The life, style and skincare secrets of Linda V Wright. An extract from Face Values by Navaz Batliwalla
After the success of her first book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman, freelance fashion editor, founder of the Disneyrollergirl blog and my good friend, Navaz Batliwalla has turned her focus to beauty. Writing her second book during the first lockdown, Face Values is a guide to the ‘new rituals and skincare secrets’ for women of all ages. This is not your average beauty book. There are no step-by-steps or how-to’s, and it’s about how we feel as much as how we look. In the introduction Navaz talks about identity and how we see ourselves, and is critical of the beauty industry for ‘pushing an unachievable agenda’. Fortunately, she also points to research from a 2019 Mintel report suggesting that almost a third of women in the UK have reduced the number of products in their beauty routine. We are consuming less and caring for ourselves and the planet more.
There are numerous interviews with a wide range of women, a couple of men, a trans activist and a person who identifies as non-binary. The conversation is centred around wellbeing and rituals and taking time for yourself. Naturally, I’m drawn to the older interviewees, including the activist and model Bethann Hardison, photographer Ellen von Unwerth and sustainable skincare range founder Susanne Kaufmann. I was particularly interested to read Linda V Wright’s story as I’ve followed her on social media for years and love her offbeat, gentlewoman style. How pleasing that Linda’s low-maintenance beauty philosophy feels very similar to my own. Navaz was kind enough to let me share with you the extract from her book below. (Find details of where you can pick up Face Values at the bottom of the page).
Linda V Wright (written by Navaz Batliwalla)
Born and raised in West Texas, Linda V. Wright was led by an early modelling career to Paris. Now based there as the owner of the classic knitwear boutique Crimson, she delights in welcoming visitors from around the world, while dispensing life learnings and style advice to her faithful Instagram followers.
West Texas women are known to be of forceful character. I was born and raised there, among the cotton fields, dust storms, rattlesnakes and ranchers. Thus, I naturally inherited a certain willingness to make something out of nothing. When I was 24, I made my first trip to Europe, and it was during this time that I fell in love with Paris. So, when I was 30, and at the very end of a modelling career in the USA, I felt it was time to try something new. That was 42 years ago. Today, I am the proud owner of a beautiful shop in the middle of Paris called Crimson. The boutique has existed for 36 years, and I had the privilege of taking over the business and seeing it evolve over the last 16 years. We specialise in designing beautifully updated, classic cashmere styles in Scotland and enjoy a reputation for always having a beautiful range of colours from which to choose.
My childhood was extremely difficult and there was never enough money except for the bare essentials. I mention this so that you will understand that dreams need hard work to come alive. Do not let them be lost as a passing thought without the action needed to make them become your reality.
When I was a teenager and did not have the resources to buy that pink Oxford shirt that all the cool girls in my high school were wearing, I thought style was for everyone else but me. Wrong! Beauty, style and taste belong to everyone and do not come with a price tag. Each one of us has an understanding of what those three words mean. There are no judgements to be made.
I do feel that wellness equals beauty, and not the other way around. Obviously, this is such an individual and intimate routine for each one of us. I find that the beauty industry and the many products available have become overwhelming. I am a more than willing participant in this ever-expanding business of beauty products. I can’t help myself! I love trying a new cream or a new serum. However, the information is endless, and I am still searching for those products that simply work for me.
I have my speech prepared when approaching the consultant on a skincare stand. It goes something like this: ‘Hello, I am hoping you can help me. As you can see, I have spent far too much time in the sun and I have what is referred to as mature skin. At the same time, my skin is problematic and prone to redness and dryness. Do you have a miracle product?’ After a little laugh, we get down to business.
I always opt for the richest creams available in any skincare line. A major factor – and one that is a bit tedious, but makes all the difference in the performance of a skin moisturiser – is the massaging that assures the absorption of the cream. I start my massage at the neck and work my way up to the forehead. I also knead the cream into my skin. Think of kneading the dough while making bread and work the cream into your skin in the same manner. This increases the blood flow and gives my skin a certain glow.
Make-up is non-existent in my bathroom. I prefer a nice clean face with my skin looking nourished. The glow is the goal.
In September 2017 I had a transient stroke after a flight from San Francisco to Paris. My neurologist explained to me that I had created the accident myself, since my exercise routine had taken a back seat to me showing up early in my boutique. Stress had taken the place of meditation, and drinking a litre of water a day was non-existent. So, now I have a morning exercise programme and I do not allow myself excuses to skip. It’s never too late to turn your life around.
I was around 15 years old, when my grandmother first introduced me to the notion of wearing perfume. She took me to the one and only local drugstore in our small Texas town. I remember the pride I had when choosing my very first perfume with Pearl (that was my granny’s name). I chose Bluebell, because I liked the colour of that pale blue glass bottle. My problem with perfumes is that they have always given me an immediate headache. But I have found my ultimate solution: Jo Malone’s body cream in Nectarine Blossom & Honey. This is my most treasured moment every morning.
Hair speaks volumes about the confidence of a woman. This has become a crusade I have taken on. Going grey and growing older is a privilege we should embrace. I had my last fling with blonde hair when I was about 50 years old. My hairdresser in Paris – David Mallet – said, Let’s have some fun. So we cut my hair very short, dyed it white, and then I let the grey grow in, while continually cutting, until it was all natural. I have never looked back. I love when I can run my fingers through a healthy head of hair. Leonor Greyl’s hair products are the best. There is a fabulous choice of shampoos, moisturisers and masks.
I must admit that I am a bit confused about this whole anti-ageing campaign. Why deny yourself the pleasure of accepting yourself at this age and relaxing a bit? Yes, I try to keep those wrinkles at bay with a good skin care regime, but I certainly am not beating myself up when I see them appear. They reflect my life, and my experiences. The same with my body. Would I prefer to not notice the shift of weight in some areas? Definitely! On the other hand, you can ease these problems with eating correctly and doing some regular exercise. In the end it is all about quality of life. Ageing is a privilege denied to many people. Respect your age, young or old.
I am constantly trying different skincare lines, and I change regularly. However, I do not give myself permission to try something else until I have wiped the last dollop of that cream out of its jar. I will admit to loving those little sachet samples. I always say yes! They are great for packing when travelling. I look like a child in front of a candy counter when the consultant is placing them in my purchase bag.
With age, my attitude has changed about how and what I might buy. I have always had a love affair with fashion, so I have zealously consumed throughout my adult life. This has changed. I no longer have the desire to buy something I know will give me pleasure for only one season. In this process, I have managed to garner a wardrobe that means more to me. Buying quality has always been important and this remains the same. What remains a factor when I purchase a piece of clothing is my desire to stay relevant to current fashion. So, yes, I still buy for evolution but not revolution.
I love having the first early morning hours to ensure a certain good energy level for the day. Breakfast consists of my favourite buckwheat tea that I buy at Toraya, my preferred Japanese tea salon in Paris, and some fresh organic fruit or a piece of gluten-free toast with honey. Afterwards, there is a quick change into exercise mode and concentration for a one-hour home-grown exercise programme. This consists of some stretching, upper-body muscle-toning exercises with light weights, working on the ever-difficult middle section of my body and finishing with a sun salutation.
Running my boutique, Crimson, is a full-time job, but I love communicating with those who are kind enough to accompany me on my Instagram journey. I rely on this particular social media to help me convey the messages that I feel are encouraging. If I were to be completely honest right now, I should admit that my goal is to help ladies of a certain age feel happier with themselves. Technology has given me the opportunity to reach out and give them a hug and some help. I love when they write back to me and say I have given them some style inspiration, or they appreciated my honesty on a certain subject. That vote of confidence makes my day.
My own bath and grooming space at home looks quite bare. I have white porcelain jars and white porcelain glasses as containers. The counter tops are clean with only the essential necessities for my morning and evening pampering. I no longer buy anything for my personal skincare regime that is presented in a plastic container. This is one of the latest in my conscientious decisions to help clean up this planet for the next generations. We must all be involved. End of story.‘