We love an anonymous blogger here at Grazia Daily – the insider stories, the free space to name and shame or praise indeed, and the added game of Guess Who? for us all to play – but there’s one thing we like even more. A big reveal! So, imagine our excitement yesterday, a fine Sunday afternoon, when intrigued by the sudden congratulatory tweets being sent to fashion blogger Disney Roller Girl we checked her blog, a perennial Grazia fave, to find that instead of making her upteenth cup of tea of the day or reading the Sunday papers, the anonymous blogger only went and revealed herself!
We may or may not have known who was the fashion insider behind one of the most successful blogs around but it was still very thrilling. So, everybody say Hola! to Navaz Batliwalla! We caught up with Navaz earlier today to find out more about her – what she does, what she likes et al. - why she decided to drop her anonymity and what does she make of a certain Ms Vogue Italia’s recent comments.
Grazia Daily: Navaz, this must be an exciting day for you, having revealed your identity on your blog just yesterday! What's the response been so far?
Navaz Batliwalla: The response has been lovely. I thought if I outed myself on a Sunday it might go unnoticed but it didn't! I've had lots of nice comments on my blog and tweets and texts. There was one blog comment saying 'who cares', which I thought was quite funny so I published it!
Grazia Daily: Why did you decide to reveal your identity now after being an anonymous blogger for the past four years?
Navaz Batliwalla: I've been thinking about it for months. It just got to a point where everyone knew it was me anyway so I didn't know why I was carrying on the charade. Also, as brands increasingly want to engage with bloggers I realised that I was turning down a lot of great opportunities and missing out. I think I just wanted to take things to the next stage.
Grazia Daily: Being anonymous while working in the industry must have resulted in some funny, near-disaster moments - could you share a few?
Navaz Batliwalla: Oh, there have been loads! I once tagged along as 'me' with a friend to a Net-a-Porter event, which I assumed was just a press launch. It turned out to be a very select gathering of online press personally invited by Natalie Massenet to thank for their support. It was a real 'I shouldn't really be here' moment but she was amazing and I think I outed myself to the PR not long afterwards.
Grazia Daily: OK, let's go back to the beginning; what made you start the blog in the first place and was being anonymous a conscious decision or something that you just did and decided to continue with?
Navaz Batliwalla: I started the blog when I was fashion director of Cosmogirl! in 2007. It was a great job but there wasn't much scope for writing and the freelance work I was doing at the time was also pretty mainstream. I'm quite outspoken so I wanted a place to say what I really thought and also somewhere to empty my head of all the information I was privy to. Being anonymous wasn't a conscious decision, it was just the way a lot of blogs were four years ago but also, I guess I thought my company might not allow me to blog while working full time on a magazine. As time went on and I went freelance, I realised that the 'anonymous fashion insider' angle was really driving the blog so I capitalised on it.
Grazia Daily: So, tell us a bit more about yourself! What do you do in your 'other' capacity and where else can your blog readers see you and your work?
Navaz Batliwalla: Contrary to what people think the blog isn't my full time job. I do freelance styling and writing, copywriting, illustration, guest blogging, creative consultancy, some TV and radio - a nice creative mix of words and pictures. I actually used to freelance a bit for Grazia Daily! I'm going to share a bit more of my work on my blog and I've got some amazing projects in the pipeline that I can't talk about yet. (I know, boring.)
Grazia Daily: Disney Roller Girl, other than getting our vote for coolest-blog-name-around, is regarded as one of the leading fashion blogs here in the UK and internationally. Has this recognition changed the way you blog or what you write about and have there been any 'I can't believe this is happening!' moments? I remember you were pretty excited when Natalie Massenet name-checked your blog!
Navaz Batliwalla: To a degree, as much as I'm fighting it, there's a tendency to self-censor what I write as I don't want to hurt anyone. I could be outspoken about a designer when I only had three readers but I'm more diplomatic with opinions now because there's a chance they might read it (obviously I'm talking about small designers, not Tom Ford!). I guess I'm more professional. I'm always gobsmacked when I get props from a magazine or newspaper that I respect and yes, it was very surreal when Natalie Massenet was talking about the influence of blogs once and looked straight at me!
Grazia Daily: The blog has a distinctive eye and point of view. How would you describe your personal style and could you name some of the designers that get you excited about fashion? Where would we find you shopping and what have you seen recently that you can't get out of your mind?
Navaz Batliwalla: I'm all about comfort and classics but that can be anything from army surplus to Burberry trench coats to ‘70s rollergirls to 80s Fiorucci. There are recurring themes and I just mix and match them in varying degrees. At the moment, I'm really into all the androgynous styling around as that's something I've always liked and in my styling I like mixing menswear with womenswear - I think that's how a lot of us dress now. Designer-wise, I like what J.W. Anderson's doing and also Yang Du - they're worlds apart but appeal to different sides of me. I hardly ever go shopping - I still wear stuff I've had for years - but the edit at Shop at Bluebird is very me and I always check out what Harvey Nichols has to offer as I'm always in the 4th floor cafe. My favourite recent discovery is Lahssan's deconstructed trench coats - he's my name to watch.
Grazia Daily: It sounds like even more exciting things are to come for you and the blog. Could you give us a hint or two as to what we can look out for?
Navaz Batliwalla: I'm in the process of redesigning the blog and I just want to expand the content and put more of my own little shoots on there. I have got some ideas for video content as well but I'm still planning it. What I don't want to do is plaster my face everywhere, I still want it to have the same under-the-radar feel.
Grazia Daily: Finally, the bloggers debate has been going on for a while and things are changing all the time but what's your view on the latest comments from Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani?
Navaz Batliwalla: Well, she contradicted herself a few times but really, what is a 'blogger' these days? Practically everyone has a blog so when people talk about 'bloggers' do they really mean 'amateurs'? I think it's all about the content. If people think you have a valid opinion that you articulate well then what does it matter if you're a professional or not? Personally, I will always want to hear Colin McDowell or Sarah Mower's professional take on a collection but I'm equally entertained by Tavi or The Man Repeller. Why can't we have both?
Why not indeed?
-- Kiki Georgiou