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German actress Tiana Pongs releases insider’s guide to modelling

Filed by Lucire staff/July 2, 2020/12.23

German model and actress Tiana Pongs, who had authored Der kleine Model Guide in her native country some years ago, has released an updated English-language equivalent, Keep Smiling: a Career Guide for Models, from the same publisher, Ebozon Verlag.
   According to the publisher, the guide ‘explains, step by step, how to start, what the everyday life looks like and how emerging models can successfully establish themselves on the international market.’
   Pongs runs through advice on securing an agency, photographers and clients, photo shoots, and general conditions. She also discusses fees, tax advisers, travel, and beauty and nutrition. The book also has a verified list of international agencies.
   She also covers the seedier side of the business, including ‘dirty offers’, as well as personal difficulties such as homesickness.


Tiana Pongs’ original German edition, from the same publisher

 


Greed a topical comedy about fast fashion and the practices that support it

Filed by Jack Yan/June 28, 2020/12.01

Greed, the new Steve Coogan comedy directed by Michael Winterbottom (The Trip), is a satirical tale about a thinly disguised version of Sir Philip Green, the head of Arcadia Group, who stood accused by various British government committees of plundering British Home Stores while it was under his company’s control. The phrase levelled at Sir Philip, ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’, once dealt to Tiny Rowland, is used here at Coogan’s Sir Richard ‘Greedy’ McCreadie, just in case you weren’t sure whom they were parodying.
   Lucire attended one viewing at a packed cinema, where moviegoers were turned away as it proved to be far more popular than anticipated.
   Given the cast—Coogan, Isla Fisher, and David Mitchell—it would be wrong to expect much more than a comedy, and on this count, it delivers, with more topical panache than most films of the genre.
   Up for criticism by the film are fast fashion—McCreadie spends his adult life pushing suppliers in Sri Lanka (the Indian locations are unconvincing) into a race to the bottom—as well as the shallow “unreality” of reality TV, or, as the trade calls it, unscripted drama. Included in the mix are the corrupt practices of modern business and their legal loopholes, and tax havens such as Monaco, where McCreadie’s ex-wife, Samantha, played by Fisher, is resident. Through all of this is the device of the officious bystander, Sir Richard’s biographer, Nick, played by Mitchell, who gets to interview certain parties, which Winterbottom shoots in documentary style.
   Sir Richard’s 60th birthday bash on Mykonos obviously references Sir Philip’s £5 million 50th on Crete in 2002, right down to the togas, and this is where things take a turn that not even Sir Philip’s enemies would wish on the milliardaire. Asa Butterfield, as the McCreadys’ younger son, and Dinita Gohil, as Amanda, a Sri Lankan-born Brit working for McCready, give the film more depth at the points where it’s needed, showing that the farce in which the ultra-rich live have real victims, inside and outside of the immediate family. Whovians will spot Pearl Mackie as Cathy, the director of the reality show in which daughter Lily McCready, played by Sophie Cookson, stars, trying the Method whilst playing herself.
   There’s a sense from earlier reviews—inevitable that we would have seen them given New Zealand’s later release—that the film doesn’t know what genre it is, whether it’s comedy, drama or documentary, an assessment with which we disagree. While the film puts a new spin on the term ‘eat the rich’, the last act wraps up the entirety of the film neatly: namely that for all the lessons that we might have learned, the fictional McGready family ticks on, with little changed. No, the outcome isn’t funny, but it is a call to action—it’s Winterbottom exercising pathos. Showing statistics about fast fashion, the income gap, and the single-digit earnings of Asian garment workers takes that one step further. Are we choosing to fund these lifestyles and the fast-fashion machine, or should we opt for the sort of designers often championed by this magazine, who work with Fair Trade, eschew seasons, and emphasize quality?
   And sometimes it takes a film that is largely entertainment to make us realize just what has been going on. The message could well be lost if this were an out-and-out documentary, which would have had a limited audience; better to have us question our consumerist habits—you know, the ones we still observed as we lavished Amazon with US$11,000 per second as the COVID-19 pandemic panic began—in the form of entertainment, ensuring a wider reach. It’s not the first to do this, and it won’t be the last—it’s a long tradition that includes The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and South Park on television and, more recently, the oddly slow-moving Brexit with Benedict Cumberbatch, and the German feature Curveball. There’s nothing more appealing in the grey depths of winter, with overseas travel not available to us, than sunny, colourful Greek locales. And when you can travel again, pack those labels with a more ethical background.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Sophie Morris live-streams Songs and Stories from the Stage concert on June 18

Filed by Lucire staff/June 15, 2020/22.47

Singer, actor and presenter Sophie Morris will present a live-streamed performance, Songs and Stories from the Stage, from her living room on Thursday, June 18, at 7.30 p.m. NZST (0730 GMT, 8.30 a.m. British summer time), in partnership with Boosted NZ Live. The show will appear on Boosted and on Morris’s Facebook page.
   Morris, who Lucire profiled early in her career as a soprano in 2013, transformed her living room into a stage during the COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand.
   ‘The world is a little different right now,’ she writes, ‘including the performance world. I wanted to share music and stories from my adventures as a performer—from my living room.’
   Viewers have the option to donate via her Boosted project page, with 50 per cent going to Pet Refuge NZ, a charity providing shelter for pets affected by domestic violence, and helping victims of domestic violence by removing one of the barriers to leaving violent home situations. The funds will help the charity build a new shelter, slated for a 2021 opening.

 


JINS Eyewear extends range of blue-light-blocking lenses

Filed by Lucire staff/June 9, 2020/23.06

JINS Eyewear, one of the leading producers of eyewear in Japan, has widened its range of blue-light-blocking lenses. There are three more types: regular JINS Screen for everyday use, Screen Pro for heavy screen-time usage, and Screen Night for night-time use only.
   The company says it has sold c. 12 million pairs of JINS Screen lenses in the US and Japan to date.
   While the lenses are welcome, for all those suffering from eyestrain to sleep disturbance because of screens, it’s a sign that technology has gone the wrong way: it should be designed to suit people, and not have people adapt to it.
   Device manufacturers ideally should build in blue light filters more widely, or offer them as the standard mode—rather than showcase just how bright cellphones and televisions can get.
   JINS is at least doing its part, even creating a giveaway for families who find themselves having to do distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
   The lenses can be added to any frame, for prescription and non-prescription glasses. There are 600 optical styles on offer by the company.
   Furthermore, JINS is offering US customers a chance to try out their lenses for free, for a limited time. More can be found at its website.

 


Milanese architectural firm creates interiors for SKP malls in Beijing and Xi’an

Filed by Lucire staff/June 2, 2020/12.32


Above: SKP in Xi’an.






Dirk Weiblen; Univochi; Alan Grilo

Above: Designs by Vudafieri Saverino Partners for SKC’s men’s, women’s, lifestyle, home and footwear spaces.

With China and Italy steadily reopening, it’s little surprise that a great deal of news is from those countries.
   Vudafieri Saverino Partners, the Milanese architectural firm with a base in Shanghai, has announced that it was behind the interiors of two SKP (Shin Kong Place) malls in Beijing and Xi’an. SKP retails exclusive European brands, such as Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, Gucci, Bulgari, and Cartier.
   Vudafieri Saverino Partners worked on a total of 6,000 m² over five floors in Beijing and four in Xi’an.
   Each floor has its own distinct theme based on which products were sold and the target audience. The furniture and partitions have also been designed by the firm. All the spaces have a functional and flexible design.
   Men’s sections have an automotive-inspired design; women’s have more classic furnishings; while the lifestyle sections reflect innovation and technology. The home section references domestic settings, with furnishings also created by Vudafieri Saverino Partners. The footwear section uses soft lines, warm colours and few materials, to emphasize the product.


Alan Grilo

 


Facebook’s demise wouldn’t affect us much

Filed by Jack Yan/May 30, 2020/11.14

Like many other publications, Lucire sends updates to Facebook, Twitter and Mastodon. Occasionally we’ll Instagram an image to a story. However, we’ve had reservations about social media, especially Facebook, for over a decade. In November 2010, we wrote on our Facebook page, ‘We have stopped the automated importing of notes to this Facebook page. These stories receive around 200–400 views each, but that also means that our site loses 200–400 viewers per story.’ At that stage we probably had around 600 fans on the Lucire fan page, showing you just what cut-through pages were getting before Facebook intentionally broke its sharing algorithm to force people to pay to get the same reach. (Reach dropped 90 per cent overnight.) We didn’t feel any desire after that to build social media presences, because we spotted the con—as did this YouTuber:

   Back then, Facebook allowed the importing of articles via RSS, which meant everything from Lucire’s news pages automatically wound up on the social network. It was a crazy idea, when you look back: it wasn’t designed to drive traffic to our main site, it only made Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg rich as you spent more time in their walled garden.
   Even after we stopped, we still shared headlines to Facebook, thinking that these would entice fans sufficiently to click through. At one stage, we could see referrals from Facebook among our stats, but these days, there is no correlation between the Facebook reach numbers and the actual views of the story on our own site.
   In 2016, NPR posted a headline to its Facebook page, ‘Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?’ but the contents of the article read, ‘We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this “story.”’ You can predict what happened: the link got plenty of comments. Anyone who says that Americans don’t get irony is gravely mistaken.
   Even in the late 2000s I was saying we lived in a ‘headline culture’ where people might never read the article itself, and social media have exacerbated this phenomenon. Many social media today, including the largest sites, are little more than glorified Digg sites, places where links are shared, but not necessarily places which drive traffic.
   Of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but generally, social media do not mean engagement. A 2015 study by Parse.ly showed that social media-referred readers engage the least with a given article. Search engine-referred readers were slightly better. But the best came from those who were already loyal readers on the site.
   In an age of “fake news” I do not believe the statistics will have improved, particularly on websites whose businesses thrive on outrage. People are divided into tribes where they seem to derive some reward for posting more links that support that aims of those tribes: a situation rife for exploitation, if certain countries’ investigations are to be believed. Certainly as early as 2014 I was warning of a ‘bot epidemic’, something that only became mainstream news in 2018 with The Observer’s exposé about Cambridge Analytica.
   But none of that bad news broke the addictions many people have to these websites. On our ‘about’ page on Facebook, we note: ‘Fast forward to (nearly) the dawn of the 2020s. We won’t lie to you: we’re not fans of how Facebook says one thing and does another. In our pages, we’ve promoted based on merit, and Facebook wouldn’t actually pass muster if it was a fashion label.
   ‘We know Facebook is tracking you, often more than your settings have allowed. Therefore, we’re consciously trying to limit the time you spend on this website.
   ‘However, we also know that we should maintain a Facebook presence, as there are many of you who want that convenience.’
   Nonetheless, I regularly wonder if that convenience is even worth it if there is no correlation with readership.
   Twice this month I was locked out of Facebook, because, allegedly, there was unusual activity. If checking your Facebook on a far less regular basis—say a couple of times a week—is unusual, then I’ll expect to get locked out far more frequently. As the importing of our Tweets to Facebook is driven by another program (on IFTTT), and that is linked to my personal account (one that I haven’t updated since 2017), then each time Facebook blocks me, it breaks the process. It’s also a website that has bugs that were present when I was a regular user in the late 2000s through to the mid-2010s, including ones where we cannot even share Lucire links because the site automatically ruins the address, rendering the previews anywhere from inaccurate (claiming the page doesn’t exist) to useless (taking you to a 404). Only the text link will work.
   We get the occasional like and share from our Facebook, although these do not inform our editorial decisions.
   We won’t go so far as to proclaim the end of social media, regardless of how angry the US president gets with fact checks; but we’ve been sceptical about their worth for publishers for a long time, and there are increasing days where I wonder whether I’ll even bother reconnecting the sharing mechanism from Twitter to Facebook if Facebook breaks it again. The question I’m really asking is: does the presence of links to our articles matter much to you?
   Ultimately, I care about all our readers, including Facebook users, and that remains the overriding motive to reconnect things one more time after Facebook locks me out. And I suppose the lock-outs in 2020 are much better than the ones during most of the 2010s, where Facebook forced you to download a “malware scanner” on false pretences, planting hidden software with unclear purposes on to millions of computers around the world. Their record is truly appalling, and if Facebook vanished overnight, I wouldn’t shed a tear.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


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