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Three by Ekman: the Royal New Zealand Ballet shows its witty, ingenious side


NEWS  by Jack Yan/May 20, 2017/12.01



Stephen A’Court

Swedish-born choreographer–director Alexander Ekman, it transpires, was the first person Francesco Ventriglia called when he was first appointed artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Ekman, says Ventriglia, creates choreography that is ‘different, brave, intelligent, witty and fun,’ and he sees the work as being the equivalent of ‘good food’ for the dancers. The three ballets in Three by Ekman are certainly that: modern and relevant, yet somehow also timeless in their appeal. Tuplet, Episode 31 and Cacti keep audiences gripped, while taking us on a journey into unexplored territories.
   They aren’t fully unexplored, mind: regular RNZB attendees will remember Cacti from last year’s trio of ballets in Speed of Light, but seeing it again this time was a renewed pleasure, and connecting it to two more Ekman ballets gives it an extra dimension. As the third ballet, Cacti was a fitting conclusion: when you’re in Ekman’s world, you almost want to stay in it in an attempt to understand the creativity that drives this talented and important modern choreographer. It’s a world that’s energizing, spontaneous, but cheekily self-aware.
   The first foray into that world is Tuplet, a clever 18-minute introduction where the dancers’ own breaths, voices, and the sounds of their bodies become the rhythm. Composer (and a fellow Swedish-born international talent) Mikael Karlsson’s music has a dose of Bart Howard’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ as performed by Victor Feldman helped set the mood. Video projections, which were also designed by Ekman, feature slowed-down black-and-white clips of jazz musicians, highlighting the improvised nature of the dance, performed by six dancers standing on white square mats. New Yorker and Parsons alum Nancy Haeyung Bae designed the costumes, which aided the movement well, and Amith Chandrashaker the lighting, which balanced the the dancers with the video screens above. The conclusion was clever and a taste of Ekman’s humour: he showed silent films of audiences applauding as the live one at the St James Theatre did the same while the curtain fell.
   A video introduction to Episode 31 followed, showing the RNZB’s dancers learning the ballet. It’s a tradition of Episode 31, where a short film is made in the city in which it is performed. The film shows that the dancers were not restricted to the studio, as they ventured out from the Theatre in flash-mob style to various Wellington landmarks such as the cable car and the Botanic Garden; Mayor Justin Lester is caught walking by as the company vigorously dances Episode 31 on the waterfront. (The video is below, though we recommend you don’t spoil the experience.) The dance is a celebration of youth, energy and pace, fitting given its origins as a piece created for Julliard (and first performed in 2011; the video there made use of New York City landmarks such as the Subway). Karlsson once again composed the music, with costumes by Julliard’s Luke Simcock, and lighting by Nicole Pearce. Simcock’s visually deconstructed black and white costumes happily mix genders (e.g. skirts and collared dresses with prints of jackets), as does the make-up on the dancers (mustachioed faces on pale white). The pacy performance itself is contrasted with one dancer who moved in slow motion across the front of the stage; the curtain rose and fell to show vignettes of the action going on behind, leaving you wondering: are we really seeing vignettes or are the dancers repositioning themselves intentionally in preparation for the next reveal? The lighting rig came down, flooring was lifted up and moved, and a second slow-motion dancer wandered with a sign reading ‘Beautiful’ in a stark, all-cap Helvetica (the design of this sign itself is an exercise in irony). As with other Ekman ballets, spoken words accompany the action, with poetry (and this is the programme’s list) by Christina Rossetti, William Allingham, Eleanor Farjeon, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Hughes Mearns and Edward Lear.
   A second video came after the interval, where Ekman is seen on a ferry to Somes Island in Wellington, contemplating choreography and its connection to its surroundings. Will I affect the island or will the island affect me? You can’t but help find Ekman’s quirky personality endearing and you form a connection with the choreographer—and understand that there is a method here, from a man who constantly looks for ways to push ballet forward.
   There’s less chaos in Cacti than in Episode 31. Here, spoken word also features, in an unsubtle dig at postmodernism and the pretentious reviews modern dance might get (one only hopes this article is not an example), with a recording written and voiced by Spenser Theberge. The New Zealand String Quartet accompanies the action here, with both composed and improvised music, at least for the first part of Cacti, before classical music (Haydn, Schubert, and Beethoven) takes over. The 16 dancers move their white tiles, shouting and clapping as they added to the rhythm, before bringing in cactus plants on-stage. Ekman himself designed the set and costumes; Tom Visser also worked on the set and designed the lighting. The second part, a duet between characters Aram and Riley, is another humorous Ekman take, where the audience can hear the streams of consciousness from the pair (played by Alexandre Ferreira and Laura Saxon Jones today). As noted in our review last year, Cacti breaks down the pretence and complexity of ballet into basic statements: the two characters are disengaged from any story and just want to get the dance done. The stuffed cat that is thrown on stage still surprises on a second viewing, and we note that it was a different colour this time.
   When Cacti was part of Speed of Light, we only got a dose of Ekman’s style. This time, we were immersed, and Three by Ekman feels more satisfying and complete. It’s one of the RNZB’s most enjoyable modern ballets, and it’s consistent throughout, not just in the expertise of the dancers, but in the tone and ingenuity of the three works.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Three by Ekman tours till June 15. For venue and booking information, visit www.rnzb.org.nz.

Usain Bolt, Chanel Iman, Nina Agdal celebrate Kentucky Derby at G. H. Mumm event in NYC


NEWS  by Lucire staff/May 7, 2017/1.19




Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Storied champagne house G. H. Mumm has again shown off its new, award-winning bottle design for Mumm Grand Cordon, with Olympian Usain Bolt doing the honours in New York during the Kentucky Derby. Other VIPs attending the event were models Chanel Iman and Nina Agdal, and actor–comedian Mario Cantone.
   The new bottle has been designed by Welshman Ross Lovegrove, with the iconic red sash indented into the glass, with no front label. The design has already won gold at the Grand Prix Stratégies du Design.
   Bolt is Mumm’s “CEO”, or Chief Entertainment Officer, a newly coined title as a celebrity spokesman for the brand, and led the celebrations at the launch.
   The party atmosphere even saw Mumm cellar master Didier Mariotti engage in a battle on the turntables with Bolt, when the pair took over from DJ Chelsea Leyland.
   Mumm Grand Cordon celebrates its 140th anniversary this year. Mumm is the Derby’s official champagne partner.


















Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Range Rover Velar launched at the Design Museum: Jaguar Land Rover bets on a future design classic


NEWS  by Lucire staff/March 1, 2017/21.42

Jaguar Land Rover is betting on its Range Rover Velar becoming a design classic, launching it today with the Design Museum playing host to the new SUV in its first car exhibit.
   Velar is a name from Range Rover’s archives: the name was originally a fictional one that adorned prototypes of the original 1970 Range Rover. JLR has dusted the name off and applied to the fourth member of the Range Rover range, slotting in between the Evoque and Sport, with a wheelbase of 2,874 mm.
   The Range Rover Velar (called Blade during development) is a sleeker, more avant-garde model, with the idea of simplicity driving each stage of its development. The drag coefficient is a low 0,32, a figure seldom seen in this class.
   The interior is an exercise in simplicity and calmness, with a sustainable seat material developed with Kvadrat, in place of leather. The Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, with two 10-inch high-definition touch screens, is said to be state of the art, with controls not appearing till they are lit up. The exterior features clean surfaces, slim LED headlights, flush door handles and a sleek tailgate. The Velar’s 22-inch wheels give it a show-car presence, but they help to give it Land Rover’s all-terrain capability, something Range Rover customers expect. A locking rear differential is optional. It will also have outstanding ride, says JLR, with standard air suspension on six-cylinder models, and Adaptive Dynamics for all models. The Velar uses plenty of aluminium in its structure, contributing to its lightness.
   The launch at the Design Museum, which drew guests including Poppy Delevingne, Damien Lewis, Rob Brydon, Jimmy Carr, Kostja Ullmann, and Rag ’n’ Bone Man, saw a capacity audience, who checked out both the new car and a photo exhibition featuring it, shot by Gary Bryan.
   There was a simultaneous unveiling at a pop-up display on Kensington High Street, West London.
   JLR also announced a partnership with the Design Museum, with events over the next three years.
   The Velar goes on sale in mid-July priced from £44,830. Engines range from a four-cylinder Ingenium diesel to a supercharged 3·0-litre V6 petrol engine delivering 380 PS.

GBK puts the ‘lounge’ back into its Golden Globe Century Lounge


NEWS  by Elyse Glickman/January 7, 2017/22.23




Elyse Glickman

For GBK’s last several award show-outings, Gavin Keilly and his troupe went high volume and high production, complete with backdrops at such larger-than-life places as the W Hollywood. The sampling, gifting and revelry went on for days at these things (well, two, to be exact, but you get the idea, based on our coverages from the past). This time, Gavin went back to basics, staging his 2017 Golden Globes pre-party in At the P (a delightfully pared-down and intimate space not far from Paramount Studios, yet far from the maddening crowds of past parties).
   With excess stripped away, guests could give their undivided attention to marquee charities, American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) and Lambda Legal, whose contributions to the world will be especially welcome and needed in the changing (and more challenging) social climate brought on in force during 2016. Lambda Legal is a non-profit US organization whose members, since 1973, have worked tirelessly to attain and protect the civil liberties of gays, lesbians, transgender people and those affected by HIV through impact litigation, public policy work, activism and education. The MDA, Israel’s national emergency medical response agency and Red Cross affiliate, is a global pioneer in mass casualty response, sharing its knowledge with governments throughout the world.
   The comfy, gallery-like space also provided a nice backdrop for some wonderful bites and drinks from 4 Copas Tequila, IXIB DimSum Eats, and SuShe Art. The former put on quite a show, starring female sushi chefs doling out handrolls and cut roll pieces atop leaf-covered models. Napa Technology, meanwhile, demonstrated its Genesis Perfect Pour wine dispensing system that not only dispenses perfect glasses but extends the shelf life of uncorked bottles.
   GBK regulars were there to the delight of guests, including Tweezerman with its men’s grooming sets and metallic travel sets for women; Babar Hair Tools (including the Babar Mini Max cordless and rechargeable flat iron and its new hair-drier release); and the always welcome Artisan Group with their grab bags. Highlights from my surprise bag reflected that small jewellery items are big again. They included delicate semi-precious stone necklaces from Little P’s, Creations by Kristel and CY Designs, and earrings from Fizz Candy. BeezKneez is still buzzing with modern paper products that beg to bring back the art of handwritten notes.
   There was something for the sports fan (NIMA Sports college football helmet speakers), the amorous (virtual “toys” from SenseMax), savvy designer-brand shoppers (TemptBrands.com, offering guests Street Affaires sunglasses); Drew Barrymore followers (super cute Flower sunglasses) and shoe fanatics (guiltysoles.com). However, we really liked the new line of stylish, pet-feeding pieces from OnoFriends.com that mitigate food and water over-spill as well as the EZPZ all-in-one sectioned food dish and placemat for infants and toddlers.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor







Elyse Glickman

Opel previews Insignia B, with clues to next Holden Commodore and Buick Regal


NEWS  by Lucire staff/December 7, 2016/1.07



GM has shown official photographs of the Opel Insignia B, which will be sold in the UK as a Vauxhall and Australasia as the Holden Commodore. Opel has focused on making the new Insignia more efficient, and it has completely reinterpreted how a sporty, large car should look. The new large car boasts a Cd figure of 0,26, yet lightweight materials have shaved up to 175 kg off the weight.
   Length is roughly the same as before, but it’s 29 mm lower, and the wheelbase has been increased by 92 mm (aiding rear passenger space), and the track by 11 mm. In isolation, it appears larger compared with the outgoing Insignia, something which will help its prospects internationally, where a version of the Insignia has to compete in China as the upscale Buick Regal, and in the former E-segment in Australia as the Holden Commodore. There is an increasing commonality between Opel and Buick design languages, too, with GM saying the Insignia B has a ‘sweepspear’ line that begins at the front door—a term that was first used at Buick in the 1940s. A coupé-like fastback roofline and an upper chrome strip—the latter is also tipped for the estate—give the Insignia B a more distinctive appearance. The driver also sits 30 mm lower than before.
   Opel’s design vice-president for Europe, Mark Adams, says that the Insignia B is meant to look more upscale than its predecessor, saying it has ‘the aura of a car from the premium, upper class.’ Inspiration came from the Opel Monza Concept of 2013.
   There is a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and a wide range of engines, though Opel has not yet revealed specifics before the Insignia B’s official launch in Genève next year. The big news under the skin is all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, aiding stability: this feature is expected on the top models worldwide. FlexRide adapts dampers, steering and throttle response to suit a driver’s style.
   Its LED headlights adapt to the traffic conditions, and there are other premium features, including a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane assist with lane-departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. GM’s Onstar service is also standard, with automatic crash response and stolen vehicle assistance, with a concierge service allowing occupants to book hotels, launching with the car next year.







Grayton announces first mechanical watch with smart features


NEWS  by Cecilia Xu/November 28, 2016/23.18


‘Technology evolves but style is timeless’ is a value in which boutique watch designer brand Grayton strongly stand by. This is exactly what the brand has produced, raising the bar in what a classic watch can do with the release of their Origin mechanical watch, available for pre-sale beginning today on Indiegogo, with a commercial release slated for May 2017.
   The unique selling-point of the Origin is its smart strap, which is interchangeable and connected to your smart phone. The Origin is crafted in a brushed 316L stainless steel case with polished accents, with a see-through back cover that gives a glimpse of the watch’s self-winding mechanism. Its power reserve is 41 hours.
   The well hidden, built-in electronics make the strap indistinguishable from the best traditional leather straps. The accompanying app is compatible with both Iphone and Android platforms, and is ideal for receiving notification alerts in the office or recording workout fitness data at the gym, activity tracking, phone notifications, music control and more.—Cecilia Xu

Porsche Design Sport by Adidas releases spring–summer 2017 collection, for year-round activity


NEWS  by Lucire staff/November 23, 2016/3.01


Adidas and Porsche Design, the design company founded by Butzi Porsche, have released their spring–summer 2017 Porsche Design Sport by Adidas collection.
   These sportswear items blend the idea of Adidas’ performance heritage with efficient design. Jacques Chassaing, senior design director for the label, says that wearers are active even during Europe’s cold winter months, and need items that help them stay warm and dry.
   Because customers wear the items not just at the gym, but as part of their everyday travel and commuting, the padded jacket is designed to keep them warm, thanks to PrimaLoft Gold insulation. There is also a vest that can be paired with the wool mix top, and a water-repellant, five-pocket Commuter pant.
   Porsche Design Sport by Adidas also has the UltraBoost trainer collection, again blending Porsche Design’s functional ideas with Adidas’ performance ones. Foam aids comfort, while the leather adds luxury. The Drive Team bag has an EVA-moulded compartment to protect valuables, and ventilated slits allow wet clothing inside to dry out.
   Unifying some of this season’s designs is a subtle hexagonal pattern, intended to give a futuristic look, and features reflective elements for safety, appearing on the Reflective jacket, Reflective Cap II, Seven-Eighth Tight and Endurance 2·0 shoes, and the OT back-pack.
   The colour palette is focused on dark blue and black, though some pieces are in a bright red shade, which is particularly eye-catching and fitting for this season.




Ralph & Russo, Charlotte Tilbury, Anya Hindmarch among Walpole winners; Lucy Hale named ambassador for Casetify


NEWS  by Lucire staff/November 16, 2016/12.50

Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale has been named as a spokeswoman and creative director for Casetify, a company retailing cellphone cases, Apple Watch bands, Macbook sleeves and clutches.
   The capsule collection of 34 pieces has been launched in time for the new Apple Iphone 7, based around the idea of ‘delicate but daring,’ a motto credited to the actress. The designs reflect Hale’s tastes, including one with the quotation, ‘I like big brows and I cannot lie,’ as well as cheetah, floral and cacti prints, and one featuring her own dog, Elvis.
   Prices begin at US$40, and the range can be found at www.casetify.com/lucy-hale.
   The 15th annual Walpole Awards, presented in London on Wednesday, saw numerous fashion and beauty brands honoured for their contribution to luxury. Ralph & Russo won Outstanding Achievement in British Luxury, presented by Nadja Swarovski (right).
   Other winners included make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, who won British Luxury Brand of the Year, and accessories’ designer Anya Hindmarch won the prize for Digital Innovation in British Luxury. Burberry and House of St Barnabas jointly won the Champion of British Luxury Sustainability award.

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