaufmann, UK head of PR and Communications for L’Occitane and Erborian. “I filled my front room with plants during lockdown,” she says. “When you are at home all day I think it is so important to be in a space you love.”

Architectural Digest - keep plenty of plants in your home office

IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS. Some days, the monotony of the bedroom-to-desk commute can get to you. If you lose your focus mojo, try an invigorating smell, like citrus, rosemary or tomato leaf to boost concentration. Check out L’Objet’s room sprays*, Shay and Blue’s hand lotion* and Bella Freud’s classic fig leaf & tomato candle*. Meanwhile, the brand new line of Loewe candles* scented with cypress, tomato leaf and beetroot (below) also sound promising, and look great in their glazed terracotta pots. Another focusing tip: Plugging into binaural beats is unexplainably effective. This recording will get you in the zone in seconds and help you meet that deadline however distracting your environment. The MyNoise app is amazing too, while the Freedom website blocker is recommended for locking you out of social media in emergencies. That said, despite our digital reliance, sometimes going analogue is best for coming unstuck from a problem. I use my Muji gel pens and plain sheets of A4 paper to draft any important work in long hand. Words have a way of flowing from my brain to my pen faster and more eloquently sometimes than brain into keyboard.

Loewe ceramic candles

GET THE ACTION HABIT. Did you know that procrastination is simply a fear of failure? Without office colleagues and the pressure of presenteeism, procrastination can creep up on you. Especially if your motivation has taken a thrashing in recent months. Remember, motivation always follows action, not the other way round, so don’t wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something. Just do the thing first, even if it’s as basic as writing ‘to do’ on your to-do list. I recommend The Magic of Thinking Big* if you’re in a funk, and for recent freelancing newbies, Sheryl Garrett’s The Creative Life coaching service and email course. My three quick fix tips: 1) break overwhelming jobs into manageable micro-goals; 2) commit to just five minutes of an unappealing task (chances are you’ll keep going); 3) write that difficult email you’ve been putting off and park it in drafts. When you’re feeling stronger, just hit the send button.


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

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Can elevated basics help fix the fast fashion problem?

Back to Basics - the rise of blank staples

What’s the appeal of blank staples?

H&M just launched Blank Staples, a line of sub American Apparel plain sweats and tees marketed in the millennial language of muted minimalism to capture the post-COVID, stay-home crowd. Meanwhile, COS (also owned by the H&M group) has launched its Core by COS* collection, which will feature seasonal wardrobe essentials for men and women.

The H&M product (below) actually looks really nice. I’m not a tracksuit kinda girl but I do have a fetish for superior quality heavyweight sweatshirts and hoodies. The Blank Staples line is a collaboration with the media brand Highsnobiety, so is targeting the maturing streetwear crowd who want quieter sporty staples. (more…)

What should I buy from Chanel Beauty?

Boy de Chanel beauty and make-up

A friend WhatsApped me to ask what beauty products she should get from Chanel.

This friend is well-versed in beauty so I was surprised she asked me, but actually I really do rate Chanel beauty. It manages to be of the moment, yet never bandwagon-y or too out there. Even when Lucia Pica debuted with her all-red collection, she executed it in an incredibly elegant way. And I’ve honestly never met a Chanel skincare product that didn’t agree with me. Here are the staples I recommended that I use all the time…

HYDRA BEAUTY MICRO SERUM. Unlike most serums that come in teeny dropper bottles, Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum* is more of a water-gel. Its main property is hydration, courtesy of a plumping lipid extracted from the camellia flower. For me it’s a lovely wake-up-your-skin product for any time of year that feels quenching and refreshing.

BOY DE CHANEL. A newish sub-range from Chanel beauty, Boy de Chanel (above and below) is ostensibly its men’s skincare and make-up line. But its conciseness also makes it perfect for make-up minimalists who don’t want too much choice, just a ‘my face but better’ effect. New to the line is the fab Fortifying Gel Moisturizer*, which both Mr DRG and I have been enjoying using this summer. It’s extremely light but just as effective as a rich cream, containing hyaluronic acid and antioxidant Costa Rican green coffee to strengthen and protect the skin – note the macho action words! The dark navy, frosted packaging is also extremely cool [gift]. Make-up wise, I’ve been very impressed with the Matte Concealer*. In a creamy slimline stick format, it’s not quite as long-lasting as my holy grail Cle de Peau concealer but it still gives excellent coverage, blends well and comes in eight shades (I wear number 14 medium). The 3-in-1 Eye Pencil* is for the guy who is more Johnny Depp than Johnny Cash. You can use this as a smudgy eye shadow, a lower lid kohl pencil, or an upper lashline eyeliner (my preference). It’s super-soft (so don’t drop it) and pigmented and comes in three shades.

Boy de Chanel gel moisturizer

HEALTHY GLOW BRONZING CREAM. This cream-gel bronzer has a near-mythical status for its ease of application and subtle sunkissed finish. It has recently been reformulated so it’s slightly creamier than its predecessor, Tan de Soleil. This product is best applied with a kabuki brush to the tops of cheekbones, edges of hairline and the bridge of the nose. One tub will last for several summers. The only downside to this is it only comes in one shade. I think it could afford to stretch to at lease two more. Buy it here*.

LES BEIGES WATER FRESH TINT. For foundation-lite types, this unusual water-oil formulation is like nothing else you’ve tried. It gives the lightest veil of coverage, while the oil component keeps skin hydrated throughout the day. It comes with its own mini kabuki brush (but you can easily use fingers) and is now available in darker shades. Buy it here*.

BAUM ESSENTIEL MULTI USE GLOW STICK IN ROSÉE. A new shade for this multi-tasking stick balm, it can be used to add a moisturising sheen to lips, lids and cheekbones. I usually use the colourless one, but this rose-tinted version* adds a little more colour with very little effort. Buy it at Chanel or Nordstrom.

ROUGE COCO LIP BLUSH. For a super-natural wash of colour on the cheeks, I love these sheer gel-cream formulations. I think these perform best as cheek products and while they do need replying, they’re fast and foolproof. Corail Naturel* and Teasing Pink* are my year-round staples.


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Chanel Beauty by Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
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