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Three by Ekman: the Royal New Zealand Ballet shows its witty, ingenious side


NEWS  by Jack Yan/May 20, 2017/12.01



Stephen A’Court

Swedish-born choreographer–director Alexander Ekman, it transpires, was the first person Francesco Ventriglia called when he was first appointed artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Ekman, says Ventriglia, creates choreography that is ‘different, brave, intelligent, witty and fun,’ and he sees the work as being the equivalent of ‘good food’ for the dancers. The three ballets in Three by Ekman are certainly that: modern and relevant, yet somehow also timeless in their appeal. Tuplet, Episode 31 and Cacti keep audiences gripped, while taking us on a journey into unexplored territories.
   They aren’t fully unexplored, mind: regular RNZB attendees will remember Cacti from last year’s trio of ballets in Speed of Light, but seeing it again this time was a renewed pleasure, and connecting it to two more Ekman ballets gives it an extra dimension. As the third ballet, Cacti was a fitting conclusion: when you’re in Ekman’s world, you almost want to stay in it in an attempt to understand the creativity that drives this talented and important modern choreographer. It’s a world that’s energizing, spontaneous, but cheekily self-aware.
   The first foray into that world is Tuplet, a clever 18-minute introduction where the dancers’ own breaths, voices, and the sounds of their bodies become the rhythm. Composer (and a fellow Swedish-born international talent) Mikael Karlsson’s music has a dose of Bart Howard’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ as performed by Victor Feldman helped set the mood. Video projections, which were also designed by Ekman, feature slowed-down black-and-white clips of jazz musicians, highlighting the improvised nature of the dance, performed by six dancers standing on white square mats. New Yorker and Parsons alum Nancy Haeyung Bae designed the costumes, which aided the movement well, and Amith Chandrashaker the lighting, which balanced the the dancers with the video screens above. The conclusion was clever and a taste of Ekman’s humour: he showed silent films of audiences applauding as the live one at the St James Theatre did the same while the curtain fell.
   A video introduction to Episode 31 followed, showing the RNZB’s dancers learning the ballet. It’s a tradition of Episode 31, where a short film is made in the city in which it is performed. The film shows that the dancers were not restricted to the studio, as they ventured out from the Theatre in flash-mob style to various Wellington landmarks such as the cable car and the Botanic Garden; Mayor Justin Lester is caught walking by as the company vigorously dances Episode 31 on the waterfront. (The video is below, though we recommend you don’t spoil the experience.) The dance is a celebration of youth, energy and pace, fitting given its origins as a piece created for Julliard (and first performed in 2011; the video there made use of New York City landmarks such as the Subway). Karlsson once again composed the music, with costumes by Julliard’s Luke Simcock, and lighting by Nicole Pearce. Simcock’s visually deconstructed black and white costumes happily mix genders (e.g. skirts and collared dresses with prints of jackets), as does the make-up on the dancers (mustachioed faces on pale white). The pacy performance itself is contrasted with one dancer who moved in slow motion across the front of the stage; the curtain rose and fell to show vignettes of the action going on behind, leaving you wondering: are we really seeing vignettes or are the dancers repositioning themselves intentionally in preparation for the next reveal? The lighting rig came down, flooring was lifted up and moved, and a second slow-motion dancer wandered with a sign reading ‘Beautiful’ in a stark, all-cap Helvetica (the design of this sign itself is an exercise in irony). As with other Ekman ballets, spoken words accompany the action, with poetry (and this is the programme’s list) by Christina Rossetti, William Allingham, Eleanor Farjeon, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Hughes Mearns and Edward Lear.
   A second video came after the interval, where Ekman is seen on a ferry to Somes Island in Wellington, contemplating choreography and its connection to its surroundings. Will I affect the island or will the island affect me? You can’t but help find Ekman’s quirky personality endearing and you form a connection with the choreographer—and understand that there is a method here, from a man who constantly looks for ways to push ballet forward.
   There’s less chaos in Cacti than in Episode 31. Here, spoken word also features, in an unsubtle dig at postmodernism and the pretentious reviews modern dance might get (one only hopes this article is not an example), with a recording written and voiced by Spenser Theberge. The New Zealand String Quartet accompanies the action here, with both composed and improvised music, at least for the first part of Cacti, before classical music (Haydn, Schubert, and Beethoven) takes over. The 16 dancers move their white tiles, shouting and clapping as they added to the rhythm, before bringing in cactus plants on-stage. Ekman himself designed the set and costumes; Tom Visser also worked on the set and designed the lighting. The second part, a duet between characters Aram and Riley, is another humorous Ekman take, where the audience can hear the streams of consciousness from the pair (played by Alexandre Ferreira and Laura Saxon Jones today). As noted in our review last year, Cacti breaks down the pretence and complexity of ballet into basic statements: the two characters are disengaged from any story and just want to get the dance done. The stuffed cat that is thrown on stage still surprises on a second viewing, and we note that it was a different colour this time.
   When Cacti was part of Speed of Light, we only got a dose of Ekman’s style. This time, we were immersed, and Three by Ekman feels more satisfying and complete. It’s one of the RNZB’s most enjoyable modern ballets, and it’s consistent throughout, not just in the expertise of the dancers, but in the tone and ingenuity of the three works.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Three by Ekman tours till June 15. For venue and booking information, visit www.rnzb.org.nz.

H&M creates unique looks at Met Gala for Nicki Minaj, Stella Maxwell, Ashley Graham, Jourdan Dunn


NEWS  by Lucire staff/May 2, 2017/23.27




Dimitrios Kambouris, Neilson Barnard, Dia Dipasupil, John Shearer

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) went all out by dressing seven celebrities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit—the Met Gala—this year. Nicki Minaj, Future, Ashley Graham, Joe Jonas, Jourdan Dunn, Sasha Lane and Stella Maxwell all donned unique H&M looks to celebrate the Institute’s exhibition, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.
   H&M has had some experience of Kawakubo’s design æsthetic when the retailer teamed up with Comme des Garçons for a designer collection in 2008.
   It’s the third year which the company has attended the Benefit, though the first in which it has made such a substantial push through the media.
   The looks included ‘deconstruction, subverted tradition and asymmetry, mixed with the charm of bows, flowers and polka dots,’ said the company.
   â€˜It has been our honour at H&M to create these looks inspired by Rei Kawakubo–Comme des Garçons, one of fashion’s most important and influential designers. Each H&M look has been entirely custom-made, with both Kawakubo’s creative world and the style of our guests in mind,’ said H&M design head Pernilla Wohlfahrt.
   Minaj wore a tulle gown with a silk taffeta train, with black vinyl roses at the hem and beneath the train, held by a silk duchesse kimono top, and an Obi belt featuring Kawabuko’s face. ‘Partnering with H&M has been an incredible and unique experience. The look we have created is so special to me and I’m looking forward to sharing this moment with everyone. Together with the H&M design team, we embodied the theme; from the dramatic train to Kawakubo’s face. it’s truly inspiring!’ she said.
   Future wore a slim-fit tailcoat made from organic silk, Tencel and wool, with an embroidered black skull and red Swarovski crystal heart on the back.
   Graham wore an off-white deconstructed corset dress with a red silk shirt, both decorated with dark red silk organza ruffles. ‘It’s been such a wonderful experience with H&M for my first Met Gala. I have loved collaborating with them every step of the way and I can’t wait to show off my dress. It’s everything I could have ever dreamed of!’ she said.
   Dunn wore a deconstructed dress featuring an off-white silk taffeta top and an asymmetrically cut, deconstructed skirt made from navy pinstripe suiting. Lane’s design was a sheer structured dress embellished with polka dots, held by a sheer, boned upper body with black Swarovski crystals.
   Jonas wore a deep red slim-fit suit in Italian double-silk satin with black stripes and lapels, over a black organic silk shirt. ‘I always love wearing H&M, so it’s been an amazing experience to have H&M create this one-off look just for me. The tailoring is sharp and perfect for this special night, and it’s all so effortless,’ he said.
   Maxwell wore a sheer organic silk chiffon dress covered in pearls. The pearls began as a necklace, crossed the chest, and formed the lines of a crinoline into the dress.










Dimitrios Kambouris, Neilson Barnard, Dia Dipasupil, John Shearer


H&M creates unique designs for 2017 Met Gala by Lucire

News in brief: Kristen Stewart behind the scenes for Chanel; H&M announces Global Change Award winners


NEWS  by Lucire staff/April 9, 2017/23.52



Chanel

Chanel revealed last week the first of four films for its Gabrielle bag. The photographs had already been shot by Karl Lagerfeld, featuring Kristen Stewart, Cara Delevingne, Caroline de Maigret and Pharrell Williams, each with the ‘aura’ of Gabrielle Chanel in the film.
   The first film, starring Stewart and directed by Daniel Askill, appeared on April 3 on Chanel websites and social networks, while the making-of (as the French call it) is below on Lucire’s Dailymotion channel.
   Danish jewellery brand Pandora has announced that it will enter into a second year’s partnership with Dress for Success, committing to a US$500,000 donation this year, and donating Pandora jewellery to Dress for Success affiliates throughout North America. It will also sponsor Dress for Success events through the year.
   Dress for Success, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is a not-for-profit that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing professional attire, support, and developmental tools.
   Readers may remember our story in March about the finalists of the H&M Foundation Global Change Award this year. The online vote, held from March 27 to April 2, saw the €1,000,000 split as follows:

• €300,000 for Grape Leather (team lead: Rossella Longobardo, Italy);
• €250,000 for Solar Textiles (team lead: Miguel A. Modestino, USA and Switzerland);
• €150,000 for Content Thread (team lead: Natasha Franck, US and UK);
• €150,000 for Denim-dyed Denim (team lead: Xungai Wang, Australia); and
• €150,000 for Manure Couture (team lead: Jalila Essaidi, the Netherlands).

A ceremony was held at the Stockholm town hall on April 5.
   â€˜We are deeply glad that such a prestigious foundation recognized the value of our innovation and strongly believed in it. Our first objectives will consist in switching from a pilot to an industrial-scale production our fabric and starting a green, cruelty-free revolution within the leather industry, finally solving its related issues and overexploitations,’ said Rossella Longobardo from the team behind wine leather (‘Grape Leather’).


Kristin Stewart behind the scenes for Chanel by Lucire

Five ideas reshaping the fashion industry: H&M Foundation invites public to vote on the best


NEWS  by Lucire staff/March 28, 2017/10.51

H&M Foundation invites the public to vote on the best ideas that can help revolutionize the fashion industry toward a sustainable, waste-free future.
   Initiated in 2015, the competition is now on to its second round, with €1 million up for grabs between five winners. The vote, at globalchangeaward.com, closes on April 2. The public will determine how the €1 million will be split, with the top innovation receiving €300,000. All winners receive an innovation accelerator to help realize their ideas and get industry access.
   The first of the 2016 five is a digital content thread that facilitates the recycling of clothes. By weaving an RFID thread with a digitalized ingredients’ list into the garment, recyclers will know what the garment is composed of.
   There’s a carbon-binding nylon made from water, biomass and solar energy instead of oil. The nylon also binds greenouse gases into the material, to help with a zero-emissions world.
   Third, a vegetal leather made from wine production waste helps with animal welfare, and eliminates the use of oil in making synthetic leather.
   Fourth, old denim is broken down into particles, which are turned into a colouring powder to dye new denim, saving water and energy in production.
   Finally, ‘manure couture’ takes the cellulose in cow manure and turns it into a biodegradable textile, reducing the release of methane gas and harmful substances.
   The result will be announced at a ceremony at the Stockholm city hall on April 5.
   â€˜The second round of Global Change Award received 2,883 innovative ideas from 130 countries, which is even more than last year. Cross-border challenges call for a cross-border approach. I am convinced that by bringing people from different industries, with different backgrounds and perspectives together we can make a fundamental shift, speeding up the transition to a circular waste-free fashion industry,’ said Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of Hennes & Mauritz. Fifty-six per cent of the innovations came from women.
   The top five were chosen by an expert panel, comprising: Vikram Widge, had of climate and carbon finance at the World Bank Group; Rebecca Earley, professor in sustainable textile and fashion design at University of the Arts London; Amber Valletta, model, actress, entrepreneur and sustainability influencer; Ellis Rubinstein, president and CEO, New York Academy of Sciences; David Roberts, distinguished faculty, Singularity University; Lewis Perkins, president, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute; Johan L. Kuylenstierna, executive director for Stockholm Environment Institute; and Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The late Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief, Vogue Italia, was an expert panel member in 2015 and 2016, but passed away before helping to select this year’s winners. All members participate pro bono.

Natalia Vodianova fronts H&M’s Conscious Exclusive campaign in a gown made from recycled polyester


NEWS  by Nathalia Archila/February 8, 2017/23.11



Natalia Vodianova stars in H&M’s Conscious Exclusive campaign, highlighting the brand’s use of Bionic, a recycled polyester made from recovered shoreline waste.
   H&M Conscious is the Swedish retailer’s sustainable, socially responsible collection, with the Exclusives going a step further with limited-edition designs and, usually, a high-profile spokesmodel.
   The key design this season is an ethereal plissé pleat gown in powder pink in Bionic.
   H&M, which had been named as one of Medinge Group’s Brands with a Conscience in 2008, has been increasing its use of sustainable materials, now reaching 20 per cent. It is now one of the world’s biggest users of recycled polyester and one of the biggest buyers of organic cotton.
   H&M Conscious Exclusive shows that style and sustainability can go together.
   â€˜I am proud to appear in the H&M Conscious Exclusive campaign. It’s amazing to see the advances in sustainable fabrics that are used in the collection, pointing towards a more sustainable future for all fashion,’ said Vodianova.
   â€˜For the design team at H&M, this year’s Conscious Exclusive is a chance to dream and create pieces that are both quirky and beautiful. It’s great to be able to show just what is possible with sustainable materials like we have done with the delicate plissé dress made of Bionic,’ said Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M’s head of design and creative director.
   The 2017 collection will also include children’s pieces. The collection will go on sale in c. 160 stores worldwide, from April 20.—Nathalia Archila





H&M to release Fashion Icons Selected by The Weeknd on March 3


NEWS  by Nathalia Archila/February 5, 2017/10.25


Federico Pestilli



August Eriksson

Hennes & Mauritz has teamed up with the Canadian Grammy Award-winning artist and producer, The Weeknd, on a collection of staples, dubbed Fashion Icons Selected by The Weeknd.
   The Weeknd has chosen the items, which go on sale at any H&M store that carries menswear from March 2.
   H&M forecasts a mix of utility and streetwear as the trend for the season.
   â€˜I had a great time selecting my Fashion Icons at H&M. I love the mix of urban pieces like bombers and hoodies with tailored shirts and blazers. Every piece is both effortless and fresh, which is just how menswear should be,’ he said in a release.
   â€˜The Weeknd’s taste and style perfectly fits the menswear mood of the season at H&M. He has such a great eye for the little details that matter, and for mixing together updated men’s classics for the perfect tailored streetwear look,’ said Andreas Löwenstam, H&M’s men’s head of design.
   The items include a bomber jacket, tailored pants, loose T-shirts, hoodies, a motorcycle jacket, blazer, double-breasted coat, mandarin-collar cotton shirts, and a zip-up work shirt. Colours include black, beige and olive.—Nathalia Archila, with Lucire staff



Federico Pestilli





August Eriksson

Lupita Nyong’o, Iman, Charli XCX, Elizabeth Olsen attend Kenzo × H&M launch, directed by Jean-Paul Goude


NEWS  by Lucire staff/October 20, 2016/7.08




Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

Hennes & Mauritz launched its collaboration with Kenzo at Pier 36 in New York on Wednesday, with a fashion show directed by the legendary Jean-Paul Goude.
   Attending celebrities included Rosario Dawson, Iman, Lupita Nyong’o, Chloë Sevigny, Elizabeth Olsen, Charli XCX, and Chance the Rapper.
   The new collection, dubbed Kenzo × H&M, is the latest in a long line of designer collaborations that began with Karl Lagerfeld in 2004.
   H&M’s idea of accessible luxury takes the classic, iconic styles from leading designers, making them available for a mass-market audience. Kenzo × H&M has been designed by Kenzo’s own Carol Lim and Humberto Leon.
   The all-dancing and playful spectacular featured a remix of ‘Express Yourself’ by Sam Spiegel, choreography by Ryan Heffington, and a performance by rapper Ice Cube to top the night off.
   In a release, Lim and Leon stated, ‘Tonight was a celebration of everything we love about Kenzo × H&M—it was a fun, vibrant and unexpected celebratory mix of different worlds coming together. It was a show we will never forget.’
   â€˜The launch of Kenzo × H&M was truly spectacular. It was amazing to see the collection come to life with all its incredible print, colour and energy. It was such an honour to have Jean-Paul Goude direct the show and he captured the mood perfectly,’ said Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s creative adviser.
   The new collection hits 250 H&M stores globally and online on November 3.








Neilson Barnard; Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

Hennes & Mauritz opens first store in Auckland, New Zealand, with celebrity launch


NEWS  by Lucire staff/September 30, 2016/11.17




Chris Park

Hennes & Mauritz held a press launch for its first New Zealand retail store at Sylvia Park, Auckland, on Thursday—and as the New Zealand-headquartered publication with the longest history of covering the Swedish retailer, we were on the scene.
   H&M didn’t take this launch lightly. In anticipation of the official October 1 launch, they rolled out the red carpet, metaphorically and literally, for an eclectic bunch of media, photographers, bloggers, influencers and the usual Auckland celebrity crowd. It was an incredibly well run event.
   Those spotted among the 800-plus attendees included Jaime Ridge, Maia Cotton, Jerome Kaino and Maria Tutaia, and Colin Mathura-Jeffree.
   In keeping with international standards, the H&M store is a two-storey complex, occupying a huge floor space, with separate sections for men’s, women’s and children’s wear. Unfortunately they didn’t bring in an H&M Home, which, with the absence of Ikea, would probably have done incredibly well in New Zealand.
   The concept of the launch event was to have a “luxury H&M experience”, where we were led down the red carpet, given a trademark grey mesh shopping bag, and free reign to buy any of the items at prices specially discounted for the launch. In addition to this, we were treated to bubbles on arrival, followed by bars on each of the floors each making a different cocktail, with canapés floating around the whole night.
   Gracie Taylor, Jupiter Project, Kings and General Lee, and Dan Aux were DJing on the ground floor.
   In anticipation for the crowds on Saturday (when the store is open to the public), H&M flew in staff from Australia and elsewhere to support the New Zealand-based crew and to provide training.
   Mino Kim, one quarter of the well-known New Zealand street style blog Foureyes, is the store manager, so the rest of the Foureyes team were there to provide emotional support and to do a bit of shopping as well.
   Just as there is a space for haute couture, there is equally a space for fast fashion. H&M built its global fashion empire through making basic, affordable clothing which were durable and the store in New Zealand was no exception. It remains to be seen how H&M’s expansion in the New Zealand market will affect other clothing retailers who operate in the same space and price brackets.
   Perhaps in anticipation of the launch, there have been some critical coverage of H&M being implicated in using child labour and outsourcing its production work to countries where workers are underpaid and exploited. However, it is worth noting that H&M has been one of the more proactive clothing companies when it comes to upholding workers’ rights in comparison to many other comparable brands who already have retail operations in New Zealand, including Glassons, Industrie and Forever 21.
   My understanding is that H&M intends to monitor how the flagship store in Sylvia Park goes before considering whether to open additional stores in other centres around New Zealand.
   I anticipate that for those in Auckland at least, H&M will become the go-to place particularly for basics or cheap and cheerful accessories.—Chris Park, Guest Contributor




Chris Park




Courtesy Mango


Chris Park


Courtesy Mango


Chris Park





Courtesy Mango











Chris Park






Geoff Hedley; courtesy Mango


Chris Park

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