Lucire


  latest news   fashion   beauty   living   volante   print   tv
  home   community   shopping   advertise   contact

Where have the fun fashion magazine websites gone?

Filed by Jack Yan/February 6, 2021/21.45


Above: The very first site (alphabetically) linked from our Newsstand pages, Annabelle of Switzerland, complete with large lead image and smaller subsidiary ones.

I took a look at Lucire’s Newsstand reviews tonight. This section is a relic of the early dot-com days that Lucire came from (in the 1990s), when people exchanged links with each other to help with their search engine positioning, and, to make the sections look legitimate, you put your favourite websites in there as well. When it came to Lucire, naturally, we included our competitors as a resource for readers. I have to say that we were pretty choosy.
   Each time I re-examine the list, which is probably every couple of years, I’m removing sites. Many have fallen by the wayside over the last 23 years, and some that we link have content frozen in the mid-2010s. They are still good resources, so they’re staying. They might even be a good read for those countries who are still dealing with COVID-19 cases in a very real, confronting way.
   What I did remove throughout the three pages of reviews, however, were the ratings. We used to rate quite a few of the sites on content and design, because when we first started, there was a huge variety. It was a relatively new medium, so people were still experimenting. They were a guide, nothing too serious—though I still remember one New Yorker getting so upset that, if I recall correctly, he felt he had to retaliate by linking Lucire with a negative review. (The low score came in part from home page art that was only tested on certain monitors, and on higher-res ones, its elements didn’t line up, with ghastly results. Cutting up images and have them reassemble on screen was something we all did back then, to cope with slow download speeds.) I suspect all that did was send his readers intrigued about our supposed terribleness our way, who then would have found his review somewhat childish and unreliable, since we were winning awards for the online edition of Lucire. Other than that humorous blip of small-mindedness—which I suppose underlines how elements of New Yorkish Trumpism was there long before the real estate magnate ran for president—the ratings were an accepted feature of the pages for many years.
   The reason for their removal is, sadly, the lack of creativity in web design these days. I’m not saying we’re breaking new ground ourselves, though what you see here was still designed by someone on our team and not part of a template that comes with a web-page service. And don’t get me wrong on that, either: some of those templates are really, really good.
   But we’ve settled into a certain look being acceptable on the web, including mobile devices (which have limited creativity in publishing). As browsers and computers have become more powerful, publishing packages have made use of more of their capabilities. Also a good thing, because this enables more people to make websites. However, this means there is less need for someone to tinker and create something from scratch, because there are great programs that have more than half the legwork done. Then there are those developing templates for these software packages, bound somewhat by the features that form their foundation. That has led to standardization, because, like it or not, there are certain things you must do to make a site work for the range of devices that will be pointed at it nowadays.
   The ratings, then, become meaningless, if so many of the sites reviewed have a similar design concept: big lead image, smaller ones on the home page pointing to the significant articles, similarly sized text (and, in many cases, pretty big text), etc. With fonts now transmitting with web pages, it’s no longer special for a website to have bespoke typography. And with so many fonts available, many have opted to get creative on their typographic choices—which could give us some basis for separating the great from good, but outside of the design world, this seems to be an unfair criterion on which to judge.
   We could still rate for content, but to get in to the directory, the content had to be reasonably decent to begin with.
   While there’s big type on the web, the trend in print appears to be very small body type, so small that it’s uncomfortable to read. I don’t know what’s driven this, since the physiology of the human eye and what point sizes we find legible and readable hasn’t changed, but needless to say it’s not one that Lucire in print has, or will, follow. Trend-wise, I hope that we might get to a more sensible balance again.


Above: A spread from Rolling Stone, November 2020, showing the small type now seen in print.

   Right now the mobile space is getting all the love, hence this standardization, even though I’ve tired of those devices for some years now. We anticipated that the tide would turn with Facebook and removed all the gadgets sourced from that site before The Observer broke the Cambridge Analytica story. I’ve tired of the privacy intrusions by some of the Big Tech websites, even though I have a Google-free Android phone; and I’ve tired of the tiny keyboards and the utterly inefficient ways of entering words on phones, and that includes voice recognition. Technology is here to serve us, not the other way round.
   Therefore, I’m not sure that pandering to the limitations of the smaller screen is the right thing to do, which I know, given the time people spend on their devices in 2021 could be an unwise decision. But maybe some of us have to take those first steps and say: there are better things to do with your day, and better ways of reading that won’t strain your eyes. Look up from your devices. Enjoy life. Find the medium where your posture’s not compromised. Even if the trend is to fixate you to your phones and strain your eyes there, and then to make life difficult for you in print with tiny type that strains your eyes even more. We want to be humane, take part in making your lives better, and not hooking you for every moment possible.
   Another reason this site doesn’t get as much mobile support as others—a reason to knock our own design score down—is that each time we create a version for handheld devices (at the turn of the century, you could download Lucire news on to PDAs like Newtons), the technology is quickly rendered obsolete: either programs are invented that distil the large images and web page layouts into something that the devices can tackle, or resolutions improve, or browsers come with a text-only mode. Worryingly, the means of having smaller devices being able to deal with traditional web pages haven’t appeared as quickly this time, which may point to a dearth of innovation in the occidental online space in the 21st century.
   That is what you get when the technology space is dominated by giants, as it leads to the suppression of innovation, something that isn’t serving humankind one bit. Standardization hasn’t just happened because we all settle: the clever inventions aren’t getting out there because the barriers to entry are high. Big Tech isn’t just about suppressing speech and getting political: it’s affecting our everyday enjoyment and appreciation of online media. YouTube and others have “exit pages” that hinder us from leaving their sites, in an attempt to keep us from departing and score themselves an extra page view that they can record (if we the people do this, the search engines penalize us). They want to keep us where they can watch us, not the other way round.
   I’d love to see that “old-fashioned” innovation return, with great websites that knock our socks off, getting 10 for content and 10 for design again. I’m sure there are clever people out there bucking the trend, and we’d love to hear from them. With all the sites out there, discovering them is as hard as ever, with search engines like Google potentially getting less reliable as their algorithms feed us content that might hook us more than help us, such as giving us political news that appeals to our own biases rather than help make us better rounded people.
   It’s really down to us to get the word out about great sites, businesses and organizations. I realize that most of us can only do this through the services Big Tech provides. You’re probably on this page because you followed a search engine result or a social media referral. But if we want to break free of them, if we want to see great sites and innovation return, then we each need to do our bit, by freeing ourselves from the dominant players that are holding things back. Get those searches from Duck Duck Go, where they’re less biased. Ask yourself whether it’s that vital to share that Tweet, Facebook post, Instagram photo, or social media comment. And, I say this without irony, let us know in the comments of some of those great online destinations that you think deserve to be linked.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Jaguar turns continuation efforts to its 1953 Le Mans-winning C-type

Filed by Lucire staff/January 28, 2021/11.49




‘Continuation’ editions are a great money-spinner for car companies with a history: offer a classic based on the original plans, and wait for the well heeled collectors to snap them up. Aston Martin has done it with both the DB4 GT and the James Bond Goldfinger DB5, and Jaguar with the E-type Lightweight.
   Now it’s the turn of the C-type, with eight planned, each to be hand-built. Unlike replicas, these fetch a higher price because of their provenance, being built by the company itself. Jaguar claims the C-types are ‘fully authentic’, with the cars to come from Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry.
   The cars will be equipped to the 1953 Le Mans winner specifications, with disc brakes, and the 3·4-litre inline six with triple Weber carburettors. The cars will not be road-legal, but can be used in historic racing and on the track.
   Jaguar used a period C-type for the basis of its new manufacturing data, and, of course, it had exclusive access to the original engineering drawings and records created by aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer, competitions’ manager Lofty England, and engineers William Heynes, Bob Knight and Norman Dewis.
   Customers can specify their continuation C-types virtually, too, with an online configurator. These can be shared with the hashtag #70yearsofCtype, with Jaguar planning to feature them on its social media.



Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust

Top: Jaguar’s works C-type racing team before the start of the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours, including Stirling Moss with no. 17. Moss would finish second overall, with Peter Walker. The no. 18 Jaguar C-type of Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton wins the 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours.

 


Hublot releases a limited edition of 50 Big Bang Tourbillion Automatic Orange Sapphire watches

Filed by Lucire staff/January 27, 2021/8.59


The luxury watches in our ‘Year of the ox’ feature aren’t the only new releases for 2021. Hublot shows there’s still plenty of life in the skeleton look, and it’s showing off a new tourbillon movement (which is self-winding) along with a new colour, in its new Big Bang Tourbillion Automatic Orange Sapphire, limited to 50 pieces.
   Hublot has used more sapphire in the movement, with three sapphire bridges (the barrel bridge, an automatic bridge, and a tourbillon barrette). The movement is designed in-house, with a self-winding mechanism designed to last 72 hours, using ceramic ball bearings and other innovations. The orange shade is a first for through-tinted sapphire, using titanium and chromium during manufacture.
   The grey micro-rotor is in 22 ct gold, and is set off by decoration that has been bevelled, sun ray-brushed and sand-blasted, while the skeleton work has been accentuated by sand-blasted platinum. It’s all in line with Hublot’s reputation in creating timepieces with cutting-edge materials, with its own metallurgy and materials’ laboratory.

 


A new take on geta from Andrea Gramaccia; Ruby’s latest for summer; Zegna shows winter ’21

Filed by Lucire staff/January 15, 2021/10.43




Italian interior and product designer Andrea Gramaccia has created a wonderful, occidental take on the Japanese geta, the traditional footwear which has the form of a flip-flop but a wooden base.
   Gramaccia was contacted by the Japanese company Mizutori to create geta. Cleverly, he based the concept around a circle and cutting it in half, and it’s from the two halves that the shapes are worked up to become geta.
   If you look at the inner part, it’s a straight line where the cut was, while the rest was designed for ergonomics, stability and æsthetics.
   You can learn more about Andrea Gramaccia at andreagramacciadesign.com.










Ruby has come back from the summer break with a new collection, on sale January 15. Called Motion, it is intended to finish the summer season. According to creative director Deanna Didovich, ‘If there is one thing that is constant in life, it’s change. I wanted to celebrate this with Motion. Often, I think we can become so fixated on life’s nuances; we forget how special it is just to be existing. How lucky we are to be able to experience change and grow from it.’





It’s not just HRH Prince Charles talking about a reset after the events of 2020, it’s the theme of the winter men’s collection from Ermenegildo Zegna, under artistic director Alessandro Sartori. Zegna refers directly to the ‘(re)set’ (including the parentheses), acknowledging that in places where COVID continues to spread, there’s been a blending of the public and the private, the personal space and the public space, and the indoors and outdoors, ‘as lounging, living and working collide often in one single activity.’
   In a release, Sartori says, ‘We all are experiencing a new reality concerned with new needs, which lead us to previously unseen lifestyles and attitudes. It is precisely at a time like this, when everything is under discussion, that we, at Zegna, have decided to (Re)set. We have looked at our roots to (re)interpret our style codes and (re)tailor the modern man. Outdoor and indoor come together and a new way of dressing takes hold, where comfort and style blend to create a new æsthetic.’

 


Future imperfect

Filed by Jack Yan/December 15, 2020/10.59




Adi Constantin/Unsplash

Above, from top: The real 2015 and one photo that summarizes the decade: Kendall and Kylie Jenner go shopping for Ugg shoes in New York, and take a selfie. The 2015 of fiction: Michael J. Fox outside a cinema in Back to the Future Part II (1989). Still from Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, set in a Los Angeles of 2019, in some ways mirrored more by the metropolises of China. Unpredictable to most: few in the 20th century, with perhaps the exception of Norman Macrae, foresaw the rise of China to this extent—Shanghai’s cityscape could have been the stuff of science fiction 30 years ago. Below right: Twins Alan and Alex Stokes with another TikTok video.

Travel editor Stanley Moss sent me a news item on twin brothers who staged a mock bank robbery on public streets for their social media accounts. The brothers, Alan and Alex Stokes, have nearly 28 million followers on TikTok, and over 5½ million on YouTube. One prank saw an Über driver, not involved with them, held at gunpoint by police. Now, Orange County, California district attorney Todd Spitzer says the brothers could face criminal charges for putting the public and the police in danger.
   While social media have done a lot of good, there are those who take things to an unhealthy extreme for the sake of an audience. Once upon a time, there would be a controlled set and paid actors, but the Stokes brothers decided to do their stunts in the real world.
   They’re not alone in doing outrageous things for an audience, and this isn’t a piece about the decline or the dangers of social media influencers, a topic that Lucire has covered for some time. It’s whether this environment—the incident took place in 2019—could have been something that any of us foresaw in earlier times.
   People are notoriously bad at predicting decades into the future. This magazine has attempted to look a few months forward, such as our recent story about what a post-COVID world might look like, with China as an example (Lucire issue 42; Lucire KSA September 2020). However, once we begin looking at years and decades things look fuzzier.
   The twins’ pranks could have been foreseen mid-decade: people have been seeking attention for social media since they became the norm, and those who potentially make a living from it—with 28 million followers it’s likely that they do—might wish to see just how far boundaries could be pushed. In societies which are less outwardly focused, it is possible that they did not consider the consequences or the harm to others.
   But could this world have been foreseen in, say, 2010? Or 2000? A glance back through our culture shows predictions of our time looking very different the further back you go.
   In Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott foresaw a crowded technological world where androids (‘replicants’) walk among humans. Set in 2019, Scott’s vision is dystopian, with human colonies on other planets, flying cars, and overcrowding. The last point is probably accurate in terms of our global population; Scott envisaged skyscrapers and street scenes devoid of natural light. Down on the streets of his 2019 Los Angeles is a mixture of cultures, with English used alongside other languages. Blade Runner’s Los Angeles is a dirty place, with lots of old stuff that lacks the sheen of the latest signage and advertisements, just as our urban world is today. Science fiction films often make the mistake of giving everything a modern, new sheen, but "blanket newness" doesn’t ever exist in real life: visual futurist and conceptual artist Syd Mead understood this well.
   The protagonist in the film, Deckard, is disenchanted with the technologist society that places little emphasis on human emotion; in some ways it illustrates how humans have become slaves to technology rather than having technology improve their lives. Memories can be implanted into replicants; today one supposes that editing photos on social media paint an idealistic and not always real story about our humanity. Once upon a time a photo album was private, with stories attached to them; today social media and online photos are often offered without explanation, to show one side of life—no wonder studies reveal that social media can make some people more depressed as they gaze at their friends’ seemingly perfect existences.
   Blade Runner might not look like 2019, nor was it right on androids and planetary colonization, but in many ways Scott identified the themes that make humans lonely because of technology.
   Later in the 1980s, Back to the Future Part II (1989) also had flying cars in its world of 2015. Robert Zemeckis, the director and co-writer of the film, said that the future could not be predicted so he and Bob Gale, who co-wrote, decided to have fun with it. Their 2015 is an intentional parody: an antagonist with microchip implants in his brain, hover boards, which are wheel-less skateboards that defy gravity, and a nostalgic hangout for young people called Café ’80s. In the cinema yet another Jaws sequel played, with a holographic projection coming out into the street as part of its promotion. Light switches at home are voice-activated, while what was once a posh neighbourhood was, in 2015, considered a lower-class area. Faxes hung on walls while videophones and multiple tv screens on a wall were part of the 2015 household.
   There’s less cerebral thinking here as it’s played for laughs, though video calls and voice activation are reasonably on the mark, as is the theme of urban decay. It’s not unusual to see a society nostalgic for the past—in fashion we saw our share of 1980s, even 1990s, revivals during the 2010s. An obsession with screens, as the teenage Marty McFly, Jr has in 2015, is accurate, even if those screens weren’t all on the wall, but hand-held.
   Wim Wenders’ 1991 film Bis ans Ende der Welt (Until the End of the World) only had to go as far as 1999, and is more accurate what it predicted: a highly digital society, with hand-held assistants, search engines, and consumer GPS. Wenders foresaw a commercialized East Berlin—a reasonable prediction given the Wall had recently come down—and a San Francisco with a massive income disparity. However, the new invention where brainwaves can be read and dreams can be turned into digital images remains the realm of science fiction. Its main character, Claire, lives an empty life of endless parties before she decides to return to Europe to spend time with friends.
   The films are correct in some respects, illustrating that the human condition hasn’t changed much: it’s always possible to feel lonely and outcast from the world, and it is up to the filmmaker to identify causes. A designer must make similar predictions if a collection or a product is to be a hit: what is it about the human condition in the coming year that we expect to be highlighted? As we stand on the verge of 2021, is it a sense of optimism, that things will get better now that two companies have announced COVID-19 vaccines? Or is it a sense of caution? And how are these expressed? Those that somehow address human feelings, no matter how they are expressed, tend to do better than high concepts that are divorced from what people are going through.
   Some of it will come down to instinct—what are termed intuitive predictions. The more experience one has, the better the prediction one might make. Students of history are often well equipped to look into the future based on their knowledge of the past; our older citizens may well have witnessed phenomena similar to what they see today.
   Statistical predictions, meanwhile, rely on data and algorithms, and the more data one has, and the more reliable they are, the better the prediction. Factor in external events and their impact. Meteorologists rely on these for their forecasts, and designers might be in a position to do the same.
   One individual who had a better record than most was the former deputy chief editor of The Economist, Norman Macrae. He foresaw the rise of China, the ubiquity of the internet, and growing income inequality decades before they hit, all through hard, economic analysis.
   Norman Macrae is an anomaly in how accurate he was, as it is rare to allow for those external events accurately. The further out your prediction is going to be, the more external events you face, with increasing potential to render them inaccurate—just as we had with Blade Runner. Its sequel, naturally, had to take place in 2049 for the world it created to remain just out of reach of us.
   And while some events are cyclical, it can be tricky predicting just how long that cycle is. Economics is one field where smarter practitioners could work it out, but lay people might not see the cycles when they are living it.
   The 1980s were regarded by marketers as a "me decade": in the west this was fuelled by consumerism and free-market ideologies, but more than one author then predicted that the 1990s would be more a "we decade", more caring and more collective. It didn’t happen: the cycle was far longer than any of them expected, to the point where we have just been through a selfie decade aided by cellphones whose forward-facing cameras are often better than the backward-facing ones.
   The decade we have left behind was one that might be remembered for the Kardashians, who shot to fame precisely because the sight of self-indulgent celebrities caught the Zeitgeist. Many a successful Instagram account, especially in the modelling and glamour modelling fields, are founded on selfies, as everyone wants to be seen to be living their glamorous best. The Stokes twins took this to the next, dangerous, and selfish level, in a country that seems to encourage it.
   In 2021, it might be fair to ask if “weism” has finally arrived. Countries that have managed to push the COVID-19 curve down—e.g. China, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia—have done so with an eye on the collective good, demonstrating that we are stronger together. Have we tired of selfies? Certainly Facebook and Instagram engagement continues to fall each year. TikTok may be on the rise because of its novelty, but are enough of us now beginning to enjoy what nature has for us that we can put down the phones?
   In earlier issues (see Lucire KSA June 2020) we covered how some of nature has returned because of our lockdowns, and it seems the countries that respect nature more are the ones who have come out the other side more quickly.
   That’s perhaps an easy one to forecast. But it will still depend on how we see the human experience—just what mood will we, as people, possess in the year ahead.
   Additionally, Simon Sinek, in his book The Infinite Game, believes that having a just cause can overcome those unexpected external factors. It isn’t about having a finite position in the future, or some defined endgame; instead, it’s about understanding what you stand for and nurturing that for the long term. Here at Lucire, for instance, we have never stopped looking to the whole world for our stories, in the belief that the world can come together if we are exposed to more of it. We believe our readers are intelligent, hence we run stories like this: we are not in the business of dumbing down, and never have been. The quest for knowledge—the human thirst for it, and to gain an advantage as evolution would have us do—is part of the condition that doesn’t go away. And in the 2020s, we’re hoping people might want to pursue depth again, coming out of the selfie and Kardashian decade.
   Those that remained sure of their purpose through COVID-19 in 2020 have probably endured without facing some crisis over what they stand for. That’s ultimately what we have to create: a sense of purpose within us. We can look to the future as much as we like, and we can make an educated guess about what people will be going through, but the most sure thing is what we can do about ourselves.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Twenty years of Lucire’s Car to Be Seen in

Filed by Jack Yan/December 14, 2020/3.07


Honda E: already inducted into the Red Dot Design Museum.

The Honda E has been named Lucire’s Car to Be Seen in for 2020, the award joining a bunch of others from dedicated motoring and motoring media organizations around the world.
   For some reason I thought the second-generation Toyota Prius was once named a Car to Be Seen in by us in 2004, but I suspect that was the fault of memory: we covered the Prius in print, but it never got the accolade. The reason it stuck in my mind was that in 2004 it made an impression, even if used second-gen Priuses are now associated with Ãœbers and an anti-car image by certain petrolheads.
   That impression was the sight of certain Hollywood types wanting to be seen as green, showing up to awards in Priuses rather than stretched limos, a practice that quickly ceased after they hopped on to the next fad. It wasn’t, for want of a better term, sustainable—at least not for their image. And more’s the pity, because the stretched limousine remains an exercise in irrelevance, in our opinion.
   The award is entirely subjective and even the criteria have changed from time to time; but with only a few exceptions we’ve attempted to choose a vehicle that represents the style of the time. We also ask: does the Lucire reader look good in it? Does it say something positive about the driver?
   As a result, some cars were named to the list before they were lapped up by a load of buyers—or footballers. One year it was put to an editors’ vote.
   This year, the 20th, it’s a pleasure to welcome the first Japanese car to the list, by a company we’ve long admired for its chutzpah. Founder Soichiro Honda knew he wanted to make cars, so to get there he started with bicycle motors and lawnmowers and worked his way up. The sky’s the limit, literally, as Honda now has a corporate jet business, too.
   The Honda E is not the first EV on the list: that honour goes to the Tesla Roadster, back when Martin Eberhard was running the business in a spirit of transparency and optimism. A futuristic plug-in diesel hybrid limited to 200 units, the Volkswagen XL1, went on the list in 2014. The BMW i8 was the Car to Be Seen in for 2016, and the Jaguar I-Pace in 2018.
   Our full list up to December 2019, which was published on our NewTumbl, appears below, with the new entry added. We will probably cease updating our NewTumbl presence, which took over from our Tumblr account, preferring to consolidate our content on our own domains. Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continue for the time being—and that’s a discussion for another day.—Jack Yan, Publisher

2001 Audi A4 Avant
2002 Audi A4 Cabriolet
2003 Peugeot 307 CC
2004 Aston Martin DB9
2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK
2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
2007 Tesla Roadster
2008 Fiat 500
2009 Alfa Romeo MiTo
2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse Coupé
2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2012 Range Rover Evoque
2013 Jaguar F-type
2014 Volkswagen XL1
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
2016 BMW i8
2017 Range Rover Velar
2018 Jaguar I-Pace
2019 Alpine A110
2020 Honda E

 


Next Page »

 

Get more from Lucire

Our latest issue

Lucire 42
Check out our lavish print issue of Lucire in hard copy or for Ipad or Android.
Or download the latest issue of Lucire as a PDF from Scopalto

Lucire on Twitter

Lucire on Instagram