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October 30, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet performs A Christmas Carol, the feel-good ballet of the season

Jack Yan/14.03

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Ross Brown/RNZB

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s final season for 2014, sponsored by Vodafone, sees Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol brought to life. Created for the Northern Ballet, it’s a true crowd-pleaser and the perfect family outing.
   The RNZB’s Christmas performance has often been a spectacular that audiences of all ages can enjoy, and A Christmas Carol is no exception. The familiar Yuletide tunes and original music by American-born composer Carl Davis, CBE make A Christmas Carol musically accessible. Davis’s work will be familiar to television and film audiences (he scored The French Lieutenant’s Woman, the 1995 TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and, most recently, an episode of the 2012 continuation of Upstairs, Downstairs), and he brings a similar lyrical, orchestral style to the ballet.
   The familiarity of Dickens’ novel also helps: the characters are well known, especially to children, and this version, created for the Northern Ballet, stays close to the original Victorian setting. The humour is distinctly English: the second act’s dance between Mr and Mrs Fezziwig (played by Rory Fairweather-Neylan and Brontë Kelly on opening night) is Carry on in nature, while the Ghost of Christmas Present’s (MacLean Hopper) tendency to throw glitter made him the least frightening of the trio that visit Ebenezer Scrooge.
   Paul Mathews, in the lead, exuded energy and still yielded surprises despite the well known storyline, but it was the flashback scene with a pas de deux between Young Scrooge (Shane Urton) and Belle Fezziwig (Lucy Green) that was the most touching and graceful in the ballet.
   Belle, knowing the relationship had come to an end, expressed a lifelessness as she moved en pointe away from Young Scrooge, ever focused on finance.
   The loss of love between the two was poignant, and the point at which Scrooge became the miserable character at the beginning of the story. It gave an extra element, almost a humanity, to Scrooge, that was seen in the novel.
   Bob Cratchit, played by Kohei Iwamoto, was perfectly cast.
   Each set was lovingly created, with production design by Lez Brotherston, the backdrops faithful to the emerging industrialization of the Victorian era, and the lighting by Jon Buswell (presumably following the original design by Paul Pyant) was used to eerie effect on two occasions: the emergence of Scrooge’s business partner’s ghost (light streamed up in a ghostly form before the dancer playing Marley appeared) and the Ghost of Christmas Past (who appeared to float as he visited Scrooge). Transitions between sets were cleverly handled, particularly Scrooge’s grave in the last act.
   This is the first performance Lucire attended where the company sings, and young Wilson Jack, as Tiny Tim Cratchit, performs a touching solo of ‘How Far Is It to Bethlehem?’ (and never mind that it was composed outside the Victorian era). Nigel Gaynor, conducting Orchestra Wellington, excelled handling this extra dimension.
   It was the finalé that was the most upbeat of any recent Royal New Zealand Ballet season, something that could be seen not just with the lengthy applause but the smiles on the audience’s faces as members began departing the St James Theatre.
   The Wellington performances began October 30 and run till November 8 inclusive; Dunedin is from November 15 to 16; Christchurch from November 20 to 22. A Christmas Carol then returns to the North Island, in Palmerston North on November 26, Napier on November 29 and 30, Auckland on December 3 to 7, and Takapuna from December 13 to 14. Full details of dates and venues can be found on the Royal New Zealand Ballet website.
   The late Christopher Gable directed the original production for the Northern Ballet, with choreography by Massimo Moricone; Daniel de Andrade serves as producer. It is the first ballet by the RNZB performed after the appointment of its new artistic director, Francesco Ventriglia, who takes up his new position during the run.—Jack Yan, Publisher


Bill Cooper

Above An image from the Northern Ballet’s production of A Christmas Carol.

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October 27, 2014

Ikea will move into fashion next, predicts Swedish author Stefan Engeseth

Lucire staff/10.50

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Swedish author and business thinker Stefan Engeseth predicts that Ikea’s next move will be into the world of fashion.
   Engeseth says that Ikea’s expertise lends itself easily to the world of apparel. ‘Fashion is an expression of how to package and sell design,’ he says.
   He believes that fashion is in a repetitive cycle, stuck in history and needing renewal.
   Ikea could offer both complete apparel items and composite parts that customers could assemble themselves, says Mr Engeseth. The parts could be “tailored” at home in inventive ways without the need for complex sewing.
   ‘Emotionally, this connects people to how life was in the beginning,’ he says. ‘Customers can personalize and “hack” the designs.’
   Jack Yan, publisher of Lucire, and a branding expert in his own right, says Engeseth’s ideas have a great deal of merit.
   ‘This taps in to its existing fan base, and just as importantly, Ikea can make full use of its channels, outmanœuvring many existing fashion labels,’ says Yan. ‘Ikea has an international retail base and it has distribution down to a fine art.’
   For completed clothing, Engeseth says that Ikea could offer Unisex dressing, without the divisions of male and female, but as an ‘Ikea member’.
   He sees Ikea clothing as being high-tech and low-cost, harder-wearing than the apparel found in mass-market retailers.
   ‘We’re already seeing some shoppers go to outdoor and living stores to buy longer-lasting clothing. Ikea already sells reusable Kr 4 bags that are good and cheap; their clothes could be equally practical, as strong as work clothes,’ he says.
   ‘You could even extend this hard-wearing philosophy into wedding gowns—after all, there are already some people opting to get married in Ikea stores.’
   Engeseth says Ikea could offer the clothing range to its fans first, so they have a “uniform”, much like football teams.
   ‘There are 57 million Ikea “family members” already, so let them be the only ones who can buy the clothes first. This would be the longest catwalk ever.’
   He goes further, saying that those wearing Ikea clothing could qualify for greater discounts at the point of sale. ‘Not only will this build their tribe, it will “dress it up” to become a worldwide community.’
   Fans who have furnished their homes could host ‘Ikea days’, where dressed-up fans could invite their friends to their homes, which become pop-up fan showrooms. ‘That could give Ikea millions of stores, and greater exposure to how homes can be designed. That would bring in sales and the company could treble its profits,’ he says.

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September 25, 2014

News round-up: Stella McCartney’s Jaguar XE; Ralph Lauren shifts €22,000 Rickys; Perriam launches new brand

Lucire staff/23.59

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Ralph Lauren has been shifting its €22,000 crocodile skin Ricky bags at an event at its Amsterdam store, and gifted one of them to the Netherlands Museum of Bags and Purses. The bag, says the Museum, is regarded as an icon, on a par with the Hermès Birkin and the Chanel 2.55. The company also showed a Ricky bag with a USB port and LED lighting on the inside, which will be released worldwide in December, and sold on order.
   On Monday, Stella McCartney did indeed show her version of the Jaguar XE, as part of the Feel XE campaign for the Indian-owned company’s new compact executive saloon. The McCartney XE features her spring–summer 2015 ‘Superhero’ print, and a fleet of the cars will be seen on the streets of Paris on Monday to coincide with her new collection. The next reveal of the XE will be at the Salon de Paris on October 2.
   We’ve been fans of Otago designer Christina Perriam for years, and she will unveil a new luxury lifestyle brand, Perriam, in October. The label will adorn New Zealand-made merino clothing and a summer 2015 catwalk launch will take place for the line on October 18 in Bendigo. An online shop will go live at the same time, at perriam.co.nz. Perriam will begin with Woman and Little with Sleep ranges, and Man and Home will be added in 2015.
   And don’t forget the features that appear in the main part of the Lucire website. Jack Yan has tested the BMW 435i, the car that has attracted the most attention out of anything we’ve featured in our pages; Elyse Glickman tries the NutriBulletRx; and Stanley Moss takes in the 500th anniversary commemoration of Magellan’s voyage around the world, in Vicenza. We also had webcast the Miss Universe New Zealand grand final from Sky City Theatre last week, which you can still watch as an archived stream. The best way to keep up with the latest articles is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.



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September 18, 2014

Rachel Millns crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2014, in front of a live, global audience

Lucire staff/16.33

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Alan Raga

In front of a live global audience, and a full house at Sky City Theatre in Auckland, Rachel Millns of the Kapiti Coast was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 on Thursday night.
   Millns beat out Monique Cooley of Queenstown and Becky Hingston, originally of Dunedin, after a combined judges’ vote (with the panel consisting of Colin Mathura-Jeffree, Megan Alatini, Jo Holley, Stephanie Charles of Starnow, Emma McLachlan of Diamond Entertainment, and special guest judge Chalita Yaemwannang, Miss Universe Thailand 2013), and a public vote (through Miss Universe New Zealand’s online I-vote and SMS voting).
   Alatini did double duty as she and Joe Cotton, Erika Takacs and Keri Harper reformed TrueBliss—the original Popstars band—for one night, performing both one of their earlier hits and a new song.
   Russell Dixon, back from performing lead roles on the British stage, Michelle Varte, and Lavina Williams also entertained the crowd at the Theatre.
   Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey announced the Miss New Zealand Consortium Ltd.’s intention to hold a Mrs New Zealand competition in 2015, and registrations of interest are being taken on the nextmissnz.com website.
   He and Lucy Gallaugher MCed the event, which was streamed at nextmissnz.com, livestream.com, virtualticket.co.nz and right here at Lucire. The grand final will air on Face TV in New Zealand as a delayed telecast.
   Both Yaemwannang and Holly Michelle Cassidy, Miss Universe New Zealand 2013, crowned Millns on stage at the conclusion of the show.
   Other awards were given to Alyx Pivac (Miss Congeniality), Monique Cooley (Miss Photogenic) and Brenna Watson-Paul (World Miss University representative for 2014, as judged by Alex Lee).
   Golden Gowns, Antique & Modern Jewellery, Jewels by Aqua, Jucy, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand were platinum sponsors for the evening.
   Millns will head off to Doral, Florida, in December, to participate in Miss Universe 2015 on January 18.

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August 26, 2014

Volvo releases details of second-generation XC90

Jack Yan/15.03

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Volvo has released official information on the second-generation XC90, replacing the original SUV that first caught the public’s attention in 2002.
   The new XC90 is aimed at a more affluent audience while preserving traditional Volvo values, as the Swedish brand aims to increase its international sales as a prestige marque, especially in China.
   The XC90 is the first car from the Swedish brand, now a subsidiary of China’s Geely, developed after its sale by the Ford Motor Company.
   The engine line-up features D4 and D5 diesels, producing 190 and 225 PS respectively, and T5 and T6 petrol units, developing 225 and 320 PS. A Twin Engine T8 is the flagship of the range, with 400 PS and a hybrid driveline (petrol engine driving the front wheels, an electric motor driving the rear), in line with Volvo’s loftier ambitions for its big SUV, while showing its social commitment. Volvo says a three-cylinder unit is in the XC90’s future.
   Size has increased, too: length is up to 4,950 mm (compared with 4,807 mm), with a wheelbase up from 2,857 mm to 2,984 mm, ensuring the new car is more commodious. Width is 2,008 mm, an increase from the current model’s 1,936 mm, helping distance it from the mid-sized XC60. Height is now 1,775 mm, the only measure which has decreased from its predecessor, by a mere 9 mm. The tracks are also wider, front and rear, by 3–4 inches.
   Volvo’s new design language, already previewed on the Concept Coupé, Concept XC Coupé and Concept Estate, is a sportier, simpler expression of many of its traditional cues, but shakes off Swedish restraint for a more expressive, aspirational feel. The iron logo has been reinterpreted to appear more solid, with the ribbon at a lower angle. The sides are straighter, with the waistline more parallel with the ground.
   The SUV is on Volvo’s new SPA scalable architecture, which will form the basis of future Volvo models.
   The interior has also been rethought with a new design language, with a large Sensus screen in the middle of the dashboard, divided into GPS at the top, media and phone in the middle, and climate control settings at the bottom. Cloud-based services can also be accessed through the Sensus system, with compatibility with Android and Apple, including Google Maps and Spotify through those OSs. A head-up display is also available. The interior is also more luxurious, with more sumptuous, redesigned seats. Volvo claims the third row of seats provides class-leading room. The Bowers & Wilkins sound system is unique to the XC90, and features an air-vented subwoofer.
   In safety terms, Volvo débuts two features. The first is automatic braking when turning left (turning right for RHD models) into oncoming vehicles. Secondly, Volvo launches an active safety feature in cases where, should the car begin to depart from the road, it will tighten the front seat belts to hold the passengers in place. Meanwhile, its engineers have developed an energy-absorbing function between the chair and chair frame to dampen the vertical forces, helping to prevent back injuries.
   Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson says, ‘This is one of the most important days in our history. We are launching not only a car, but we are also relaunching our brand. Today begins a new era in our company.’
   The first-generation model continues in China as the XC90 Classic.—Jack Yan, Publisher

















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August 14, 2014

Mana Wahine: a powerful celebration of womanhood and history

Jack Yan/4.40

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Alex Efimoff

Mana Wahine, which had its première in June in Rotorua for Matariki, arrived in Wellington last night with the first of a brief series of performances (until August 16), with a powerful celebration of womanhood by the Okareka Dance Company.
   Mana Wahine tells the story of Te Aokapurangi, who was captured in battle but returned later to save her people from slaughter.
   The production began with the image of the storyteller, Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, a descendant of Te Aokapurangi, appearing on the curtains prior to the show, a foretaste of the clever use of lighting and imagery projected on the dance floor and walls. Her evocative waerea incantation from the first scene led to powerful, purposeful choreography performed by five dancers, Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo.
   Graceful and strong, the quintet were chosen for their experience as women and those from whom they have descended.
   Mana Wahine blends different genres of dance, captivating the audience between its sets so seamlessly, and is a beautiful tribute to Te Aokapurangi while shining a light on the proud people in our country’s past.
   Even without knowing the historical aspect one has to admire the authentic and sincere performances of the five dancers.
   The production was inspired by a conversation between cousins Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield and Okarewa artistic director Taiaroa Royal, on their ancestry and the Ngāti Ohomairangi of Te Arawa, namely the matriarch Kearoa and Te Aokapurangi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Tapuika. Both women were responsible for saving their people, demonstrating in New Zealand’s history the power and role of women.
   Ranapiri-Ransfield researched the story, and wrote the lyrics and composed the music for the karanga, waerea and patere, and it is her voice that the audience hears. Victoria Kelly composed the rest of the score. Malia Johnston, with her extensive choreographic experience, co-authored Mana Wahine. Taane Mete directed Mana Wahine, calling it one of the ‘most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered.’ The collaboration between the talents, including technical production manager Jonny Cross, producer Rachael Penman, rehearsal director Natalie Clark and administrator Jesse Wikiriwhi, have resulted in a real, enriching production.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Mana Wahine runs till August 16, with daily performances at 7.30 p.m., and one matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Te Whaea, New Zealand National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington. Tickets are $20–$40, plus booking fees. Bookings can be made by telephone on 0800 BUY-TIX or visit www.eventfinder.co.nz.

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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 23, 2014

News round-up: Dilmah hosts high teas in New Zealand; Trish Peng searches for new face

Lucire staff/22.50

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Dilmah Tea New Zealand

Dilmah Tea hosted a series of high teas around New Zealand, promoting its socially responsible message along with the rising interest in tea mixology.
   Its Wellington stop on Tuesday, hosted by Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando and his son, Dilhan C. Fernando, the company’s chief marketing officer, and in the presence of Her Excellency Zodwa Lallie, South African High Commissioner, was a particular treat, with a menu designed by Dilmah Real High Tea Gold Medallist Laurent Loudeac, executive chef of the Museum Art Hotel.
   Held at the hotel’s famed Hippopotamus restaurant, guests were treated to everything from ora king salmon sashimi—which we would label as our favourite of the afternoon—to lap sang souchong yoghurt panna cotta and a lychee-infused jasmine tea and rosewater caviar, complemented by various Dilmah teas.
   The selection included Dilmah’s Ran Watte Single Region Ceylon tea, its green tea with jasmine flowers, and its rose tea with French vanilla.
   The highlight was the address given my Merrill J. Fernando, after a video looking back through the history of Dilmah and how his famed catchphrase, ‘Do try it,’ was created by a New Zealand agency.
   He spoke of how Dilmah goes beyond the requirements of Fair Trade with its ethically made tea, because those who grow the tea share in the equity. The value-added components of Dilmah are not done by international traders, but by Sri Lankans, and the company constantly puts money back into the community, funding education, health care, cultural and even business activities.
   Some rivals force down the prices that tea farmers can sell at, keeping them poor, while profiting from the value-added components in the marketing and production chain.
   Mr Fernando also stressed that Ceylon tea is the finest, and that Dilmah, to preserve that integrity, does not mix its teas with those from other countries.
   Through a Trade Me auction, the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation is also raising money for a culinary centre in Sri Lanka which will train people living with disabilities or have been disadvantaged, so that they can find employment to support themselves.
   They can be found on Trade Me, with the auctions closing on July 27. Items include Parawa Estate Ingalalla Grand Reserve 2007 wine, valued at over NZ$1,250; an individually numbered caddy of a very rare tea, FBOP 1, from the Dilmah Opapa Estate in Sri Lanka; a night for two at the Langham Hotel in Auckland; and two nights for two at the Museum Art Hotel in Wellington.
   In other New Zealand news, new label Trish Peng is running a Fresh Face modelling competition as part of her New Zealand Fashion Week début next month, with the help of L’Oréal Professionnel and Vanity Walk.
   New Zealand women are invited to enter via the Trish Peng Facebook page. Peng and Vanity Walk, a modelling agency, will judge from the uploaded photo and details.
   Entries close August 2. The winner becomes the face of the next Trish Peng campaign, opens Peng’s fashion week show, receives a modelling contract with Vanity Walk, and wins a year’s supply of L’Oréal Professionnel products.—Jack Yan, Publisher, with Lucire staff


Felicity Anderson/Trio Communications



Dilmah

Top Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando with Lucire publisher Jack Yan. Centre Dilmah chief marketing officer Dilhan C. Fernando and South African High Commissioner, HE Zodwa Lallie. Above Museum Art Hotel proprietor Chris Parkin with HE Zodwa Lallie.

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