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Where have the fun fashion magazine websites gone?

Filed by Jack Yan/February 6, 2021/21.45


Above: The very first site (alphabetically) linked from our Newsstand pages, Annabelle of Switzerland, complete with large lead image and smaller subsidiary ones.

I took a look at Lucire’s Newsstand reviews tonight. This section is a relic of the early dot-com days that Lucire came from (in the 1990s), when people exchanged links with each other to help with their search engine positioning, and, to make the sections look legitimate, you put your favourite websites in there as well. When it came to Lucire, naturally, we included our competitors as a resource for readers. I have to say that we were pretty choosy.
   Each time I re-examine the list, which is probably every couple of years, I’m removing sites. Many have fallen by the wayside over the last 23 years, and some that we link have content frozen in the mid-2010s. They are still good resources, so they’re staying. They might even be a good read for those countries who are still dealing with COVID-19 cases in a very real, confronting way.
   What I did remove throughout the three pages of reviews, however, were the ratings. We used to rate quite a few of the sites on content and design, because when we first started, there was a huge variety. It was a relatively new medium, so people were still experimenting. They were a guide, nothing too serious—though I still remember one New Yorker getting so upset that, if I recall correctly, he felt he had to retaliate by linking Lucire with a negative review. (The low score came in part from home page art that was only tested on certain monitors, and on higher-res ones, its elements didn’t line up, with ghastly results. Cutting up images and have them reassemble on screen was something we all did back then, to cope with slow download speeds.) I suspect all that did was send his readers intrigued about our supposed terribleness our way, who then would have found his review somewhat childish and unreliable, since we were winning awards for the online edition of Lucire. Other than that humorous blip of small-mindedness—which I suppose underlines how elements of New Yorkish Trumpism was there long before the real estate magnate ran for president—the ratings were an accepted feature of the pages for many years.
   The reason for their removal is, sadly, the lack of creativity in web design these days. I’m not saying we’re breaking new ground ourselves, though what you see here was still designed by someone on our team and not part of a template that comes with a web-page service. And don’t get me wrong on that, either: some of those templates are really, really good.
   But we’ve settled into a certain look being acceptable on the web, including mobile devices (which have limited creativity in publishing). As browsers and computers have become more powerful, publishing packages have made use of more of their capabilities. Also a good thing, because this enables more people to make websites. However, this means there is less need for someone to tinker and create something from scratch, because there are great programs that have more than half the legwork done. Then there are those developing templates for these software packages, bound somewhat by the features that form their foundation. That has led to standardization, because, like it or not, there are certain things you must do to make a site work for the range of devices that will be pointed at it nowadays.
   The ratings, then, become meaningless, if so many of the sites reviewed have a similar design concept: big lead image, smaller ones on the home page pointing to the significant articles, similarly sized text (and, in many cases, pretty big text), etc. With fonts now transmitting with web pages, it’s no longer special for a website to have bespoke typography. And with so many fonts available, many have opted to get creative on their typographic choices—which could give us some basis for separating the great from good, but outside of the design world, this seems to be an unfair criterion on which to judge.
   We could still rate for content, but to get in to the directory, the content had to be reasonably decent to begin with.
   While there’s big type on the web, the trend in print appears to be very small body type, so small that it’s uncomfortable to read. I don’t know what’s driven this, since the physiology of the human eye and what point sizes we find legible and readable hasn’t changed, but needless to say it’s not one that Lucire in print has, or will, follow. Trend-wise, I hope that we might get to a more sensible balance again.


Above: A spread from Rolling Stone, November 2020, showing the small type now seen in print.

   Right now the mobile space is getting all the love, hence this standardization, even though I’ve tired of those devices for some years now. We anticipated that the tide would turn with Facebook and removed all the gadgets sourced from that site before The Observer broke the Cambridge Analytica story. I’ve tired of the privacy intrusions by some of the Big Tech websites, even though I have a Google-free Android phone; and I’ve tired of the tiny keyboards and the utterly inefficient ways of entering words on phones, and that includes voice recognition. Technology is here to serve us, not the other way round.
   Therefore, I’m not sure that pandering to the limitations of the smaller screen is the right thing to do, which I know, given the time people spend on their devices in 2021 could be an unwise decision. But maybe some of us have to take those first steps and say: there are better things to do with your day, and better ways of reading that won’t strain your eyes. Look up from your devices. Enjoy life. Find the medium where your posture’s not compromised. Even if the trend is to fixate you to your phones and strain your eyes there, and then to make life difficult for you in print with tiny type that strains your eyes even more. We want to be humane, take part in making your lives better, and not hooking you for every moment possible.
   Another reason this site doesn’t get as much mobile support as others—a reason to knock our own design score down—is that each time we create a version for handheld devices (at the turn of the century, you could download Lucire news on to PDAs like Newtons), the technology is quickly rendered obsolete: either programs are invented that distil the large images and web page layouts into something that the devices can tackle, or resolutions improve, or browsers come with a text-only mode. Worryingly, the means of having smaller devices being able to deal with traditional web pages haven’t appeared as quickly this time, which may point to a dearth of innovation in the occidental online space in the 21st century.
   That is what you get when the technology space is dominated by giants, as it leads to the suppression of innovation, something that isn’t serving humankind one bit. Standardization hasn’t just happened because we all settle: the clever inventions aren’t getting out there because the barriers to entry are high. Big Tech isn’t just about suppressing speech and getting political: it’s affecting our everyday enjoyment and appreciation of online media. YouTube and others have “exit pages” that hinder us from leaving their sites, in an attempt to keep us from departing and score themselves an extra page view that they can record (if we the people do this, the search engines penalize us). They want to keep us where they can watch us, not the other way round.
   I’d love to see that “old-fashioned” innovation return, with great websites that knock our socks off, getting 10 for content and 10 for design again. I’m sure there are clever people out there bucking the trend, and we’d love to hear from them. With all the sites out there, discovering them is as hard as ever, with search engines like Google potentially getting less reliable as their algorithms feed us content that might hook us more than help us, such as giving us political news that appeals to our own biases rather than help make us better rounded people.
   It’s really down to us to get the word out about great sites, businesses and organizations. I realize that most of us can only do this through the services Big Tech provides. You’re probably on this page because you followed a search engine result or a social media referral. But if we want to break free of them, if we want to see great sites and innovation return, then we each need to do our bit, by freeing ourselves from the dominant players that are holding things back. Get those searches from Duck Duck Go, where they’re less biased. Ask yourself whether it’s that vital to share that Tweet, Facebook post, Instagram photo, or social media comment. And, I say this without irony, let us know in the comments of some of those great online destinations that you think deserve to be linked.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


Hublot releases a limited edition of 50 Big Bang Tourbillion Automatic Orange Sapphire watches

Filed by Lucire staff/January 27, 2021/8.59


The luxury watches in our ‘Year of the ox’ feature aren’t the only new releases for 2021. Hublot shows there’s still plenty of life in the skeleton look, and it’s showing off a new tourbillon movement (which is self-winding) along with a new colour, in its new Big Bang Tourbillion Automatic Orange Sapphire, limited to 50 pieces.
   Hublot has used more sapphire in the movement, with three sapphire bridges (the barrel bridge, an automatic bridge, and a tourbillon barrette). The movement is designed in-house, with a self-winding mechanism designed to last 72 hours, using ceramic ball bearings and other innovations. The orange shade is a first for through-tinted sapphire, using titanium and chromium during manufacture.
   The grey micro-rotor is in 22 ct gold, and is set off by decoration that has been bevelled, sun ray-brushed and sand-blasted, while the skeleton work has been accentuated by sand-blasted platinum. It’s all in line with Hublot’s reputation in creating timepieces with cutting-edge materials, with its own metallurgy and materials’ laboratory.

 


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

 


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.

 


Automobili Pininfarina completes first high-speed tests for Battista electric hypercar at Nardò

Filed by Lucire staff/December 2, 2020/0.29


Mahindra & Mahindra, presently looking to offload loss-making Ssangyong, has much more glamorous cars in its sights, as the Pininfarina Battista electric hypercar nears production.
   The new car, testing at the Nardò track, aims to be the most powerful Italian sports’ car ever produced—quite a claim in a country where Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini were founded—with a 120 kWh battery powering four electric motors, one at each wheel, for a total of 1,900 PS and torque of 2,300 Nm. Range is expected to be 500 km.
   A fully developed prototype has completed its first high-speed test programme at Nardò under chief product and engineering officer Paolo Dellacha and test driver and vehicle dynamics’ engineer Georgios Syropoulos. This car has a complete luxury interior, and wears a disguise over its carbonfibre shell.
   The tests, on public roads and private facilities, will fine-tune and homologate the Battista.
   Syropoulos completed tests including sprints on the circular banking at Nardò’s 12·6 km ring and laps on the 6·2 km handling track.
   Dellacha said, ‘This test is an exciting moment for our clients and the team at Automobili Pininfarina as we complete another phase In the development of the most powerful Italian sports car ever made. We have undertaken extensive development using advanced simulation technology, and we can now fine-tune the calibration of Battista’s bespoke chassis and pioneering four-motor torque vectoring system on road and track.’
   Syropoulos added, ‘The phenomenal performance potential of the Battista is clear. Our clients will never have experienced acceleration like this before, yet giving them the opportunity to tailor their experience using a range of drive modes means this hypercar offers much more than just speed thrills. With a zero-emissions range of 500 km and sophisticated all-wheel-drive technology, every drive in Battista will be a pleasure.’
   The Battista features Brembo CCMR carbon–ceramic brakes, four-motor torque vectoring, an ultra-stiff carbonfibre monocoque, seamless global roaming, and over-the-air updates. Top speed will be in excess of 350 km/h with an expected 0–100 km/h time of under 2 s, faster than a current Formula 1 racing car. Automobili Pininfarina expects it will reach 300 km/h in less than 12 s. The company has also partnered with Chargepoint, giving customers complimentary charging with the firm.
   Mahindra & Mahindra licensed the Pininfarina brand name from the famed styling house, Pininfarina SpA, which will retain an ‘influential’ role over design and production. The Battista is named after Pininfarina’s founder, Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina.
   Dellacha is a veteran of Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, while Syropoulos has focused on EVs at Lotus, Tesla and Faraday Future.
   Production at Cambiano, Italy is expected to be fewer than 150, with first deliveries in 2021.

 


Movado holds Shanghai event with singer Li Ronghao and actor Jerry Chengjie Yuan

Filed by Lucire staff/November 5, 2020/10.25




Movado’s Shanghai event saw actor Jerry Chengjie Yuan, singer Li Ronghao, and Movado China general manager Danni Hammer.

Movado held its Music Time Journey event in Shanghai on October 29, with an interview format featuring its spokesman, singer–songwriter Li Ronghao (李榮浩) and host, actor Jerry Chengjie Yuan (袁成傑).
   Movado China general manager Danni Hammer, discussed the philosophy behind the brand, and how it used simple design to convey the attributes of independence and confidence. He noted that beneath the design, Movado used superior watchmaking technology.
   Movado sees Li as a good match for the brand, as an artist with a unique style, and creativity that follows his heart. The event linked Li’s latest album to Movado’s Museum Dial Modern 47 watch, featuring the company’s iconic design created by Nathan George Horwitt in 1947.
   The watch design is an example of Bauhaus simplicity, with no markers on the dials, and a single circle at the top signifying the sun—a piece of functional art. Movado had been producing the Horwitt design without permission originally, and only settled with him in 1975 for a minor sum.
   The Museum name came from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), to which Horwitt had sold one of three watches he had privately commissioned in the mid-1950s. MoMA produced wall-clock versions of the design, originating the term ‘Museum Dial’.
   Li says this is his favourite design: ‘This dial reminds me that music and time have their own melody and rhythm, so I don’t forget to stick to my original aspirations and find the origin of life.’
   The event also promoted Movado’s 1881 series, targeted at older customers, linking it to Li’s new album Sparrow.

 


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