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April 15, 2014

Open season on European tourists

Lucire staff/11.31


Hugh Llewelyn/Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence

The season for extra vigilance is upon us, as tourists gear up for coming vacation travel. Already a friend was robbed in Marseille a few weeks ago, her US passport stolen from a room safe (!) in a five-star resort. Criminal gangs target older tourists, and they’re aware that local authorities can’t do much after the fact. Even a consular official said it was useless to report thefts unless a report for insurance is needed. A friend of ours, standing outside the Venezia train station, got her wallet lifted while a supposed vendor was tossing those obnoxious fluorescent plastic blob toys, brushing close to her, and said arrivederci to €150.
   Remember that train stations are fertile terrain for pickpockets. The bad guys know everybody’s passing through. Watch out for shifty types lurking among waiting crowds, and any over-familiar approaches. Ask: do I know you? Keep your bags closed, and tucked under your arm! Be suspicious of distractions, and move away from aggressive people—fast. Other danger zones: the Champs-Élysées in Paris and definitely the Louvre, now overrun with snatch-and-grab gangs.
   Here’s a reminder of some of the more common scams and risks to watch for.

• The ring trick: somebody in front of you picks up a gold ring from the ground, holds it up to you. Yours? Say no! They’ll try and get you to give them some money for it—later you’ll discover it’s worth nothing.
• The leather jacket guy: claims he’s a salesman on a business trip. ‘Want to buy a good quality coat really cheap since you’re such a nice person?’ Hold on to your billfold!
• The bird poop trick: apologetic person spills ketchup on you, maybe says it was the work of a nearby pigeon, pulls out napkin, tries to help you clean it off. While they’re doing it, they lift your wallet.
• Swarming gypsy kids: they surround you asking questions, gesturing, making noise. In the pandemonium, they grab for your bag.

   The season for crime starts now, and lines for replacement passports at consulates peak in June and July. Don’t carry expensive bags unless you want to risk having the bottom slashed. Definitely don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. Consider a good money belt with a strong nylon strap, wear it under your jacket, and above all else, remember what Mom taught you: don’t talk to strangers.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

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Filed under: Lucire, Paris, society, travel, Volante
December 29, 2013

Miss France 2014 your top story, and Princess Madeleine your favourite newsmaker

Lucire staff/1.19


Bruno Ehrs/Kungahuset

Above HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden was the person you searched for the most this year.

We’ve told you who we thought 2013’s newsmakers were. But who did you want to read about this year?
   In first place: HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden. The younger of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf’s daughters was married this year, to Anglo-American financier Chris O’Neill, and there was plenty of interest from you in the Royal Wedding.
   Keira Knightley and Penélope Cruz held your imaginations in second and third place this year, followed by Kylie Minogue, Leah Remini, Sonam Kapoor and David Gandy.
   Olivia Newton-John proved that she could still get readers’ interest a generation after Grease, while last year’s World Miss University Mia Hasanagic found herself in ninth place after an influx of searches in January. Fearne Cotton and the new Miss France, Flora Coquerel, manage 10th and 11th respectively, with Jay Kay, Honor Dillon and Adriana Lima following. Jeremy Renner and David Beckham were tied at 15th.
   Our top news items of 2013—unless something drastic happens in these final two days—were, as usual, the election of Miss France (right), while you were also very interested in GHD’s Candy Collection of straighteners.
   Pandora showed that it was a favourite among fashionistas, with its Black Friday charm getting plenty of attention.
   Given that Princess Madeleine was the most-searched person, the Royal Wedding slipped in to fourth and fifth on our charts. Another Royal Wedding story, on the couple’s honeymoon destination, was ninth.
   The current James Bond, Daniel Craig, launching the Range Rover Sport in New York came sixth, followed by Lana Del Rey releasing her new film Tropico last month.
   The top Kiwi story was on the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art winners, in a year where New Zealanders took the top prizes.
   There remained plenty of interest in last year’s World Miss University, with our story on Mia Hasanagic’s win coming in 10th.
   Last year, Whitney Houston’s death made it into our top 10. Bad news, sadly, still sells, though it was the death of photographer Kate Barry (the cause remains unannounced) that came in at 11th.

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December 27, 2013

Polaroid projection: originality in the digital age

Anna Deans/0.49

In a modern context, we look to social media to promote us and to expand our visibility in the world. Images are posted and reposted, only to be reposted again. Even this blog is an attempt to promote what I want the world to see of myself, to reach more people than I see in the reality of my day-to-day life.
   I like to believe I belong outside the technological generation we live in. My mind constantly ponders the idea of living in the ’60s or ’70s. A better generation, perhaps? I like the less commercial, less complex nature of this time. Every photograph had vastly more value than in the throwaway mentality of today. This may, however, seem crazy to those who grew up at this time, as the ’60s was no question the dawn of what we would recognize as modern commercialism. They believed factories and the extreme speed of the making of new products, including the production of photography, was exciting and beneficial. And perhaps it is … or not.
   Twenty thirteen represents a time of contradictions: it continues to promote fast consumption while emphasizing the need to slow things down. This concept makes me wonder about my obsessive need for things to be both one-off, special and not designed to be used and thrown out. My 1970s Polaroid is a prime example. What do I love about it? Its tactile nature. Its reality: the touchable nature of the images, they are an object that is not purely a series of pixels inside my Mac. Maybe what I love most, though, is the inability to fake it. The images can’t be staged: they are taken once, printed out and that’s it. No Photoshop. No filter. Nothing. They are what they are and due to cost of film, it seems crazy to throw any out. Whereas on my Iphone millions of images are taken, deleted, altered, posted, etc. It’s no longer the exciting act of capturing a moment; it has become something quite different. Once posted, they become freely accessible to anybody and have the ability to be endlessly copied to the point of no longer being original. I contradict my hate of this, however, by photographing the Polaroid photos themselves, and posting. Otherwise, how would anybody see their beauty? Therefore, the same fate can fall to my photos of photos. Maybe having the only original for myself in a physical state makes me have less hate for this copying.
   The mindset I have about everyone needing to see the photos is very 21st-century, however. The ’60s saw no need for everyone you know to see your images, purely those who took the time to look through your photo albums, those close to you, not the public or, frankly, anyone in the world who wants to look.
   I find myself loving and hating the digital age. I hate the lack of original thought of how it is now, though the transmission of imagery. But I love its ability to share imagery with more people. I love that my friend Kat in the US can see what I’m doing, but I hate that she will never know if I chucked a filter on to make it look more sunny or me more tanned. In the same sense, I love my Polaroid because it is void of the perils of the Photoshop age where everyone is altered to be perfect or the same. Once again who wants to be the same: that’s not beautiful is it?
   This hatred of un-originality is repeated in all aspects of my life. My hate for chain stores: all looking like clones of one another. Copying another style, that really grills me. I open a trashy OK magazine only to find I can buy the exact outfit Kim Kardashian is wearing today. So if I shop where she shops and wear what she’s wearing I will be better or look better? Is that the point? I’m struggling to get it. This obviously is also enabled by the transmitting of imagery.
   Don’t get me wrong, I have women I admire in terms of style, but that doesn’t make me want to be them or look identical to them. Strangely enough, I want to be myself. I want to look like nobody else. My face already does that as does my voice, my personality and my life experiences so I want my fashion to be also. I like to think the way I put things together is a direct representation of me and me alone. More than anything I hate the lack of ownership over images, as well as personal style. I believe the celebrating of originality is strongly lacking in our modern context. Perhaps what I love most about my Polaroid in that case, is the one-off nature of every single image. This is how I want my style to be also: one-off, like me.—Anna Deans

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December 7, 2013

Lady Gaga, Belvedere Vodka hold private concert for Product Red; Emma Watson, Bar Refaeli, Adele among guests

Lucire staff/10.12


Still capturing plenty of attention, especially for her promotion of worthy social causes, Lady Gaga headed to Annabel’s in London last night in association with Belvedere Vodka and Product Red.
   Gaga performed ‘Artpop’, ‘Dope’ and ‘Do What U Want’ from her new album Artpop, which was released last month, as well as her classic ‘Poker Face’, at a private concert at Annabel’s.
   LVMH, meanwhile, launched its Belvedere Red Special Edition bottle. Proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition vodka bottles will go to the Global Fund to fight HIV–Aids in Africa.
   Celebrity guests included Adele, Sting and Trudie Styler, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emma Watson, Bar Refaeli, Douglas Booth, Eddie Redmayne, Jessie J, Chelsea Davy, Boris Becker, Bryan Ferry, Hayley Atwell, Michael McIntyre, Emile Sande, Tinie Tempah, Christopher Kane, Natalie Massenet, Arizona Muse, Richard E. Grant, Philip Treacy, Suki Waterhouse, Sally Greene, Nicky Haslam, Irina Ambromavich, James Blunt and Sofia Wellesley.
   Gaga had performed at the same venue in 2011 to launch her famed Born This Way album.
   Charli XCX followed on with a special DJ set into the small hours of the morning.
   Gaga notes, ‘I think it is very important to join the fight against Aids and HIV and think it is wonderful that Belvedere and Annabel’s are supporting and had this event this evening. The more we can educate people the more we control the problem. I think it is really wonderful they are involved and think all major corporations should join the fight.’






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December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela: the last portrait photo shoot

Lucire staff/13.07


Photographer Adrian Steirn’s film, 21 Icons South Africa, was released in the summer, and featured footage with Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday night South African time, aged 95.
   Mandela was a symbol of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, and was incarcerated by the country’s government for his active opposition to the racist, anti-democratic policy.
   After spending 27 years in jail at Victor Verster Prison on Robben Island, Mandela was released in February 1990 by then-president F. W. de Klerk, who had decided to bring about the end of apartheid.
   Upon his release, Mandela expressed no bitterness toward the apartheid régime and, instead, urged forgiveness toward it.
   Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected president in 1994, after winning the Nobel Peace Prize the previous year with de Klerk, and regarded as the father of the modern nation by some.
   During his imprisonment, he became a symbol for equality and freedom-fighting around the world.
   In his later years, Mandela suffered from an ongoing lung complaint that had seen him hospitalized on many occasions.
   Steirn says he became fascinated by the recent history of South Africa and its struggles, and had hoped he would get to shoot Mandela. He was originally told that that would be impossible, but his persistence led to the former president sitting for the portrait. The final shot is of Mandela looking into a mirror.
   The footage shown below shows the making of the image, and features interviews with George Bizos, Ahmed Kathrada, the Most Rev Archbishop Desmond Tutu and de Klerk.

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November 30, 2013

A drop of blood inspires B Type jewellery and its dual purpose

Anna Deans/9.06

B Type represents a new concept in jewellery design based on personal blood type. Conceived in Milano, the collection is made solely in Italy to the best creative and artisanal standards. ‘You are what you bleed’ is their headline, representing both the collection’s concept and the brand’s philosophies. These pendants sees your blood type as a code that represents you, used as an identification as well as a celebration of the self, on the basis that blood is an element which keeps us alive and connects us.
   B Type jewellery is purely a collection of silver pendants. The blood type code is engraved on these in modern text through old-style craftsmanship. The pieces are timeless, an excellent gift for a loved one being a meaningful and personal gift, suitable for the young and old and both women and men. The drop shape of the pendants creates a delicate look to the pieces as well as representing a drop of blood. B Type’s packaging is intentionally provocative, with the use of blood-bank-type plastic bags with the delicate jewel safely inside. The packaging and the jewels themselves aim to create awareness of one’s own blood type in case of emergency. They also elevate the importance of the free gift of giving blood.
   B Type’s designer, Arianna Callegari, a trained architect, intends to work on a collection incorporating alternative materials such as gold and diamonds. Callegari aims for all her pieces to be special and unique, like one’s blood type. The current collection, shown in Dubai on October 10, is now available.—Anna Deans




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November 25, 2013

Miss France 2014 contestants arrive in Dijon, leading up to December 7 final

Lucire staff/9.21


Sylvie Tellier, via Twitter

Above Miss France CEO Sylvie Tellier at the mayoral reception at the Palais des Ducs.

After touring Sri Lanka, the 33 Miss France 2014 contestants arrived in Dijon after a 30-hour flight on Saturday. The final will be held at the Zénith at Dijon on December 7.
   The interest from French media steps up a notch, especially with the welcome at the Palais des Ducs, where contestants met François Rebsamen, the mayor of Dijon, as their first official event in the city.
   Rebsamen goes so far as to call Miss France ‘the only event where the whole of France unites’ in his public address.
   The reigning Miss France, Marine Lorphelin, along with the organizing committee, have also arrived at the Bourgogne capital. The Holiday Inn Toison d’Or Dijon is providing accommodation.
   The Miss France telecast will be broadcast live on TF1, and tends to attract a 40 per cent share in France.
   The rival pageant, Miss Prestige National, set up by former Miss France organizer Geneviève de Fontenay, will not have its final until January 12, at the Lido de Paris. Both sides had reportedly reached a settlement after three years of battling for national attention, in the so-called ‘guerre de Miss’. As Lucire noted last year, the rival pageant was fighting a losing battle, with 36 times as many readers interested in Miss France 2013.

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November 24, 2013

GBK and the gifts that keep on giving, at the American Music Awards’ suite

Elyse Glickman/11.17


Above Joyce Giraud de Ohoven. Below left Carly Steel.

As the winter season descends on Los Angeles, celebrities and their handlers can count on cooler temperatures (with global climate change) as well as award show-related events that start with the American Music Awards, climax with the Academy Awards in March and cover every aspect of the entertainment industry. While GBK is noted for spoiling its celebrity guests (and a small, élite group of media) with Volkswagen-sized gift bags, organization founder Gavin B. Keilly has stressed throughout the company’s history that various charities made up the heart and soul of their events.
   Celebrities on hand trying out the goods for the first red-carpet go-round of the awards’ show season included presenter Khandi Alexander (the TV Mom of Kerry Washington’s character in ABC’s Scandal), Carly Steel, Jai Rodriguez, James Kyson and E. Roger Mitchell, Stef Dawson and Elena Sanchez of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
   With that in mind, it was refreshing to see a very special gift bag showcased amid winter-suited beauty products, designer clothing and grown-up toys put together for people who could truly benefit. The Model Citizen Fund, founded by Dan Fleyshman, raises funds to assemble life-sustaining backpacks stocked with about 150 items that include energy food, first aid necessities and hygiene items that are distributed to the homeless and disaster victims. While celebrities and VIPs got the jump on (receiving) their holiday season gifts early, it was important to see an example of how a gift bag can actually change a life, or at least help somebody rebuild theirs.
   ChildSupport Clothing, one of the clothing vendors, promoted their raison d’être, raising funds to provide relief for children living in poverty and other life-threatening living situations.
   There were plenty of beauty products, many at friendly non-Hollywood prices, that could prove to be lifesavers during the dry, brittle winter season: Carmex Moisture Plus balms in slim, sleek patterned tubes. Mark Hill Salon Professional shampoos and styling goods that are an exclusive to Walgreens pharmacies nationwide and Herbalosophy Beauty’s botanical-based shampoos, hair oils, conditioners and masks. The founders of GrandeLash-MD were on hand to distribute their “gift of glam”, consisting of their patented eyelash-building formula and mascara.
   While Cohesive Clothing and Boom Boom Jeans gifted VIPs with moderately priced fall and winter pieces that had a very street-chic All Saints sensibility, Chicago-based lingerie designer Jada Michaels took great pride in the fact that her expanding collection (which will soon include patented shapewear) offers a broader range of bra sizes as well as foundation options. ‘Everybody deserves to be sexy,’ said Michaels when presenting samples from her forthcoming 2014 line. Another enterprising entrepreneur, Caryn Sterling, united function and fashion with her eye-catching line of Chanel-inspired Ipad “purses”. To literally top things off, Contraband Hats offered celebrities a toasty beanie from their winter collection, as well as trucker hats and fedoras for warmer settings.
   While Temperance Distilling Company sweetened up the party with their innovative Liquor Whipped line (which should come in handy when serving up cocoa and hot coffee cocktails), my colleagues and I were impressed with the rest of their line, which included ready-to mix spirits crafted from independent whiskey, vodka and rum producers.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor






Above, from top E. Roger Mitchell. Keith Harris. Melissa Rycroft. Shanola Hampton. The Janoskians.

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