I can’t stop touching my face. As perfectly demonstrated by the image of me below, hands clamped to face. The portrait should probably be repurposed as a public advisory as to how not to spend it right now.
I know it’s bad, but I can’t help it. And the need to touch has become even more urgent during this current crisis. With each new global health directive, I feel my fingers drawn, as if magnetised, towards my face. I suppose Freud would diagnose it as a need for reassurance via self-soothing, along with some kind of pseudo-sexual waffle about holes. All I know is that these estranged body parts just want to be together. I yearn to plant my chin in my palm, or prop my cheek up when I’m reading. I feel a compulsion to rub my eyes and pull my lips and pinch my nose. Studies suggest that we touch our faces at least 16 times an hour, part of a vast tranche of naughty habits we should immediately cease and desist. Hence, I am trying to atone by handwashing in earnest. It’s easier to accomplish, but brutal on the hands. Two rounds of Happy Birthday, scalding water and a splat of hand sanitiser at regular intervals throughout the day are playing havoc with my skin. I’m not alone. Last week I posted an image of my red, prunified digits on Instagram with a call for hand-care advice. Turns out a corollary of hygiene in the age of the Covid has been a huge uptick in eczema, psoriasis and dry skin.
I love the hive mind. Not only does it provide excellent solutions, it’s a great way to build community in these strange, self-distanced times, when communities are being wrenched apart and neighbourly behaviour involves sticking plates of food outside front doors.
Social media, when used kindly, can be an extraordinary platform for conversation, for checking in with each other, for advice, and for finding out what people think. While we work from home through the next weeks and months, I will be using my own Instagram account, as well as the How To Spend It handle and email, to speak to readers more directly, and get your sense of what is going on. While I still want How To Spend It to offer a diverting escape, I do want it to be relevant. If there is anything you specifically want to read about or look at, I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Let’s spend it together – on the pages at least.
In this week’s issue, I’m delighted to introduce Nora Attal as our cover star. Born in London of Moroccan parents, Nora saw few faces in fashion that reflected hers when growing up. She’s since become part of a new vanguard of models who have disrupted the status quo, speaking out about discrimination and sustaining a highly successful career – she’s even turned her family into models, all featured in a shoot in Vogue Italia last year. For How To Spend It, she assesses the industry’s new diversity, and shows off this season’s freshest shapes.
Fresh shapes of a seafaring nature come as Grace Cook charts Prada’s preparations to compete in its fifth America’s Cup. Now official sponsor of the global sailing challenge, the family-led business steered by Miuccia and Patrizio Bertelli and their 31-year old son, Lorenzo – who is head of marketing and communications – is using the platform to try to secure a first win and promote its conservation efforts to protect the sea, alongside Woolmark and One Ocean Foundation. Whatever else it achieves, it’s sure built a handsome-looking boat.
Another family affair: father and son Philippe and Thierry Stern – better known as the dynastic leaders of revered watch brand Patek Philippe – have granted a rare interview to Nick Foulkes on the opening of the brand’s new horological headquarters in Geneva. The complex, which has required an investment of more than half a billion Swiss francs – “none of it borrowed, by the way,” writes Nick – has triggered all sorts of discussion about whether the brand, fabled for its forever waiting lists and record-breakingly expensive pieces, will move to satisfy greater demand from its now streamlined operations. Not likely, say the Sterns: the number of Nautilus watches and the like will always be strictly limited. The watchword of the moment – it’s all about the wait.
Be safe. Wash your hands. And don’t forget to moisturise.
SOS: Save Our Skins
For those who enjoy a hive-mind recommendation, these solutions came up tops, in no particular order:
Drink celery juice
Adopt a vegan diet
Wear cotton gloves in bed
Cleanse the gut
• A-Derma Exomega Emollient Lotion, £17.25, cocooncenter.co.uk
• Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream, £28
• Aveeno Daily Moisturising Hand Cream, £5.99, boots.com
• La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Soothing Hand Cream, £7.50
• Sisley Restorative Hand Cream, £67
• Zoetic Lemongrass and Ylang Ylang CBD Hand Cream, £25