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Wishing all a happy 2021!

Filed by Jack Yan/December 31, 2020/23.05

Happy 2021 to our readers and supporters!
   Twenty twenty was tough, and along with the rest of you, we felt it. But believe it or not, commercially it wasn’t our toughest year—you can look back at 2005–6 for that, and long-time readers will recall that by January 2006 there were preciously few articles being posted on the site while resources were used to prop up the print magazines as we removed certain negative elements from our business. A few good people, with whom I remain in touch, were caught in the crossfire, but we lived on.
   Fifteen years on we struck a far better balance, and it’s thanks to our team and all those who are Lucire’s creators—editors, writers, photographers, make-up artists, stylists, hairstylists, and many more—that that has been possible.
   And it wouldn’t have been worth doing without those who have blessed us with increasing readership, as we know our work is being appreciated around the globe. It’s always heartening to see Lucire being enjoyed, and recently we were given permission by Fatimah Ahmed, a wedding photographer in Al Jubail, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to show this image from her Instagram. The caption: ‘Surround yourself with the things you love.’


Fatimah Ahmed

   We thank our partners, advertisers, all those who work to print and distribute Lucire, and our supporters for coming together during a tough year and keeping everything ticking along.
   We began 2020 trying to stay positive in the wake of two deaths in the Lucire family in December 2019, and we thought our ‘2020’ graphic that adorned the January 2020 cover of Lucire KSA was a signal that things were going to be positive. It was our “keeping our chin up”. Twenty twenty, I thought, had a nice ring to it. But the superstitious would have pointed to the darkened skies from the Australian bushfires and the cancellation of lunar New Year celebrations in China as ominous, and we certainly had an unexpected year.
   Nevertheless, we count our blessings, as there still were many during 2020, and we wish everyone a happier and more prosperous 2021.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher


The cover from Lucire KSA January 2020, featuring Camille Hyde wearing House of Fluff, where we tried to keep our chin up—and the ‘2020’ motif was meant to signal a positive year!

 


Pierre Cardin, visionary designer, dies aged 98

Filed by Lucire staff/December 29, 2020/13.43


Claude Iverné/Creative Commons 3·0

Top: Pierre Cardin’s official portrait in 1992. Above: The cover of the book accompanying Pierre Cardin’s 60th anniversary retrospectives in 2010.

Legendary fashion designer Pierre Cardin died December 29 aged 98, according to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, of which he had been a member since 1992.
   Born Pietro Costante Cardin in Treviso, Italy to a working-class family, he would find himself in France in his youth. His parents, along with their 11 children, headed to St Etienne, France, and he became a tailor’s apprentice as a teenager.
   Although fascinated by architecture, he stuck with the clothing trade, joining Paquin, the couturier, in Paris in 1944. At Paquin, he helped cut and sew the costumes and designed masks for Jean Cocteau’s film La Belle et la Bête along with Christian Berard. He also apprenticed with Elsa Schiaparelli.
   Cocteau introduced him to Christian Dior, where he was appointed the head cutter for coats and suits for the designer’s New Look collection, which appeared in February 1947. Branching out on his own, with the new company located at 10 rue Richepanse, Cardin began designing masks and costumes for the theatre, and attracted a clientèle that included Rita Hayworth and Eva Perón. The commissions allowed him to take over the rest of the premises.
   In 1951, André Oliver joined the firm and became Cardin’s friend and right hand, and who created the haute couture with him.
   By 1953, Cardin, now at premises on the rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, showed his first proper collection, and in 1954, he eschewed the feminine form and tradition by showing the “bubble” dress.
   He became a member of the Chambre Syndicale but left soon after, finding its rules cumbersome, and in 1959 he showed his first prêt-à-porter show at Printemps. This expanded his brand’s reach, but at the time it was unprecedented: couturiers did not take themselves downmarket. The same year, Cardin travelled to Japan and recognized the potential of Asia.
   The following year, he showed his first men’s collection, Cylindre, and established a men’s prêt-à-porter and accessories’ department. Eventually, supporters included Gregory Peck and the Beatles, who wore Cardin’s collarless suits.
   Cardin understood the relationship between haute couture and prêt-à-porter all too well, arguably before many others: the former would grab the headlines and could act as a loss leader, while the latter was where money could be made thanks to economies of scale. By 1963 he had launched a women’s prêt-à-porter department. The same year he met actress Jeanne Moreau when he was commissioned to design the costumes for her film La baie des anges. The two had a relationship for some five years, which additionally helped Cardin’s profile. However, Cardin identified as gay and Oliver was, with the exception of this period, his partner in life as well as in his work, until Oliver’s death in 1993.
   In the ’60s, Cardin, along with André Courrèges and Paco Rabanne, created what were regarded as futuristic, space-age designs, inspired by the decade’s forays into the space by the Soviet Union and the US. He even developed a synthetic fabric, Cardine, which Lauren Bacall wore. Another celebrity connection was the menswear for Patrick Macnee’s John Steed in the British TV series The Avengers.
   In 1970, Cardin took over the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs, turning it into the Espace Pierre Cardin, which celebrated the arts. Cardin was impressed by Jean Paul Gaultier’s sketches and gave the 17-year-old his break into the industry. During this decade, his business expanded massively to some 100,000 outlets.
   From a business perspective, he was known for licensing his brand name to a wide variety of products, many outside fashion (inter alia, cigarettes, frying pans and soaps), and claimed to have been involved in their creation. With a mistrust of bankers and lawyers, Cardin did the licensing deals himself. In 1972, Cardin launched his first men’s fragrance, Pour Monsieur.
   While still firm in the grips of communism, Cardin showed in mainland China in the late 1970s, believing the country would eventually open up and become a major economic force. In 1981 he opened a boutique in Russia, then still part of the Soviet Union. Cardin was one of the designers who showed power suits in the 1980s.
   Cardin spent his wealth on properties as well as purchasing Maxim’s restaurant in 1981, which he also grew, with additional branches, and here, too, he licensed the name beyond its original scope. Also in 1981, he launched a women’s fragrance, Choc. In 1983, he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour and decorated as Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
   In 1991, Cardin held a fashion show in Moskva’s Red Square to an live audience of 200,000, the first time such an event took place in Russia. He was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour and became an honorary UNESCO ambassador; in 1997 he was promoted again to Commander of the Legion of Honour. By 2001, no longer doing regular collections, he bought the Marquis de Sade’s castle, Lacoste, in Provence.
   He remained active well into his 90s, with even Lady Gaga donning Pierre Cardin at one stage. He continued to mentor younger designers and visit his Paris office.

 


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

 


Personal thoughts on the passing of Sir Sean Connery, 1930–2020

Filed by Jack Yan/October 31, 2020/20.52


Danjaq SA/United Artists

The iconic image of Sean Connery and the Aston Martin DB5 in a publicity still from Goldfinger.

Many movie fans were greeted with sad news with the passing of Sir Sean Connery at 90 in the Bahamas.
   Sir Sean had been unwell for some time, according to his son Jason, and died in his sleep.
   Most moviegoers will remember him for his role as the first big-screen James Bond, but it was decades later in The Untouchables where he received his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
   Talking to other movie fans today, his work in The Hunt for Red October, Highlander and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was highlighted.
   One fan, in particular, relayed to me that Connery’s work played a part in her growing up, and despite his distasteful public comments about spousal abuse and violence toward women—both in the 1960s and 1980s—it was still with a tinge of sadness to note his passing.
   His first wife, Diane Cilento, confirmed Connery’s behaviour.
   It is perhaps only fair to mention it; some find it unforgiveable to do so in the wake of a person’s passing, while others who feel that violence needs to be called out ask: if not now, then when?
   His professional life was less open to criticism, an actor who became a superstar while still able to do solid character work.
   I often joked that Connery’s career could be summed up in four lines: ‘My name is Bond, James Bond’; ‘There can be only one’; ‘We sail into history’; and ‘You’re the man now, dog!’, the last from Finding Forrester.
   As someone who missed out on the 1960s, my introduction to Connery was still through Bond—in 1983 he returned to star in a remake of Thunderball, the unofficial Never Say Never Again. I opted to pay to see Octopussy though during the “battle of the Bonds” that year, and it would be a few years later, on a rented video cassette, that I caught up. The rest I caught out of order, also on cassette: Diamonds Are Forever was next, followed by Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice.
   It was my parents’ insistence initially that Connery was the best actor to play the role of James Bond that made me want to see the rest of them. They courted by going to the Bonds, including double-bills that combined two earlier films.
   Eventually, I saw the rest of the Bonds starring Connery, then saw them again in order to observe his career progress.
   It was natural for James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to release a statement today—after all, they might not be in the Bond movie business if this rough diamond of an actor hadn’t originated the role as Ian Fleming’s super-spy, and paved the way for all the actors who followed.
   ‘We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words—“The name’s Bond … James Bond”—he revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him,’ they said.
   Never mind Connery never actually said, ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’ (look back—Roger Moore was the first to say these exact words in A View to a Kill; Connery said the simpler ‘Bond, James Bond’ in Dr No, and ‘My name is Bond, James Bond’ in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever), their quote is otherwise on the money. It would be hard to imagine Cary Grant, James Mason or Richard Burton in the role.
   And it was because of this role that I wanted to see Connery in others, from pre-Bond outings in The Longest Day and Darby O’Gill and the Little People, to post-Bond work in Meteor, Outland, Highlander and The Presidio.
   What I saw was an actor who matured in his confidence and capability, and I don’t think at any time he “phoned in” a performance.
   It didn’t matter that the Spaniard in Highlander or the Irishman in The Untouchables had a Scots accent: Connery’s presence made you forget such details.
   He was a delight in the big-screen adaptation of The Avengers, as Sir August de Wynter, and I would say that his presence made the film. (I’m also in the minority when I say I rather enjoyed it, with Connery being a big reason.)
   In Jon Amiel’s Entrapment, made just before the millennium—and using Y2K as a plot device—Connery showed that he could still lead an actioner.
   It was a shame that his last big on-screen role was in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a filming experience he was not thrilled about. His last role that I caught was another disappointment for me: a voice role in the animated Sir Billi.
   But that is the life of an actor: you can’t choose great films all the time. And when someone is part of your cinemagoing for three decades, you think of the joy he brought.
   He was a proud Scot, and donated his entire US$1·2 million fee (a record in the early 1970s) from Diamonds Are Forever to kick off the Scottish International Educational Trust, which he founded, to help young Scots of exceptional ability.
   He knew what it was like to come from humble beginnings and saw the value of education, hence his interest in the Trust. He also believed in a Scottish parliament, and pushed for it, addressing the first session after its reconvening in 1999. He was knighted in 2000.
   It was a few years after that, at a conference where he was used as an example, that a colleague brought up his record about his private life, something that was disappointing.
   We did find ourselves in the same city once—Sir Sean had holdings in radio in New Zealand—and I learned I visited one station hours after he did. My mischievous side was tempted to make a crank call in his voice—I was asked to do an impersonation for the local Scottish Association, for their automated phone service, so I imagine it wasn’t too awful—but thought better of it. Despite all the celebrity interviews over the years, Sir Sean was retired by the time I could have interviewed him, and we never crossed paths. Like most of you, I was an admirer who saw the man on the silver screen, and what a career he had there.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Cover design notes on our 23rd birthday

Filed by Jack Yan/October 20, 2020/10.25

We’ve happily been able to add a few more covers to the montage we published last year on the occasion of our 22nd anniversary. Now 23, we thought an update was in order, and we’ve included our latest issue, which you can order now.
   The story of Lucire’s founding has been covered elsewhere, during more appropriate anniversary numbers.
   Here we’ll just remark at how much has changed design-wise since we went into print seven years after our founding. Some of the early issues have dated; and even if we look at the turn of the decade, heading into the mid-2010s, our layout ideas have aged. This is despite a very earnest effort to make a magazine look “timeless”, an impossible task because one is always affected unconsciously by the trends and moods around us. The photography from this period, interestingly, has stood the test of time far better, which makes us wonder if there has really been that much progress out there.
   Right now, with bandwidth so readily available, we are getting more images than ever to accompany fairly innocent stories, making it tempting to use as much of them as possible. More cramped, less airy layouts are the result, and even though we observe a grid, we’ve definitely been trying to give more bang for the buck on every page. Technology so often drives changes in approach and in design.
   Maybe the new decade will force us to rethink this as people want calmer, more relaxed existences to counter the added stresses of work; whatever the case, we’ll continue to strive to present the best and most informative fashion magazine that we can. We thank our amazing team for creating so much beauty on every level, and we thank our readers for over two decades’ worth of support.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher


Jon Moe

Claudia Goetzelmann

Sixteen years separate these two. The commitment to quality and providing an intelligent read has not changed. Coincidentally, both were shot in California, and the older issue has that state’s current First Lady on the cover

 


Chanel retrospective opens at Paris’s Palais Galliera: Vanessa Paradis, Marion Cotillard, Angèle attend

Filed by Lucire staff/October 2, 2020/0.03



Chanel celebrated the opening of the retrospective exhibition Gabrielle Chanel: Manifeste de Mode (Fashion Manifesto), held at the newly renovated Palais Galliera, the City of Paris Fashion Museum, with its ambassadors Vanessa Paradis, Anna Mouglalis, Angèle, Caroline de Maigret, Charlotte Cardin, Gaspard Ulliel and Sébastien Tellier. Other celebrities included Irène Jacob, Camille Razat, Karidja Touré, Lyna Khoudri, Diane Rouxel, Alexa Kapranos, Anne Berest, Clara Luciani, and Bianca Li.
   The exhibition comprises over 350 pieces dating from 1910 to 1971, with pieces owned by the Galliera itself, the Patromoine de Chanel, international museums and private collections. Some of Chanel’s most significant designs are present, as well as an original 1921 No. 5 bottle.
   It has been organized with the support of Chanel.
   The exhibition runs till March 14, 2021.






















Exhibition











Olivier Saillant

 


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