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August 5, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists fulfil their diplomatic mission

Lucire staff/5.51

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Alan Raga

Other than the early 5.30 a.m. call to get ready for a live TV appearance on Channel 5 to 10 million viewers in Thailand, Monday saw the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists fulfil part of their diplomatic role, visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an official function hosted by Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The Thai Ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, was also in attendance, amidst substantial local media interest.
   It was also a day for the New Zealand national anthem, broadcast both on television in the morning and sung at the Ministry in the evening.
   They met the top place holders from Miss Universe Thailand, including Pimbongkod Chankaew, who will represent Thailand at the international competition later this year.
   At the ministerial event, Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey presented his opposite number at Miss Universe Thailand, Surang Prempree, a framed invitation for her titleholder to come to New Zealand later in 2014.
   In addition, four contestants had a very early morning shoot with Alan Raga, again wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, completed before 8 a.m.
   Channel 5 has since uploaded its clip to YouTube, embedded below.
   Godfrey notes in his interview with Channel 5, as the Thai people are justifiably concerned about their perception in international media, ‘We have seen nothing but safety … For us we could not feel safer, and that certainly is something we will be telling people in New Zealand when we go back.’
   In the afternoon, the top 25 went to Central Embassy, a shopping centre in Bangkok, to try their hand at cooking traditional Thai cuisine at the Issaya Cooking Studio. Their experience has already hit the Thai press, appearing in Thairath, one of the biggest newspapers in the country.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.










Alan Raga

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August 4, 2014

The Body Shop has the perfect beauty suite in the era of the selfie

Lucire staff/9.49

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In the era of the selfie, the Body Shop has responded. Not only has the word entered the lexicon, there’ll even be a Pygmalion-based TV show starring Karen Gillan and John Cho bearing that name. We’ve even seen cellphone manufacturers no longer refer to a reverse camera, but a selfie camera, on their new models.
   Available today in New Zealand is the All-in-One Instablur, a five-action perfector to hide skin blemishes—the Body Shop says one can say goodbye to filters.
   Instablur, available in a universal shade, has spherical powders with moisturizing vitamin E that helps smooth pores and hides blemishes.
   The Body Shop has also released the Smoky 2-in-1 Gel Liner (NZ$25) to intensify brows, using Community Fair Trade oils and ultra-dark pigments; a new eye colour in the Colour Crush range (NZ$21·50) with new shades (our picks are Champagne Kiss, the special-edition Gorgeous Gold and Golden Cinnamon as the in-trend ones, but look out for the special-edition Sunshine Love as well); a new red shade for its lip and cheek stain (NZ$25·25)—it’s particularly striking, again staying right on the beauty trends; and the Colour Crush Shine lip colour (NZ$27·75), formerly Colourglide Shine, again using Community Fair Trade oils to moisturize your lips.


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Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists experience Thai culture first-hand

Lucire staff/9.11

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists had a 5.30 a.m. call on Monday, preparing to head to the Channel 5 studios in Bangkok for a 7 a.m. appearance with both the Thai ambassador to New Zealand Noppadon Theppitak and Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey.
   The show they appeared on, where they talked about their experiences in Thailand, reaches 10 million viewers domestically, and another 170 countries worldwide via satellite.
   Sunday’s schedule was somewhat more relaxed, with a morning visit to the Suan Sam Pran Riverside Thai Village to experience making traditional craft and food, as well as learning a few dance steps, while six contestants stayed behind for their swimwear shoots wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co., with photographer Alan Raga.
   It was not until the evening that Thailand Travel & Tourism hosted the finalists at the Sofitel, before they returned to their accommodation at the Hilton Bangkok.
   Monday’s programme, meanwhile, saw the top 25 finalists at the Issaya Cooking Studio, where they tried their hand at cooking, at Bangkok’s Central Embassy shopping centre.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.











Alan Raga


Friendship to Friend Trip

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August 3, 2014

A full day in Bangkok for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014’s top 25 finalists

Lucire staff/5.33

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Alan Raga

The second day of the finalists’ retreat for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014, and the first full day in Thailand, was packed with activities for the top 25 around Bangkok.
   Most went for a morning visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha, while photographer Alan Raga began the swimwear shoots for three remaining contestants, with swimwear from Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co.
   Lunch was served at Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, while a further three had their shoots done in the afternoon.
   The contestants were subject to immense media coverage, continuing to highlight what the Thai ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, sees as contributing positively to the diplomacy between the two countries.
   A packed evening was lined up for all 25 at Asiatique, the Riverfront, an open-air mall featuring a night bazaar and, currently, Muay Thai Live—the Legend Lives, a show performed at the state-of-the-art theatre at the venue nightly except Sunday. It chronicles the history of Thai kickboxing over the last three centuries.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.




Alan Raga


Muay Thai Live

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August 2, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists arrive in Bangkok

Lucire staff/2.33

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists have left the southern shores, and are presently at the Hilton Bangkok, as they commence their retreat in the Kingdom of Thailand for the following week.
   Since the Miss New Zealand Consortium was awarded the licence for Miss Universe in 2013, the directors felt that the live swimwear segment had to disappear from the competition. However, international rules still required it, so a swimwear shoot on a beach, with a closed set, became the best option for the live telecast that took place last October.
   Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey and general counsel Jack Yan were tight-lipped this year about the destination of the retreat, given political changes in Thailand. However, Thailand came on the radar again with the support of its ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, and the top 25 finalists along with a crew departed on August 1.
   The Ambassador sees the retreat as a core part of the Thai–New Zealand relationship, given the high, mainstream interest in the Miss Universe competition in Thailand, and much of Asia. The 2013 finalists’ retreat was extensively covered in print and televised media in Thailand.
   Kiwi lensman Alan Raga is photographing the finalists, who will be wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, in shoots commencing Saturday.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. As with 2013, the public has a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting, and, as a new innovation this year, through an electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.



Alan Raga

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July 31, 2014

Audi releases A3 Sportback E-tron, its first plug-in hybrid

Lucire staff/15.11

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Audi, Volkswagen’s premium brand, has launched a plug-in hybrid for the European market, based on the A3 Sportback.
   The Audi A3 Sportback E-tron will be sold through 410 dealers in Europe, including 105 in Germany. The German retail price is €37,900. A leasing plan sees the A3 at €319 for a 36-month term. First deliveries will take place this winter.
   The vehicle has an 8·8 kWh lithium–ion battery pack for its electric motor with a range of 50 km, but combined with its 1·4-litre petrol engine, it can manage 900 km. The combined power output is a claimed 150 kW (204 PS), with fuel consumption at 1·5 l/100 km (188 mpg Imperial) and carbon dioxide emissions at 35 g/km.
   The A3 Sportback E-tron’s battery is under the rear seats, allowing maximum cargo space, while the car weighs in at a reasonable 1,580 kg.
   Early reports indicate a seamless switch between electric and petrol modes, but some noticeable road noise from the standard tyres and the quiet electric motor.
   Audi plans for every E-tron dealer in future to have a charging station for customers, who can use it even after purchase. For the German market, Audi will offer an installation service where a technician checks the electrics at a customer’s home, makes the necessary adjustments, and installs the charging dock, for charging the car safely.
   Customers can even opt for what the company calls ‘Audi Energy’, essentially electricity generated from hydroelectric sources in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
   Wayne Griffiths, Audi’s head of sales in Germany, says there is high interest among dealers and customers for the new model: ‘The combination of efficient drive technology and a sustainable energy source is really what the market is looking for.’

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July 30, 2014

Promo image for Cheryl Cole’s Storm Flower fragrance released

Lucire staff/22.03

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The official promotional image for Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s (formerly Cheryl Cole) new fragrance, Storm Flower, has been released, ahead of its on-sale date of August 27.
   The newlywed Geordie songstress—she married boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini earlier in July—says she had long wanted a fragrance under her name but could not devote time to the project till recently.
   ‘For my début fragrance, I wanted to achieve two goals: to create something that both looks beautiful and smells gorgeous. The development process has been really intense but inspirational and I have absolutely loved being so involved in the creative process,’ said Fernandez-Versini.
   Fernandez-Versini’s new fragrance is meant to be refreshing, light, but long-lasting. The perfume opens with fruity notes of mandarin and nectar, leading to a heart of freesia and peach blossom. Basenotes are soft vanilla, white musk and sandalwood.
   The fragrance will be available from the Perfume Shop and Superdrug, priced at £23·50 for 30 ml, £29·50 for 50 ml and £39·50 for 100 ml. Body lotion with glitter and perfumed body bath, with the same notes, will also be available.
   The visual shows Fernandez-Versini’s hand tattoo but not her engagement ring. The photograph was likely shot before her wedding. The bottle itself has the script ‘Storm Flower’ and ‘Cheryl’, and is topped by a flower-shaped cap.

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July 29, 2014

Pandora launches Hearts of Today programme to reward charitable causes

Lucire staff/11.23

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Scott McDermott

In true Scandinavian fashion, jewellery brand Pandora continues to be engaged in corporate social responsibility, launching its Hearts of Today programme on Monday.
   Pandora plans to support charitable causes, beyond the ones it is already engaged in now, such as those for breast cancer awareness, and is asking the public to nominate the ones it feels are the most deserving.
   Hearts of Today is for the US only at this point. Pandora has appointed five women who will form the jury that will pick from the public entries, narrowing them down to 20 semifinalists. The public then votes on the top 20, bringing the final number to eight, who will be honoured at a luncheon in November. Each of the eight receives a US$25,000 donation to help their organization.
   The jurors are Penny Abeywardena, human rights advocate; Shaun Robinson, Emmy Award-winning journalist; June Sarpong, philanthropist; Dr Pepper Schwartz, sociologist and author; and Andrea Alvey, member of the Pandora A/S board of directors.
   The jurors will look at health and well-being, community development, and professional and social empowerment, says Pandora.

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