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A sense of belonging

Filed by Jack Yan/June 17, 2020/11.16

Jack Yan

Above: Wellington, New Zealand’s Lambton Quay, normally a main thoroughfare, during that country’s lockdown.

Over the last two issues of Lucire KSA, we ran a story each on COVID-19. The first examined how companies fared after previous economic crises, looking at the past for answers. Last month, we examined what companies were doing in response to the pandemic, a report from the present. This month, it may be prudent to take some punts about the future.
   Even before the COVID-19 crisis, China was selling cars with air filtration and purification systems, such as the Oshan X7 and the Geely Icon. These two SUVs were responding to the pollution that plagues Chinese cities, and when the Icon was launched in February, its system was turned into a positive selling point as fears about COVID-19 mounted. When the X7 was revised in March 2020, its system received an upgrade, to allay fears about the novel coronavirus. But these are minor product enhancements, for what is the point of these SUVs during a lockdown when driving is curtailed?
   We often refer to the automotive sector in Lucire because it’s one of the most evident places where brands and trends emerge, and with fewer players than in fashion, it’s often easier to see what those might be. Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice-president for global car design, pointed out to Forbes that after each major crisis—he uses World War II as an example—there is a creative surge, and that the US car industry of the 1950s picked up on it, with ‘a promise of the future.’ He says, ‘Many times, this whole “vision of tomorrow” comes from the difficulties of today. So I think we as people will express our emotions physically and you’ll see this in all the arts.’



Above, from top: Oldsmobile Golden Rocket, a 1956 show car from GM that pointed to an optimistic, jet-age future. The Oshan X7 SUV, with a standard air purifier.

   Other emotions that have emerged during this time include loneliness, in those countries or communities that are facing a lockdown, and the desire for human contact, alleviated somewhat by the knowledge that many are in the same boat, and by the ease of digital contact in developed countries, with VR, Skype and Zoom, the latter entering the vernacular and enjoying a massive rise in popularity, despite privacy concerns. But on the flip side are emotions of appreciation, in countries where governments have acted and people have been unified.
   Travel editor Stanley Moss, based in Italy, chatted last month to the general manager of the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia, Gianmatteo Zampieri. Stanley reported in our web edition that the conversation was ‘lively’, rather than pessimistic, when at the time Italy had one of the most troubling COVID-19 numbers on record. He writes, ‘The Rialto Bridge is deserted, and uncrowded phantom vaporetti lazily float by. The St Mark’s Basin stands empty, with only stray small craft passing.’
   Mr Zampieri remarked, ‘The Lagoon is like a mirror. There’s not a boat to be seen, the water is crystal clear, and schools of little fish are swimming in the canals. We have a gondola landing at our entrance, and we are seeing little crabs crawling up the gondola poles. Ducks are nesting on the vaporetto docks, and laying eggs there.’
   Stanley continues, ‘Mr Zampieri has an optimistic perspective on all this. He says that following these difficult times we’ll be given a chance to return to a Venezia renewed, where the air and water are clean, landmarks uncrowded and Baglioni’s teams rested and ready to welcome back guests.’
   Many will have seen the photos of Venezia’s clean waterways, or how the Himalayas are now visible from the state of Punjab, India, where they had been hidden due to air pollution. At Lucire’s HQ in Wellington, New Zealand, native kererū pigeons can be seen flying in flocks and close to homes, whereas before they would be seen individually or in pairs, seldom venturing quite so closely into neighbourhoods.
   Lockdowns saw an appreciation of the quietness and the absence of noise pollution, a silver lining for those who were forced to stay home.
   In economies that are opening up, the hum of traffic has returned, along with rush hours, immediately rendering the rural-like quietness nostalgic.
   It may well accelerate certain emerging movements. It’s not difficult to link this love of nature to better air quality, less pollution, and the desire for improved public transport or alternative fuels. With fashion such a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—Quantis estimates c. 8 per cent can be attributed to apparel and footwear, while 114,000 million items of clothing were sold in 2019—fast fashion has become more exposed during the crisis. A shocking 70 per cent of the product winds up in landfills or is incinerated, and inventory is currently growing in warehouses around the world. The Business of Fashion estimates that fashion is an industry that will need between US$20,000 million and US$30,000 million per annum to meet global climate and development goals in the coming decade.
   With several of my colleagues at Medinge Group, the Swedish think-tank dealing with brands with a conscience, we summarized in one session how we have become more acutely aware of how natural resources should be used sustainably, how many indigenous populations have been appropriate guardians of them and of global biodiversity, and how it has been possible to opt for self-sufficiency and sourcing a lot of our food locally, potentially boosting a localization movement.
   Somewhere in between these truths is an understanding that collaboration and co-creation are potential ways forward for the industry: to both consume more mindfully and produce more responsibly. Climate activists like Greta Thunberg rightly point out that earlier generations could have done better, and COVID-19 may have woken more up to the idea that change can happen, and we can create a better way.
   It would seem more important, then, to look at brands and responsibility, both of which are beginning to be the ways out for many sectors.
   In the 2020s, it is becoming more evident that brands should promote a sense of belonging, because people agree with its values and wish to be seen to be connected with them. Perhaps the analogy of a desirable club is not inaccurate. The top–down approach of the generation before, mass marketing products through mass media, is history: it does not build brands, and is better left to low-cost retailers keen to push short-lived product over quality. In 2020, in the midst of COVID-19, there is no stigma to having less tidy hair or older clothes, because neither signals a lack of standing; and a brand pursuing a profit strategy over one centred around purpose may find such an approach off-putting to its audiences.
   Improving the pay of workers, for instance—something our fashion feature interviewee in this issue, Johan Graffner of the Swedish label Dedicated, does with its suppliers—has been shown to make them more productive. Essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis have been praised as people have come to appreciate the value of their work in providing our necessities. Reworking and reframing the relationship workers have over their work could be a way forward: that those who invest their labour have the same voice as those who invest their capital, something pushed for by a group that counts Profs Nancy Fraser, Thomas Piketty and thousands of scholars from around the planet. They note that a strategy centred purely on profit has led us astray. Providing dignity, however, may be more in line with how people have come to feel over their work.
   Fair Trade impacts the workers living in places where work has been outsourced. Simon Anholt, in his book Brand New Justice, goes further with suggesting a shared equity model. Building environmental and social strategies into the brand is yet another step that could be taken, with measurable outcomes—many metrics for this already exist. Kering (the parent to Gucci, YSL and others), for instance, has an Environmental Profit & Loss Account, which assigns a financial value to environmental impact.
   The other reset must come with our use of resources. If collaboration with one’s own workers is possible, then it must equally be possible to work with those who understand biodiversity best. My colleague at Medinge Dr Nicholas Ind writes, ‘Indigenous people represent 5% of the world population, but manage 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity.’ Yet this traditional knowledge is often overlooked, though it would be fair to say that people appreciate its value far more in the midst of this crisis.
   These greater goals are more appealing to the consumers who will emerge in a post-COVID-19 landscape. However, shifting to it, and giving it more than lip service, will require governmental support, the third limb in making this model work. Many territories have shown that working together with government and governmental agencies can defeat the virus: Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand are among those that have experienced a largely unified approach and brought new daily infections close to zero. We can work on the same side. Intervention may be justified when it comes to wages, to prevent the temptation to force them down in order to maximize profits. Without governmental input, that US$20,000 million to US$30,000 million per annum target cannot be easily achieved.
   In such a context, it has made the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 particularly prescient as it sought to insulate the country from precisely such shocks by diversifying the economy and the labour force. The brands that have emerged now need to visibly demonstrate that they have desire, as well as the means, to be part of a better world—and make us want to belong.—Jack Yan, Publisher


Watches at both ends of the market pay homage to NASA

Filed by Lucire staff/April 26, 2020/3.29

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Omega reminds us that it was present through some of NASA’s greatest achievements, including the first lunar landing in July 1969, and every lunar mission since. Buzz Aldrin wore an Omega Speedmaster when he stepped on to the moon, earning it the nickname, ‘the Moonwatch’. It remains in the Omega catalogue, with its 42 mm dial, luminiscent hands, hesalite crystal, and stainless steel case, but updated to a new hand-wound movement that can trace its design back to the one in the original Moonwatch. The Omega Speedmaster remains the only watch certified by NASA for use in an EVA (extra-vehicular activity—which includes spacewalks). It comes in a special presentation box.

   But even if you weren’t part of the official moon missions, you can still be part of the bandwagon, as Casio proves on the other end of the market with a limited-edition G-Shock watch.
   Casio has made its G-Shock sub-brand a familiar name in digital watches, and its limited-edition version of its DW5600 watch celebrates NASA’s history in space exploration. The watch is all-white, and has both the Stars and Stripes and the words ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration’ on the band. A NASA logo appears on the face. It is shock-resistant, water-resistant to 200 m, and has a stopwatch and countdown timer. Retail price is US$130.


Makeup Museum to open in Manhattan in May

Filed by Meg Hamilton/November 20, 2019/8.40

The first-ever Makeup Museum is set to open in New York in May 2020. Never before has there been a physical space for beauty and make-up enthusiasts to delve deeper into the history of the industry and take a look at its ongoing impact on society.
   The Makeup Museum in Manhattan will open with its immersive début exhibit, Pink Jungle 1950s Make-up in America, founded and sponsored by Alcone. This exhibit will explore the icons, artefacts and entrepreneurs of this era and open the doors to what will be the first physical space dedicated to touring the make-up and beauty worlds’ extensive history.
   The Museum is devoted to sharing the empowering nature of make-up and how it can not only transform but translate and echo significant societal impacts. It hopes to bring its passion for beauty and make-up to the public through large-scale exhibits, events, interactive programming and shopping features.
   ‘It will be so powerful for people to understand the significance make-up has, and its integral part of every culture in the world. As a makeup artist, I am so excited to be part of this,’ says Rachel Goodwin, celebrity make-up artist and Makeup Museum co-founder.
   ‘The Makeup Museum is a critical institution for the cultural landscape in New York because make-up has a 10,000-year history. There is so much that the Make-up Museum wants and has to explore,’ says Doreen Bloch, executive director and co-founder of the Makeup Museum. ‘The 1950s is a perfect time period for the Makeup Museum to start with in the début exhibition because the 1950s is the birth of the modern cosmetics industry.’
   The Makeup Museum combines and brings together a rich community of beauty veterans. Alongside Bloch and Goodwin are Caitlin Collins (former editor of, Gabriela Hernandez (CEO of Besame Cosmetics), Kate Hawlins and Carr Chadwick (And or Forever), Christine Schott Ledes (president of the American Influencer Association), and Annie Lundsten (museum specialist).
   Beauty lovers are encouraged to participate in the lead-up to the museum’s opening by contributing to their GoFundMe campaign and signing up to their early access waiting list, which is already live on their website ( The Makeup Museum will open in May. Tickets go on sale in March.—Meg Hamilton


Michael Holman’s art to be exhibited in Amagansett, NY

Filed by Lucire staff/November 7, 2019/7.44

Rob Northway

Top: Seven Steps to Hell, by Michael Holman. Above: Holman in 2019. Below right: Holman with Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Nick Taylor

The American artist Michael Holman isn’t as notorious, prolific or inflammatory as his confidant and colleague Jean-Michel Basquiat. He might be as controversial. A co-founder of the punk legend’s band Gray, Holman was everywhere on the scene in the ’70s and ’80s and eventually forged an enduring reputation of his own, prominently participating in the hip-hop world, hosting an influential rap-centric television show, screenwriting (Basquiat, the Julian Schnabel movie, among others), producing videos, reporting, teaching and working a parallel career as a painter. While widely exhibited, his artistic output now goes quickly into collectors’ hands. Later this month there’s an opportunity to meet the artist and see one of his works in a group show entitled Under the Radar, being loaned for an exhibition in the Hamptons outside NYC. The privately owned painting follows a museum showing last summer in München.
   An autobiographical canvas, Seven Steps to Hell, is included in the exhibition at the Amagansett Free Library, 215 Main Street, Amagansett, NY. The image, taken from the unit and insignia of the 7th Army, based in Bavaria and part of the liberation of Europe during and after World War II, was the unit to which Holman’s father was assigned when the family lived in Germany in the early 1960s.
   Opening night, November 16, from 5 to 7 p.m., you have the opportunity to meet and greet Michael Holman, view Seven Steps, and perhaps experience a personal interaction with a living legend.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor


Re-examining our mission as Lucire turns 22

Filed by Jack Yan/October 21, 2019/11.43

Some of you may have seen the above montage (reproduced below for those who may be browsing on different devices) in our social media. These are our covers over the last 15 years—we branched out into print seven years after we started. Back then, it was unusual for a website to spawn print editions, and probably more unusual to last this long, with the help of some very supportive team members, friends, and allies. We’re incredibly grateful to our readers, who inspire us to put out some great content regularly.
   I have to confess I like these montages. This one took a long time to put together, since not all our covers existed in the same format, and we had to hide the last two since they haven’t appeared publicly yet. When they’re published we might just show off this montage again, with an even 72 covers.
   The reason cover montages fascinate is that they show a trip through recent history. In many respects, my interest in publishing fashion is historical, examining just what about our time tells a story about us. Looking at these covers, I can see that in a short time, our tastes have evolved dramatically. I don’t think of 2004 as a “dark” era—certainly not in the way muddy colours were in vogue in the western world of the early 1970s—yet, there they are, a string of darkened, almost noctural, covers that don’t brighten up for about 11 issues. When you’re living through it, you can’t see what the trend is—certainly none of us alive in the 1970s thought that those browns and mustards felt dated or depressed, yet they convey the era of uncertainty, urban grit and recession well.
   Two thousand four was uncertain to some degree: the global recession hadn’t hit but money wasn’t as free as it had been a few years before, and more people felt the rising cost of living.
   When I showed the montage to fashion and beauty editor Sopheak Seng, he remarked that the nicer covers began in the second half. We had found our feet more by then: the magazine’s look had evolved into something cleaner (don’t those early ones look cluttered?), the dim grey and black backgrounds seldom resurfaced, and the features themselves were more timeless, something begun under Miguel Kirjon with Twinpalms Lucire in Thailand, perhaps recognizing that print magazines had to be more special than the fleeting nature of web-based news.
   By the time Lucire KSA became a reality, we had six years of refining the formula, making all our print issues into works that would capture our readers’ imaginations every month. Editor Annie Wahab at Lucire KSA really understands this, and we at head office really feel a good connection with how she sees our magazine.
   It all underlines our idea of ‘one fashion world, one fashion magazine’. What this old quotation of ours means is that we are all united, beyond such matters as what we earn or what gender we are. And if we can recognize this unity behind all humanity, then we can celebrate what we have in common, not exacerbate our differences. In this respect, we see our mission as the opposite of social media: we want to bring people together, not usher them into silos and echo chambers. As we celebrate our 22nd anniversary, we hope we continue to have your faith in us to do that. What better way to bring us together than compelling stories on deserving people and the love behind their work?

New for our anniversary: please do follow Lucire’s ‘Volante’ section on Instagram at @lucirevolante. Travel editor Stanley Moss and photographer Paula Sweet are curating this account, and it’s already looking very swish. Our regular account is at @lucire.—Jack Yan, Publisher


Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to perform Skyfall score to coincide with Bond 25 release

Filed by Jack Yan/July 10, 2019/11.32

Danjaq LLC/United Artists/Columbia Pictures

As far as James Bond scores go, I don’t regard Thomas Newman’s one for Skyfall to be a classic. It has some decent cues—the Shanghai ones of ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Shanghai Drive’ come to mind—but for those of us raised on the music of John Barry, which you can listen to independently of his films, I wasn’t in a hurry to get the soundtrack album. Come to think of it, I never did, for either Newman score.
   But there’s always the “third film” theory when it comes to Bond: that the third outing is usually regarded as the best for the particular actor. Sean Connery and Bondmania were at their peak in Goldfinger; arguably Roger Moore’s best was The Spy Who Loved Me. Pierce Brosnan saw everything come together in The World Is Not Enough. Looking at the box office receipts as well as bums on seats, Daniel Craig’s “all time high” may well have been Skyfall, buoyed by a renewed Bondmania as the cinematic series celebrated its half-century. It was helped, too, by Craig’s appearance as Bond in an Olympic sketch filmed with HM the Queen (below).
   Therefore, it’s not a bad pick for modern Bond audiences to revisit, and that’s what the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is counting on when it performs the Newman score live at the Arts’ Centre Melbourne next April, coinciding with the release of Eon Productions’ still-unnamed 25th Bond film, directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) and starring Daniel Craig for what is believed to be the last time.
   Skyfall’s score did win a BAFTA, and had an Academy Award nomination (the second in the series’ history; the first being Marvin Hamlisch’s 1977 Bond score for The Spy Who Loved Me), so what do I know?
   Skyfall in Concert, conducted by Nicholas Buc, takes place on April 3 and 4 at Hamer Hall, with a running time of two hours 50 minutes, with a 20-minute interval. Fans are encouraged to book now.—Jack Yan, Publisher


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