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Two ends of the spectrum: Citroën’s facelifted C3; GMSV releases Chevrolet Silverado in RHD

Filed by Jack Yan/November 11, 2020/11.41


Two motoring releases are taking place in New Zealand this week: the first was the facelifted Citroën C3, a B-segment car that we really rate. The C3, which was first released in 2016, gets a slightly more aggressive nose, tying it in with larger models in the Citroën range. We suspect it’ll drive largely the same, which means light steering, easy manœuvrability, and reasonably good visibility (especially given today’s trend of silo-like cabins). We enjoyed the 1·2-litre triple, which the C3 retains in petrol guise here. However, Citroën tells us that there are new Advanced Comfort seats with lumbar support padding and driver’s arm reset, and more safety gear.
   It’s a sensible car in uncertain times, especially with petrol continuing to hover around the NZ$2 per litre mark—for our US readers I recently converted it to over US$5 a gallon. Lucire had the pre-facelift C3 around Auckland not too long ago and it especially made sense in urban areas. Will it do well? That’s the catch: it should, but you have to wonder about buyers as yet another crossover, with all the fuel it will consume over a comparably sized car, leaves a dealer’s forecourt.
   I must be missing something as I don’t think five bucks a gallon is cheap, unlike those who have made the Ford Ranger the nation’s top selling vehicle. Or those who have made the Toyota Hilux our number two.
   In such an environment—and I used that noun intentionally—maybe GM Special Vehicles’ Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will make perfect sense to Kiwi buyers who believe trucks are the in thing, and size is king. If everyone else is finding petrol cheap, then who am I to argue?
   The biggest pick-up truck to be sold in the country, by what’s left of General Motors down here, will be just the ticket for those who like the sound of a 6·2-litre V8 hauling around 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). Sure, I know some of you will need the 4·5-tonne towing capacity, but I’m betting more will be swayed by all the chrome and a cabin that boasts the best-in-class front head- and legroom. GMSV points out there are 31 inches of displays: digital dash, infotainment, and head-up.
   A plus for Kiwis is the fact the Silverado is here with right-hand drive, converted in Australia by Walkinshaw Automotive Group.
   What’s the bet that a lot of these Silverados are going to be sparkling clean, barely going near a payload?
   We admit we enjoyed the Holden Trailblazer when it was on test with us, for being an honest workhorse, and maybe the Silverado falls into that category. Holden’s top model last year was the Colorado, the country’s sixth best seller, in a country where pick-ups are the second-biggest segment (after 4×4 mid-sized SUVs).
   However, it’s hard not to be a little cynical in the wake of GM’s withdrawal from our market despite having the most competitive range in years—only to tell us that they pin their future on a truck more than twice the weight of the C3. Maybe the Ranger posers will have something to aspire to, no matter how often this magazine leans toward sustainability. Find your dealer at www.gmspecialtyvehicles.com.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Personal thoughts on the passing of Sir Sean Connery, 1930–2020

Filed by Jack Yan/October 31, 2020/20.52


Danjaq SA/United Artists

The iconic image of Sean Connery and the Aston Martin DB5 in a publicity still from Goldfinger.

Many movie fans were greeted with sad news with the passing of Sir Sean Connery at 90 in the Bahamas.
   Sir Sean had been unwell for some time, according to his son Jason, and died in his sleep.
   Most moviegoers will remember him for his role as the first big-screen James Bond, but it was decades later in The Untouchables where he received his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
   Talking to other movie fans today, his work in The Hunt for Red October, Highlander and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was highlighted.
   One fan, in particular, relayed to me that Connery’s work played a part in her growing up, and despite his distasteful public comments about spousal abuse and violence toward women—both in the 1960s and 1980s—it was still with a tinge of sadness to note his passing.
   His first wife, Diane Cilento, confirmed Connery’s behaviour.
   It is perhaps only fair to mention it; some find it unforgiveable to do so in the wake of a person’s passing, while others who feel that violence needs to be called out ask: if not now, then when?
   His professional life was less open to criticism, an actor who became a superstar while still able to do solid character work.
   I often joked that Connery’s career could be summed up in four lines: ‘My name is Bond, James Bond’; ‘There can be only one’; ‘We sail into history’; and ‘You’re the man now, dog!’, the last from Finding Forrester.
   As someone who missed out on the 1960s, my introduction to Connery was still through Bond—in 1983 he returned to star in a remake of Thunderball, the unofficial Never Say Never Again. I opted to pay to see Octopussy though during the “battle of the Bonds” that year, and it would be a few years later, on a rented video cassette, that I caught up. The rest I caught out of order, also on cassette: Diamonds Are Forever was next, followed by Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice.
   It was my parents’ insistence initially that Connery was the best actor to play the role of James Bond that made me want to see the rest of them. They courted by going to the Bonds, including double-bills that combined two earlier films.
   Eventually, I saw the rest of the Bonds starring Connery, then saw them again in order to observe his career progress.
   It was natural for James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to release a statement today—after all, they might not be in the Bond movie business if this rough diamond of an actor hadn’t originated the role as Ian Fleming’s super-spy, and paved the way for all the actors who followed.
   ‘We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words—“The name’s Bond … James Bond”—he revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him,’ they said.
   Never mind Connery never actually said, ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’ (look back—Roger Moore was the first to say these exact words in A View to a Kill; Connery said the simpler ‘Bond, James Bond’ in Dr No, and ‘My name is Bond, James Bond’ in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever), their quote is otherwise on the money. It would be hard to imagine Cary Grant, James Mason or Richard Burton in the role.
   And it was because of this role that I wanted to see Connery in others, from pre-Bond outings in The Longest Day and Darby O’Gill and the Little People, to post-Bond work in Meteor, Outland, Highlander and The Presidio.
   What I saw was an actor who matured in his confidence and capability, and I don’t think at any time he “phoned in” a performance.
   It didn’t matter that the Spaniard in Highlander or the Irishman in The Untouchables had a Scots accent: Connery’s presence made you forget such details.
   He was a delight in the big-screen adaptation of The Avengers, as Sir August de Wynter, and I would say that his presence made the film. (I’m also in the minority when I say I rather enjoyed it, with Connery being a big reason.)
   In Jon Amiel’s Entrapment, made just before the millennium—and using Y2K as a plot device—Connery showed that he could still lead an actioner.
   It was a shame that his last big on-screen role was in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a filming experience he was not thrilled about. His last role that I caught was another disappointment for me: a voice role in the animated Sir Billi.
   But that is the life of an actor: you can’t choose great films all the time. And when someone is part of your cinemagoing for three decades, you think of the joy he brought.
   He was a proud Scot, and donated his entire US$1·2 million fee (a record in the early 1970s) from Diamonds Are Forever to kick off the Scottish International Educational Trust, which he founded, to help young Scots of exceptional ability.
   He knew what it was like to come from humble beginnings and saw the value of education, hence his interest in the Trust. He also believed in a Scottish parliament, and pushed for it, addressing the first session after its reconvening in 1999. He was knighted in 2000.
   It was a few years after that, at a conference where he was used as an example, that a colleague brought up his record about his private life, something that was disappointing.
   We did find ourselves in the same city once—Sir Sean had holdings in radio in New Zealand—and I learned I visited one station hours after he did. My mischievous side was tempted to make a crank call in his voice—I was asked to do an impersonation for the local Scottish Association, for their automated phone service, so I imagine it wasn’t too awful—but thought better of it. Despite all the celebrity interviews over the years, Sir Sean was retired by the time I could have interviewed him, and we never crossed paths. Like most of you, I was an admirer who saw the man on the silver screen, and what a career he had there.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

 


A welcome return to the ballet, with RNZB’s The Sleeping Beauty

Filed by Jack Yan/October 29, 2020/12.34





Stephen a’Court

Top: Kate Kadow as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Above: Kate Kadow and Laurynas Vejalis as Prince Désiré. Kirby Selchow as Carabosse and Sara Garbowski as the Lilac Fairy. Kirby Selchow. Kirby Selchow and Clytie Campbell as the Queen.

How fortunate we are in Aotearoa New Zealand to be able to attend events while the world battles a pandemic, and judging by the opening night of The Sleeping Beauty at the Opera House in Wellington, audiences were more than ready to be entertained by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
   It was a wise decision to put on a classical ballet for the end of the year, with choreography after Marius Petipa and staged by the RNZB’s artistic director Patricia Barker, with the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky score performed by Orchestra Wellington, conducted by Hamish McKeich. This was a safe bet that would bring audiences in, and what better in 2020 than a sense of the familiar, performed by some new faces in prominent roles, and an energetic company that has been all too ready to show the country—and the world—what it has to offer.
   This was the first time Lucire has seen Kate Kadow in a lead role, that of Princess Aurora. Kadow had plenty of difficult manœuvres to perform, and had to be present from Act I (or Chapter Two, as listed in the programme) through to the end. A challenging pas d’action at the end of Act I—the Rose Adagio—saw Kadow en pointe for a particularly lengthy period. This is a famous pas d’action, which Kadow carried out well, and deservedly earned a round of applause. She had similar, if not as lengthy, en pointe balances in other parts of the ballet. One hopes we will see more of this experienced American-born dancer in prominent roles with this company.
   Kirby Selchow relished the role of Carabosse, and reminded us just why so many actors—and dancers, for that matter—like the role of the villain. Audiences do take to them, and without spoiling it with specifics, her entrance was one of the grander and more entertaining ones for any baddie of late.
   Sara Garbowski, as the Lilac Fairy, might be the one to watch—though it should be mentioned that the role has been a prominent one for some time, in some cases more so than Aurora’s. It’s the Lilac Fairy that has to countermand Carabosse’s spell, and she is present from the prologue through to the end.
   Prince Désiré, performed by Lithuanian-born Laurynas Véjalis, had a wonderful grand pas de deux with Kadow in the final wedding scene, with some technically tricky steps. He made holding Kadow in his arms look effortless despite the technical difficulty and strength required.
   This was a family ballet, with any scenes that might disturb children completely toned down: Désiré’s battles with Carabosse’s minions in the forest are done with plenty of dry ice on stage, and the villains are dispatched quickly; and we must also say that the awakening of Aurora was innocently done.
   Humorous moments for the children, bearing in mind this is a two-hour, 45-minute production, include the pas de deux between Puss in Boots and the White Cat (Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson and Leonora Voigtländer respectively). And it’s always a good lesson to not go for the bad boy, as Aurora does with the Rose Adage.
   Ballet masters Clytie Campbell, Laura McQueen Schultz and Nick Schultz assisted Barker in staging the ballet, and Michael Auer served as dramaturge.
   Donna Jeffris’s costumes were a stand-out, particularly the Queen’s sparkling gown and the use of tulle; meanwhile her work for Carabosse had a dose of drama and darkness, while Morfran’s epaulettes hinted at a certain army that terrorized Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
   As usual, the scenic design, by Howard C. Jones, is of a particularly high standard, including the use of digital elements on a screen, such as growing vines around trees during the 100 years Aurora is asleep. Jones worked on the RNZB’s much acclaimed Giselle.
   Jones’s design also saw the use of Bodoni display type at the beginning of each chapter, explaining, in poem form, what lay ahead, making the ballet accessible to younger audience members.
   A technical glitch on opening night did see the type fail to display for the prologue, necessitating a restart with the overture performed again—the sort of minor thing that is easily forgivable after nearly a year without a ballet to attend. In fact, the audience applauded to show their understanding and appreciation.
   The child performers in the ballet added to the family touch, and their role in the garland dance was particularly well choreographed and danced.
   The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Sleeping Beauty runs from October 29 through December 12, touring nationally. Further details can be found at the RNZB website.Jack Yan, Publisher


Ross Brown

Above: Kate Kadow as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

 


Cover design notes on our 23rd birthday

Filed by Jack Yan/October 20, 2020/10.25

We’ve happily been able to add a few more covers to the montage we published last year on the occasion of our 22nd anniversary. Now 23, we thought an update was in order, and we’ve included our latest issue, which you can order now.
   The story of Lucire’s founding has been covered elsewhere, during more appropriate anniversary numbers.
   Here we’ll just remark at how much has changed design-wise since we went into print seven years after our founding. Some of the early issues have dated; and even if we look at the turn of the decade, heading into the mid-2010s, our layout ideas have aged. This is despite a very earnest effort to make a magazine look “timeless”, an impossible task because one is always affected unconsciously by the trends and moods around us. The photography from this period, interestingly, has stood the test of time far better, which makes us wonder if there has really been that much progress out there.
   Right now, with bandwidth so readily available, we are getting more images than ever to accompany fairly innocent stories, making it tempting to use as much of them as possible. More cramped, less airy layouts are the result, and even though we observe a grid, we’ve definitely been trying to give more bang for the buck on every page. Technology so often drives changes in approach and in design.
   Maybe the new decade will force us to rethink this as people want calmer, more relaxed existences to counter the added stresses of work; whatever the case, we’ll continue to strive to present the best and most informative fashion magazine that we can. We thank our amazing team for creating so much beauty on every level, and we thank our readers for over two decades’ worth of support.—Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher


Jon Moe

Claudia Goetzelmann

Sixteen years separate these two. The commitment to quality and providing an intelligent read has not changed. Coincidentally, both were shot in California, and the older issue has that state’s current First Lady on the cover

 


Putting the brakes on fast fashion

Filed by Jack Yan/August 15, 2020/9.10

Lucire is UN Environment’s first fashion industry partner.

Abigail Beall’s statistics in a recent BBC report about clothing recycling make sobering reading. She writes, ‘Around 85% of all textiles thrown away in the US—roughly 13 million tonnes in 2017—are either dumped into landfill or burned. The average American has been estimated to throw away around 37kg of clothes every year. And globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year and the equivalent to a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second.’ Her other statistics show that only 12 per cent of the material for clothing gets recycled, and that the fashion industry is responsible for 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 20 per cent of global waste water.
   Meanwhile, on the consumer end, our need for gratification (at least in the UK) has seen us buy 60 per cent more clothing than we did 15 years ago, and no one wants to wait six months after seeing something on the catwalk.
   Beall says that recycling is difficult because while there may be one dominant material, such as cotton, threads and labels are made from other materials. Jeans are usually made of cotton yarn blended with elastane. This makes them all difficult to recycle, and sorting textiles into different fibres is still usually done manually. Techniques to chemically separate blends without losing either natural or synthetic fibres are not yet scalable.
   And what’s donated to charity shops is now of poor quality, with most reaching Oxfam’s Wastesaver plant unsellable, and six tonnes a week are torn up to be used as cloths or stuffing.
   Many fashion labels are recognizing these difficulties, especially as consumers realize the harm the industry is causing the environment. Some have been choosing recycled materials, including ocean plastics that have been turned into new materials in clothes and shoes—over the years Lucire has devoted plenty of space to these. Others are inventing new, sustainable materials.
   There is some hope that the lockdowns that various countries have had to endure during the COVID-19 crisis might wake populations up to the preciousness of the environment. Many enjoyed watching nature return, something covered in an earlier issue of Lucire KSA. And, with many now opting to work from home—and companies adjusting to the new reality of allowing staff to work remotely—the need to dress up for the office has diminished. Casual clothes are very much the norm in many societies now. In such cases, people might not be quite as willing to push for the latest in attire if it isn’t going to be seen in public, and only in the virtual world. Might we embrace quality over novelty once more?
   Beall shows that the rise in consumption is a relatively recent phenomenon, something within living memory for most consumers. It can only be a good thing for the planet if we reduced our clothing consumption to the levels they were at 15 years ago, and even then labels were making money in the clothing business.
   We weren’t so obsessed with fast fashion, and while retailers like H&M and Zara were making headway around the world with cheaply made garments, there were still enough consumers happy to pay more for quality. Until 2004 there was a difference, too: high-end designer style hadn’t been democratized, not until Karl Lagerfeld began the first of many designer collaborations with H&M, giving rise to what this magazine called ‘accessible luxury’.
   We also weren’t as obsessed with the new. When Lucire was first established, some fashion labels were deeply wary of allowing online media to cover their catwalk shows. They were scared of counterfeiters: the sooner they could see something, the sooner the knock-offs would appear. The designers were used to having the advantage, and old media were willing to comply. Lucire, for its part, never ran the catwalk stories live: internet connections weren’t that great then, and neither was digital photography. By the time the film and prints got to New Zealand, and everything was manually laid out, there was a delay. But as coverage democratized, and as designers themselves delighted in showing every­thing live, often to “influencers” who beamed the shows instantaneously via social media, consumer demands also shifted. In an Instagramming generation, being seen with the latest is more vital than before—yet, again, one hopes that the perspective we’ve gained with the pandemic will put the brakes on that.
   We’re not exactly in Luddite position or pining for a return to the past. We’re excited about the innovations, such as Bionic, a polyester made from recycled shoreline waste that H&M, recognizing the shift, has promoted [Natalia Vodianova modelled one such dress three years ago, shown at top]; and the new sustainable materials that our clothes could be made from. But we would like to see the end of the race to the bottom which fast fashion and the insistence on novelty have driven, where garment workers are paid less and less to satisfy the profits of some brands and the appetites of some consumers.
   If we value good design, ethical sourcing and quality over novelty and low prices, then we may be able to reverse some of these frightening statistics. It might even be unfashionable, as the pandemic affects certain countries worse than others, to flaunt the fact you’ve been able to head out shopping (real or virtual) to get the newest. Influencers will need to find something else to promote.
   Even filmmakers are sensing it. The Michael Winterbottom-directed Steve Coogan–Isla Fisher comedy, Greed [covered earlier in Lucire], is a satirical tale about a thinly disguised version of Sir Philip Green, the head of Arcadia Group, who stood accused by British government committees of plundering British Home Stores while under his company’s control. Sir Philip also did not escape criticism in this magazine.
   Coogan plays Sir Richard ‘Greedy’ McCreadie, who spends his adult life pushing suppliers in Sri Lanka (with India standing in for the country in the film) into a race to the bottom. The last act wraps up the film neatly: namely that for all the lessons that we might have learned, the fictional McGready family ticks on, little changed. No, the outcome isn’t funny, but it is a call to action—it’s Winterbottom exercising pathos. Showing statistics about fast fashion, the income gap, and the single-digit earnings of Asian garment workers takes that one step further. Are we choosing to fund these lifestyles and the fast-fashion machine, or should we opt for the sort of designers often championed by this magazine, who work with Fair Trade, eschew seasons, and emphasize quality?
   With such a film part of our 2019–20 Zeitgeist, then it appears that we should call time on the excesses the industry has created, opening the door to those independent designers, many of whom have appeared in this magazine, who invest heart, creativity, and time to make quality fare.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Greed a topical comedy about fast fashion and the practices that support it

Filed by Jack Yan/June 28, 2020/12.01

Greed, the new Steve Coogan comedy directed by Michael Winterbottom (The Trip), is a satirical tale about a thinly disguised version of Sir Philip Green, the head of Arcadia Group, who stood accused by various British government committees of plundering British Home Stores while it was under his company’s control. The phrase levelled at Sir Philip, ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’, once dealt to Tiny Rowland, is used here at Coogan’s Sir Richard ‘Greedy’ McCreadie, just in case you weren’t sure whom they were parodying.
   Lucire attended one viewing at a packed cinema, where moviegoers were turned away as it proved to be far more popular than anticipated.
   Given the cast—Coogan, Isla Fisher, and David Mitchell—it would be wrong to expect much more than a comedy, and on this count, it delivers, with more topical panache than most films of the genre.
   Up for criticism by the film are fast fashion—McCreadie spends his adult life pushing suppliers in Sri Lanka (the Indian locations are unconvincing) into a race to the bottom—as well as the shallow “unreality” of reality TV, or, as the trade calls it, unscripted drama. Included in the mix are the corrupt practices of modern business and their legal loopholes, and tax havens such as Monaco, where McCreadie’s ex-wife, Samantha, played by Fisher, is resident. Through all of this is the device of the officious bystander, Sir Richard’s biographer, Nick, played by Mitchell, who gets to interview certain parties, which Winterbottom shoots in documentary style.
   Sir Richard’s 60th birthday bash on Mykonos obviously references Sir Philip’s £5 million 50th on Crete in 2002, right down to the togas, and this is where things take a turn that not even Sir Philip’s enemies would wish on the milliardaire. Asa Butterfield, as the McCreadys’ younger son, and Dinita Gohil, as Amanda, a Sri Lankan-born Brit working for McCready, give the film more depth at the points where it’s needed, showing that the farce in which the ultra-rich live have real victims, inside and outside of the immediate family. Whovians will spot Pearl Mackie as Cathy, the director of the reality show in which daughter Lily McCready, played by Sophie Cookson, stars, trying the Method whilst playing herself.
   There’s a sense from earlier reviews—inevitable that we would have seen them given New Zealand’s later release—that the film doesn’t know what genre it is, whether it’s comedy, drama or documentary, an assessment with which we disagree. While the film puts a new spin on the term ‘eat the rich’, the last act wraps up the entirety of the film neatly: namely that for all the lessons that we might have learned, the fictional McGready family ticks on, with little changed. No, the outcome isn’t funny, but it is a call to action—it’s Winterbottom exercising pathos. Showing statistics about fast fashion, the income gap, and the single-digit earnings of Asian garment workers takes that one step further. Are we choosing to fund these lifestyles and the fast-fashion machine, or should we opt for the sort of designers often championed by this magazine, who work with Fair Trade, eschew seasons, and emphasize quality?
   And sometimes it takes a film that is largely entertainment to make us realize just what has been going on. The message could well be lost if this were an out-and-out documentary, which would have had a limited audience; better to have us question our consumerist habits—you know, the ones we still observed as we lavished Amazon with US$11,000 per second as the COVID-19 pandemic panic began—in the form of entertainment, ensuring a wider reach. It’s not the first to do this, and it won’t be the last—it’s a long tradition that includes The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and South Park on television and, more recently, the oddly slow-moving Brexit with Benedict Cumberbatch, and the German feature Curveball. There’s nothing more appealing in the grey depths of winter, with overseas travel not available to us, than sunny, colourful Greek locales. And when you can travel again, pack those labels with a more ethical background.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


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