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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

New Zealand gets first Renault Zoé glimpse at Leading the Charge event in Wellington

Jack Yan/6.13



New Zealanders got their first look at the Renault Zoé last Friday at the Leading the Charge event in Wellington.
   The electric car, which has been a standard-bearer for the French company’s zero-emissions ambitions alongside its Twizy single-passenger commuter, arrived in the country only that week in right-hand drive form and made its way to the event at the CQ Hotel in Wellington.
   The Zoé posed alongside the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3, which is the subject of an upcoming comprehensive Lucire road test.
   Leading the Charge is a real-world north-to-south road trip from Cape Reinga to Bluff, New Zealand to educate people about zero-carbon motoring, to prove that it is indeed possible, even in a country like New Zealand where major cities are scattered around the landscape, with rural roads linking them.
   Better NZ Trust and EECA are behind the drive, and for Wellingtonians, guest speaker Steve West was on hand to talk about his venture, Charge Net NZ, which aims to have 100 fast-charge stations located nationally.
   Instead of the nightly charge of a car via the mains, which can take all night, these fast chargers pump electricity through in less than half an hour, making the electric car particularly viable. Presently, owners of electric cars pay no road tax.
   In New Zealand, where electricity is in part sourced from hydro sources, electric cars make environmental sense overall.
   Host CQ Hotels had installed eight electric car charging stations in its car park, as part of its social responsibility to the environment.
   The cars have made their way now to the South Island. You can follow @leadingthecharge on Instagram for the latest updates.—Jack Yan, Publisher







April 19, 2016

Sponsored video: Louis Cole looks at Nestlé’s sustainable cocoa harvesting for Kit-Kat

Lucire staff/1.27

A Lucire special promotion

Louis Cole, the man behind Fun for Louis, has over 1·7 million followers on his YouTube channel, making daily vlogs about his travels around the world. He’s built up that following without mass media: it’s all through clever content that people want to watch.
   When you combine Cole with international footballer Didier Drogba, then you’re likely to get a lot of eyeballs.
   Nestlé has done just that in promoting Kit-Kat in its latest series of videos, hiring Cole as its front man in a series made in the Ivory Coast, showing how sustainable the process is. It’s a move toward transparency by the Swiss giant, appealing to consumers who want goods that have a socially responsible element.
   The video series humanizes the chocolate production chain, beginning with the local families on the Ivory Coast who harvest the cocoa beans.
   Cole heads to the Ivory Coast to see workers who use a unique tool developed by Stanford University to harvest cocoa beans, replacing the dangerous machetes that they once used—and which are still commonplace in the country. The tool is more efficient and safer and, as Patricia Ekaba from the Nestlé Cocoa Plan notes, the cocoa is sustainably harvested. In fact, she says, Kit-Kat is the first global confectionery brand using 100 per cent sustainable cocoa—although it should be noted that this applies to those manufactured by Nestlé.
   The typical family-run cocoa farm in that part of the world is 2–3 ha.
   The wet cocoa beans are put on banana leaves for five days, during which the flavour is developed. Once the beans are fermented, they are taken to the local village, where they are dried under the sun, naturally.
   The final stop sees the cocoa taken to a cooperative’s warehouse, where their quality is checked and the farmers are paid. The cocoa is then taken to a processing factory, including one in York, and they are turned into cocoa liquor.
   Additional videos show Drogba, who is Ivorian, visit a local school in a farming town. Nestlé, it turns out, has built over 40 schools in Ivorian towns to provide better infrastructure for farming families, and Drogba has a charity working with the company to build another. The company also has initiatives supporting women, and preventing child labour.


Post sponsored by Kit-Kat

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 15, 2016

Lucire TV: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hike to monastery on Bhutanese cliff face

Lucire staff/12.35


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge headed to Paro Taktshang, Bhutan, on the second day of their royal visit to the kingdom. They had flown in from India on Thursday.
   Paro Taktshang, also known as the Tiger’s Nest monastery, is located on a cliff face, 3,000 m above sea level. The royal couple walked 900 m to the revered site, taking three hours to reach the monastery, built in 1692.
   The Duchess wore a Jaeger white blouse, Really Wild khaki leather waistcoat, khaki Zara jeans, and her 10-year-old, calf-length Penelope Chilvers boots.
   ‘It was quite tough on the way up,’ noted Prince William. The Duchess said that it was a ‘great way to burn off the curry.’
   The Prince’s father, the Prince of Wales, half-completed the hike in 1998.
   In the evening, they attended a reception for British nationals and people with close ties to the UK that evening. The Duchess wore a red gown with a poppy print by Beulah, from its spring–summer 2015 collection. The poppy is Bhutan’s national symbol.

April 6, 2016

New Zealand photographers examine human impact in New York City exhibition

Lucire staff/13.39





Above, from top: Andrew B. White: Single Tree Fog. Claire Price’s L’Enfer VI. Jonathan Pilkington: Piopiotahi 1 & 2. Nichola Clark: Merania.

With opening night tonight, the Ora Gallery at 51 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10011, is showing Anthropocene Vision: Photography by Four Artists, exhibiting works by four New Zealanders: Nichola Clark, Jonathan Pilkington, Claire Price, and Andrew B. White.
   The images show ‘nature and interiors that conceal—or reveal—vestiges of a human presence,’ noted the gallery. Anthropocene refers to our present era, one where humans have had a permanent impact on Earth. The works being shown attempt to ‘capture, influence, understand, and form a spiritual connection with the world we inhabit.’
   Each photographer covers a different part of the main theme, with Clark exploring land and belonging, looking at Hiruhārama, New Zealand and the Ngāti Hau people, Pilkington examining the relationship humans have with stone; Price studying how humans can manipulate and destroy nature; and White photographing Prospect Park in New York as he studies an urban park and the human presence concealed within his images.
   The exhibition runs till April 29.

April 5, 2016

Royal New Zealand Ballet announces world première of The Wizard of Oz

Lucire staff/12.08


Ross Brown

The Royal New Zealand Ballet released more news about its much-anticipated première this year of The Wizard of Oz, conceived by its artistic director Francesco Ventriglia.
   Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, the ballet will be in two acts and will stay true to the source material.
   It began its life in Firenze in 2013 as a one-act ballet but was never performed. Ventriglia took the opportunity to re-create it for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, with the music of French pianist and composer Francis Poulenc. Poulenc’s style is melodical, with the production using the music from his jazz age, earlier in his career. Ventriglia says the score is ‘a greatest hits of Poulenc,’ compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters.
   Said Ventriglia in a release, ‘This story is very close to my heart. I loved it as a child and feel that it holds many truths that are too easily forgotten or overlooked in adulthood. I’m delighted to choreograph this ballet for my New Zealand dancers and to have its world première in New Zealand—my new home.’
   He added, ‘Each character has their own dance vocabulary—classical pointe work, barefooted contemporary ballet, and even some ruby slipper tap dancing.’
   Sets and costumes were designed by Gianluca Falaschi in Italy. Ventriglia said, ‘There’s tutus for the porcelain world, Munchkins in 1930s-style bathing suits, bare-chested flying monkeys, butterfly-gowned Good Witch, exaggerated bustle and black corset for the Wicked Witch and of course loads of green sequins, red glitter and gingham.’
   The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz kicks off in Wellington on May 4, and will visit nine centres around New Zealand: Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Napier. Further information can be found at the Royal New Zealand Ballet website, www.rnzb.org.nz.

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