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After the events of January 6, Emily Ratajkowski and others point to the real dangers

Filed by Jack Yan/January 8, 2021/12.53


Inez & Vinoodh/Kérastase

Above: Emily Ratajkowski (centre) in a new promotion for Kérastase, as promoted on her Instagram. But it’s what she wrote on Twitter that’s far more on point with the events of January 6 in the US.

When you have US friends on all sides of the political spectrum—greens, Democrats, Republicans, libertarians—you tend to get a reasonable idea of who they are, rather be trapped in the bubbles that Big Tech keep you in, to give you a false sense of your own righteousness. It’s never been healthy to be so entrenched in your own viewpoints that you can’t entertain another’s, yet our reliance on technology has done just that, as Big Tech platforms seek to occupy our attention, and to do that, they feed us what will increase it. That means telling us we’re right and the other side is wrong, and feeding extreme versions (including lies) of how the other side is wrong, so we’re more outraged, and spend still more time with them on Facebook, YouTube, and wherever else we might wander.
   So while it’s easy to be up in arms about some of the facts from the Washington, DC insurgency by supporters of President Donald Trump—the flying of a Confederate flag on Capitol Hill, which no one achieved during their civil war; the first time anyone managed to storm the place since the British in 1814; or the tragedy of five deaths—the big story is in Big Tech and how it decides to shut someone down when it feels like it. These companies, who pay little tax in their own countries, who are generally unanswerable to laws and happily pay fines that amount to mere hours of earnings, yield a power that any “side” in a political debate should be wary of.
   In the cases of Facebook and Twitter, both are culpable and moved only to save their own arses: had they applied their own terms and conditions evenly to all users, then President Trump’s use of the platforms would have been moderated through the years; or he may well have found himself on the wrong side of the rules and saw his account terminated long ago. Facebook, in particular, has had a record of not moving till public outcry reaches fever pitch, and its moves to ban Trump from using the platform must be seen in that context. The statements from these platforms struck me as insincere and reactionary, especially as both have taken down accounts for doing absolutely nothing at all, while others have been removed from bucking orthodoxy—for instance, I can think of a grandmother in Finland who was consistently anti-war, who fell foul of Twitter’s whims.
   The web’s original great promise was the even playing field: that we could all benefit equally on there, and that we finally had a truly meritorious medium. Yet that has been steadily eroded over the years by the dominant players seeking to cement their positions. They know they are monopolies, or at best oligopolies. As far as we can tell, Google’s news results favour corporate media over independents. They have each created an uneven culture, where indulging those in power, political or commercial, has become the norm.
   The EU has successfully sued Google over biases in its results. This, teamed with the bubbles, have taken us further away from the promise of the web, as barriers to entry rise, and as it becomes harder to create challengers to the monopolies.
   I have long maintained that people in the US have common enemies, rather than each other. Listen to them and you’ll find the themes are common: stagnant wages, unaffordable health care, the vanishing middle class, corrupt politicians who do the bidding of donors rather than the people, and unbridled corporate power. I touched upon these in my podcast on September 11, 2020; and my blog has a related post dating back to 2014. Even here in Lucire I published an op-ed in 2017.
   Of course one should condemn violence and I admit I felt relieved when Trump was silenced, albeit temporarily, on Twitter, since friends have been banned, suspended or shadow-banned for far less. I thought: finally, they’re enforcing their own rules evenly. What he wrote must be a breach of their terms and conditions. But after some reflection, this isn’t the whole story. Those T&Cs have meant little because they were never applied evenly. These platforms go with the flavour of the month, and while many might cheer on these developments, they may think twice when the sword is pointed their way.
   In 2018, The Anti-Media had their Facebook and Twitter accounts deleted in coordinated fashion. Some of their contributors found their presences gone, without explanation. The Anti-Media Radio account was deleted because of ‘multiple or repeat violations of the Twitter rules’, yet had never Tweeted.
   I seldom criticize Chinese platforms such as Weibo even though they are monitored and censored by the régime in Beijing. But Weibo’s terms say as much when they tell you what legislation will come into play, which is far more honest an approach. Free speech, after all, doesn’t mean platforms must host what we say, or publishers must publish what we write, and as long as I know where the boundaries lie, I’ll aim not to cross them. If I wish to cross them, I will do so in my own spaces.
   Big Tech in the US, however, is different, because the terms don’t marry up with the reality. And when rules are applied unevenly, just as when laws are applied unevenly (US police actions toward whites versus blacks, for instance), we cannot trust what the powers-that-be might do.
   Emily Ratajkowski, who has regularly proved more insightful than many wish to give her credit for, Tweeted along these lines in the wake of the Washington, DC riots yesterday.
   ‘Anyone else feel like proper amount of capital police being absent/letting Trump people in/providing insane visuals of MAGA dudes on the floor of the house was wildly convenient to justifying big tech’s rollout of censorship?’ she wrote. She followed this with: ‘I’m saying it’s very convenient to justify taking away more rights & privacy’ and ‘This gives Facebook/tech/Zuck THE MOST POWER. If he can shut the president up/off he can shut any of us up/off’.
   Her other words: ‘My concern is that this gives big tech the opportunity to shut down “leftist extremists” who are important political organizers.’ And, in one response, ‘And before tech leftists were being blacklisted by other means. People responding to my tweet somehow do not understand what license this gives big tech to continue to do so this time with people cheering. Patriot act 2.0?’
   At no point is she cheering on violence, or agreeing with the MAGA movement, but she paints a chilling picture. Leftists (and a good many on the right) might be delighted at the actions taken by US Big Tech, but would one be as cheerful if a Democratic president or a leftist movement were silenced? All I am advocating for is fairness, and I believe that Ratajkowski is, too. It’s something we’ve not seen.
   Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who unlike so much of the US media plays no favourites, Tweeted a few hours after Ratajkowski: ‘A handful of Silicon Valley oligarchs decide who can and cannot be heard, including the President of the United States. They exert this power unilaterally, with no standards, accountability or appeal.
   ‘Politics now is begging them to silence adversaries or permit allies to speak …
   ‘This is particularly menacing because they’re not just like any other companies with competitors. A Democratic-controlled House sub-committee three months ago definitively concluded that 4 of them – FB, Amazon, Google and Apple – are classic monopolies.
   ‘Demands that Silicon Valley censor more were already rapidly escalating. After yesterday, that tech oligarchs should police our discourse is a virtual consensus. Look for way more.
   ‘As I wrote today, it’s very redolent of post-9/11 calls for censorship.’
   Edward Snowden, meanwhile, Tweeted, ‘For better or worse, this will be remembered as a turning point in the battle for control over digital speech.’
   I have to concur. By all means, have terms and conditions—but have them apply to all. And if you’re going to indulge one to a certain level, you must indulge us all to the same. What happened on January 6 were unilateral exercises by platforms that have allowed one party to violate their own terms and conditions for years, only for them to have a change of heart brought upon by public pressure.
   What’s worse is that the uneven playing field that they have created was motivated by greed. Twitter was at least frank enough to admit that Trump was given a free pass for years, with his newsworthiness their excuse. But they all knew, just as the US media did when all of them—from MSNBC through to the Murdoch Press—that his content was good for their business because it meant attention.
   Fuelling it was in their best interests. An internal Facebook report revealed that 64 per cent of the time someone joins an extremist Facebook group, they have done so because it was recommended to them by the algorithm. This is no accident. Roger McNamee goes one further when he points out in Wired: ‘Facebook has also acknowledged that pages and groups associated with QAnon extremism had at least 3 million members, meaning Facebook helped radicalize 2 million people.’ Remember that the same argument must apply to leftist extremists, too.
   He continues, ‘Congress and law enforcement must decide what to do about the unprecedented insurrection in Washington. President Trump and elements of the right-wing media must pay. So, too, must internet platforms. They have prioritized their own profits and prerogatives over democracy and the public health and safety of the people who use their products.’
   The solutions are numerous, but among them must be the enforcement of antitrust laws as they were originally intended to be used, not what they became over the last three decades. The US Justice Department is pursuing this.
   Secondly, the intentional design of these platforms to bubble, radicalize and incite needs to stop, and individual nations’ legislatures could go some way to enacting laws to force it. Let them serve people and society, which is what technology should do—people should not be bending to the technology. Allow us to find alternative viewpoints with “the other side” if we are truly to understand and engage with one another.
   Thirdly, when these platforms lie, they should be punished, but with penalties that fit the crime. Fining Google four hours’ earnings after hacking a setting on Iphones is hardly a punishment, for instance. Lying has become a regular practice in some US businesses because we all know that Big Tech has done so with impunity.
   These alterations won’t suddenly make Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon and the others poor, either. Their owners will still be worth myriads of millions of dollars, but at least people’s lives won’t be threatened to the same extent. While some are blaming Trump for the five deaths on the Capitol Hill insurrection, Big Tech platforms were the ones that helped bring the mob there, just as YouTube recommended conspiracy videos, or Facebook incited genocide against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The US might still be more a democracy rather than an anocracy if not for Big Tech’s greed over the last 20 or so years.
   There’s no left or right to this. And when those divisions are removed, when the bubbles are popped, we might just see where the real obstacles in society lie—corruption, tax-dodging, monopoly power, environmental harm—rather than each other.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Twenty years of Lucire’s Car to Be Seen in

Filed by Jack Yan/December 14, 2020/3.07


Honda E: already inducted into the Red Dot Design Museum.

The Honda E has been named Lucire’s Car to Be Seen in for 2020, the award joining a bunch of others from dedicated motoring and motoring media organizations around the world.
   For some reason I thought the second-generation Toyota Prius was once named a Car to Be Seen in by us in 2004, but I suspect that was the fault of memory: we covered the Prius in print, but it never got the accolade. The reason it stuck in my mind was that in 2004 it made an impression, even if used second-gen Priuses are now associated with Übers and an anti-car image by certain petrolheads.
   That impression was the sight of certain Hollywood types wanting to be seen as green, showing up to awards in Priuses rather than stretched limos, a practice that quickly ceased after they hopped on to the next fad. It wasn’t, for want of a better term, sustainable—at least not for their image. And more’s the pity, because the stretched limousine remains an exercise in irrelevance, in our opinion.
   The award is entirely subjective and even the criteria have changed from time to time; but with only a few exceptions we’ve attempted to choose a vehicle that represents the style of the time. We also ask: does the Lucire reader look good in it? Does it say something positive about the driver?
   As a result, some cars were named to the list before they were lapped up by a load of buyers—or footballers. One year it was put to an editors’ vote.
   This year, the 20th, it’s a pleasure to welcome the first Japanese car to the list, by a company we’ve long admired for its chutzpah. Founder Soichiro Honda knew he wanted to make cars, so to get there he started with bicycle motors and lawnmowers and worked his way up. The sky’s the limit, literally, as Honda now has a corporate jet business, too.
   The Honda E is not the first EV on the list: that honour goes to the Tesla Roadster, back when Martin Eberhard was running the business in a spirit of transparency and optimism. A futuristic plug-in diesel hybrid limited to 200 units, the Volkswagen XL1, went on the list in 2014. The BMW i8 was the Car to Be Seen in for 2016, and the Jaguar I-Pace in 2018.
   Our full list up to December 2019, which was published on our NewTumbl, appears below, with the new entry added. We will probably cease updating our NewTumbl presence, which took over from our Tumblr account, preferring to consolidate our content on our own domains. Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram continue for the time being—and that’s a discussion for another day.—Jack Yan, Publisher

2001 Audi A4 Avant
2002 Audi A4 Cabriolet
2003 Peugeot 307 CC
2004 Aston Martin DB9
2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK
2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
2007 Tesla Roadster
2008 Fiat 500
2009 Alfa Romeo MiTo
2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse Coupé
2011 Audi A7 Sportback
2012 Range Rover Evoque
2013 Jaguar F-type
2014 Volkswagen XL1
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
2016 BMW i8
2017 Range Rover Velar
2018 Jaguar I-Pace
2019 Alpine A110
2020 Honda E

 


Zalando’s campaign, with Brooklyn Beckham, Diane von Fürstenberg, Jeremy Scott, reminds us of the hug

Filed by Lucire staff/December 11, 2020/10.02



Zalando, the online fashion and beauty retailer, released its holiday campaign, entitled We Will Hug Again, last month. New images featuring Brooklyn Beckham, Diane von Fürstenberg, Jeremy Scott, Munroe Bergdorf, Stella Maxwell, Muslim Sisterhood (Lamisa Khan, Zeinab Salah and Sara Gulamali), and Rain Dove among others have been released to accompany the campaign.
   With COVID-19 still gripping Europe, images of celebrities doing the simple act of hugging—something denied to many as they cannot be in contact with their friends—seem hopeful and aspirational, helping them look to the future.
   In November, Zalando released a video to go with its campaign, called 100 Years of Hugs, along with a series of images, Hug Portraits.
   The retailer is also supporting the Red Cross to help those who may be isolated during the holidays. Consumers are asked to pick a favourite picture of a hug memory, share it on social media, and tag @Zalando and #WeWillHugAgain. For each one, Zalando will donate €5 to the Red Cross.
   Beckham said of the campaign, ‘Human connection and physical embraces are so important in life. At a time when many of us are apart from loved ones, it felt right to partner with Zalando to spread a message of optimism that we will hug again. These images are deeply personal to me and show moments I don’t often share, but now is the time to be thankful for the great moments we’ve had and look forward to creating many more sometime soon.’
   Bergdorf, who shared an image of her and her friend Billy, said, ‘My camera roll is full of so many gorgeous cuddles and hugs with family and friends that I was spoilt for choice. It’s lovely to look back on past moments and know that, even while things can be challenging right now, we will create many more memories like these in the future. Our loved ones are our support systems, they allow us to feel seen, heard and understood. I’m going to miss seeing so many of them over the festive season but I know we have so many amazing times to come. I’m glad to be part of spreading a bit of positivity and part of a campaign that is helping support those that need human connection the most.’
   Zalando’s Natalie Wills, its global director of social media and consumer PR, added, ‘We’re delighted that so many of the industry’s most well-known faces have lent their voices to share this positive message. The images they’ve shared celebrate the beauty of human connection, and we want to inspire the feeling of hope and optimism in these challenging times. It was also important to us to use this campaign as another opportunity to give back to the community and the support Red Cross on their mission to bring connection and support to those that need it most during this period.’






 


British Fashion Council announces the Fashion Awards 2020, with Beijing, Shanghai screenings

Filed by Lucire staff/December 3, 2020/23.01



With the UK continuing to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards (formerly the British Fashion Awards) announced its 20 winners with a digital film première.
   The 30-minute film went live at www.fashionawards.com today and on YouTube on the BFC’s account, and was screened in selected cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. It features some of the year’s events as well as opinion leaders and young creatives giving their thoughts on its impact. Physically appearing in the film voicing their ideas were photographer Jermaine Francis (on the work of NHS workers), entertainer Miss Jason (on the impact on younger queer people), model Salem Mitchell (on Black Lives Matter, and why activism is important), photographer Lauren Woods (that Black Lives Matter is not a hashtag, but real lives are involved), and photographer Myles Loftin (people of colour are still not represented sufficiently). Wilson Oryema, a writer and activist, followed in a later set (on building a better world for future generations), along with Kasper Kapica, a model and content manager (who recalled doing a Miu Miu campaign in the forest), Bohan Qui, communications director (China in its post-COVID mode and the world’s added interest there), Choom, magazine editor (community in the age of COVID-19), Harry Fisher, store owner (selling virtually this year), and from the class of 2020, Bradley Sharpe (Central St Martin’s), who learned he would not get a graduation show, but it turned into an opportunity.
   In the first set of award presentations for communities, Priyanka Chopra Jonas noted that people’s expectations have shifted and that the industry can directly help communities. First to be honoured was the Emergency Designer Network, set up by Bethany Williams, Cozette McCreary, Holly Fulton and Phoebe English. The Network helped create 50,000 surgical gowns and 10,000 sets of scrubs for UK health workers.
   Secondly, Michael Halpern eschewed a London Fashion Week show in favour of a tribute to frontline workers, capturing eight women from the public services in film and portraits, and contributed to the production of PPE for the Royal Brompton Hospital.
   Chanel has committed to improving the economic and social conditions of women worldwide. Its Foundation Chanel has developed a racial justice fund to support grass roots’ organizations led by people of colour. It has also committed to supporting independent artisans and ateliers. As reported earlier in Lucire, Chanel has also produced PPE. Finally, its climate strategy, Chanel Mission 1·5° aims to reduce its carbon footprint.
   Kenneth Ize has supported the communities of weavers, artisans and design groups across Nigeria, placing the country’s heritage on a global stage. He has also celebrated his Blackness and the LGBTQIA+ community with his work.
   A Sai Ta, who tells the stories from his east Asian culture through a British lens, has called for the end to discrimination against marginalized communities. His eponymous brand, A Sai, has committed profits to organizations that support the end of systemic discrimination and racism. The brand supported Black Lives Matter, in a manner which the Council labelled ‘exemplary.’
   Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton highlighted the protests against systemic racism in many countries, and believes the fashion industry has a platform on which to make change and creating a more equal society. Hamilton’s set of recipients were people who have led change by encouraging equal, diverse and empowered workforces at all levels of the business.
   Edward Enninful was the first recipient in the category, for his work contributing to diversity at British Vogue. The magazine’s covers have featured frontline workers, activists and Black Girl Magic.
   Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles for Black in Fashion Council were next: launched in June 2020, the Council’s aim is to build a foundation for inclusion. It has organized a creatives in the sector to foster the change and create diversity.
   Menswear designer Samuel Ross, behind the label A-Cold-Wall, created the Black Lives Matter Financial Aid Scheme, pledging £10,000 to the organizations and people on the frontline supporting the movement. He also awarded grants of £25,000 to black-owned businesses across a diverse range of areas.
   Aurora James called on retailers to dedicate 15 per cent of their shelf space to black-owned brands. A controversial winner as far as this magazine is concerned, as James has yet to respond in depth to questions we posed to her in 2017 over a Moroccan artisan’s account, having missed her own deadline by which she promised to provide us with answers.
   Finally in this category, Priya Ahluwalia has been a pioneer in sustainable fashion, and a tireless advocate for the black community, especially this year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
   Maisie Williams and Aja Barber presented the awards for the environment, calling on a united effort to making the planet better.
   First up among the winners was Stella McCartney, whose record is already well known among consumers and industry alike. She has stayed true to her brand, promoting and practising sustainability, with innovation and circularity.
   Anya Hindmarch has worked hard to reduce waste in the fashion supply chain in her business, adopting new techniques and practices. She also supported the NHS with the creation of a holster for frontline staff, as well as reusable and washable hospital gowns.
   Christopher Raeburn is a pioneer in the upcycling of surplus fabrics, proving that the designs can still be creative, premium and desirable. He believes that innovation, creativity, technical excellence and partnerships can solve current issues in sustainability.
   The Fashion Pact united top-tier fashion CEOs toward collective action on biodiversity and this year, doubled its number of signatories. It represents 200 brands and a third of the industry. It has made its first strides, notably with a digital dashboard of KPIs to measure impact, and with its first collaborative activity on biodiversity.
   Gabriela Hearst has sourced materials carefully, looking at where they come from, who makes them, and what impact they have. Her spring–summer 2020 show was the first carbon-neutral catwalk presentation. Hearst wants to make the highest-quality product with the lowest environmental impact.
   The last set of awards were for creativity, introduced by Rosalía. Jonathan Anderson was awarded for his innovative approaches to showing fashion for J. W. Anderson and Loewe during the COVID-19 pandemic, with show-in-a-box and show-on-the-wall concepts, as well as inviting people to become part of the show experience.
   Grace Wales Bonner’s fashion designs celebrated black culture, evoking its history, and challenged the norms surrounding black masculinity and identity.
   Third up were Prada, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, demonstrating the importance of conversation, collaboration and dialogue in reimagining fashion for the future.
   Riccardo Tisci and Burberry were honoured for their inclusivity and sustainability. The Council noted the label’s innovative use of technology at London Fashion Week in September 2020 and in campaigns and launches. In addition, Burberry donated 160,000 pieces of PPE to the NHS and health care charities, repurposing its trench coat factory in Castleford. It has also donated to aid vaccine research, and to food charities.
   Menswear designer Kim Jones, introduced by David Beckham, was recognized for his creativity. He said he felt it was important to bring joy to people in a tough year, and he intended to do so with his fashion.
   The Awards were supported by Getty Images, Lavazza, Rosewood London and Royal Salute. The trophy was designed by Nagami and created by Parley for the Oceans using Parley Ocean Plastic.

 


Grace Loves Lace’s bridal face mask contributes to brand’s phenomenal growth this year

Filed by Lucire staff/November 19, 2020/3.44

Bridal fashion is still a strong sector, based on what’s come across our news desk, but there’s one accessory that’s particularly 2020: the wedding day face mask.
   Grace Loves Lace’s Megan Ziems has created a bespoke lace bridal face mask to match a wedding dress, and has had great interest, especially from the US, for the item.
   The Gold Coast, Qld.-based designer is making the mask from fabric and lace cutoffs from the bridal gowns she normally designs.
   ‘Due to the nature of our on-shore manufacturing, we were able to turn these masks around very quickly,’ she says. ‘Each mask is layered with comfortable, breathable material to ensure there is no irritation on the skin. We do recommend to our brides that they also wear a medical grade mask underneath their bridal mask for full protection.’
   The on-shore manufacturing of Grace Loves Lace’s gowns have also meant no delays in production in Queensland state, where the pandemic has been largely under control.
   ‘Our manufacturing has not experienced delays, like so many other brands. Over 80 per cent of the world’s wedding dresses are mass produced in offshore factories, so very early on with COVID it shone a light on wedding brands that are not honest about their manufacturing process,’ says Ziems.
   Ziems says that her brand continued to grow amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and has continued with Australian and international showroom openings. She opened in the Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney just prior to the pandemic. Grace Loves Lace now has 11 international showrooms as well as its Australian ones. Sales have increased 260 per cent, with 48 per cent coming from the US.

 


Cover design notes on our 23rd birthday

Filed by Jack Yan/October 20, 2020/10.25

We’ve happily been able to add a few more covers to the montage we published last year on the occasion of our 22nd anniversary. Now 23, we thought an update was in order, and we’ve included our latest issue, which you can order now.
   The story of Lucire’s founding has been covered elsewhere, during more appropriate anniversary numbers.
   Here we’ll just remark at how much has changed design-wise since we went into print seven years after our founding. Some of the early issues have dated; and even if we look at the turn of the decade, heading into the mid-2010s, our layout ideas have aged. This is despite a very earnest effort to make a magazine look “timeless”, an impossible task because one is always affected unconsciously by the trends and moods around us. The photography from this period, interestingly, has stood the test of time far better, which makes us wonder if there has really been that much progress out there.
   Right now, with bandwidth so readily available, we are getting more images than ever to accompany fairly innocent stories, making it tempting to use as much of them as possible. More cramped, less airy layouts are the result, and even though we observe a grid, we’ve definitely been trying to give more bang for the buck on every page. Technology so often drives changes in approach and in design.
   Maybe the new decade will force us to rethink this as people want calmer, more relaxed existences to counter the added stresses of work; whatever the case, we’ll continue to strive to present the best and most informative fashion magazine that we can. We thank our amazing team for creating so much beauty on every level, and we thank our readers for over two decades’ worth of support.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher


Jon Moe

Claudia Goetzelmann

Sixteen years separate these two. The commitment to quality and providing an intelligent read has not changed. Coincidentally, both were shot in California, and the older issue has that state’s current First Lady on the cover

 


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