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April 26, 2016

The big reveal for HTC’s 10 smartphone in New York

Lola Cristall/10.59


New York rolled out the red carpet for the big reveal of HTC’s newly and much awaited 2016 flagship smartphone earlier in April. Weeks before, the industry were enthusiastically anticipating the state-of-the-art HTC 10. Its sleek look, elegant structure and slightly oblique curves radiate with sophistication.
   The aluminium unibody Android stores up to 27 hours of power, thanks to the company’s PowerBotics component that enhances battery life. The up-to-date Qualcomm Snapdragon processor accelerates speed and connectivity with impressive graphics. Other innovations include their BoomSound Hi-Fi edition for stunning sound quality. Additional features include a rough textured power button, a concealed SIM card slot and volume control. A dual-tone LED flash, a laser autofocus, a back-illuminated sensor (BSI), front and back UltraPixel cameras with optical image stabilization (OIS) for pictures and selfies, permitting the photographer to evade the unwanted blur. The 12 Mpixel camera can capture moments in a flash (literally) in a speed of 0·6 seconds. Other features also include face detection and a self-timer. The scratch and damage-resistant glass covers a high-resolution 5·2-inch screen with 2,560 by 1,440 pixels, a whopping pixel density of 564 ppi. The metal body and rigorous glass front beautifully complement each other to provide a robust handset that can withstand scratches and scrapes.
   It is a delicate, elegant gadget with a fingerprint sensor, which can speedily detect the user unlocking the device in 0·2 seconds, and an easy-to-navigate touch-screen, all in the comfort of one’s hand. HTC 10 will officially be released in May and will be available in two shades, including grey and silver.—Lola Cristall, Paris editor


April 21, 2016

Renault releases first details of Koleos II, its most upscale SUV yet

Jack Yan/13.11

We had anticipated this announcement since Salvatore Marti, operations’ manager of Renault New Zealand, told us to wait till April 21 to see photographs of the Koleos II, the company’s latest SUV.
   He never said Renault Maxthon, which was the name bandied about by the media for part of 2016. There’s a logic to having another name with a hard k sound at the start, tying in to Captur and Kadjar, Renault’s other own-brand SUVs.
   We had been concerned that the new Koleos wouldn’t match the Kadjar in looks, since the current model was conceived by Samsung of Korea, one of Renault’s subsidiaries, and never had the flair of some of its rivals.
   Marti assured us that we shouldn’t worry, and he was right: Koleos, which has the same 2,705 mm wheelbase as the Nissan X-Trail, is arguably better looking than the Kadjar. It’s also slightly bigger, in the same way the X-Trail is bigger than its sister car, the Nissan Qashqai, by the same amount. Both sets of Renault’s and Nissan’s SUVs are on Renault’s CMF–C/D platform.
   However, the Koleos will only be a five-seater, with Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker saying that the company was already catering to the seven-seat market with its Scénic IV and Espace V.
   The grille is similar to that of the international (as opposed to the Chinese-market) Renault Talisman, which had been fêted as the Most Beautiful Car of the Year by the Festival Automobile International in Paris. It also ties in to the look of the Renault Mégane IV. It appears that Renault is looking to target more upscale buyers with the Koleos.
   The Koleos II is one of the débutantes at the Beijing Motor Show next week, with CEO Carlos Ghosn officially unveiling it on the 25th. It will be built in Wuhan for the Chinese market, but no announcement has been made on where other countries’ Koleoses will be sourced from. Chinese buyers will get 2·0- and 2·5-litre petrol models, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
   The Koleos II will be sold in New Zealand, but the Kadjar will not, said Marti.—Jack Yan, Publisher

April 20, 2016

New Zealand gets first Renault Zoé glimpse at Leading the Charge event in Wellington

Jack Yan/6.13



New Zealanders got their first look at the Renault Zoé last Friday at the Leading the Charge event in Wellington.
   The electric car, which has been a standard-bearer for the French company’s zero-emissions ambitions alongside its Twizy single-passenger commuter, arrived in the country only that week in right-hand drive form and made its way to the event at the CQ Hotel in Wellington.
   The Zoé posed alongside the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3, which is the subject of an upcoming comprehensive Lucire road test.
   Leading the Charge is a real-world north-to-south road trip from Cape Reinga to Bluff, New Zealand to educate people about zero-carbon motoring, to prove that it is indeed possible, even in a country like New Zealand where major cities are scattered around the landscape, with rural roads linking them.
   Better NZ Trust and EECA are behind the drive, and for Wellingtonians, guest speaker Steve West was on hand to talk about his venture, Charge Net NZ, which aims to have 100 fast-charge stations located nationally.
   Instead of the nightly charge of a car via the mains, which can take all night, these fast chargers pump electricity through in less than half an hour, making the electric car particularly viable. Presently, owners of electric cars pay no road tax.
   In New Zealand, where electricity is in part sourced from hydro sources, electric cars make environmental sense overall.
   Host CQ Hotels had installed eight electric car charging stations in its car park, as part of its social responsibility to the environment.
   The cars have made their way now to the South Island. You can follow @leadingthecharge on Instagram for the latest updates.—Jack Yan, Publisher







Recycle, rejuvenate and rejoice with the Secret Room

Leyla Messian/3.31




Leyla Messian

The MTV Movie Awards should be thought of as the “Real People’s Choice Awards”, as it reflects the pop cultural phenomena people are actually paying money to see. By the same token, the Secret Room’s annual event for this event should be considered a solid barometer for new things people are going to want to try and buy. This spring edition of the pre-show party was a most refreshing mix of products which allowed people to recycle, rejuvenate, refresh and rejoice, not only against a pop-cultural backdrop, but also social changes in US culture taking root in California.
   The star attraction was Parfaire, a Pasadena-based medical æsthetics’ spa that also provides on-site services. In a private suite high above the revelry in the SLS’s bustling ballroom, guests enjoyed a choice of a Red Carpet Rejuvenating Facial or Botox treatments.
   Parfaire, under the direction of Dr Winnie, is one of the few Los Angeles “med-spas” that provide Kybella treatments, which permanently dissolve double-chin fat. Their patience and calming demeanour provided a welcoming respite for celebrities, press and other attendees pressured by the demands of the upcoming award show and related public appearances. The treatments were short, but remarkably relaxing and effective, providing living proof that a spa is only as good as the expertise and attitude of its doctors and staff.
   The last gasp of a southern California winter allowed guests to enjoy the pleasure of sipping wine while bundled up in cashmere in colours that matched the varietals. From JaM Cellars comes a new kind of Hollywood breakfast: Butter Chardonnay, Jam Merlot and Toast sparkling wine. Guests appreciated Repeat Cashmere’s buttery-soft scarves and ponchos crafted from snuggly but deceptively light and delicate fabrics. Among the rich neutrals and jewel tones, burgundy was the most popular colour with celebs.
   There was also plenty of bling to liven up the classic cashmere pieces. The Fleur de Lys and Me offered youthfully chic jewellery made of stainless steel (including VIP wrist bands with MTV logos). Other items included clever, customizable bracelets with snap-on, interchangable charms covered in crystals. Gris by Allison Hall tempted VIPs with fine modern jewellery designed with a nod to Ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire and the Victorian era. Mixed metals, from rose gold to rhodium, provided the backdrop for precious and semi-precious stones swimming in ornate diamond pave settings.
   Tracey Tanner Studios offered Italian leather purses and make-up bags that allowed guests to make a statement beyond fluorescent snakeskin and dyed crocodile leather. The company’s simple bag designs were covered in psychedelic colours, tie-die patterns, and digitally printed images of the natural beauty of the cosmos. And what star would not want to walk down the red carpet carrying the universe in her hands?
   Sagjol showcased comfy yet edgy clothing for men and women of all shapes and sizes. The new line featured a denim-like fabric made from recycled ketchup bottles—here is fashion feeding the soul instead of landfills. Sagjol’s toasty jackets, soft-to-the-touch jeans and frayed biker vests are perfect for throwing over graphic T-shirts and sexy camisoles.
   Beauty and grooming aides were also geared for the young as well as the young-in-spirit. Prep’s Strands like Steel hair care line is marketed as ‘cool care for young hair’—especially for trendsetters who often put their locks through hell. The leave-in treatment protects stressed hair from sun, heat, hot spotlights and other sources of thermal damage. It also works great as a de-tangler for kinky and naturally curly hair that finds its way into annoying dreadlocks.
   ClixIt Heal and Conceal pens offered a convenient way to hide blemishes and heal in-grown hairs. These little pens conveniently fit into the tiniest of clutches. In terms of larger cover-ups, Fake Bake was back to invite celebs to step into the mobile tanning parlour for a double shot of ‘Espresso Tan’. They also premièred their anti-ageing self-tanning facial lotion, along with a daily moisturizer that also amplifies and preserves an existing natural or fake tan.
   There were also several tables devoted to the most intimate of female concerns. Disposable PantyPads are biodegradable period panties complete with padded reinforcement to protect ladies during long flights and longer business meetings. For those of us who get really cranky under these circumstances, there’s always Serenol, a non-prescription dietary supplement that has been clinically shown to put a smile on women’s faces during that time of month. Made with Swedish flower pollen extract, it reduces water retention and junk food cravings while promoting a good night’s sleep.
   Speaking of things that annoy the “lady of the house” and her overnight guest, Jack’s Furr­fighters showcased their newest fur-fighting gear: suede gloves that remove cat and dog hair from little black dresses, boyfriends’ suits, living room sofas and boudoir pillows. All the lady has to do is put on the glove, and pet the sofa or the man covered in cat hair.
   Hemp-based products, backed by their 9,000 year-old history, came out from the shadows for a star turn. Hemp oil beauty products from Kannaway.com introduced Hollywood to hemp-oil infused cleansers, serums, and moisturizers. When combined with hyaluronic acid and other botanicals, hemp oil banishes signs of premature ageing. RSHO Raw Hemp Oil (by HempMeds), is a dietary supplement known to reduce anxiety without making you high.
   For those who prefer to smoke their herbs, Hydra Vapor Tech showcased its state-of-the-art vapourizer carrying cases. Available in gold, silver, white and black, the sleek Titan II allows you to carry all of your vaping supplies in a tasteful and tidy manner. While vaping, you could chill out to your favourite music with jewel-toned Spider ear buds, engineered with a focus on bass, vital to one’s enjoyment of rap, hip-hop and rock.
   The event also came with a cherry on top, which was definitely not for kids: no pre-award show event would be complete without a platter of Jello-shots from Twisted Cherries. Guests and vendors alike could not resist gin and whiskey-infused cherries encased in tangy cherry gelatin. While Girl Meets World star Ava Kolker and Disney’s Lexie Kolker enjoyed their cookies, the rest of us indulged in those festive sips.
   Favourite stars from MTV-flavoured movies past and present in attendance included Judge Reinhold, Vincent Spano, Daphne Blunt, Kirk Morrison, Ken Davitian, Charisma Carpenter, Lauren Potter, Ryan Ochoa, Ginger Gonzoga, Ashlee Keating, Jessica Barth, as well as veteran soap opera divas Kate Linder and Diedre Hall.—Layla Messian, LA Correspondent










Leyla Messian

April 18, 2016

Fashion Cities Africa gives a snapshot of four cities on a varied, rich continent

Jack Yan/3.51

The second largest continent on the planet is, logically, home to a massive number of fashion designers and movements, although out of Africa, there hasn’t been as much recognition of them till recently. Fashion Cities Africa, the book, inspired by the exhibition of the same name at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery that opens at the end of April, is one high-profile development which seeks to shine a light on the variety present on the continent, while on a similar note, next month’s Africa Fashion Festival in Wellington will do the same for its designers.
   Hannah Azieb Pool, who edits the new book, is a Eritrean-born, London-based journalist, who, along with Helen Jennings, has co-writing duties, resulting in a cohesive, beautifully presented book that examines contemporary fashion in Nairobi, Casablanca, Lagos and Johannesburg. It doesn’t pretend to be a fully comprehensive guide, stating from the outset it is meant to provide mere glimpses on a continent that is incredibly diverse. The foreword by Binyavanga Wainaina, a flâneur, reminds us that there are clusters scattered throughout the land that have their own tendencies, and that her favourite designer is Nigerian, Chioma Chukwulozie.
   The reader is thrown in to the colour of Nairobi, where sibling bloggers Velma Rossa and Papa Petit (a.k.a. Oliver) take one half of the first spread with their über-stylish and proudly urban Kenyan clothes, and stylists, musicians, designers, bloggers and artists profiled on following pages give slices of their lives that shake occidental sensibilities with their own palettes and ensembles. Nairobi, for the most part, emphasizes comfort, and the clothing shot on these pages by Sarah Marie Waiswa demonstrate that the city’s fashion could easily translate to other places, spanning everything from casual to luxury. Adèle Dejak has shown in Milano, for instance, and appeared in Vogue Italia with her collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo, while John Kaveke and Nick Ondu show the sort of sartorial elegance that could easily influence menswear in other fashion capitals.
   Profiles of some of the personalities from the city follow, reminding us that Nairobi is a crossroads: Ami Doshi Shah is of Indian descent, her family brought there by the British when both countries were under Crown rule, while Ann McCreath is a Scots émigrée who fell in love with the fashion there. There’s a dose of youthful energy, too, with Anthony Mulli, a jewellery designer who started when he was 16, pointing the way forward.
   The book follows a similar structure for subsequent cities, moving on to Casablanca next.
   Lucire readers will be familiar with Morocco thanks to travel editor Stanley Moss’s writings, and Jennings’ chapter, with photographs by Deborah Benzaquen, takes us on a similar journey through the country’s largest city. It was, of course, a home for Yves Saint Laurent at one point, as well as a drawcard for many western celebrities, when a first wave of Moroccan designers became known outside of the region. A second wave, Jennings explains, emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, with Zineb Joundy a graduate of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. A greater sense of artistic freedom and Casablanca’s position that blends Arabic, European and indigenous cultures has resulted in some looks that may seem familiar—perhaps thanks to the likes of Saint Laurent and his influence. Again the profiles are well selected, a cross-section of the highly varied cultures in the city: Amine Bendriouich, Amina Agueznay, Yassine Morabite, Saïd Mahrouf, and Zhor, Chadia and Aida Raïs each cover a very different parts of the fashion spectrum, from T-shirts to traditional caftans.
   Once the book gets to Lagos, it’s apparent that there’s a sense of “bubbling under”, with Lakin Ogunbanwo’s photographs, paired with Jennings’ words again, showing slightly more subdued looks for men, but prouder, more flamboyant looks for women. Jennings notes that civil war and Nigeria’s military juntas stalled its fashion scene for some years, before a revival when democracy returned in 1999. Foreign labels were seen as cool till recently, with the country discovering its confidence in its own æsthetic, to the point where one of her interviewees, stylist Bolaji Anumashaun, says that fashion can be one of Nigeria’s ‘greatest exports’. Anumashaun founded thestylehq.com with a pan-African fashion focus, and Arise magazine, founded in 2008, also stepped up the promotion for Nigerian designers. With Nigeria’s GDP now greater than South Africa’s, that confidence is bound to increase, and Jennings looks at Nike Davis Okundaye, who owns the biggest gallery in West Africa in Lagos, and happy to promote young talent. Others, such as Yegwa Ukpo and Amaka Osakwe, both were schooled in the UK before returning to Lagos to found their brands, while PR consultant Zara Okpara and luxury concept store owner Reni Folawiyo complete their city’s picture.
   Johannesburg completes Fashion Cities Africa, and it’s perhaps fair that Pool chose to put it last. Many mistakenly think of South African fashion when they refer to ‘African fashion’, spurred in part by the Republic’s sporting ties to many other countries in the Commonwealth. Victor Dlamini has the photographic duties here, and Pool pens the words, and she goes through the various Jo’burg neighbourhoods, noting that its fashion is more established than Nairobi’s but less self-conscious than Lagos’s. There is a western infusion here in some parts, she notes, but on closer examination there are accessories that reference Soweto streets or Zulu culture. The city even has two fashion weeks: South Africa Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Joburg, making the city spoiled for choice when it comes to giving its designers a platform. David Tlale, whom Lucire readers will have heard of, and who has shown at New York Fashion Week, hails from here, and Jo’burg designs have a greater sense of familiarity thanks to western media exposure. It oozes colour and vibrancy, much like the photos chosen for Pool’s first chapter on Nairobi, and in similar fashion (pun unintended) there are profiles from across the spectrum: designer Thula Sindi, creative collective, the Sartists, accessories’ and shoe designer Maria McCloy, and womenswear designers Marianne Fassler and Anisa Mpungwe.
   It’s our hope that we can cease talking about ‘African’ fashion and instead replace the dialogue with specific cities or countries, just as we do for smaller continents such as Europe. Just as there is no such thing to fashion observers as ‘European’ fashion, there is equally no such thing as ‘African’ fashion: it is impossible to generalize at a continental level. Both as an informative volume and a coffee-table flick-through (as it is softcover), Fashion Cities Africa succeeds, and it’s exceptionally good value with full-colour photographs (needed for its story, over 196 pp.) at £20 (available via Amazon UK here, or Book Depository here) or US$28·50, (Amazon link here). It is published this month by Intellect Books, as part of its Street Styles series.—Jack Yan, Publisher

April 16, 2016

Kasia Smutniak launches Mya special edition of Lancia’s last car, the Ypsilon, at Spazio Arôme in Milano

Jack Yan/12.09



We might as well enjoy it while it lasts, because this is the last Lancia.
   With the demise of the Delta—one of our favourites—in 2014, there’s a single model line left for the fabled Italian brand: the Ypsilon. After that, Lancias will be no more, the 110-year-old brand being consigned to history as Fiat kills it off.
   The Ypsilon is effectively the successor to the old Autobianchi superminis such as the A112 and Y10, a marque which had also disappeared, after once being the brand where Fiat tried out new concepts such as hatchbacks and front-wheel drive.
   Not even a brand that has had cars such as the Aurelia, Fulvia and Gamma coupés, Stratos and Beta Montecarlo can survive a lack of attention, and the Mya is one of the last editions of Ypsilon that will wear the Lancia badge.
   Fiat’s now busy, of course, with profitable Jeeps and the renaissance of Alfa Romeo, although it still pumped some money into an event in Milano for the Lancia Ypsilon Mya at the Spazio Arôme.
   This special edition sees Polish actress Kasia Smutniak (known to Anglophone audiences for the actioner From Paris with Love) as its spokeswoman, succeeding other Lancia faces such as Carla Bruni.
   The launch used video mapping imaging techniques behind Smutniak, projecting graphics on to real surfaces. Lancia says it sees the Ypsilon Mya as a ‘second home’, with Antonella Bruno, head of Lancia for EMEA even interviewing Debora Conti, a life coach, on the relationship between space and emotion, and Fire Cars’ Annacarla Giusti confirming that the car has style and elegance.
   Admittedly, the tipo 846 Ypsilon, which has been around since 2011, has aged remarkably well, and the shape still has a certain elegance to it. The interior features Alcantara and a denim-look fabric. The exterior sees the addition of two shades—though they are both grey. Ardesia Grey is standard, and a three-layer Lunare Grey comes as an option. Neve White, Vulcano Black and Blu di Blu are also available from the regular Ypsilon line, which sees a palette of 12 colours.
   To give it a subtle lift, there is a satin finish on the front bumper, the lower grille inserts, door mirrors, door handles, the Ypsilon badge on the tailgate, and the Mya logo on the wheel arches.
   The Ypsilon features at the Spazio Arôme this weekend, and that of April 23–4.—Jack Yan, Publisher






April 12, 2016

Aston Martin brand now on exclusive powerboat, Quintessence Yachts’ AM37

Lucire staff/10.51




Quintessence

Aston Martin’s riding a high: from showing off its next-generation car, the DB11, which puts the company back into a competitive position for grand tourers, to releasing the new AM37 powerboat with Quintessence Yachts during Salone del Mobile, the Milanese design week.
   Salone del Mobile will see over 400,000 guests across Milano, and the AM37 will be showcased at the Larusmiani Concept Boutique on via Monte Napoleone from April 12 to 18. On April 13, Quintessence Yachts will hold the worldwide preview of the powerboat.
   ‘The AM37 is the result of years of research and development, challenging the status quo of the nautical world. Fusing the maritime and automotive worlds with the universal characteristics of style and elegance, the core of the AM37 offers the perfect balance of design and engineering, performance and comfort, luxury and functionality,’ said Aston Martin Lagonda in a release.
   The powerboat essentially takes Aston Martin’s design hallmarks and translates them into a cutting-edge nautical form, and is part of the company’s licensing programme, the Art of Living portfolio.
   The company had realized it had built up extensive brand equity, and has a list of licensees or strategic partners.
   Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, said, ‘It is true that a beautiful, simple shape is critical to a product’s success but it must also have drama, which is provided by surface language, proportions, and through the choice of exciting materials. The most important attribute for Aston Martin is the language of design and we have transferred this language into AM37. The new powerboat represents the ideal combination of luxurious and technical materials, generating a powerful yet understated finished product.’
   Quintessence Yachts’ CEO, Mariella Mengozzi, said, ‘At Quintessence Yachts we translate design in functionality and technology to enhance the customer experience. We’re proud to present elements of the AM37 at Milan Design Week, a boat that represents an entirely new concept for the yachting world.’





Quintessence

April 5, 2016

Royal New Zealand Ballet announces world première of The Wizard of Oz

Lucire staff/12.08


Ross Brown

The Royal New Zealand Ballet released more news about its much-anticipated première this year of The Wizard of Oz, conceived by its artistic director Francesco Ventriglia.
   Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, the ballet will be in two acts and will stay true to the source material.
   It began its life in Firenze in 2013 as a one-act ballet but was never performed. Ventriglia took the opportunity to re-create it for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, with the music of French pianist and composer Francis Poulenc. Poulenc’s style is melodical, with the production using the music from his jazz age, earlier in his career. Ventriglia says the score is ‘a greatest hits of Poulenc,’ compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters.
   Said Ventriglia in a release, ‘This story is very close to my heart. I loved it as a child and feel that it holds many truths that are too easily forgotten or overlooked in adulthood. I’m delighted to choreograph this ballet for my New Zealand dancers and to have its world première in New Zealand—my new home.’
   He added, ‘Each character has their own dance vocabulary—classical pointe work, barefooted contemporary ballet, and even some ruby slipper tap dancing.’
   Sets and costumes were designed by Gianluca Falaschi in Italy. Ventriglia said, ‘There’s tutus for the porcelain world, Munchkins in 1930s-style bathing suits, bare-chested flying monkeys, butterfly-gowned Good Witch, exaggerated bustle and black corset for the Wicked Witch and of course loads of green sequins, red glitter and gingham.’
   The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz kicks off in Wellington on May 4, and will visit nine centres around New Zealand: Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Napier. Further information can be found at the Royal New Zealand Ballet website, www.rnzb.org.nz.

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