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May 31, 2012

Nicole Scherzinger next X Factor judge?; Anne Hathaway sings on Les Mis trailer; Jake Shears prompts Kylie to swear

Lucire staff/14.30

Nicole Scherzinger may still be an X Factor judge, but in the original version of the TV show. Her stint as a guest judge had proved popular that ITN is predicting that she may well head on to the show as a regular.
   The first trailer of Les MisĂ©rables has made it on the internet, featuring Anne Hathaway singing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. The film, directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), hits US screens on December 14 and UK screens on January 11. It also features Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.
   Our final entertainment piece, also courtesy ITN, is from the Glamour Women of the Year Awards earlier this week. Scissor Sisters’ star Jake Shears presented Kylie Minogue with the Outstanding Contribution Award, which she collected in a gold Stella McCartney dress. Minogue dedicated the award to her grandmother and mother. In the final video below, Shears recounts a story where Minogue used a swear word.

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Miss Universe New Zealand 2012, day 4: beauty at Farmers, and fashion in Upper Hutt

Jack Yan/13.55

Miss New Zealand 2012
Above The Miss Universe New Zealand 2012 contestants: Talia Bennett (Miss North Harbour, sponsored by Tuscany Road), Alex Beaumont (Miss Nature Coast), Avianca Böhm (Miss Howick), Rachel Millns (Miss Hutt Valley), Lauren Mann (Miss Wellington), Courtney Ramsdale (Miss Celsius), Miriam Schröter (Miss Manawatu), Rénée Cummings (Miss Wairarapa), Monique Cooley (Miss Otago) and Jennifer Lambly (Miss Auckland).

Earth 174, the natural skin care range by film make-up artist Kareen Holland, delivered its gift packs to the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants today. The winner will win a $2,500 voucher for services, plus have the opportunity to appear in Earth 174 publicity, so as far as beauty prizes go, it’s a generous one from an ambitious, independent company that we’ve seen grow over the last three years.
   It was a hectic day for me, rejoining my fellow judges May Davis and Samantha Hannah this morning and accompanying our 10 contestants to Farmers Lambton Quay. Each armed with a bottle of perfume, which they were allowed to keep this year, our contestants interested customers in new scents, ranging from LancĂ´me TrĂ©sor in Love to Purr by Katy Perry, to which I retorted, ‘Katy Perry used to be a good Brand.’
   There has been a changing of the guard at Farmers Lambton Quay, with Herman morphing in to Chanel, who now manages the store, and Lincolnshire’s Michelle turn into Yorkshire’s Carlene, heading the cosmetics’ department. Beverley Benton, a Farmers’ institution at 84 years of age—and still going to work behind the counter four days a week—was also present today, and became the focus of attention briefly.
   Catalyst90 live-streamed a series of interviews from Farmers today via the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook page, and we received the good news that the final night will also be live-streamed via Facebook by Tom Reidy and his crew.
   A quick visit to my friend of 30 years Maitland Waters for some extra photographs followed, after which I collected Lucire fashion editor Sopheak Seng and our fifth judge, Danijela Unkovich, Miss Universe New Zealand 2010 runner-up.
   Sopheak’s styling of the contestants at the pageant’s evening show at the Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club, compered by Rebecca Grant, featured Danish label Noa Noa (which went down magnificently with the crowd as well as May on our judging panel), and Australian brand Lemonade on the Lawn (which took Miss New Zealand choreographer Sarah Melville-Smith down memory lane to the TV series Peppermint Twist). Tarocash, Rasha Taylor Couture and Shika Braddock Couture also featured. The house was entertained by Avidiva in to midnight. Photographs will soon be available via Emotif Photography’s website, thanks to David Duffy.
   Tonight was the first night this year where we have had five judges sitting in a formal setting with our forms out, plus Shika Braddock monitoring eveningwear (not just hers) for the category prize. Carl Manderson, Samantha Hannah, May Davis, Danijela Unkovich and I have been making our notes, and we’ll be deliberating in some depth after our final judge arrives in Wellington.
   On Friday, Dr Wayne Morris joins us, and he will have a baptism by fire as he begins the intensive (and somewhat infamous) interviewing sessions with us the moment he arrives at the Museum Art Hotel.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Miss New Zealand 2012
Miss New Zealand 2012
Miss New Zealand 2012
Above, from top Jennifer Lambly (Miss Auckland) with Farmers Lambton Quay’s Fiona Wu. Alex Beaumont (Miss Nature Coast) and RĂ©nĂ©e Cummings (Miss Wairarapa) at Farmers Lambton Quay. May Davis, a former Miss South Africa runner-up, talks to Miss Hutt Valley Rachel Millns.

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May 30, 2012

Miss Universe New Zealand 2012, day 3: Billy Connolly steps in, Te Papa, and Shika Braddock’s evening wear show

Jack Yan/14.24


Te Papa

Above At Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand today: Jennifer Lambly (Miss Auckland), Alex Beaumont (Miss Nature Coast, formerly Miss Kapiti–Horowhenua), Monique Cooley (Miss Otago), Avianca Böhm (Miss Howick), Lauren Mann (Miss Wellington), Courtney Ramsdale (Miss Celsius), and Talia Bennett (Miss North Harbour, sponsored by Tuscany Road). Te Papa’s Bridget MacDonald, Lucire publisher Jack Yan, and choreographer Sarah Melville-Smith are in the background.

The third full day of events for Miss New Zealand 2012—and I do mean full, since it began with morning rehearsals and concluded with a tasteful and elegant evening gown show for Shika Braddock Couture in the presence of HE the Thai Ambassador—was punctuated with a visit from comedian and actor Billy Connolly, and an informative visit to Te Papa.
   Connolly is, like so many famous celebrities, humble and gentle, quite unlike the stage persona most see. I’m not sure whether he was impressed that I told him I liked him in one of the last Columbo episodes, but I somehow doubt that that preyed on his mind today.
   A visit to Te Papa, thanks to Bridget MacDonald, Hamish Timmons, and our guide Phil, was very different from the previous year’s, giving even the returning contestants new insights into our country’s history and nature.
   The dinner tonight was served in-house due to the evening fashion show taking place at 8 p.m. Mr Chung of Noodle Canteen—he owns both the Courtenay Place and Porirua franchises—served up a meal that was not available on the menu to regular buyers, and the MSG-free feast delighted contestants, even if it was relatively chocolate-free compared to yesterday’s birthday festivities.
   The evening ended on a high, live-streamed by Catalyst90 on the official Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook page. Shika Braddock Couture’s evening gown show at the Museum Art Hotel was made even more splendid with live music, while Braddock had the opportunity to showcase another side of her design talents after making her name in bridal wear. I sat with the mother of Alex Beaumont, Miss Nature Coast, who rightly delighted at the splendid make-up job done by Suzanne Purser and her team from Clinique, and the hair by Carl Manderson of Salute Hair & Day Spa in Lower Hutt.
   I was also joined earlier today by May Davis, a former runner-up in Miss South Africa, and someone experienced in the international pageant scene. Unlike my European focus, May’s recent experience has been Stateside, covering pageants there, and it was wonderful welcoming her back to the fold after a four-year absence. It didn’t take her long to get up to speed or to dispense useful advice from her years working in the pageant world.
   Each day has seen real growth in confidence, and a marked decline in nerves, while friendships continue to be forged. On Thursday, Catalyst90 will live-stream an event at Farmers Lambton Quay from 1 p.m. NZST on Facebook, before the contestants head to the Upper Hutt Cosmopolitan Club for a fashion show there, styled by our own fashion editor, Sopheak Seng, with Noa Noa and other labels represented by Fashion Marketing Ltd. Danijela Unkovich, runner-up to Miss Universe New Zealand 2010, joins us on the judging panel beginning with the evening event.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 29, 2012

Miss Universe New Zealand 2012, day 2: starting with Wellington City Council and Parliament

Jack Yan/14.12

Miss New Zealand 2012
Miss New Zealand 2012
Top Ivy, Kilmarnock Heights Home’s oldest resident at 105, on the left, especially attends the visits from the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants each year. Above Avianca Böhm, Miss Howick, exchanges knitting tips with a resident.

The second full day of Miss Universe New Zealand was probably the busiest of the week, other than the final night on the 3rd. The contestants had their first official engagement with Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon and Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, both of whom had wise words to give to the ten ladies in Wellington this week.
   The Deputy Mayor has his choice again for 2012, but good manners prevent me from revealing her name.
   This was followed by a visit to the office of the Hon Maurice Williamson MP in the executive wing of the Parliament Buildings. Williamson was chosen by pageant director Val Lott as her local MP. In an event closely mirroring those of 2010, the Minister introduced a point of order in the House to acknowledge the contestants in the gallery—though Speaker of the House Dr the Rt Hon Lockwood Smith was not too sure whether it was a valid one. However, he did acknowledge Miss Wellington Lauren Mann, whom he knows through surf life-saving.
   Apart from the brief exchange, Question Time followed the usual agenda, kicking off with Dorothy Dix questions from the Hon Nick Smith MP, while, as expected, all 10 respected the dignity of the proceeding as in the 2010 visit. In the interests of political fairness, the contestants stayed not just for the easy questions from the government, but for some from the Labour MPs and two questions from the Greens’ Dr Russel Norman MP.
   The visit to the Kilmarnock Heights Home followed, visiting Ivy, the Home’s oldest resident at 105, for the third consecutive time. Second-oldest, an Irish New Zealander named Archie, recited poetry to Miss Auckland Jennifer Lambly, who celebrated her 22nd birthday today, while a former New Zealand Ballet pianist, Merle, also a resident, actually wound up entertaining the contestants on the ivories.
   Suzanne Purser from Clinique and former Lucire fashion editor Samantha Hannah gave beauty and styling tips respectively in the evening, after celebrating Miss Lambly’s birthday.
   Everyone is settling in to the week and friendships are being forged. Three of the six main judges have met the contestants now, as has one guest judge, but our deliberations are yet to begin. May Davis, the former Miss South Africa runner-up who joins me on the judging panel again, arrives tomorrow, and I will be interested to hear what she says.
   Most years, a contestant wins because she has one quality over and above her rivals. After two days, we usually have not identified this yet. This year is no exception. So far, all I can see is a group that is steadily gaining confidence, as well as an understanding of how politics (both in the governmental and interpersonal senses) works. They have made strides in their public speaking skills, even between the Council and rest home visits after feedback in the interim. Each is bringing a unique set of qualities to the plate, but in whom the X factor lies is anyone’s guess.
   Meanwhile, an informal online poll has been put on to the official Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook page by social media agency Catalyst90.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 28, 2012

Miss Universe New Zealand 2012: the events begin

Jack Yan/1.27

Day one of the Miss Universe New Zealand 2012 pageant has been completed. The 10 contestants from around the country have had their fittings with both Louise Stichbury for a fashion show later this week, and Shika Braddock, for an eveningwear show on the 30th.
   They also had a relaxing dinner with a view overlooking Wellington City at a private residence, before we subjected them to a mock interview session in preparation for the real thing on Friday. Today, they are spending the day rehearsing, and will venture to a restaurant for a meal this evening.
   As usual, the profile photographs do them little justice. After meeting them in person, any prejudices one might have had based on nicely shot photographs are out the window, something that tends to happen every year. It’s also very difficult to say after a single day how things are shaping up.
   Just going on basic statistics, there is a 40 per cent chance the next Miss New Zealand will not be locally born, reflecting the changing make-up of our country. Then again, three of seven on the judging panel are also Kiwis who were born outside New Zealand.
   There’s little else to tell at this point. I’ve had very brief conversations with each contestant, and read their biographies. However, tomorrow, with the official functions starting with a lunch with Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon (Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is presently in China) it will be interesting to see who shapes up in the ambassadorial stakes. It’s not a widely known fact that Councillor McKinnon picked the winner, Priyani Puketapu, last year after this luncheon, and his instincts may prove on target again.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Tickets to the final on Sunday night may be reserved at this page.

The contestants


Photographed by Andrew Bignall

Miss North Harbour, sponsored by Tuscany Road, Talia Bennett
Talia is 23, 5 ft 8 in. She completed her Bachelor of Property and is a qualified commercial property valuer. Her interests include yoga, health, nutrition, fashion and tennis. Talia’s ambition is to climb the corporate ladder pursuing a career in property development.

Miss Auckland, Jennifer Lambly
Jennifer is 22, 5 ft 10 in. She is in her second year of a social science degree. Her interests include fashion, music, fitness and travel. Jennifer has been involved in aid work in South America, enjoying the experience. Her ambition is to continue this involvement, combined with working for troubled youth within New Zealand.

Miss Celsius, Courtney Ramsdale
Courtney is 20, 5 ft 10 in. She is in her final year of a bachelor of communications degree. Her interests include dancing, media, music, fashion and writing. Courtney aspires to having a career within television as a news reporter, or in production.


Photographed by Andrew Bignall

Miss Howick, Avianca Böhm
Avianca is 22, 5 ft 10 in. She recently graduated with a fashion degree. Avianca currently works as a brand ambassador, and is a part-time model. Her interests include fashion design, sports, and reading. Her ambition is to become a qualified chartered accountant.

Miss Manawatu, Miriam Schröter
Miriam is 20, 5 ft 6 in. She is in her second year of a Bachelor of Communications degree at Massey University. In the immediate future she plans to do a semester of study in America. Miriam also works part-time in fashion. Her interests include fitness, photography, art and travel. Her ambition is to have a people-focused career and to travel the world, exploring different countries and cultures.

Miss Nature Coast, Alex Beaumont
Alex is 20, 5 ft 6 in and a life insurance sales’ consultant. Her interests include fashion, music, playing piano, and fishing. Alex’s ambition is to gain a qualification as a dispensary technician. She also aspires to travel the world.

Miss Wairarapa, Rénée Cummings
Rénée is 21, 5 ft 7 in and works for a chartered accountant as a business services’ support person. Her interests include netball, fitness and travel. Rénée has recently completed a Diploma in Hospitality Management and is in her second year towards a Bachelor of Business Studies. Her ambition is to pursue a management career within the tourism industry.

Miss Hutt Valley, Rachel Millns
Rachel is 21, 5 ft 11 in, and a beauty therapist. Rachel’s interests include biology, photography, horse-riding, and swimming. She has also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to model for charity fashion parades. She has a true passion for animals. Her ambitions are to own her own beauty therapy salon, and to travel the world.

Miss Wellington, Lauren Mann
Lauren is 23, 5 ft 11 in, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing and International Business. She is also a part-time model and recently travelled with the World of Wearable Art to Hong Kong. Lauren has a passion for travelling and exploring new places. She also enjoys writing and hopes her first piece, a children’s book, will be published in the near future.

Miss Otago, Monique Cooley
Monique is 22, 5 ft 10 in. She is a qualified beauty therapist and is passionate about educating others in advanced skin care techniques. Her interests include painting, fashion, skiing, fitness and nutrition. Monique also aspires to speak fluent Japanese, a subject she enjoyed at junior school. Her ambition is to study psychology and to become a Victoria’s Secret model.

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May 26, 2012

Madalina Ghenea, Beatrice Rosen at Cannes; Nicole Kidman on her DIY make-up for The Paperboy

Lucire staff/10.53


Getty Images

Olivier Borde

Top Madalina Ghenea wearing Montblanc Riviera necklace and bracelet and PGM Petales de roses earrings. Above Beatrice Rosen wearing Montblanc PGM Petales de roses earrings and bracelet.

At the press conference for The Paperboy at the Cannes Film Festival, star Nicole Kidman says she had to do her own make-up and hair. Despite the presence of Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey, the film had a low budget. ‘I actually went in to my bathroom … and I got out the fake tan, put on lashes that were old, and then I got out a hairpiece thing and it was platinum, and I threw it all on and I took a photo, and I texted it to Lee, in different, provocative positions, and that was how it started to come together,’ said Kidman.
   Meanwhile, courtesy of Montblanc, Madalina Ghenea, Julie Gayet, Beatrice Rosen, Alysson Paradis, Cecile Togni, and Inna Modja have been snapped at the Festival de Cannes.
   In remaining entertainment news, singer–songwriter Olly Murs says he would like to see Cheryl Cole return as the fourth X Factor judge.


Olivier Borde


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May 25, 2012

Over and above: what will it take to win Miss Universe New Zealand 2012?

Jack Yan/14.47

Priyani Puketapu
Angela Scott

Above Priyani Puketapu, Miss Universe New Zealand 2011, whose successor will be crowned on June 3.

Tomorrow, the events for Miss Universe New Zealand begin. The contestants don’t converge on the Museum Art Hotel till Sunday, but the preparations begin: the pageant director, Val Lott, and her husband, arrive in Wellington, and any last-minute details get finalized.
   This is my sixth Miss New Zealand pageant, and the eighth national one I’ve been involved in. I’ll be joined on an enlarged judging panel this year by Samantha Hannah, former fashion editor of this magazine; May Davis, runner-up to Miss South Africa some years back, returning to the mix; Carl Manderson, the wonderful Salute salon owner and a talented hairstylist in his own right; Danijela Unkovich, runner-up to Miss Universe New Zealand in 2010 and a young lady who managed to answer my trick question about Tito and the break-up of Yugoslavia in a surprisingly personal fashion; Dr Wayne Morris, a physician who is new to the panel, whom I will enjoy meeting; and Shika Braddock, the fashion designer behind her eponymous label, and whose gowns we will see at a fashion show on the 30th.
   With 10 contestants—a sign that not all is well with the economy—we should have a more intensive interview session. Each judge, I am sure, is well aware of the issues surrounding pageants, including their relevance today. I also believe each one of us would love to see women who reflect our country regardless of whether they conform to some figure; in the last five years we’ve managed, at least, to attract young women in to the competition who vary wildly in height. Finally, too, there was official recognition from Miss Universe of the transgender community this year, though I was surprised to learn that this group had been excluded in the past. (If the law says someone is a woman, then what right does any pageant have to go against that? Are we looking for a Human Rights’ Commission case?)
   In my years, we have always strived to find from our entrants a winner who is best summed up as ambassadorial: bright, cosmopolitan, and genuine.
   This ambassadorial criterion already makes the choice of the next Miss New Zealand a difficult one, and while the formal criteria laid down each year do not change, a changing judging panel and changing times mean that it is very difficult to say to a contestant, or a sponsor, precisely what makes a winner. If human cloning is ever invented—even of Scarlett Johansson—it won’t guarantee first place.
   One sponsor approached me at the end of the 2009 competition, having been certain that her entrant had the right qualities, so why did we not choose her? Contestants who miss the crown have also asked where they fell short. The latter group, however, usually already know, and merely seek confirmation.
   There is, again, no one answer. If you took the previous five winners and subjected them to some psychological scale, I imagine there would be few correlations other than a reasonable amount of intelligence. (After their reigns, a similar test would definitely show that they have seen behind the veil of how media can work, both advantageously and disadvantageously.)
   The real answer is that each winner has had a quality that is over and above her competitors to such a degree that she stands out. It’s nothing to do with looks, figures, height or blogosphere buzz. (In Sweden, acknowledging this, we abandoned the smimwear segment, and some of the international jury’s work was done based on written responses to a Q&A. It’s no surprise that master’s degree holders had been winning the title.)
   It’s almost trite to say that there must be an X factor, or, now that that term has been coopted by Simon Cowell et al to mean something else, a certain je ne sais quoi. In 2007, Laural Barrett was more poised and her earlier life abroad equipped her better than her rivals; in 2008, Samantha Powell—newly married to fiancĂ© Tony Lochhead this month—was considerably more enthusiastic, and infectiously so.
   This accounts for why some repeat contestants do better—and why some do worse—because the competitors have changed. And it’s that mix that often intrigues us: what do they bring forth this year?
   While we won’t see a Ph.D. candidate this year such as Nancy Yan (no relation—the transliteration may be the same but the original form is not), we will see three returning contestants from the 2011 competition. We also have our first entrant from the Wairarapa for many years, as well as a Miss Otago, the sole South Islander this year.
   How they will fare is anyone’s guess. But I wish them all good luck, and I look forward to meeting all the contestants this Sunday. On June 3, we will have a new Miss New Zealand, taking over from Priyani Puketapu, who has served her year with dignity and grace.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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Irina Shayk, Isabeli Fontana, Ana Beatriz Barros among celebrities at AmFAR Cinema Against Aids ball

Lucire staff/11.32



The latest celebrities to be snapped at the Festival de Cannes at the AmFAR Cinema Against Aids annual ball at the Hôtel du Cap included Irina Shayk, Isabeli Fontana, Dite Anata, Hanaa ben Abdelssem, Ana Beatriz Barros, Elsa Zylberstein, Michelle Rodriguez, and Kelly Rutherford, whose photographs here are courtesy of de Grisogono—happy that their jewellery adorns these ladies.
   Janet Jackson was the most talked-about celebrity at the ball, in a shapely, white dress showing off her figure.
   Other celebrities present were Aishwarya Rai, Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas, Kylie Minogue, Kim Kardashian, Diane KrĂĽger and Joshua Jackson, Heidi Klum, Gerard Butler, and Tamara and Petra Ecclestone.
   Cartier, meanwhile, was not to be outdone, thanks to Nicole Kidman, in Cannes to promote Hemingway & Gellhorn and The Paperboy.

More from AmFAR



Nicole Kidman at The Paperboy première


Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

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