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May 2, 2016

Committee of 100 celebrates Chinese-American success and talent

Lola Cristall/13.31




Committee of 100 and BeBe Jacobs

The Committee of 100 (C-100) came together for a celebratory event in Los Angeles to praise Chinese-American achievements in the midst of a society that tends to build bridges of understanding between cultures successfully. The extraordinary committee, founded in 1990, consists of acclaimed personalities including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao and figure-skating champion Michelle Kwan. Co-founded by renowned architect Ieoh Ming Pei (I. M. Pei), known for his structures including his beautifully designed Louvre Pyramid in Paris and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, the committee intends to unite successful and prominent members of the Chinese-American community, sharing and discussing their endeavours while honouring Chinese culture. As an invitation-only committee, they recruited numerous distinguished faces in various industries to promote leadership and camaraderie between greater China and the United States. Headquartered in New York, they also host eventful gatherings in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Beijing and San Francisco.
   In April, the C-100 2016 annual conference took place at the prestigious Beverly Wilshire. The two-day summit included a number of panel discussions with various speakers such as Congressman Ted Lieu (Democrat, Calif.), Kevin Tsujihara (chair and CEO of Warner Brothers), Ari Emanuel (co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor) and Joe Tsai (CFO of Alibaba) discussing cases including Hollywood, China and the US–China economic and political outlook. Ming Tsai, chef and restaurateur, Joan Chen, actress and director, and Constance Wu, lead actress in Fresh off the Boat, also took centre-stage as they alluded to their Chinese-American journeys. Along with discussions throughout the day, a gala celebrated C-100 award winners for their considerable successes. Bob Chapek, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, won the Business Excellence Award. The Philanthropy Excellence Award went to the chairman of Hang Lung Properties, Ronnie Chan, as well as Gerald Chan, the chairman of Morningside Group.—Lola Cristall, Paris editor



April 21, 2016

Beyoncé partners with three charities as part of the Formation World Tour

Lucire staff/2.41

As part of her Formation World Tour, Beyoncé has announced three charitable organizations that will partner with her own initiative, BeyGood.
   The singer wants to encourage fans to give to the three organizations, and demonstrates how easy it is to “pay it forward”.
   She proposes using one of three ways: online through CrowdRise, in partnership with United Way, to support the Flint, Michigan water crisis (where fans can qualify for winning VIP tickets to her tour); through their communities with United Way, with issues specific to each tour market; or on-site, after signing up with Global Citizen and Chime for Change, with opportunities to win tickets and upgrades on the tour.
   United Way will be present at very stop beginning with the North American leg. The first venue is Marlins Park, Miami, Fla. on April 27. Gucci’s Chime for Change, which Beyoncé co-founded, and Global Citizen will have their programme in select tour locations, including Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and London. There are charity events in Houston, Compton (Calif.), and Detroit.
   Fans in Houston can give and support Rudy Rasmus and his Bread of Life initiative, combatting hunger in the city, and TurnAround Houston, to help create jobs. In Compton, the event will help Urban Education Institute, which works with youth through music and the arts. In Detroit, the event will celebrate the resourcefulness of the people of Flint and Detroit.
   Since the announcement of BeyGood, the initiative has claimed to have helped millions of people with employment, shelter and more. Tour dates are available at beyonce.com.

April 20, 2016

Get in NOW for Footnote: four entertaining dances, representing our times

Jack Yan/14.06


Courtesy Footnote

Footnote New Zealand Dance’s NOW 2016 (New Original Work) programme, which hit Wellington tonight after performances in Auckland, presents four original works by New Zealand choreographers Julia Harvie, Sarah Knox, Lucy Marinkovich and Jessie McCall. It’s a particularly enjoyable programme, mixing meanings, humour and, in the case of Elephant Skin, a lot of balloons.
   Each performance begins with a voice recording that sets the stage for the dance that follows, although viewers are still invited to make their own interpretations.
   Centerfolds (sic) begins with a humorous look at gender stereotyping, with the company’s male and female dancers wearing masks with a bun and dresses, signalling that we often take these cues and make automatic assumptions about a strict male–female duality. Marinkovich looks at roles such as waitress, housewife, heroine, songstress, supermodel, and others, questioning our conditioning; and while not every role appears as costumed characters, they are represented through the varied music choices. Masks play a part throughout, along with multiple costume changes, ensuring that Centerfolds never drags for a moment.
   Your Own Personal Exister is one of our favourites, as it examines not only existentialism but its opposite, inauthenticity. McCall does this with the notion of how, at a children’s birthday party, we feel the centre of attention when we wear our paper “crown”, but what if that crown was never removed? It’s an allegory of the selfie era, the “look at me” validation some seek. Three of McCall’s dancers don crowns, but one doesn’t, although he is unaware of this till some way into the performance. Yet this need consumes him eventually, and he joins the inauthenticity of the others.
   One of the regular techniques here had dancers opening their mouths facing upwards while recorded voices played, which worked particularly well, and the voiceover was poignant at the conclusion of the performance (which we won’t spoil here). And what happens when that crown is removed, where does that leave us? Despite the smaller number of Footnote dancers involved, this was a particularly powerful work that was danced beautifully.
   Elephant Skin takes a humorous look with balloons landing on stage at random points, sound effects creating more laughs, and a particularly brave dancer blowing up a balloon till it popped. Harvie explained in a post-show forum that she wanted freshness and tension in the performance, because as humans, we are problem-solvers, and the dance, too, should solve the problem of the randomly placed balloons. There was, of course, an overall structure which the dancers worked around, and one scene where white balloons stood in for clouds as one performer floated across the stage, before the others began popping the cloud around her.
   Harvie also noted that she has a fascination with balloons and that they have a human element to them.
   Disarming Dissent is the most energetic of the four in terms of getting the dancers to generate forceful movements, and by this time one is marvelling at their stamina. Rowan Pearce’s music reached crescendos twice as the energy built up. Dance, exercise and martial arts combine here as Knox talks about the fight we have against the system, but then how we pacify ourselves, drawn back by either that very system or our own impulses.
   The Wellington première at Te Whaea had a unique forum at the end which featured the dancers, Harvie, general manager Richard Aindow as host, and artistic liaison Anita Hunziker.
   The Auckland performances have been (April 15–16), Wellington has one more night (21st, at Te Whaea), Dunedin is on April 28 at Mayfair Theatre, and those in Invercargill will see NOW 2016 on May 1 at Centrestage during the Southland Festival. For tickets and information, head to footnote.org.nz.—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

Actress Katrin Heß the latest to pose nude for PETA, promoting veganism

Lucire staff/12.46


Marc Rehbeck/PETA


Courtesy Katrin Heß via Instagram

In the spirit of PETA’s earlier campaigns featuring celebrities who would rather go naked than wear fur, German actress Katrin Heß has posed nude to promote a vegan diet.
   Heß has long been public about her love of animals, running a prize draw last year for a rescue dog.
   Last week, Heß teased fans on her Facebook and Instagram, saying that she would be posing for PETA Deutschland. The German arm of the worldwide anti-animal cruelty group revealed her promotional image today.
   Heß said, ‘My choice to be vegan is not a trend, but a conscious decision for me and my love of animals. Since I do not eat animal products any more, I look at my surroundings very differently. For example, I finally understand that not only dogs, but cows and pigs, are sentient individuals … Every animal has the right to a happy and full life.’
   PETA Deutschland notes that 800 million animals are slaughtered or die in Germany alone for the meat, dairy and egg industries, and thousands of millions of fish suffocate on the decks of fishing boats or are crushed in nets.
   It refers German visitors to its Veganstart website, www.veganstart.de.
   The promotional image was shot by photographer Marc Rehbeck. Make-up was by Emile van Tile, using Paul Mitchell products.
   The shoot’s release, along with a behind-the-scenes video, coincides with the return of Heß in RTL’s Alarm für Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei TV show, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in March. It will reach its 300th episode in 2016, although its 291st was promoted as the 300th by the network.
   In anticipation of the anniversary, the network over-enthusiastically removed fan videos that it did not even own from a Facebook group last month, under penalty of perjury.
   Heß joins celebrities such as Christy Turlington, Pamela Anderson, Charlotte Ross, Tamara Ecclestone, Christian Serratos, and Eva Mendes in posing nude for PETA.

April 3, 2016

Gala honours Naomi Campbell, with guests Lena Gercke, Catherine Hummels, Eva Padberg, Franziska Knuppe

Lucire staff/12.49




Gisela Schober

Gala magazine in Germany celebrated its 20th anniversary Spa Awards at the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, awarding the best names in the cosmetics and hotel industries.
   Supermodel Naomi Campbell was named Beauty Idol of the Year, with the judges citing her various careers in modelling, acting and authoring, and her support of social projects.
   A Special Prize was awarded to Prof Michael Braungart, founder of environmental consulting institute EPEA and a supporter of conservation and the cradle-to-cradle principle.
   Other awards went to Givenchy for its Le Soin Noir Masque Dentelle (Luxury Concepts award), Dr Grandel for Beautygen Renew Body (Innovation Concepts), Weleda for Skin Food Hautcreme (Cult Concepts), Skinceuticals for Metacell Renewal B3 (Men Concepts), Börlind for Beauty Shots Intensiv Konzentrate (Organic Concepts), Clarins for the Art of Touch (Treatment Concepts), Royal Mansour of Morocco (Luxury Hotel City–Resort), and the Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru (Innovative Spa Concepts).
   Guests at the event included Eva Padberg, Stephanie Stumph, Ursula Karven, Catherine Hummels, Julia Dietze, model Lena Gercke, Dagmar Kögel and her daughter Alana Siegel, Jochen Llambi and Motsi Mabuse, Jorge Gonzalez, Franziska Knuppe, Stefan Konarske, Lisa Martinek, Erol Sander and Caroline Godet, Jochen Schropp, Carolina Vera and Birthe Wolter. Barbara Schöneberger was MC and singer Philipp Dittberner performed live at the event.
   Other sponsors included BMW, Cadenzza, Emcur Bio Matcha, Fabletic, Moroccanoil, Pommery, Talbot Runhof and Und Gretel.

























Gisela Schober, Axel Kirchhof

March 17, 2016

Lily Cole shines a light on social enterprise at Chivas Regal’s the Venture panel discussion

Lucire staff/22.46



John Phillips

In line with the movement that began in the early 2000s for more responsible brands—something this title, along with organizations such as Medinge Group in Sweden, have promoted—Chivas Regal’s the Venture search seeks to find and support the most promising social entrepreneurs creating profitable businesses that also makes a positive impact on people. Lily Cole added credibility as well as celebrity power to the panel discussion in London’s Natural History Museum on Thursday, and debated whether social enterprise would ever grow to a point to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, and whether big business, government and investors should do more.
   Cole herself is a social entrepreneur, having founded Impossible, a social giving network that enables people to share their time, skills and objects. She was joined by Sonal Shah of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, Rajeeb Day, CEO of Enternships, and Thomas Davies, CIO of investment platform Seedrs.
   Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard‏, hosted the event.
   Also in attendance were 27 start-ups who had been chosen to compete for a share of the Venture’s $1 million fund. The finalists were taking part in a programme created by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University. The public can vote for their favourite finalist between May 9 and June 13, and determine how the first $250,000 in funding is split among the finalists. They already feature at the Venture’s website at www.theventure.com.
   The remaining $750,000 will be awarded at the Venture’s final in July.







John Phillips

February 26, 2016

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Speed of Light: sophisticated, modern classics lead New Zealand Festival

Jack Yan/14.13



Bill Cooper


Maarten Holl

Above, from top: Selon désir, with dancers Abigail Boyle and Loughlan Prior. In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, with Mayu Tanigaito. With tiles and cacti in Cacti.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Speed of Light, kicking off the New Zealand Festival in Wellington on Friday night, comprised an enjoyable contemporary programme that showed the strength of this world-class company. The first programme put together by Francesco Ventriglia in his role as the RNZB’s artistic director, it showed how prepared the dancers were to embrace a series of challenging and inspirational modern classics just as readily as they have taken on more traditional fare. The three are united, notes Ventriglia, by the idea of light and its precision and power; to us, it’s the relevance of each of the three ballets’ themes: all different, all giving us food for thought. Ventriglia has shown a sophistication and an understanding of the deeper meanings of ballet in choosing these particular three, which we heartily recommend.
   Selon désir kicked off the evening, choreographed by Andonis Foniadakis. The RNZB had already performed this work in the UK and Italy, but tonight saw its New Zealand première. First performed by the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in 2004, this is a particularly powerful work set to Bach, with an introduction with an electronic score composed by Julien Tarride. Alayna Ng started alone, moving energetically on to the stage, loose hair flying and her body dropping to the floor, before fifteen other dancers join her in quick succession, marching on and danced with assertiveness, but carried so gracefully. The two Bach choruses—the St Matthew and St John Passions—add to the atmosphere, with the strings adding to the beauty of the movements; a pas de deux in the middle of the performance showed just how free the movements were, and how Foniadakis’s ideas of agony and martyrdom could still be danced with such grace and fluidity. The colours of the costumes—men and women in tops and skirts—are earthy, inspired by Renaissance paintings, and they were equally loose, adding to the sense of flight across the stage.
   This was in contrast to In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, which had been commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris Opéra Ballet, choreographed by William Forsythe, who also designed the lighting, stage and costumes. Premièring in 1987, the second ballet is very much a product of its time, with electric performances from the RNZB: turquoise leotards that showed off the muscular frames; indulgent, abrupt movements; dancers posing while others pulsed; and an electronic score by Thom Willems that shocked from its very first note. In 1987, Forsythe was fêted for In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, with how charged it was to audiences; it still has the capacity to do that today. The theme remains classical, but it’s in the power and the challenge to classical ideas that makes In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated fresh. Every decade, certainly since this ballet’s creation, has had its disrupters; so much so that that term is now embedded as a desirable trait in entrepreneurial activity. That’s the best way to think of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated: a ballet that inspires us to shake the establishment in our own lives.
   After such heady themes, Cacti brought a dose of humour. Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman used his national culture’s appreciation of irony: this is a country that quietly celebrates fame, for instance. Ventriglia says that this was the work he wanted to stage with the RNZB, even before he was appointed. This postmodern work, first performed in the Netherlands in 2010, parodies the reviews of contemporary dance and the affectations therein. A spoken introduction read by Spenser Theberge samples such pretentious words, as 16 dancers arrive atop their tiles, dancing, clapping and shouting within their very restricted spaces, before a surreal scene where they each bring a cactus plant on to the stage. It’s not meant to "mean" anything—even if Theberge’s reading in artsy-luvvie terms suggests cacti truly know what comes from standing the Earth’s soil, unlike dancers who merely perform on the ground. But the meaninglessness of over-analysis is part of the beauty of it, just as the lighting rig comes down to restrict the dancers from above; or a dot-matrix sign flashes the ballet’s name from the wings. It’s designed to poke fun at clichés and of the modern media and marketing landscape. This is the wit of the ballet, made even more obvious by the pas de deux which lets us hear the dancers’ thoughts, deconstructing the complexity and beauty of ballet into almost banal statements, before a stuffed black cat is thrown from above the stage on to the floor, a shrieking meow accompanying its fall.
   The New Zealand String Quartet accompanies this final performance, with recorded music forming most of the central part. The work is more familiar here, with compositions from Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert. Cheekily, the RNZB has reproduced the spoken-word text in the programme (a must, incidentally), as well as the stream-of-consciousness thoughts of the duet from the characters Aram and Riley. Humour aside, this was beautifully performed: the 16 dancers on their tiles kept the audience entertained despite lacking the freedom of movement of Selon désir, while the duet was cleverly executed, with the deconstruction actually enhancing one’s appreciation of the fluid movements.
   It always helps to end things on a fun note, especially as Speed of Light starts the New Zealand Festival, and the levity is bound to get audiences talking. And rightly so. This was a highly entertaining contemporary programme, and it’s heartening to note that the Royal New Zealand Ballet will take this to the Auckland Arts’ Festival as well as to the South Island next.
   Dates for Speed of Light are: Wellington, February 26 to 28 inclusive; Auckland, March 2–6; Christchurch, March 10–12; Dunedin, March 16. For booking information, visit www.rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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