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August 2017 / People / by Liz Skone James

Power Dressing

Stylist, blogger and model Roxie Nafousi is on a mission to make people feel good, not just in what they wear, but in themselves, too. She tells us how

As the summer draws to a close, the fashion world is abuzz with excitement at the prospect of the shows and parties of London Fashion Week. It goes without saying that for those who work in the industry, stylist, model and blogger Roxie Nafousi among them, this is one of the highlights of the year. “It’s a lot of fun, the atmosphere is amazing and the parties are great,” she grins.

But she also recognises that the catwalk scene can be “intimidating for a lot of people on the outside looking in”. It was this belief, and a desire to make people feel good about themselves, that led her to launch her own styling company, Rawan. Having grown up “surrounded by women with self-confidence issues”, Roxie developed an interest in how the mind works, and went on to study psychology at university. It became clear to her that, for better or worse, how we look has a remarkable influence on how we feel. “Fashion is something that should be empowering; rather than being about slavishly following trends, it can be about showing your personality, the real you. I wanted to bring it back to that and to help women to feel amazing,” she explains.

And Roxie really believes that the industry is trying hard to become a much more inclusive place. “Models like Ashley Graham are showing people that you can wear fashion no matter what your size and that what matters most is that it makes you feel good,” she enthuses.

So what looks will be empowering Roxie this coming season? “I’m trying out some more two-piece suits at the moment, a bit more of an androgynous look actually,” she explains. Designer-wise, she’ll be looking to the Topshop show for inspiration – “It’s always really accessible as well as being cool (and their front row is a lovely place to be!)”, and Temperley London, whose collections are always “just stunning”. I wonder whether Roxie might want to try her own hand at design some day? “I would love that, but nothing too intimidating, just everyday stuff, sort of wardrobe essentials and classic pieces. It would be such an amazing opportunity to reach out to people. Look
out for it!”, she laughs.

Of course, feeling good about the way you look is especially important when you have over fifty thousand Instagram followers, and while social media is undoubtedly important to Roxie’s career, she has very mixed feelings about it. “It’s a very love-hate relationship and it depends a lot on how I’m feeling. You’re bombarded with seeing what everybody else is doing. On a good day, that can be really inspiring, but if you’re feeling down it can be hard not to compare others’ lives to your own – and to find yours wanting. My good friends say they can gauge my mood by the number of posts I make!”

Roxie has spoken openly about growing up in Oxfordshire and feeling very strongly that she was different to other kids. She was bullied from the age of five – picked on because of the colour of her skin and her Middle Eastern heritage. At the time she felt totally out of touch with her feelings, unable to talk to anybody about how sad she felt. “I struggled with depression at school and I think there was definitely a sense of: ‘I shouldn’t be like this – what’s wrong with me?’”

Knowing this, it is perhaps not surprising to discover that Roxie has chosen to become an ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation. “The majority of people will have gone through a period in their lives where they have felt depressed or anxious, but there is still a stigma attached to mental health problems. We feel the need to give the impression that we are happy all the time and that can be really damaging,” she tells me, “particularly for young people who do not have the life experience to be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.” Roxie hopes that her work with the charity will encourage more people to talk openly and to seek help when they feel that they just can’t cope. “It’s definitely the best part of what I do. Every time I have written about mental health, or spoken about it, I have people saying ‘Thanks, it’s so good to know that it’s not just me.’”

For Roxie, life in London means that she now rarely experiences that feeling of being totally alone. “We live in a bit of a bubble in London and we think that everybody’s got lots of friends. Even popping down to the shop here is full of social interaction. Those small human connections that we make each day are sort of building blocks for generally feeling good about ourselves.” It is just one of the many reasons she loves living in the Capital. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else and I really do feel so lucky, every day, to live here. We are so spoilt.”

And as she waxes lyrical about life in London, I’m reminded just how spoilt we actually are. From the retail therapy – “there’s a really cute boutique on the King’s Road called Baar & Bass, which is gorgeous and really eclectic; actually I love Duke of York Square in general; and South Molton Street, especially Brown’s. And you can’t beat Topshop at Oxford Circus…” – to the beauty treatments – “Dr Rabia Malik at Grace in Belgravia gives these PRP facials, the vampire facial, and honestly, afterwards your skin is unbelievable. And Zen Spa, which I think is now called Koia, in Notting Hill, gives the best massages ever,” – and the fitness studios – “Pscycle do amazing spin classes; and the TRX classes at Ethos in Spitalfields are honestly the best I’ve ever done; and everything at Core Collective is just so hip.” But it is the food that really gets Roxie talking…

“Oh, god, I eat out three times a day. It’s so hard not to,” she laughs. “I love taking myself out for breakfast. There’s Granger and Co. and Cecconi’s; all of the Soho House restaurants; Poilâne… And I love Bob Bob Ricard: their steak is some of the best I’ve ever had. And the sushi at Dinings is the nicest I’ve eaten anywhere, it’s out of this world.” I’ll admit, it is refreshing to know that models actually do eat. “It’s a good thing I’m on the go all the time,” she says. “I walk everywhere, there’s so much to see here. One of my favourite walks is through Hyde Park to Notting Hill, ending up on Kensington Park Gardens – my favourite street in London.” Our time with Roxie is drawing to a close, she has lunch reservations. I, meanwhile, am off to scrutinise her Instagram for more London inspiration. (rawan.com)

Photography Catherine Harbour
Fashion Kat Byrne
Hair & Make up Anna Gibson