Top: Maria Grazia Chiuri takes a bow after her first collection. Above: From the archives, Christian Dior himself measuring a model.
With Christian Dior celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, with a feature appearing in an upcoming Lucire and an exhibition at the NGV, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at one of France’s (and fashion’s) most storied names.
More4 will broadcast a two-part series in the lead-up to London Fashion Week, called Inside Dior, an observational documentary airing on Thursday, February 9 at 9 p.m., and the following week on February 16 at 9 p.m.
From a house that began with one head designer, and his pioneering New Look, to a billion-dollar brand, the series examines Dior’s past and present.
The first episode begins with a star-studded party at Christian Dior’s restored summer mansion, La Colle Noire, outside Grasse in the south of France, hosted by Charlize Theron. The Dior cruise 2017 show at Blenheim Palace and a haute couture show form the core of the episode, with behind-the-scenes footage of Dior staff getting ready for the shows, and clients who are entertained at opulent, formal dinners in Paris. It also deals with the company’s search for a new creative director to replace Raf Simons.
The second episode follows Dior’s first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, preparing for her first collection at Paris Fashion Week (noted in Lucire issue 36). It also looks at Christian Dior’s beauty business, examining FranÃ§ois Demachy, the company’s nose, on creating a Dior perfume, and Peter Philips, its make-up director, on creating a catwalk look. The episode ends as celebrities Kate Moss, Rihanna, and Natalie Portman arrive along with the world’s press at Chiuri’s first Dior spring 2017 catwalk show.
Above: Bella Hadid and other models walk at the conclusion of the Dior cruise 2017 show.
As Topshop opens its doors in Wellington today, its second store in New Zealand, and in the wake of an announcement of a new flagship store in Dublin, Sir Philip Green, who chairs its parent Arcadia Group, has been under assault by British politicians.
The most recent controversy surrounds Sir Philipâ€™s knighthood, which was awarded to him for services to retail. However, a damning report published in July 2016 concluded that British Home Stores, which had been bought by Sir Philip in 2000 for Â£200 million and was formerly part of Arcadia, had been plundered, leaving BHS on life support. The mood in the Commons in October was that Sir Philip should be stripped of his knighthood, passing the amendment, â€˜[This House] noting that Philip Green received his knighthood for his services for the retail industry, believes his actions raise the question of whether he should be allowed to continue to be a holder of the honour and calls on the honours forfeiture committee to recommend his knighthood be cancelled and annulled.â€™
None of Sir Philipâ€™s supporters were present at the debate, where MPs launched into attacks on the multi-millionaire whilst under parliamentary privilege.
Also ignored as attacks were launched against Sir Philip was that, for a considerable period between 2000 and 2015, BHS employed thousands and the British establishment fÃªted the businessman. There were talks of a business venture with Simon Cowell, involving Cheryl Cole; supermodel Kate Moss created a line sold through Topshop. Even in the US, Sir Philip enjoyed a glowing reputation, winning a National Retail Federationâ€™s Retailer of the Year Award. Between 2002 and 2009 BHS had paid Â£167 million of corporation tax, and capital expenditure had been Â£421 million while it was under Sir Philipâ€™s control, according to Taveta Investments, his holding company. However, The Guardian believes that Â£580 million in dividends, rents and interest had been extracted by the Green family.
While the motion does not mean Sir Philip will lose his knighthood, it will be difficult for the honoursâ€™ forfeiture committee, which considers the matter, to ignore.
Sir Philip sold BHS for Â£1 in 2015 to investors led by Dominic Chappellâ€”someone whom he now considers to be â€˜categoricallyâ€™ the wrong buyer; by April 2016 it had gone into administration, with the loss of 11,000 jobs and a Â£571 million pension scheme deficit. Sixteen years before the fund had been in a Â£5 million surplus.
By July, the work and pensionsâ€™ select committee and the business, innovation and skills (BIS) committee issued a report which placed the blame of BHSâ€™s collapse at Sir Philipâ€™s feet. They accused him and others of extracting hundreds of millions of pounds from BHS, enriching himself and his family, and that he showed little business acumen. The committees further labelled the â€˜systematic plunderâ€™ of BHS â€˜the unacceptable face of capitalismâ€™, a term once linked to the Lonrho conglomerate in the 1970s and its chief executive Tiny Rowland. The committees also concluded that Sir Philip failed to invest in the business and that he was ultimately responsible for the pension fundâ€™s deficit.
BHSâ€™s overseas franchises and its website were sold to Al Mana Group, under which they have thrived.
Earlier in October, it is believed that Prime Minister Theresa Mayâ€™s reference at the Conservative Party conference to business people who â€˜take out massive dividends while knowing that the company pension is about to go bustâ€™ was about Sir Philip.
The man who chaired the work and pensionsâ€™ committee, the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, launched into a further attack on Sir Philip on Channel 4 News on October 18, forcing Taveta to counter the statements. Field said that Sir Philip was now running Arcadia â€˜into the ground like BHS,â€™ and warned that Arcadia staff should be concerned for their pension fund.
The same week, Sir Philip pledged to find a solution to the pension deficit in an interview with ITV and was â€˜very sorryâ€™ for those affected by the collapse. He claimed that he was in discussions with the Pensionsâ€™ Regulator to find a solution, though the Regulator stated that it was yet to receive a â€˜comprehensive and credibleâ€™ proposal.
On ITV, Sir Philip defended the years during which a dividend was taken out, stating that BHS was profitable at the time, though the committees concluded that those profits were made by cost-cutting and squeezing suppliers. He believes that the support he and his company gave to BHS from 2005 was closer to Â£850 million.
Chappell, meanwhile, facing criticisms from Sir Philip, supported the stripping of Sir Philipâ€™s knighthood.
There is an ongoing investigation into the failure by the Insolvency Service while the Serious Fraud Office has begun looking into the matter.
Above: The red-shanked douc, or monkey, one of the endangered species that the Body Shop’s Bio-Bridges programme will protect.
On Tuesday, the Body Shop unveiled its Bio-Bridges programme, which aims to regenerate and protect 75,000,000 mÂ² of forest.
The programme will not only see forests protected from exploitation and unsustainable harvesting, the Body Shop wants to ensure that animals and plant species within them thrive.
The first project is the Khe Nuoc Trong forest in north-central Vietnam, home of the red-shanked douc, saola (known as the Asian unicorn and one of the rarest animals on earth), Bengal slow loris and Burmese python. All of these species are threatened by hunting and illegal logging, and the Body Shop notes that nearby habitats are still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War. The World Land Trust and Viet Nature Conservation Centre are working with the Body Shop, patrolling the forest and setting up camera traps, while working with the local community, promoting sustainable forest use and farming.
Promoting this project to Body Shop customers is an in-store and online campaign called Help Reggie Find Love, featuring Reggie, a red-shanked douc. Each customer transaction will restore and protect 1 mÂ² of habitat in Khe Nuoc Trong.
Christopher Davis, director of corporate responsibility and campaigns for the Body Shop, said, ‘We want to focus on actively enriching the worldâ€™s biodiversity. These areas of forest in Vietnam are biological treasure troves that are being destroyed through poaching and illegal logging. Bio-Bridges are an innovative way to create protected corridors of biodiversity that allow the wider forest to flourish and its inhabitants to breed and thrive. In Vietnam, within five to ten years we hope to be able to see endangered species multiply. Weâ€™ll be promoting Help Reggie Find Love online and in our stores in 65 countries around the world, helping raise awareness of this serious issue in a different way and allowing our customers to make a direct and positive impact with every purchase.’
The company has embarked on this latest corporate social responsibility programme as part of its new global Enrich Not Exploit commitment launched in February. It recognizes that protecting and promoting biodiversity is good not only for the planet, including combatting climate change, but for the natural ingredients it sources for its products.
The second Bio-Bridge programme begins in late 2016 in the Garo Hills in India, in partnership with World Land Trust and Wildlife Trust of India.
Above: The team behind A Billion Lives, and Doc Edge organizers Dan Shannon and Alex Lee.
Those of us outside the vaping world have probably looked at e-cigarettes, wondering why on earth these could be better for your health. Or we may have thought they were a fad, since the only people I knew who vaped were tech hipsters, who enjoyed vaping as though it was a matter of course, and nothing to be curious aboutâ€”thereby keeping their habit a closed shop. But then, perhaps they were tired of repeating themselves, and had settled into being comfortable with their e-cigs. A Billion Lives is a documentary that takes a look into this world, but it does so much more. The title refers to the number of people who can be saved if they give up smoking, but there are powerful forces at play to ensure that people donâ€™t. And those forces have ensured that there is misinformation about vaping and the potential for the technology to save lives.
Filmmaker Aaron Biebert, who directed and narrated the film which had its world premiÃ¨re in Wellington as part of the Doc Edge Festival, journeyed to 13 countries on four continents to find similar patterns worldwide: here is a life-saving technology of e-cigarettes, but governments were banning them or fining citizens over their use, ignoring the science and deciding to be complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product. Instead, governments spend money spreading lies about e-cigarettes, calling them a gateway to cigarettes, or that one could get formaldehyde poisoning, claims that the film demonstrably refutes. E-cigarettes are not completely safe, and the film acknowledges that, but they have proven to be a successful tool to help those giving up smoking, especially where mainstream solutions have failed.
In his own country, the US, Biebert points out that governments collect far more revenue from cigarette taxation than from several industries combined, and have no real incentive to cut off the flow of dollars. E-cigarettes, which were invented by pharmacist Hon Lik in China, were conceived as a way to give up smoking, and have been successful for 30 million people around the world. A Billion Lives points out that nicotine is not what causes lung cancer, and that the US Surgeon-General has said as much. What are harmful are the tar and 4,000 chemicals in modern cigarettes. It equates nicotine with coffee in terms of addictiveness, and the figure of 95 per cent less harmful than a typical cigarette featured prominently in the film. Vaping essentially allows one to get the pleasure of nicotine without the harm of the tar and toxins.
Yet as a society, we have come to equate nicotine as being the evil, addictive substance, and thatâ€™s no accident.
This point is made halfway into the film, with a good part of the first section looking into the history of cigarettes (Flintstones sponsor announcements for Winston cigarettes elicited laughs from the audience), and David Goerlitz, the Winston male model from the 1980s, being a particularly effective interviewee, discussing how he went from a smoking advocate earning millions to having a crisis of conscience when his brother developed lung cancer and died. Goerlitz went to the other side, and became a high-profile spokesman who was able to talk in plain language just what governments, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma (which sells patches and gum, and would like to continue doing so) were doing. Health professionals were being marketed to far more than the public, permitting Big Pharma to continue to sell its products, the film notes.
Biebert was able to get other interviewees at a very high level, including Dr Derek Yach, the former executive director of the World Health Organization, and Dr Delon Human, former president of the World Medical Association, among others, speaking plainly about how lives could be saved through vaping e-cigarettes, a tool which could get smokers to kick their habit.
Meanwhile, the pro-smoking side was represented through historical clipsâ€”you get the feeling that we had only touched the surface of what was out there, with corporations spending thousands of millions to fund biased studies and get on to our airwaves.
Beautifully shot and scored, this independently funded feature tells a story about our times and just why so many citizens today are wary of their governments and multinational corporations. Those who oppose global trade agreements, for instance, do not do so in isolationâ€”and while A Billion Lives takes no political side, it does tap into the Zeitgeist of our modern suspicion about what is on our airwaves and what are the motives behind it. Like Adam Curtis, whose documentaries seek to explain the complex in simple terms, Biebert has done the same, narrating and directing, although he appears on camera as well when narrative gaps need to be plugged. He is an honest, frank speaker, and gives the film a personal touch.
Young smokers who tried e-cigarettes were often people who already smoked and saw them as a way to give up their addiction, and most, Biebert pointed out in a post-screening Q&A, were not even using nicotine in their e-cigarettes.
Yet the state of California, where Biebert is based, spent $75 million telling us about the evils of e-cigarettes, said the director in his Q&A; while in the film, he points out that US federal funds were being illegally used for lobbying activities. The American Lung Association had deceived the public, too, notes Biebert, who told the audience, â€˜If you get powerful charities on side, you can do anything.â€™ The increasing restrictions on e-cigarettes in the US, the subject of federal lawsuits, was equated to â€˜Prohibition IIâ€™.
Dr Marewa Glover of End Smoking NZ, who introduced the film at its premiÃ¨re, said that young people were using e-cigarettes as a way round peer pressure, when people in their circle smoked.
However, Australia has already banned e-cigarettes, with one interviewee, Vince, who sold them, telling a story about being raided by authorities and now faces losing his home as he fought the government on principle. He believed firmly he was saving lives. There are massive fines for vaping in Brunei and Hong Kong. There were restrictions in New Zealand, too, noted Glover, although those who sought to misinform were technically in breach of the countryâ€™s health legislation.
Biebert says he is neither a smoker nor a vaper; but all good documentary-makers, he had a commitment to get the right information out there. He acknowledges that vapers have not given themselves the best image, either, and that A Billion Lives can only be one small part of getting the truth out.
â€˜We need to cut the head off the monster,â€™ said Biebert, â€˜and the monster is being funded by big business. We need more than the movie. People need to get the right information.â€™
He added, â€˜The truth ends up winning. Even condoms were illegal in the US at one time.â€™ A Billion Lives will begin making its way to other countries. The website is at abillionlives.com, while the movieâ€™s Instagram is at abillionlivesfilm.â€”Jack Yan, Publisher
Above: The author (centre) joins Aaron Biebert, director (left) and Jesse Hieb, producer, for a photo.
Many of you have enjoyed Paula Sweet’s photography in Lucire, and now you can have an entire volume of her work with her new book, Do Not.
Paula has caught signs all over our planet during her travels, and asks in the synopsis, ‘In a world of limitation and regulation, how aware are you of the restrictions placed on your own existence?’
The premise is an excellent one that encourages us to think: ‘In this collection of signs discovered all over Planet Earth, the artist and photographer Paula Sweet documents the shrinking area of personal freedom and encourages us to rethink the contrary: if a sign is to be placed, should it not encourage us to some productive or positive action?’ Lucire readers can enjoy a 40 per cent discount for a limited time (US$39Â·56, marked down from US$65Â·94), commencing early May 2016, if you use this link here.
Meanwhile, in the celebrity world, this latest compilation from Celebrity Wire shows how manic things areâ€”and we don’t think there’s much personal freedom for some of these 2016 “names”. Except it isn’t signs restricting their freedom, but a gauntlet of paparazzi. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and Kris Jenner are seen and photographed leaving homes and heading into clubs and restaurants; “it” couple Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom head into a waiting cab; new Calvin Klein fragrance face and rising actress Margot Robbie left her apartment; and Emma Roberts had lunch, and a dozen followed her home. Surprisingly, Justin Bieber kept a low profile as he walked through LAX, while Christina Applegate gave a thumbs-up but obscured the lower part of her face as she left the terminal. It’s definitely not the life, thank you!
In our second video, Jane Fonda speaks about the second season of Grace and Frankie at the Netflix premiÃ¨re. She notes that during the course of the new season, Grace realizes Frankie is good for her, and they become friends.
Finally, with the Festival de Cannes about to kick off, Cover looks at five recent controversies to hit the event.