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June 22, 2016

Aston Martin reveals Vanquish Zagato, with production limited to 99

Lucire staff/22.25



As expected, the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato concept that was shown at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como has become a production reality, with the company saying that it will produce 99 examples at Gaydon, Warwickshire, with deliveries commencing during the first quarter of 2017.
   Aston Martin says the car is an example of its collaboration with Zagato, though its press information does not say whether the model, based on its Vanquish flagship, was styled by the Italian coachbuilder or done in-house, as it had been for the V12 Vantage Zagato in 2011.
   The company notes that the new car has ‘Aston Martin’s acclaimed dynamic and material qualities with Zagato’s signature design language.’
   At the launch of the concept last month, Zagato CEO Andrea Zagato noted, ‘We pride ourselves on our strong partnership and the creation of the Vanquish Zagato Concept was a true shared experience. It represents the essence of an important design relationship that dates back over fifty years,’ but there was no elaboration on where the design took place.
   The first collaboration began with the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato of 1960, and it was revived under Victor Gauntlett’s leadership of the company in the 1980s with the V8 Vantage Zagato. Neither car was considered attractive on launch, though both were perceived to be future classics—which they became. The DB4 GT Zagato is now valued at over £10 million and has few critics today.
   Subsequent collaborations were the 2002 DB7 Vantage Zagato, which used a lightly modified version of the donor car’s front end so it did not have to be retested for safety; and the 2011 V12 Vantage Zagato.
   The Vanquish Zagato has an engine uprated to 600 PS, with a claimed 0–60 mph time of 3·5 s. The company says the suspension set-up will be unique to the model. It features a unique carbonfibre body that has new round rear taillights, LED technology shared with the Aston martin Vulcan supercar, a sculpted rear end that has a profile similar to that of the DB11, with a downward contour and pronounced spoiler splitting the taillights. There is a pronounced side strake, reinterpreted so it now runs more deeply down the height of the front wing aft of the wheels, and, as expected, there is the famed Zagato double-bubble roof. The Vanquish Zagato is a liftback.
   Inside, the Vanquish Zagato uses herringbone carbonfibre, and shadow and anodized bronze leather, with the option of aniline leather. The seats and doors have a Z-pattern stitch, and the Zagato Z is embossed on headrests and stitched into the centre console.















Filed under: design, history, living, London, Lucire
May 27, 2016

Brooklyn Decker stars in new video for Chrysler Pacifica minivan, alongside the ‘PacifiKids’

Lucire staff/21.51

Former Lucire model Brooklyn Decker, now better known for her role in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, stars in Chrysler’s new campaign for its 2017 Pacifica minivan.
   The campaign sees Decker along with the ‘PacifiKids’, Miles (aged 11), Izzy (10) and Harper (8), explain the new model to her, which is Fiat Chrysler’s replacement for both the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan (the latter remains in production for the time being).
   A series of videos will début in advance of the US Memorial Day weekend on Facebook, according to the company. The first video can be found here.
   The PacifiKids understand technology in the way modern children can, and take the viewer through features such as the Pacifica’s tri-pane panoramic sunroof and voice-activated infotainment system.
   Decker is a new mother, having given birth to a boy on September 30, 2015.
   The Pacifica is reputed to be the best in class, keeping Fiat Chrysler ahead in the large MPV segment which it created back in the 1980s.
   Fiat Chrysler says there are two additional videos featuring the PacifiKids. The campaign was created with Chrysler’s social media agency, Society.

May 4, 2016

Royal New Zealand Ballet’s The Wizard of Oz: a family-friendly feast

Jack Yan/14.29



Ross Brown

I truly hope Francesco Ventriglia’s The Wizard of Oz will be performed all over the world, because this family-friendly ballet has all the ingredients for first-time and seasoned watchers alike. What we saw at the world première tonight in Wellington were skilful dancing, moments of contemplation, beautiful staging and design, and a masterful matching to the music of Francis Poulenc.
   Based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, rather than the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz, audiences are helped by the familiar storyline, which is common to both. Ventriglia keeps the basic idea but takes some different parts from the book compared to the well known film, and in the adaptation to a ballet enhances certain scenes. The structure is of a classical ballet, as are many of the dance moves, including some neatly executed lifts and catches in two pas de deux in Act II, between the Prince and Princess of Porcelain (William Fitzgerald and Laura Jones on opening night), and the Wizard (Fitzgerald again) and Dorothy (Lucy Green).
   Ventriglia forgoes the cyclone in favour of a simpler Dorothy in hospital with a coma, watched over by her Uncle Henry (Sir Jon Trimmer), but once she is deposited in the land of the Munchkins, you know that the action has started. The use of this device is very personal to Ventriglia, and can be traced back to when he was five years old in Genova, when he noticed that a girl in isolation in a children’s hospital had gone from her bed one day. His mother told him that she had gone to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz.
   A blue sky backdrop links each scene with Dorothy, and on its first appearance in Act I, lights up one’s mood. Gianluca Falaschi, The Wizard of Oz’s designer, approaches the set with both creativity and sensibility. Doors open up revealing different scenes behind the sky set, depending on the context, but it works well, giving the stage additional depth. Watch out for both the Emerald City, which borders on a bright discothèque—and no, there are no shades of 1974’s film The Wiz here—and the Kingdom of Porcelain, which is revealed in the second act. There is one beautiful touch near the close of the second act where the Wizard offers to take Dorothy away, but the fear of revealing spoilers prevent me from telling you just what Falaschi has created.
   The costumes deserve extra mention. Glinda, the Witch of the North, danced by Abigail Boyle with plenty of movements en pointe, sparkled with a bright white costume that featured 1,000 sequinned butterflies, giving her an other-worldliness; this contrasted Dorothy’s simpler farm dress that Falaschi says took its cue from the film. Dorothy’s multiple costume changes—her "saucer tutu" for the Porcelain scene, for instance—hint at the chequered pattern of her original dress, so audiences are clear that Green is dancing in the same role. The Witch of the West (Mayu Tanigaito) only has the Flying Monkeys for her allies in this version, but she enters the stage looking sinister, her outfit having connections to more adult themes but considerably toned down for a family audience. The Flying Monkeys, meanwhile, are bare-chested but masked while they are under her spell, wearing large, black skirts. Elaborate, dominating movements convey their evil intent, while the chandeliers and prison cage on the set contrast with the simplicity of the blue sky of Dorothy’s world.
   Scarecrow (Loughlan Prior) deserves additional mention since he is the first character to follow Dorothy and, therefore, has a greater role on stage; Prior’s floppy, soft movements convey his character’s construction neatly. Tin Man (Massimo Margaria)’s metallic detailing on his outfit wasn’t as easily seen and almost looked as though he was wearing a body colour, but thankfully this newer interpretation allowed the ballerino much freer movement. Jacob Chown got into his Lion character from his first moment on stage, right through to when he took a bow.
   Felipe Domingos, as the Guardian of the Emerald City cut a distinctive figure with his flowing movements, and shone in his first scene; Harry Skinner’s Yellow Cat, chasing after the mice played by Linda Messina and Tonia Looker, was a particularly likeable comedic performance (though one wonders why the cat is bigger than the dog: Toto is a stuffed toy in this version). Watch out, too, for a tap-dancing scene as Green dons red shoes instead of the Silver Shoes from the book.
   Falaschi is inspired by 1930s bathing costumes, flapper dresses and cloches, and a bellhop’s uniform for the Guardian, all of which he works in to give The Wizard of Oz, a visual feel that is its own. In all, 37 new costumes were created for the production.
   Jason Morphett’s lighting was particularly clever, as Falaschi’s box set forced him to use lights in the corner. He based his concepts on Poulenc’s music, which lent itself well to visuals thanks to its lyrical nature. I tend to find lyrical scores can paint a scene better than those founded on sound effects, and the compilation of various Poulenc compositions, compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters from two dozen recordings, worked well as a complete ballet. Ventriglia calls the score ‘very cinematic,’ and that seems a very apt description.
   As detailed in our preview, the ballet began life as an unperformed, single-act ballet, which Ventriglia first conceived when artistic director of Maggio Danze in Firenze. There is an additional meaning here, as Ventriglia, who hails from Italy, has had to ask himself just what ‘home’ means, as Dorothy had to discover: ‘My conclusion is that home is where you feel grounded and comfortable within yourself,’ he writes in the programme. ‘For me that place is the dance studio.’
   The work, he writes, has been adapted to the dancing style of the company and the new inspirations he has found in New Zealand since his arrival a year and a half ago.
   The Wizard of Oz achieves its aim of being a big-story ballet that appeals to everyone, and audiences will be delighted at this latest production.
   The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz kicks off in Wellington on May 4, and will visit nine centres around New Zealand: Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Napier. Further information can be found at the Royal New Zealand Ballet website, www.rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher


April 26, 2016

The big reveal for HTC’s 10 smartphone in New York

Lola Cristall/10.59


New York rolled out the red carpet for the big reveal of HTC’s newly and much awaited 2016 flagship smartphone earlier in April. Weeks before, the industry were enthusiastically anticipating the state-of-the-art HTC 10. Its sleek look, elegant structure and slightly oblique curves radiate with sophistication.
   The aluminium unibody Android stores up to 27 hours of power, thanks to the company’s PowerBotics component that enhances battery life. The up-to-date Qualcomm Snapdragon processor accelerates speed and connectivity with impressive graphics. Other innovations include their BoomSound Hi-Fi edition for stunning sound quality. Additional features include a rough textured power button, a concealed SIM card slot and volume control. A dual-tone LED flash, a laser autofocus, a back-illuminated sensor (BSI), front and back UltraPixel cameras with optical image stabilization (OIS) for pictures and selfies, permitting the photographer to evade the unwanted blur. The 12 Mpixel camera can capture moments in a flash (literally) in a speed of 0·6 seconds. Other features also include face detection and a self-timer. The scratch and damage-resistant glass covers a high-resolution 5·2-inch screen with 2,560 by 1,440 pixels, a whopping pixel density of 564 ppi. The metal body and rigorous glass front beautifully complement each other to provide a robust handset that can withstand scratches and scrapes.
   It is a delicate, elegant gadget with a fingerprint sensor, which can speedily detect the user unlocking the device in 0·2 seconds, and an easy-to-navigate touch-screen, all in the comfort of one’s hand. HTC 10 will officially be released in May and will be available in two shades, including grey and silver.—Lola Cristall, Paris editor


Panos Emporio revolutionizes men’s swimwear with Meander, launched in Stockholm today

Lucire staff/8.00



The swimwear designer Panos Papadopoulos, whose Panos Emporio label celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is breaking new ground once again, this time in relation to men’s swimwear.
   Panos Emporio, which is known in many countries for giving women the perfect fit, addresses the needs of the modern man, with a new design, Meander.
   The launch today at NK in Stockholm is one which Panos Emporio has put a great deal of energy into: the new design is set to do for men’s swimwear what Panos’s earlier design, the highly adaptable Paillot, did for women’s swimwear in its markets.
   However, Meander is set to reach more than Panos Emporio’s traditional markets in the Nordic countries and Thailand, and there has already been interest from beyond these nations.
   Again it was Panos’s own sociological background—it is the area he formally trained in—that kicked in, allowing him to observe something other designers missed. He also credits his Greek background—he was born in Greece before emigrating to Sweden in the 1980s—and notes that the ancient Greeks had records of early swimwear.
   He observed a few trends: the long trunks in men’s swimwear as surf fashion began influencing the genre in the 1990s, yet such styles restricted men’s movement in sports and swimming. Anatomically, Panos notes that men found current swimming trunks to be uncomfortable. There was an unhygienic trend also emerging, with some men preferring to swim with their underwear on, while there were more beaches banning the practice of men swimming in their underwear in lieu of proper swimming shorts.
   Finally, and perhaps most critically, men were rolling up the legs of their swimming trunks, for either movement, practicality, fashion or more complete tanning—he saw not only everyday men do this, but Giorgio Armani, and footballers Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Zlatan Ibrahimović.
   Meander addresses all these needs with a number of features. For starters, wearers can roll up the legs on the Meander design, and fasten them. Inside, there’s a mesh lined inner brief that’s extra soft and comfortable, so there are no more anatomic issues. Finally, the fabric is quick-dry.
   Panos has improved the design to make it more stylish, and the resulting first style for Meander recalls his Greek heritage.
   ‘Meander is a revolution, giving freedom for men to decide for themselves how their swimming shorts should fit them. They’re suitable for showing off well trained thighs, and those who want to avoid zebra stripes [when they tan]. Who wants to walk around with different shades on their thighs?’ he notes.



April 21, 2016

Renault releases first details of Koleos II, its most upscale SUV yet

Jack Yan/13.11

We had anticipated this announcement since Salvatore Marti, operations’ manager of Renault New Zealand, told us to wait till April 21 to see photographs of the Koleos II, the company’s latest SUV.
   He never said Renault Maxthon, which was the name bandied about by the media for part of 2016. There’s a logic to having another name with a hard k sound at the start, tying in to Captur and Kadjar, Renault’s other own-brand SUVs.
   We had been concerned that the new Koleos wouldn’t match the Kadjar in looks, since the current model was conceived by Samsung of Korea, one of Renault’s subsidiaries, and never had the flair of some of its rivals.
   Marti assured us that we shouldn’t worry, and he was right: Koleos, which has the same 2,705 mm wheelbase as the Nissan X-Trail, is arguably better looking than the Kadjar. It’s also slightly bigger, in the same way the X-Trail is bigger than its sister car, the Nissan Qashqai, by the same amount. Both sets of Renault’s and Nissan’s SUVs are on Renault’s CMF–C/D platform.
   However, the Koleos will only be a five-seater, with Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker saying that the company was already catering to the seven-seat market with its Scénic IV and Espace V.
   The grille is similar to that of the international (as opposed to the Chinese-market) Renault Talisman, which had been fêted as the Most Beautiful Car of the Year by the Festival Automobile International in Paris. It also ties in to the look of the Renault Mégane IV. It appears that Renault is looking to target more upscale buyers with the Koleos.
   The Koleos II is one of the débutantes at the Beijing Motor Show next week, with CEO Carlos Ghosn officially unveiling it on the 25th. It will be built in Wuhan for the Chinese market, but no announcement has been made on where other countries’ Koleoses will be sourced from. Chinese buyers will get 2·0- and 2·5-litre petrol models, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
   The Koleos II will be sold in New Zealand, but the Kadjar will not, said Marti.—Jack Yan, Publisher

April 18, 2016

Fashion Cities Africa gives a snapshot of four cities on a varied, rich continent

Jack Yan/3.51

The second largest continent on the planet is, logically, home to a massive number of fashion designers and movements, although out of Africa, there hasn’t been as much recognition of them till recently. Fashion Cities Africa, the book, inspired by the exhibition of the same name at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery that opens at the end of April, is one high-profile development which seeks to shine a light on the variety present on the continent, while on a similar note, next month’s Africa Fashion Festival in Wellington will do the same for its designers.
   Hannah Azieb Pool, who edits the new book, is a Eritrean-born, London-based journalist, who, along with Helen Jennings, has co-writing duties, resulting in a cohesive, beautifully presented book that examines contemporary fashion in Nairobi, Casablanca, Lagos and Johannesburg. It doesn’t pretend to be a fully comprehensive guide, stating from the outset it is meant to provide mere glimpses on a continent that is incredibly diverse. The foreword by Binyavanga Wainaina, a flâneur, reminds us that there are clusters scattered throughout the land that have their own tendencies, and that her favourite designer is Nigerian, Chioma Chukwulozie.
   The reader is thrown in to the colour of Nairobi, where sibling bloggers Velma Rossa and Papa Petit (a.k.a. Oliver) take one half of the first spread with their über-stylish and proudly urban Kenyan clothes, and stylists, musicians, designers, bloggers and artists profiled on following pages give slices of their lives that shake occidental sensibilities with their own palettes and ensembles. Nairobi, for the most part, emphasizes comfort, and the clothing shot on these pages by Sarah Marie Waiswa demonstrate that the city’s fashion could easily translate to other places, spanning everything from casual to luxury. Adèle Dejak has shown in Milano, for instance, and appeared in Vogue Italia with her collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo, while John Kaveke and Nick Ondu show the sort of sartorial elegance that could easily influence menswear in other fashion capitals.
   Profiles of some of the personalities from the city follow, reminding us that Nairobi is a crossroads: Ami Doshi Shah is of Indian descent, her family brought there by the British when both countries were under Crown rule, while Ann McCreath is a Scots émigrée who fell in love with the fashion there. There’s a dose of youthful energy, too, with Anthony Mulli, a jewellery designer who started when he was 16, pointing the way forward.
   The book follows a similar structure for subsequent cities, moving on to Casablanca next.
   Lucire readers will be familiar with Morocco thanks to travel editor Stanley Moss’s writings, and Jennings’ chapter, with photographs by Deborah Benzaquen, takes us on a similar journey through the country’s largest city. It was, of course, a home for Yves Saint Laurent at one point, as well as a drawcard for many western celebrities, when a first wave of Moroccan designers became known outside of the region. A second wave, Jennings explains, emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, with Zineb Joundy a graduate of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. A greater sense of artistic freedom and Casablanca’s position that blends Arabic, European and indigenous cultures has resulted in some looks that may seem familiar—perhaps thanks to the likes of Saint Laurent and his influence. Again the profiles are well selected, a cross-section of the highly varied cultures in the city: Amine Bendriouich, Amina Agueznay, Yassine Morabite, Saïd Mahrouf, and Zhor, Chadia and Aida Raïs each cover a very different parts of the fashion spectrum, from T-shirts to traditional caftans.
   Once the book gets to Lagos, it’s apparent that there’s a sense of “bubbling under”, with Lakin Ogunbanwo’s photographs, paired with Jennings’ words again, showing slightly more subdued looks for men, but prouder, more flamboyant looks for women. Jennings notes that civil war and Nigeria’s military juntas stalled its fashion scene for some years, before a revival when democracy returned in 1999. Foreign labels were seen as cool till recently, with the country discovering its confidence in its own æsthetic, to the point where one of her interviewees, stylist Bolaji Anumashaun, says that fashion can be one of Nigeria’s ‘greatest exports’. Anumashaun founded thestylehq.com with a pan-African fashion focus, and Arise magazine, founded in 2008, also stepped up the promotion for Nigerian designers. With Nigeria’s GDP now greater than South Africa’s, that confidence is bound to increase, and Jennings looks at Nike Davis Okundaye, who owns the biggest gallery in West Africa in Lagos, and happy to promote young talent. Others, such as Yegwa Ukpo and Amaka Osakwe, both were schooled in the UK before returning to Lagos to found their brands, while PR consultant Zara Okpara and luxury concept store owner Reni Folawiyo complete their city’s picture.
   Johannesburg completes Fashion Cities Africa, and it’s perhaps fair that Pool chose to put it last. Many mistakenly think of South African fashion when they refer to ‘African fashion’, spurred in part by the Republic’s sporting ties to many other countries in the Commonwealth. Victor Dlamini has the photographic duties here, and Pool pens the words, and she goes through the various Jo’burg neighbourhoods, noting that its fashion is more established than Nairobi’s but less self-conscious than Lagos’s. There is a western infusion here in some parts, she notes, but on closer examination there are accessories that reference Soweto streets or Zulu culture. The city even has two fashion weeks: South Africa Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, making the city spoiled for choice when it comes to giving its designers a platform. David Tlale, whom Lucire readers will have heard of, and who has shown at New York Fashion Week, hails from here, and Jo’burg designs have a greater sense of familiarity thanks to western media exposure. It oozes colour and vibrancy, much like the photos chosen for Pool’s first chapter on Nairobi, and in similar fashion (pun unintended) there are profiles from across the spectrum: designer Thula Sindi, creative collective, the Sartists, accessories’ and shoe designer Maria McCloy, and womenswear designers Marianne Fassler and Anisa Mpungwe.
   It’s our hope that we can cease talking about ‘African’ fashion and instead replace the dialogue with specific cities or countries, just as we do for smaller continents such as Europe. Just as there is no such thing to fashion observers as ‘European’ fashion, there is equally no such thing as ‘African’ fashion: it is impossible to generalize at a continental level. Both as an informative volume and a coffee-table flick-through (as it is softcover), Fashion Cities Africa succeeds, and it’s exceptionally good value with full-colour photographs (needed for its story, over 196 pp.) at £20 (available via Amazon UK here, or Book Depository here) or US$28·50, (Amazon link here). It is published this month by Intellect Books, as part of its Street Styles series.—Jack Yan, Publisher

April 16, 2016

Kasia Smutniak launches Mya special edition of Lancia’s last car, the Ypsilon, at Spazio Arôme in Milano

Jack Yan/12.09



We might as well enjoy it while it lasts, because this is the last Lancia.
   With the demise of the Delta—one of our favourites—in 2014, there’s a single model line left for the fabled Italian brand: the Ypsilon. After that, Lancias will be no more, the 110-year-old brand being consigned to history as Fiat kills it off.
   The Ypsilon is effectively the successor to the old Autobianchi superminis such as the A112 and Y10, a marque which had also disappeared, after once being the brand where Fiat tried out new concepts such as hatchbacks and front-wheel drive.
   Not even a brand that has had cars such as the Aurelia, Fulvia and Gamma coupés, Stratos and Beta Montecarlo can survive a lack of attention, and the Mya is one of the last editions of Ypsilon that will wear the Lancia badge.
   Fiat’s now busy, of course, with profitable Jeeps and the renaissance of Alfa Romeo, although it still pumped some money into an event in Milano for the Lancia Ypsilon Mya at the Spazio Arôme.
   This special edition sees Polish actress Kasia Smutniak (known to Anglophone audiences for the actioner From Paris with Love) as its spokeswoman, succeeding other Lancia faces such as Carla Bruni.
   The launch used video mapping imaging techniques behind Smutniak, projecting graphics on to real surfaces. Lancia says it sees the Ypsilon Mya as a ‘second home’, with Antonella Bruno, head of Lancia for EMEA even interviewing Debora Conti, a life coach, on the relationship between space and emotion, and Fire Cars’ Annacarla Giusti confirming that the car has style and elegance.
   Admittedly, the tipo 846 Ypsilon, which has been around since 2011, has aged remarkably well, and the shape still has a certain elegance to it. The interior features Alcantara and a denim-look fabric. The exterior sees the addition of two shades—though they are both grey. Ardesia Grey is standard, and a three-layer Lunare Grey comes as an option. Neve White, Vulcano Black and Blu di Blu are also available from the regular Ypsilon line, which sees a palette of 12 colours.
   To give it a subtle lift, there is a satin finish on the front bumper, the lower grille inserts, door mirrors, door handles, the Ypsilon badge on the tailgate, and the Mya logo on the wheel arches.
   The Ypsilon features at the Spazio Arôme this weekend, and that of April 23–4.—Jack Yan, Publisher






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