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August 19, 2014

Sponsored video: Wasa uses paid parental leave to sell crisp bread

Lucire staff/10.53

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A Lucire special promotion



Wasa’s blue and yellow logo already indicates its origins—Sweden. It’s a brand that most Swedes already know, as the company has been making knäckebröd, a type of cracker or crisp bread, for decades. The company, founded by K. E. Lundström in 1919 in Skellefteå, might now be under Italian ownership, but it still has its royal warrant, probably helped by Wasa’s name’s connection to the 16th-century monarch Gustav I and the Vasa dynasty.
   The new advertising campaign, aimed at the US, doesn’t look into the name’s royal origins, but plays on its perceived Swedishness. As multinational food brands go, many of them, now absorbed into bigger players, rely on their national origins for differentiation, and Wasa is no exception. The difference is that Wasa knäckebröd remains very Swedish in its execution and is seen as quintessential.
   But what is Sweden about? It certainly makes a telling contrast to the United States. The advertisement stays away from anything controversial like health care or law enforcement, and touches on Sweden’s image of an egalitarian democracy.
   Clarissa, the American businesswoman in Sweden for work, attends a yoga class, only to find that her classmates are a group of attractive fathers with their babies.
   Sweden offers 16 months’ paid parental leave or föräldraförsäkringen. Ninety per cent of Swedish fathers take the leave. This can be contrasted to New Zealand, which offers 14 weeks, increasing to 18 in 2016, after the policy was introduced by the Alliance in the 2000s. The US, where the ad is targeted, offers none—joining Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea.
   Proclaims one of the Dads in the ad, ‘This is Sweden. We have something called pappaledighet. It’s when the daddies stay at home for six months while the moms are working.’ Clarissa breaks the fourth wall, and ponders, ‘We sent a man to the moon. What a waste, when we could have sent him to the playground as our Swedish sisters do.’
   And to seal the deal, perhaps in a very obvious fashion, a baby brings her a box of Wasa crisp bread.
   It’s an unusual approach to selling a fast-moving consumer good, but it emphasizes that the Swedish national image remains a very healthy one for companies that have a connection to the Nordic nation.


Article sponsored by Wasa

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Filed under: culture, living, society, Sweden
August 15, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro journeys from classical to science fiction

Jack Yan/15.57

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Ross Brown

Top A classical approach for Allegro Brillante. Above Larry Keigwin’s Megalopolis.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro: Five Short Ballets, was a bittersweet performance, knowing it would be the last time many in the audience would see the company’s principal guest artist, Gillian Murphy, dance.
   Murphy and her fiancé, RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel, are set to return to the US, and she kept a composed, dignified air after the performance when Lucire wished her well for her future.
   The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Andrea Tandy noted that Auckland audiences, who had seen Allegro prior to Wellington’s for a change, gave the five productions a wonderful reception.
   In the first ballet of the five, Allegro Brillante, Murphy and Kohei Iwamoto led a small cast of 10 to Tchaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto, with choreography by the late George Balanchine. Russian-born Balanchine’s works have been staged by the RNZB from time to time, and Allegro Brillante was performed in 1999 and 2001. With a classical structure and technique, staged by Eve Lawson, it proved an endearing opening to the performances on the first night in Wellington.
   As skilful as the dancers were, Qi Huan’s presence was missed opposite Murphy—Huan moved on to the New Zealand School of Dance, teaching classical ballet, telling us earlier that he could not pass up the opportunity.
   The simple settings allowed Nigel Percy’s lighting to set a very different mood each time.
   Les Lutins, which followed, was a particularly enjoyable comedic ballet. It would be the only one with live music of the five, performed by the impressive Benjamin Baker on violin, and Michael Pansters on piano, while Rory Fairweather-Neylan, Arata Miyagawa and Lucy Green played the role of the goblins, in trousers and braces, with simple, carefree choreography by Johan Kobborg. The interaction between the dancers and Baker was cleverly staged, and the neatly executed jetés and tours en l’air from Fairweather-Neylan and Miyagawa deserve mention.
   Satellites, after the first interval, brought a scientific theme, conveying the equilibrium that satellites maintain in orbit: as dancers go off, new ones emerge. Graphically, orbits appear in the background, designed and animated by Jac Grenfell, dancers held circular mirrors, while electronic music by Jan-Bas Bollen emphasized the high-tech feel. Kinetic sculptures by Jim Murphy continued the theme (segmented planets hanging in the air), as did Donnine Harrison’s costumes (the discs worn by two ballerinas again reflecting the circular theme). Daniel Belton, who was behind the concept and choreography, was inspired by the Bauhaus movement, with its practitioners Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee and Moholy-Nagy, successfully blending the geometry and modernistic approach of the school with balletic expression. For once, those who are disciples of, or simply aware of, Bauhaus principles have a ballet that translates those ideas.
   Mattress Suite, choreographed by Larry Keigwin for his own company, delighted in a simple, playful setting, with a mattress as the one prop, telling the story of newlyweds who drift apart, the groom discovering he is homosexual. It is the only one with mature themes and popular songs (‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ as sung by Stevie Wonder, and ‘At Last’ by Etta James) and the mattress itself was used as everything from a wall to a trampoline in six short dances. Cheekily, the dance with a gay threesome is called ‘Straight Duet’.
   The RNZB is the first to perform Mattress Suite outside of Keigwin & Company.
   It was Keigwin again for the finalé, Megalopolis, which went beyond science and into science fiction, blending the cinematic Flash Gordon and Studio 54 into a single ballet, finding great favour with the audience. Megalopolis was certainly energetic—RNZB finalés often are, and rightly so, when presenting a series of ballets—while Fritz Mason’s costume design, in black with silver details, was a retrofuturistic delight.
   Allegro: Five Short Ballets continues in Wellington till the 17th at the St James. Invercargill follows on August 20 at the Civic, while Dunedin’s Regent Theatre plays host on the 23rd inst.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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August 14, 2014

Mana Wahine: a powerful celebration of womanhood and history

Jack Yan/4.40

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Alex Efimoff

Mana Wahine, which had its première in June in Rotorua for Matariki, arrived in Wellington last night with the first of a brief series of performances (until August 16), with a powerful celebration of womanhood by the Okareka Dance Company.
   Mana Wahine tells the story of Te Aokapurangi, who was captured in battle but returned later to save her people from slaughter.
   The production began with the image of the storyteller, Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, a descendant of Te Aokapurangi, appearing on the curtains prior to the show, a foretaste of the clever use of lighting and imagery projected on the dance floor and walls. Her evocative waerea incantation from the first scene led to powerful, purposeful choreography performed by five dancers, Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo.
   Graceful and strong, the quintet were chosen for their experience as women and those from whom they have descended.
   Mana Wahine blends different genres of dance, captivating the audience between its sets so seamlessly, and is a beautiful tribute to Te Aokapurangi while shining a light on the proud people in our country’s past.
   Even without knowing the historical aspect one has to admire the authentic and sincere performances of the five dancers.
   The production was inspired by a conversation between cousins Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield and Okarewa artistic director Taiaroa Royal, on their ancestry and the Ngāti Ohomairangi of Te Arawa, namely the matriarch Kearoa and Te Aokapurangi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Tapuika. Both women were responsible for saving their people, demonstrating in New Zealand’s history the power and role of women.
   Ranapiri-Ransfield researched the story, and wrote the lyrics and composed the music for the karanga, waerea and patere, and it is her voice that the audience hears. Victoria Kelly composed the rest of the score. Malia Johnston, with her extensive choreographic experience, co-authored Mana Wahine. Taane Mete directed Mana Wahine, calling it one of the ‘most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered.’ The collaboration between the talents, including technical production manager Jonny Cross, producer Rachael Penman, rehearsal director Natalie Clark and administrator Jesse Wikiriwhi, have resulted in a real, enriching production.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Mana Wahine runs till August 16, with daily performances at 7.30 p.m., and one matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Te Whaea, New Zealand National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington. Tickets are $20–$40, plus booking fees. Bookings can be made by telephone on 0800 BUY-TIX or visit www.eventfinder.co.nz.

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August 6, 2014

Retrospectives: great moments in Parisian fashion history, with YSL, McQueen, Galliano, Gaultier

Lucire staff/14.05

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What are some of the great fashion moments in recent history? You’ll have seen these videos run on Lucire TV, and we’ve singled them out for an additional focus. In French and English.

1. The departure of Yves Saint Laurent
In January 2001, Yves Saint Laurent retired from the house that bears his name, with the brand’s final haute couture show and retrospective at the Hotel Inter-continental in Paris. Two thousand people were invited to the Centre Pompidou to see Saint Laurent’s 300 greatest classics, and models included Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, Jerry Hall, and Naomi Campbell. In the finalé, 40 tuxedos paraded to a song performed by Laetitia Casta. Catherine Deneuve, a long-time friend of the designer, was in tears. Saint Laurent died in 2008.
   Saint Laurent says, ‘I tried to prove that Paris was still the city of light and of haute couture, and haute couture made like this was necessary for people’s imaginations. I like seeing my models evolve and seeing how the public react and actually in that moment I feel really close to the public. I still get nervous in this profession. I’m still not used to it after 42 years. I’ve tried again to perfect this style that has now become really important in fashion, this style that I created and to which I remain loyal, as fashions pass but style stays. It’s a part of me, it’s my life. I wouldn’t know what to do; I wouldn’t be able to live if I didn’t make dresses.’

2. The shows of Alexander McQueen
Lee Alexander McQueen was known for his extravagant shows, and had come to most people’s attention after he succeeded John Galliano at Givenchy in 1996. He was later hired by the Gucci Group, joining the group in 2000. Gucci had bought a controlling stake in McQueen’s own label. An extraordinary creator, McQueen was depressed after the death of his mother, and committed suicide in 2010. The video looks at some of his greatest hits.
   Said McQueen: ‘After I left college I went to Paris to look for work, like every student does, and I went to see Martin but he couldn’t afford to pay me, and then I went to Gaultier and then there was some nasty queen on the front door to Gaultier. And I thought f*** this. I was supposed to be there for five days I was back in five hours, because there was no one else I wanted to work for apart from Margiela and Gaultier …
   ‘I call myself very schizophrenic; I have so many different, you know, personalities.’
   Katy England notes in the video below, ‘He’s just got a very clever mind, and he doesn’t follow fashion, he’s not that interested in the trends. He just suddenly thinks of something that’s really really imaginative, he might be inspired by art or … he just has a very strange vision of things which suddenly comes to life. He’ll explain an image and you’ll think wow, that’s very very strong, and that will then in turn inspire a collection. I’ve never met someone else who thinks of these things, it’s just exciting really.’

3. John Galliano at Christian Dior, haute couture spring–summer 2002
One of John Galliano’s most controversial haute couture collections was for spring–summer 2002, where he showed one inspired by the homeless, paying tribute to the ‘ingenuity shown by the underprivileged in the way they dress,’ with unstitched dresses, jacket arms held on by pegs, the layering of trousers and torn effects. Galliano said, ‘There’s the new cut but it’s also to show the work, the delicacy of the Dior atelier’s work, and also to show that this house is a laboratory of ideas where you can thrive off the rest of the house, the ready-to-wear fashion, the collection and the accessories … that’s why I’m there, to inspire the house. I cut it up a bit, a little bit crazily and expressively … They took the dress upstairs and they made the whole patronage and everything and they came back down with the same expressive cutting which blew me away, me and Stephen [Jones] couldn’t tell the difference.’

4. Madonna models for Jean Paul Gaultier
Madonna, who had been friends with Jean Paul Gaultier since 1989 when he made the costumes for her Blonde Ambition tour, went to Paris in September 1994 to model the designer’s spring–summer 1995 collection. The show was memorable for both Madonna and Gaultier, for a body corset with a conical bra.
   Looking back, Gaultier says, ‘That exact date in 1989. I knew her from that, professionally because I made the costumes for the Blonde Ambition tour, so that was really fun, it was one of my most beautiful experiences I have to say. An then obviously she modelled for me. First, she modelled in a charity show in LA in support of Aids, and the second time she modelled, you recorded her, at the Musée des Arts Forains, that must have been around ’96. There you go!
   Marie-Christiane Marek summarizes the influence: ‘Madonna produced a visual shock, leaving a mark on her era and captivating a fascinated public from the end of the ’80s. She presented corseted silhouettes with conical bras, or more Jean Paul Gaultier men’s suits. Madonna, therefore, embodied the Parisian designer’s success, heralding a new feminine era with a stamp of sex appeal.’

Le départ d’Yves Saint Laurent (version française)

The departure of Yves Saint Laurent (English dub)

The shows of Alexander McQueen

John Galliano at Christian Dior, haute couture spring–summer 2002

Madonna défile chez Jean-Paul Gaultier (version française)

Madonna models for Jean Paul Gaultier (English dub)

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Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists arrive in Pattaya, Thailand

Lucire staff/3.45

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists, currently touring Thailand, wound up their Bangkok events on Monday night with an event hosted by the Charoen Pokphand Group, a Thai conglomerate set up by Chinese immigrants in the 1920s, at the Grand Mercure Bangkok Fortune hotel.
   On Tuesday, they set off for Pattaya, famous for its beach resorts, 100 km southeast of the capital. Pattaya City put on a welcome and luncheon for the top 25, again well attended by officials, before a visit to Thai Thani, a Thai arts and culture village. Thai Thani, to open on August 8, aims to showcase its cultural parades and activities, and the finalists were given a personal tour by its owner, seeing Thai food from different regions and traditional performances. They also participated in fruit carving under instruction from Thai Thani’s staff. Nigel Godfrey, executive director of Miss Universe New Zealand, presented officials with gifts, including a framed souvenir featuring photographs of all 25 finalists.
   Four contestants had their swimwear shoots Tuesday with photographer Alan Raga, again wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear.
   Accommodation for Miss Universe New Zealand in Pattaya is at the Cape Dara Resort, where they will remain till August 7.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.










Alan Raga

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August 4, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists experience Thai culture first-hand

Lucire staff/9.11

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists had a 5.30 a.m. call on Monday, preparing to head to the Channel 5 studios in Bangkok for a 7 a.m. appearance with both the Thai ambassador to New Zealand Noppadon Theppitak and Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey.
   The show they appeared on, where they talked about their experiences in Thailand, reaches 10 million viewers domestically, and another 170 countries worldwide via satellite.
   Sunday’s schedule was somewhat more relaxed, with a morning visit to the Suan Sam Pran Riverside Thai Village to experience making traditional craft and food, as well as learning a few dance steps, while six contestants stayed behind for their swimwear shoots wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co., with photographer Alan Raga.
   It was not until the evening that Thailand Travel & Tourism hosted the finalists at the Sofitel, before they returned to their accommodation at the Hilton Bangkok.
   Monday’s programme, meanwhile, saw the top 25 finalists at the Issaya Cooking Studio, where they tried their hand at cooking, at Bangkok’s Central Embassy shopping centre.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.











Alan Raga


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August 2, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists arrive in Bangkok

Lucire staff/2.33

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists have left the southern shores, and are presently at the Hilton Bangkok, as they commence their retreat in the Kingdom of Thailand for the following week.
   Since the Miss New Zealand Consortium was awarded the licence for Miss Universe in 2013, the directors felt that the live swimwear segment had to disappear from the competition. However, international rules still required it, so a swimwear shoot on a beach, with a closed set, became the best option for the live telecast that took place last October.
   Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey and general counsel Jack Yan were tight-lipped this year about the destination of the retreat, given political changes in Thailand. However, Thailand came on the radar again with the support of its ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, and the top 25 finalists along with a crew departed on August 1.
   The Ambassador sees the retreat as a core part of the Thai–New Zealand relationship, given the high, mainstream interest in the Miss Universe competition in Thailand, and much of Asia. The 2013 finalists’ retreat was extensively covered in print and televised media in Thailand.
   Kiwi lensman Alan Raga is photographing the finalists, who will be wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, in shoots commencing Saturday.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. As with 2013, the public has a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting, and, as a new innovation this year, through an electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.



Alan Raga

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July 28, 2014

Amy Malin, AnnaLynne McCord, Corey Feldman, Rani Hong commem­orate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Lucire staff/13.58

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Igor Spektor

Above Amy Malin gives her powerful speech on being a survivor of rape, assault and torture; actor Corey Feldman looks on.

Amy Malin, AnnaLynne McCord, Corey Feldman, all of whom have suffered serious sexual assaults, joined Rani Hong, a survivor of slavery and child trafficking, at an event on Friday in Los Angeles, hosted by Malin and the Tronie Foundation, to celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
   Pianist Chloe Flower, Hill Harper, Nestor Serrano and Ryan Devlin were among the celebrities who attended the event, where Malin, McCord, Feldman and Hong recounted their horrific events from their past to highlight the world’s ongoing problems with human trafficking and domestic violence.
   Malin’s story of rape, imprisonment, and physical and mental torture at the hands of one sociopathic tormenter, and violent physical relationships for 11 years of her life, was incredibly compelling, and brought a powerful, real human face to the issues. ‘In my humble opinion, domestic violence is the worst plague on humanity and is the root cause of so many of our other social problems. Everyone in this room knows someone who is a survivor or a victim of domestic violence, only you just might not know it yet, and that’s because the shame-and-blame culture of our society makes most survivors of abuse too afraid or ashamed to come forward with their stories and get the help that they need. It takes most survivors many years before they can even process the atrocities that they have experienced, and then even longer before they are comfortable in a safe, physical and emotional space to share what they gave endured with somebody else.’
   She reminded the audience that she was not alone, and that events like this continue every day around the world, in our own communities behind closed doors. (Her passionate address from the event can be found at her website.)
   Hong, who co-founded the Tronie Foundation and is a special adviser to UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking), was taken from her family at age seven and sold to a slave master. Her mental and physical condition was so poor by the time she was eight, she was sold into illegal adoption. She also shared her story at the event: like Malin, she gave a voice to the millions who were unable to.
   McCord and Feldman also shared stories of sexual assault. McCord, who noted that she was always careful, recounts that she was sexually assaulted at home by someone she trusted. She has recently written and directed a short film, I Choose, about ‘a woman who chooses and a woman who doesn’t, because I’ve been both.’ (The film is embedded below, as our fourth video.) It was important for McCord to tell real-life stories, again to bring a human face to the massive problems of sexual assault. Feldman, meanwhile, notes that rape is Hollywood’s darkest secret, and that that had driven him to years of substance abuse, and that fellow actor Corey Haim was similarly a victim, having been raped at age 11.
   They believe that people in the entertainment industry can help to eradicate human trafficking and domestic violence. Malin suggests that producers should, when filming abroad, do due diligence to ensure that they do not do business with those using slaves or people being paid a pittance. She also adds that audiences should see strong, female characters who have overcome great odds, including stories reflecting hers and Hong’s. Hollywood, she believes, has a unique opportunity to make real change.
   The cycle of violence would never be broken, says Malin, if the film industry continues to reward Roman Polanski with Oscars after his admission of sexual assault, or if it continues to work with men such as Woody Allen, who has been accused by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow of sexual assault.
   She and her husband Scott, who have a son, plan to adopt a daughter from the Los Angeles foster system who has been a victim of abuse, to show that ‘she will have the beautiful and amazing life she deserves, and that she will never go through the hell that I did.’—Jack Yan, Publisher

AnnaLynne McCord’s film, I Choose


Igor Spektor



Splash News





Igor Spektor


Splash News

Above, from top AnnaLynne McCord. Special adviser to the United Nations, Rani Hong, speaks at Amy Malin and the Tronie Foundation’s salon to celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Rani Hong and Amy Malin. Isabelle Katz, AnnaLynne McCord, Yelena Zava, Amber Bobin and Chloe Flower. AnnaLynne McCord, Corey Feldman, Amy Malin and Amber Bobin. Attorney Paul Hirose, actor Corey Feldman and DAMA Tequila CEO Philip Delacruz. Actor Nestor Serrano and his wife Debbie.

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