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August 18, 2016

Stoneleigh’s right on trend with its Lighter wines, with 25 per cent less alcohol

Lucire staff/1.11

Can you have a wine lighter in alcohol yet still with the sumptuous flavours that the original is known for? Stoneleigh has cracked it with its Stoneleigh Lighter range, with grapes from the Rapuara vineyards, yet it has content that’s 25 per cent lower in alcohol compared with the original Stoneleigh range.
   The secret is in the sunstones at the vineyards, coupled with the sunlight and low rainfall—these allow grapes to develop their full flavour while their sugar content is lower. The wines retain the lifted aromatics and vibrant flavours that Stoneleigh is known for.
   ‘To create these new wines, we looked at how we could best capture the characteristics of early ripening grapes in the Rapaura subregion. We identified grapes with the fullest flavour profile and harvested them early in the season to capture each varietal’s signature characteristics in the final wine,’ said Jamie Marfell, Stoneleigh’s winemaker (below).
   The Stoneleigh Lighter Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 has an ABV of 9·6 per cent, with pink grapefruit and capsicum notes with hints of passionfruit on the nose, and a palate of fresh citrus, stonefruit and passionfruit. Stoneleigh Lighter Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016 has an ABV of 9·8 per cent, with aromas of apple and nashi pear, complemented by tropical guava and pineapple notes. Finally, Stoneleigh Lighter Marlborough Rosé 2016 has an ABV of 9·9 per cent, with notes of wild strawberry, yellow flesh plum and summer berries.
   The range is available now in New Zealand through leading liquor retailers with an RRP of NZ$17·29.

August 11, 2016

A renewed energy for the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Giselle

Jack Yan/14.51


Stephen A’Court

Every opportunity to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Giselle is a renewed pleasure. First performed in 2012, and garnering a great review from this publication for its outstanding choreography and production. Conceived in Wellington four years ago by then RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel, with Johan Kobborg, Giselle has become one of the company’s signature ballets, performed in China, the US, the UK, and Italy.
   What was astonishing was being able to enjoy Giselle as though we had never seen the 2012 première: there was a freshness about the latest performance, despite our being familiar with the story. On opening night, Qi Huan, who had retired from the RNZB to teach at the New Zealand School of Dance, returned to take up the role of Albrecht, which we saw him perform in 2012. The years since his 2014 departure haven’t diminished his skills one iota: the ballerino still has a star quality that places him a cut above so many, and his entrechats in the second act showed the power and grace that we have come to expect from someone who has mastered his craft. Also performing Albrecht on other occasions is Daniel Gaudiello, former principal dancer of the Australian Ballet, who is similarly acclaimed.
   Lucy Green took the title role on opening night and it was her youthfulness that gave Giselle a fresh take; the drama of Giselle descending into madness in the first act was so well done that one couldn’t help but sympathize with her character’s pain. Her pas de deux with Huan were exquisite and romantic.
   Also of note was the extensive pointe work by the Wilis in the second act, which demonstrated that the RNZB remains on top of its game.
   Jacob Chown’s Hilarion and Mayu Tanigaito’s Myrtha deserve mention in supporting roles: the dancing by both performers was integral to the story and Chown’s battle with the Wilis was emotionally done; Tanigaito kept the pace of the less plot-driven second act going with intricate skill till we saw what had happened to Giselle and Albrecht. Tanigaito also plays Giselle in performances where Gaudiello is Albrecht, and it’s not hard to see her take on the role with aplomb.
   Stiefel returned to Wellington to fine-tune the production, working with his successor, Francesco Ventriglia, who was responsible for the casting of Huan and Gaudiello.
   Marc Taddei conducted Orchestra Wellington, also giving the performance a new energy, performing the full-length score by Adolphe Adam. He will also conduct the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra when Giselle reaches those cities.
   Giselle opened in Wellington on August 11, before touring to Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Rotorua, and Palmerston North, where the season concludes on September 9. Full details are at the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s website, rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

July 8, 2016

The Body Shop débuts Drops of Light and Drops of Youth—healthy solutions for younger skin

Bhavana Bhim/7.32



The Body Shop has created some new gems in their latest releases. The new Drops of Light Pure Healthy Brightening range contains  red algæ extract sourced from the waters of the North Atlantic sea. Combined with vitamin C, the products help to improve the skin by correcting dark spots and brightening the skin’s natural glow.
   The first product that we sampled is the Drops of Light Pure Healthy Brightening Serum (NZ$81·95). This product has a convenient oil dispenser which distributes a drop of cooling oil when applied to the skin. It rubs in easily, instantly refreshing the skin’s surface. There is also a subtle aroma of the red algæ and vitamin C which is pleasantly invigorating. Apply twice a day, morning and night, to achieve desired results.
   The second product sampled in the range is the Pure Healthy Brightening Day Cream (NZ$63·95). This tub is incredibly nourishing: it definitely melts into the skin, without feeling heavy and sticky. The product is light with an aroma of red algæ extract, promising to reduce the size and intensity of dark spots while hydrating the skin 24 hours a day. You should apply this liberally to reap the rewards of dewy skin.
   The Body Shop may not have found the fountain of youth, but claim to have found a few drops of it in its new Drops of Youth range. Inspired by the regenerating cells from plants, the team used stem-cell technology to harness the active ingredients sourced from the globe into their products. Cells from edelweiss, sea holly and criste marine have been sourced for the youthful skin care range.
   The edelweiss plant is known for its protective properties, originating from the high alpine mountains of Trentino-Alto, Italy. Sea holly is known for its firming properties, originating from the shores of southern Bretagne, France. Criste marine is known for its skin-renewing properties. The products are infused with these stem cell properties to hydrate and regenerate the skin.
   The first product sampled is the Drops of Youth Lotion (NZ$58·50). It is infused with all the stem cell power to prepare and activate the skin. The product activates the senses with a fragrant aroma of the triple infused plants. It glides on to the skin effortlessly, softening the texture.
   To further enhance the skin’s appearance, the second item sampled is the Drops of Youth Youth Cream, (NZ$59·95). When placed on top of the lotion, the cream revives the nature of the skin, giving it a soft dewy complexion. The dual power of the lotion and cream works well to enhance the youthful cells of the skin.
   Try the complete Drops of Light and Youth range, available in New Zealand from July 11.—Bhavana Bhim

May 26, 2016

The Body Shop launches Bio-Bridges programme, regenerating and protecting 75,000,000 m² of forest

Lucire staff/12.44


Above: The red-shanked douc, or monkey, one of the endangered species that the Body Shop’s Bio-Bridges programme will protect.

On Tuesday, the Body Shop unveiled its Bio-Bridges programme, which aims to regenerate and protect 75,000,000 m² of forest.
   The programme will not only see forests protected from exploitation and unsustainable harvesting, the Body Shop wants to ensure that animals and plant species within them thrive.
   The first project is the Khe Nuoc Trong forest in north-central Vietnam, home of the red-shanked douc, saola (known as the Asian unicorn and one of the rarest animals on earth), Bengal slow loris and Burmese python. All of these species are threatened by hunting and illegal logging, and the Body Shop notes that nearby habitats are still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War. The World Land Trust and Viet Nature Conservation Centre are working with the Body Shop, patrolling the forest and setting up camera traps, while working with the local community, promoting sustainable forest use and farming.
   Promoting this project to Body Shop customers is an in-store and online campaign called Help Reggie Find Love, featuring Reggie, a red-shanked douc. Each customer transaction will restore and protect 1 m² of habitat in Khe Nuoc Trong.
   Christopher Davis, director of corporate responsibility and campaigns for the Body Shop, said, ‘We want to focus on actively enriching the world’s biodiversity. These areas of forest in Vietnam are biological treasure troves that are being destroyed through poaching and illegal logging. Bio-Bridges are an innovative way to create protected corridors of biodiversity that allow the wider forest to flourish and its inhabitants to breed and thrive. In Vietnam, within five to ten years we hope to be able to see endangered species multiply. We’ll be promoting Help Reggie Find Love online and in our stores in 65 countries around the world, helping raise awareness of this serious issue in a different way and allowing our customers to make a direct and positive impact with every purchase.’
   The company has embarked on this latest corporate social responsibility programme as part of its new global Enrich Not Exploit commitment launched in February. It recognizes that protecting and promoting biodiversity is good not only for the planet, including combatting climate change, but for the natural ingredients it sources for its products.
   The second Bio-Bridge programme begins in late 2016 in the Garo Hills in India, in partnership with World Land Trust and Wildlife Trust of India.

May 5, 2016

Burt’s Bees and Pink Tartan launch limited-edition T-shirt to help save the bees in Canada

Lucire staff/13.06

Burt’s Bees Canada and Kimberley Newport-Mimran of Pink Tartan have teamed up to create a limited-edition T-shirt for Burt’s Bees’ fifth Wild for Bees campaign.
   The latest campaign (hashtagged #PinkTartanXBurtsBees and #beechic) sees Burt’s Bees and Wildlife Preservation Canada plant 10,000 wildflowers to support bee health and sustainability for each Pink Tartan × Burt’s Bees Bee Tee sold.
   The T-shirts retail for C$49 each, and are available from Pink Tartan directly (at stores and online), Holt Renfrew’s H Project, and select London Drugs locations.
   Burt’s Bees has supported Wildlife Preservation Canada since 2012 to help save at-risk bumble bees.
   ‘Bees play an integral role in our ecosystem and our partnership with Pink Tartan allows us to share that message in an exciting way,’ said Carolyn Hungate, Burt’s Bees’ marketing manager. ‘We want people to recognize the hard work bees do for our planet and understand that, by doing simple things, like planting wildflowers, they too can help the bee population thrive.’
   Pink Tartan has modified its ‘Be chic’ tagline to ‘Bee chic’ on the limited-edition T-shirt, and Burt’s Bees says it will be accompanied by two of its natural lipsticks in Tulip Tide and Iced Iris, Newport-Mimran’s favourite shades of pink.

April 20, 2016

New Zealand gets first Renault Zoé glimpse at Leading the Charge event in Wellington

Jack Yan/6.13



New Zealanders got their first look at the Renault Zoé last Friday at the Leading the Charge event in Wellington.
   The electric car, which has been a standard-bearer for the French company’s zero-emissions ambitions alongside its Twizy single-passenger commuter, arrived in the country only that week in right-hand drive form and made its way to the event at the CQ Hotel in Wellington.
   The Zoé posed alongside the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3, which is the subject of an upcoming comprehensive Lucire road test.
   Leading the Charge is a real-world north-to-south road trip from Cape Reinga to Bluff, New Zealand to educate people about zero-carbon motoring, to prove that it is indeed possible, even in a country like New Zealand where major cities are scattered around the landscape, with rural roads linking them.
   Better NZ Trust and EECA are behind the drive, and for Wellingtonians, guest speaker Steve West was on hand to talk about his venture, Charge Net NZ, which aims to have 100 fast-charge stations located nationally.
   Instead of the nightly charge of a car via the mains, which can take all night, these fast chargers pump electricity through in less than half an hour, making the electric car particularly viable. Presently, owners of electric cars pay no road tax.
   In New Zealand, where electricity is in part sourced from hydro sources, electric cars make environmental sense overall.
   Host CQ Hotels had installed eight electric car charging stations in its car park, as part of its social responsibility to the environment.
   The cars have made their way now to the South Island. You can follow @leadingthecharge on Instagram for the latest updates.—Jack Yan, Publisher







April 19, 2016

Sponsored video: Louis Cole looks at Nestlé’s sustainable cocoa harvesting for Kit-Kat

Lucire staff/1.27

A Lucire special promotion

Louis Cole, the man behind Fun for Louis, has over 1·7 million followers on his YouTube channel, making daily vlogs about his travels around the world. He’s built up that following without mass media: it’s all through clever content that people want to watch.
   When you combine Cole with international footballer Didier Drogba, then you’re likely to get a lot of eyeballs.
   Nestlé has done just that in promoting Kit-Kat in its latest series of videos, hiring Cole as its front man in a series made in the Ivory Coast, showing how sustainable the process is. It’s a move toward transparency by the Swiss giant, appealing to consumers who want goods that have a socially responsible element.
   The video series humanizes the chocolate production chain, beginning with the local families on the Ivory Coast who harvest the cocoa beans.
   Cole heads to the Ivory Coast to see workers who use a unique tool developed by Stanford University to harvest cocoa beans, replacing the dangerous machetes that they once used—and which are still commonplace in the country. The tool is more efficient and safer and, as Patricia Ekaba from the Nestlé Cocoa Plan notes, the cocoa is sustainably harvested. In fact, she says, Kit-Kat is the first global confectionery brand using 100 per cent sustainable cocoa—although it should be noted that this applies to those manufactured by Nestlé.
   The typical family-run cocoa farm in that part of the world is 2–3 ha.
   The wet cocoa beans are put on banana leaves for five days, during which the flavour is developed. Once the beans are fermented, they are taken to the local village, where they are dried under the sun, naturally.
   The final stop sees the cocoa taken to a cooperative’s warehouse, where their quality is checked and the farmers are paid. The cocoa is then taken to a processing factory, including one in York, and they are turned into cocoa liquor.
   Additional videos show Drogba, who is Ivorian, visit a local school in a farming town. Nestlé, it turns out, has built over 40 schools in Ivorian towns to provide better infrastructure for farming families, and Drogba has a charity working with the company to build another. The company also has initiatives supporting women, and preventing child labour.


Post sponsored by Kit-Kat

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

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