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May 22, 2015

Superb and deeply meaningful: the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute: Remembering WW1 impresses

Jack Yan/12.27

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Ross Brown

Above Dancer Joseph Skelton in the core image used for Salute: Remembering WW1.

Three years in the planning, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute: Remembering WW1 commemorated the Great War in a memorable, respectful, and meaningful way, with a mixed programme that saw two world premières tonight.
   Gareth Farr’s specially commissioned score for Andrew Simmons’ Dear Horizon opened proceedings, with what could be described as a cinematic theme with a strong melodic base as the action unfolded on stage. Tracy Grant Lord’s backdrop, of barbed wire barriers used in World War I, loomed over dancers lying on the stage, as a lone ballerino walked among them. Lighting came on gradually, Jason Morphett’s design using shadows and darkness to build tension. This sombre start gave way to a beautiful, haunting and contemporary choreography, with an underlying bleakness, as Simmons highlighted the loss suffered in war. Costumes were grey, further emphasizing the sense of despair and focusing us on the dancers’ movements. The solo cello by Rolf Gjelsten gave a sense of minimalism that contrasted other elements of the brassy, powerful Farr score. While composed for the ballet, and only complete with the action, it’s not hard to imagine the work released on its own for lovers of ballet and cinematic scores.
   An all-male cast of twelve followed in Soldiers’ Mass. The genius behind Jiří Kylián’s choreography was how it conveyed emotion: a highly energetic and graceful ballet where the dancers move in a unified way, into battle constantly, pulling each other from the front and yet, still confronting, then falling to, the enemy. The score, by Bohuslav Martinů, set to the text by Jiří Mucha, was played back, and one scene sees the men lip-synching proudly to the Czech lyrics, yet with a sense of what they knew would follow. The ballet finishes as it started, with 12 backs to us, each dancer dropping his shirt in another representation of death as well as the annexation of the Sudentenland by Hitler in World War II. Shirtless ballerinos, incidentally, seemed to elicit greater applause from the audience as they took their bows. This restaging was by Roslyn Anderson, who had helmed the 1998 RNZB production of Soldiers’ Mass, with lighting design by Kees Tjebbes.
   After the interval, Johan Kobborg’s Salute injected comedic moments into a classical ballet, set to the score by nineteenth-century composer Hans Christian Lumbye. It saw the return of live music after the recording in Soldiers’ Mass, performed by the New Zealand Army Band. These skilful musicians adapted themselves easily to the lighter atmosphere, with Sgts Riwai Hina and David Fiu, and Pvts Joseph Thomas and Tom Baker rearranging Lumbye’s music to the Band. Natalia Stewart’s costumes (jackets with epaulettes for the men, red peplums and plenty of tulle for the women) shone on stage in a very cheerful ballet involving different sets of dancers, highlighting different aspects of love, from shyness and confusion to overconfidence and partnership; as well as the inevitable farewells as men went off to war.
   The battle vignette, with the General leading the charge, was equally enjoyable, interspersed with the long waits the women endured back home, before the conclusion as the soldiers returned home. Created for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2010, Kobborg intended it to be a reflection of what happens when young people come together; the RNZB dancers showed their expressiveness in a ballet that injected a light-heartedness to the evening. Salute was staged by Florica Stanescu, with Morphett again behind the lighting design, with a brightness and cheer in contrast to his earlier work.
   While the RNZB often picks the cheery production number to end on, it chose Neil Ieremia’s Passchendaele, a world première, which gave this reviewer initial fears that the infamous battle would leave audiences on a down note. The fear was unfounded, because of the scale of Ieremia’s ballet, involving 19 dancers, and the superb execution in dance of this tragic battle, notable for being the day on which more New Zealanders had died or had been wounded than on any other day. Dwayne Bloomfield, formerly of the New Zealand Army Band, composed the score, which the band performed: the moments of martial music signalled the flawed advance by the New Zealand Division under Gen Haig. The dancers moved with great pace at times, in groups, on- and off-stage, representing the power of the soldiers and artillery, through impossible conditions. At other moments they recalled memories of home, contrasting with the loss that families suffered. Geoff Tune’s backdrops, in red and black, signified the blood on the battlefields, and his first one hinted at skulls, shifting gradually to other scenes of burned trees and desolation. The end of Passchendaele was chilling, after the soldiers each fell, their loved ones releasing them, as knocks were heard around the St James, representing the messenger bringing home to 845 New Zealand families the worst news they could receive.
   Ieremia was ingenious in how his choreography brought so much emotion and energy to the performance that the house was left in admiration. The message was indeed cautionary, telling us about the human tragedies of war, but the RNZB and the NZAB brought it to life with such conviction that Passchendaele received the greatest applause of the evening. It was a high note after all, but one that was more absorbing. Salute: Remembering WW1 is a superb programme, and a fresh way of appreciating the messages in the ongoing centenary commemorations of New Zealanders fighting ‘the war to end all wars.’—Jack Yan, Publisher

Salute has been supported by the Lottery Grants Board, New Zealand Defence Force, Qantas, the Göthe-Institut, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, national sponsor Vodafone, and Pub Charity. Dates are May 22–4 in Wellington; May 28–30 in Christchurch; June 3 in Dunedin; June 10 in Hamilton; June 13 in Takapuna; June 17–20 in Auckland; and June 24–5 in Napier. The Royal Ballet will feature the UK première of Passchendaele in November. Further information can be found on the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s website at rnzb.org.nz.

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April 13, 2015

Mini’s augmented reality glasses include X-ray vision

Lucire staff/11.49

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Augmented reality for drivers may be here sooner than some might think, as BMW’s Mini brand reveals its prototype eyewear at Auto Shanghai.
   The Mini Augmented Vision eyewear links the car and the driver, transmitting basic information such as speed and speed limits, but adds other practical features for the 2010s lifestyle.
   Mini foresees that one can enter the destination when outside the car, and have the data sent there for use in the eyewear. There will be a navigation display from one’s current location to the car, or from the car to the final destination. If a message has been received, an icon will appear, and the SMS can be read out by the car. Points of interest and navigation arrows can also appear in the eyewear; the latter can show highlight available parking spaces.
   The science-fiction-sounding features, which BMW believes can be realized, include “X-ray vision”, a virtual view through parts of the car, such as A-pillars and doors, rendering items that may be hidden from the driver’s seat.
   Finally, the company’s augmented parking feature projects images from a camera in the passenger’s side door mirror so the driver knows how far the car is from the kerb.
   All of this is in line with the BMW Group’s research, which forecast increasing urbanization and the need for associated services.
   BMW cooperated with Qualcomm on the technology, while the design and colour concept of the eyewear was created by Designworks.
   Project manager for Mini Augmented Vision, Dr Jörg Preißinger, said in a release, ‘This prototype with its customised, interactive functions succeeds in fusing augmented reality with the brand’s trademark sense of lifestyle.’
   â€˜We are proud to have helped develop a breakthrough augmented reality interface between eyewear and the automobile,’ said Jay Wright, vice-president of Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc. ‘Mini Augmented Vision offers a compelling example of what’s possible today, and what we can expect in the future.’









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April 9, 2015

St Regis Ä°stanbul launches sumptuous, car-inspired Bentley suite

Lucire staff/4.05

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Eric Laignel

The St Regis İstanbul hotel has débuted a Bentley suite, named for the car brand, its interior inspired by the current Continental GT model.
   A collaboration with St Regis Hotels & Resorts, the suite features a balcony overlooking Maçka Park with views of the Bosphorus and the city. There are floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing Ä°stanbul’s sights.
   Bentley design cues are present in the living room, bedroom, the one and a half baths, the dressing room and powder room.
   The entrance’s mirrored ceiling reflects the marble floor, inset with a Continental GT wheel-inspired design. The living area’s veneer walls are meant to evoke the Continental’s interior, and the living room’s sofa’s leather is shared with the car’s. Bentley’s diamond upholstery is present on the sofas, which have two champagne bottle coolers, while the light installation evokes the Continental’s jewelled headlights. The curves of the Nürburgring race track are suggested in the way the rug has been cut, and both the living area and bedroom rugs capture the Bentley grille in abstract form.
   The wet bar, with olive ash, is inspired by the Bentley’s dashboard, and the bar doors reveal three Breitling clocks. The humidor in the bar set-up has been hand-crafted in Bentley’s own wood shop. Items from the Bentley home collection feature throughout the suite, including the chaise in the bedroom.
   The work desk sits alongside a 40-inch pop-up television, while the bed base, tailor-made from burgundy hide and bright engine spin, also conveys the lines of the Bentley Continental GT’s interior. Controls for the room are accessed via a touch panel and Ipad.
   The master bathroom has a dual-basin sink, glass-enclosed rainforest shower, and free-standing glass-enclosed bathtub. There is a 19-inch mirror TV and an adjacent dressing room. The suite also has an additional full bathroom and powder room.
   Naim Audio equipment, which is available on the Bentley as an option, appears throughout, with the SuperUniti player in the living room, and the Mu-so wireless system in the bedroom.
   The new hotel has been designed by Emre Arolat in the art-déco style. Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant and the Iridium Spa also appear at the new property.



Eric Laignel

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April 1, 2015

Jaguar launches second-generation XF saloon: lighter, roomier, more class-leading tech

Lucire staff/13.10

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A week after previewing the new XF in a high-wire stunt over Victoria Docks in London, Jaguar has released images and details of the car as it enjoyed its official début at the New York Auto Show.
   The second-generation XF is recognizably Jaguar, stylistically an evolution of the 2007 X250 model that brought the company’s saloon car range into the 21st century. Prior to the XF, Jaguar saloons had been stuck in a sort of time warp, reminding customers regularly of the 1968 XJ6. The original XF changed that, with its fresh, fastback styling and, in the interior, the rotary dial gear selector, which helped give the cabin a feeling of airiness.
   But underneath the svelte styling, the XF did not share the aluminium-intensive construction methods of the larger XJ, something which the second-generation model remedies. Now up to 190 kg lighter than the outgoing model, the use of aluminium has allowed Jaguar to create a more rigid, refined car that’s also more fuel-efficient, according to the company’s figures. Jaguar cites carbon dioxide emissions of 104 g/km and the new four-cylinder Ingenium diesel gets 71·7 mpg (Imperial) in fuel economy, though it remains to be seen just how well it will fare in the real world.
   The weight saving means that the new XF is cleaner, and Jaguar claims it is 80 kg lighter than the competition, using the base model for comparison. In terms of environmental impact, Jaguar Land Rover uses a form of aluminium alloy called RC5754, which is predominantly made from recycled material, for its pressings.
   The body is also more slippery, helping with efficiency, with the drag coefficient dropping from 0,29 to 0,26 on the new model.
   The company is emphasizing its leadership in aluminium usage, especially extending it from the large XJ saloon down to its entry-level XE, launched last year.
   By increasing the wheelbase by 51 mm while cutting overall length, Jaguar has increased the interior room, and with the sixth light added in the design, the car now appears lighter and roomier inside.
   The cockpit is dominated by a configurable 10·2-inch touch-screen, while the maps for the sat-nav are stored on a 60 Gbyte solid-state hard drive.
   The front suspension is modelled after the F-type sports car’s, with the company claiming segment-leading handling for the new model.
   Other goodies include parking assist for bay and parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, and even reverse traffic detection, to warn drivers of fast-approaching traffic. The laser head-up display is also sharper than comparable TFT systems, with higher contrast; the unit is also a third lighter, which helps the XF save weight.




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January 8, 2015

Fragrance Du Bois recognizes achievements at the Arab Woman Awards

Lucire staff/12.21

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Top Fragrance Du Bois presented a special fragrance set to Dr Shaikha Al Maskari in recognition of her outstanding contribution to society and receiving the Businesswoman of the Year award at the Arab Woman Awards 2014. Above HE Ameera Bin Karam and Emma Henry present the award for sport to Khadijah Mohammed.

Paris-based Fragrance Du Bois, a sponsor of the Arab Woman Awards 2014 in the UAE, presented its Oud-based fragrances to some of the women at the ceremony, it announced this week. Recipients were Dr Shaikha Al Maskari, a businesswoman who has demonstrated that a compassionate leadership style can work in engendering loyalty and commitment; and Khadijah Mohammed, the first female weightlifter to represent the Arabian Gulf region at the Olympic Games, and the first female Emirati athlete to qualify outright. At a previous ceremony in Kuwait, the company had presented an award to Farah K. Behbehani, a graphic designer.
   The Oud used in Fragrance Du Bois’s range is sourced from Asia Plantation Capital. The company says it meets international sustainable standards.
   Explaining the fit between the brand and the awards, Emma Henry, the director of Fragrance Du Bois in the Middle East, said, ‘Fragrance Du Bois is proud to be associated with women who inspire the world to achieve higher standards. We are the brand for individuals who have aspirations for a better society, and we want to continue to encourage the progress that is being made. Dr Al Maskari, Ms Mohammed and Ms Behbehani all stand out as individuals and have the leadership qualities that have improved our world. Whether by making contributions to charity, changing mindsets or opening doors, these are the people who make positive changes in the communities we live in, and they are the people who Fragrance Du Bois will always be eager to partner, in 2015 and beyond.’

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December 5, 2014

Spanish luxury becomes more visible: Tous, Carrera y Carrera get attention

Lucire staff/20.12

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Above Tous’s autumn–winter 2014–15 campaign and Carrera y Carrera’s Romance en el Loto collection emerge.

The Spanish labels are getting far more active, giving their better known French and Italian rivals a run for their money.
   While Zara’s been flying the Spanish flag for years in the budget sector, the much posher Tous has been promoting its wares Down Under, lately with a new store in Auckland in the Tower Building at 8 Customs Street West, next to the Customs Street House. The brand says it will open in Wellington and Christchurch, and give New Zealanders a taste of its luxury jewellery.
   By opening near Prada, Dior and Swarovski in the Tower Building, Tous believes the area will become a magnet for luxury brands for Auckland shoppers.
   Carrera y Carrera of Madrid, meanwhile, has shown its new Romance en el Loto (romance in the lotus) collection, which it calls a celebration of love.
   The new jewellery collection, with a delicate frog at its core, tells the story of founder Manuel Carrera, who, 50 years ago, spotted Marina—and, unbeknownst to him, he had caught her eye, too. It took some time before he mustered up the courage to introduce himself, and they have been inseparable since. The frog represents a ‘fun way’ of remembering that first meeting and the looks they gave one another. The lotus leaves are a tribute to Marina Carrera, symbolizing elegance, beauty and grace.
   The collection features rubies, diamonds and emeralds, in white and yellow gold.







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October 15, 2014

Out now: Chanel releases new No. 5 campaign with Gisèle Bündchen, directed by Baz Luhrmann

Lucire staff/4.59

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After teasers this week, Chanel has now premièred its new No. 5 campaign, The One That I Want, starring supermodel Gisèle Bündchen, and written and directed by Baz Luhrmann. Academy Award winner Catherine Martin oversaw the production design.
   Luhrmann directed the 2004 campaign for Chanel No. 5 with Nicole Kidman.
   In the last 10 years, Luhrmann says that the focus has changed. With the Kidman campaign, he says it was about a woman breaking free, then return to reality. Today, Bündchen plays a woman who listens to her heart, free to make her own choices.
   â€˜The Chanel woman can be with herself on a beach, can be with her child, can have an aspirational and fulfilling work life, and at the same time she can have a true relationship; she can have romance. And in the end, the Chanel woman chooses love,’ says Luhrmann.
   Earlier, the director explained why Bündchen was the perfect casting: ‘She can be on the beach one moment and incredibly athletic. She has children. She has a very, very significant relationship. And yet, she has a career where she can create aspirational, sensual, incredibly glamorous imagery, and somehow, what’s most important to her, … is love, to really be fulfilled. And I think that’s what we try to convey in this little film.’
   Chanel says the new film, which is 3 minutes 23 seconds—and cut to 30- and 60-second versions, ‘tells the story of a woman who struggles to find space for everything—herself, family, career, and love.’
   The film itself is emblematic of Luhrmann’s earlier work: glamorous, romantic, with mixed historical eras and music playing a huge role.
   Chanel has also released behind-the-scenes videos, including one on the costume design and another on the locations (including Fiji, Montauk, the Queensboro Bridge, and Manhattan), as well as interviews with Luhrmann and Bündchen.
   Other Chanel No. 5 campaign directors have included Ridley Scott, Luc Besson, Kathryn Bigelow, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Martin Scorsese.
   The accompanying music is Lo-Fang’s cover of ‘You’re the One That I Want’, composed by John Farrar.

The making-of

Baz Luhrmann

Locations

Costume design

Song

The fragrance

Interview with Gisèle Bündchen




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October 12, 2014

David Trubridge shows off artwork at World of Wearable Art celebrating Brancott Estate’s firsts

Lucire staff/11.00

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Visitors to the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art award show on Sunday night got an extra treat, as furniture and lighting designer David Trubridge showed off a crowdsourced artwork constructed from bamboo plywood to commemorate the concept of “memorable firsts”.
   The theme ties in not only to the World of Wearable Art, but from Brancott Estate’s pioneering heritage as the first to establish a vineyard in New Zealand’s South Island in the 1970s.
   Trubridge and Brancott Estate asked the New Zealand public to submit photographs representing a memorable first. The 500-plus submissions—which the company says ranged from weddings and a first trip abroad to the first blossom of spring—were printed using a red-and-white duotone effect on to lightweight bamboo plywood sheets, which formed the “feathers” in Trubridge’s giant winged creation.
   The artwork was revealed in a performance that resembled a bird taking off on its maiden flight, one of the inspirations Trubridge had. ‘The first thing that jumped into my mind was the image of a young gannet sitting on the edge of the cliff. The first time it flies is the start of its journey all the way to Australia. It takes off and it doesn’t stop,’ he says. The wearer gradually flexed before revealing the full form and all the images with arms outstretched.
   Trubridge had the help of his family in creating the performance, including his wife, Linda, who is an artist, and his son, Sam, who is a member of the performing arts’ faculty at Massey University.
   The wings were held together with twine, and move with the wearer. It presented a new challenge to Trubridge, as he was not accustomed to creating something that would be worn.
   â€˜The process of creating this artwork has taken my team and I on an amazing creative journey and exploration that has led us to many creative firsts. It’s a project I’m very proud to have taken part in,’ says Trubridge.
   â€˜It’s not a single pendant, fixed light or object, it requires a degree of flexibility. Creating something that can transform from a cloak to a wing was a challenge as my work is usually a closed form. We had to have the ability for it to go from one shape to another and flex and move with the figure and that’s a whole new, exciting, pioneering first for us.’
   â€˜David has combined memorable firsts from the New Zealand public into a poetic, moving, kinetic piece of wearable art. The final creation truly embodies the pioneering spirit of Brancott Estate and WOW,’ says Brancott Estate’s chief winemaker, Patrick Materman.
   The artwork was shown at the Brancott Estate bar at the TSB Arena, and a filmed performance can be seen on the website at www.brancottestatewow.co.nz.

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