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May 11, 2016

Indulging in nostalgia: new Catalina Island Museum opening

Lucire staff/13.26



Copyright Bunny Yeager/Galerie Schuster

Top: Architect’s rendering of the new Catalina Island Museum façade. Above: Bettie Page on the Florida beach, 1954.

Day trippers appreciate the southern California destination Catalina Island, easily accessible from Los Angeles. You take the ferry boat from Long Beach, cross the channel, and in about an hour, land in the car-free heritage hamlet of Avalon Harbor. There, nothing has changed for years. Long a haunt of Hollywood celebrities and their international guests, Catalina thrives on the tourist trade. In days of yore the allure was deep-sea fishing and exhibition games at the summer home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Today the menu includes boutique shopping, dining and people-watching, nature trekking, mountain biking, zip lines and excellent snorkelling.
   The big news this season is the grand opening of the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building, new home of the Catalina Island Museum, located at 217 Metropole Avenue, an easy walk from the ferry terminal. Two gala weeks of celebration will occur from June 18 to July 4. A gem of a museum, the institution is devoted to art, culture and history, and the sparkling new facility houses a fine collection of cultural artifact, ceramics, rare photography and nostalgia. A launch exhibition features recently discovered photos of pin-up model Bettie Page, taken in Miami by photographer Bunny Yeager in the 1950s. Other events scheduled include VIP receptions, and Tibetan sand-painting in the skylit atrium. A very reasonable membership to the Museum brings a host of benefits, well worth the charitable contribution. For more information visit www.catalinamuseum.org.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor




Above, from top: A young Norma Jean Baker lived on Catalina in the years before she became Marilyn Monroe. The Chicago Cubs (Stan Hack and Barney Olsen, pictured in 1941) delighted crowds in the summer months. Winston Churchill managed to land a California marlin during a visit.

May 4, 2016

Royal New Zealand Ballet’s The Wizard of Oz: a family-friendly feast

Jack Yan/14.29



Ross Brown

I truly hope Francesco Ventriglia’s The Wizard of Oz will be performed all over the world, because this family-friendly ballet has all the ingredients for first-time and seasoned watchers alike. What we saw at the world première tonight in Wellington were skilful dancing, moments of contemplation, beautiful staging and design, and a masterful matching to the music of Francis Poulenc.
   Based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, rather than the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz, audiences are helped by the familiar storyline, which is common to both. Ventriglia keeps the basic idea but takes some different parts from the book compared to the well known film, and in the adaptation to a ballet enhances certain scenes. The structure is of a classical ballet, as are many of the dance moves, including some neatly executed lifts and catches in two pas de deux in Act II, between the Prince and Princess of Porcelain (William Fitzgerald and Laura Jones on opening night), and the Wizard (Fitzgerald again) and Dorothy (Lucy Green).
   Ventriglia forgoes the cyclone in favour of a simpler Dorothy in hospital with a coma, watched over by her Uncle Henry (Sir Jon Trimmer), but once she is deposited in the land of the Munchkins, you know that the action has started. The use of this device is very personal to Ventriglia, and can be traced back to when he was five years old in Genova, when he noticed that a girl in isolation in a children’s hospital had gone from her bed one day. His mother told him that she had gone to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz.
   A blue sky backdrop links each scene with Dorothy, and on its first appearance in Act I, lights up one’s mood. Gianluca Falaschi, The Wizard of Oz’s designer, approaches the set with both creativity and sensibility. Doors open up revealing different scenes behind the sky set, depending on the context, but it works well, giving the stage additional depth. Watch out for both the Emerald City, which borders on a bright discothèque—and no, there are no shades of 1974’s film The Wiz here—and the Kingdom of Porcelain, which is revealed in the second act. There is one beautiful touch near the close of the second act where the Wizard offers to take Dorothy away, but the fear of revealing spoilers prevent me from telling you just what Falaschi has created.
   The costumes deserve extra mention. Glinda, the Witch of the North, danced by Abigail Boyle with plenty of movements en pointe, sparkled with a bright white costume that featured 1,000 sequinned butterflies, giving her an other-worldliness; this contrasted Dorothy’s simpler farm dress that Falaschi says took its cue from the film. Dorothy’s multiple costume changes—her "saucer tutu" for the Porcelain scene, for instance—hint at the chequered pattern of her original dress, so audiences are clear that Green is dancing in the same role. The Witch of the West (Mayu Tanigaito) only has the Flying Monkeys for her allies in this version, but she enters the stage looking sinister, her outfit having connections to more adult themes but considerably toned down for a family audience. The Flying Monkeys, meanwhile, are bare-chested but masked while they are under her spell, wearing large, black skirts. Elaborate, dominating movements convey their evil intent, while the chandeliers and prison cage on the set contrast with the simplicity of the blue sky of Dorothy’s world.
   Scarecrow (Loughlan Prior) deserves additional mention since he is the first character to follow Dorothy and, therefore, has a greater role on stage; Prior’s floppy, soft movements convey his character’s construction neatly. Tin Man (Massimo Margaria)’s metallic detailing on his outfit wasn’t as easily seen and almost looked as though he was wearing a body colour, but thankfully this newer interpretation allowed the ballerino much freer movement. Jacob Chown got into his Lion character from his first moment on stage, right through to when he took a bow.
   Felipe Domingos, as the Guardian of the Emerald City cut a distinctive figure with his flowing movements, and shone in his first scene; Harry Skinner’s Yellow Cat, chasing after the mice played by Linda Messina and Tonia Looker, was a particularly likeable comedic performance (though one wonders why the cat is bigger than the dog: Toto is a stuffed toy in this version). Watch out, too, for a tap-dancing scene as Green dons red shoes instead of the Silver Shoes from the book.
   Falaschi is inspired by 1930s bathing costumes, flapper dresses and cloches, and a bellhop’s uniform for the Guardian, all of which he works in to give The Wizard of Oz, a visual feel that is its own. In all, 37 new costumes were created for the production.
   Jason Morphett’s lighting was particularly clever, as Falaschi’s box set forced him to use lights in the corner. He based his concepts on Poulenc’s music, which lent itself well to visuals thanks to its lyrical nature. I tend to find lyrical scores can paint a scene better than those founded on sound effects, and the compilation of various Poulenc compositions, compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters from two dozen recordings, worked well as a complete ballet. Ventriglia calls the score ‘very cinematic,’ and that seems a very apt description.
   As detailed in our preview, the ballet began life as an unperformed, single-act ballet, which Ventriglia first conceived when artistic director of Maggio Danze in Firenze. There is an additional meaning here, as Ventriglia, who hails from Italy, has had to ask himself just what ‘home’ means, as Dorothy had to discover: ‘My conclusion is that home is where you feel grounded and comfortable within yourself,’ he writes in the programme. ‘For me that place is the dance studio.’
   The work, he writes, has been adapted to the dancing style of the company and the new inspirations he has found in New Zealand since his arrival a year and a half ago.
   The Wizard of Oz achieves its aim of being a big-story ballet that appeals to everyone, and audiences will be delighted at this latest production.
   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.—Jack Yan, Publisher


April 6, 2016

New Zealand photographers examine human impact in New York City exhibition

Lucire staff/13.39





Above, from top: Andrew B. White: Single Tree Fog. Claire Price’s L’Enfer VI. Jonathan Pilkington: Piopiotahi 1 & 2. Nichola Clark: Merania.

With opening night tonight, the Ora Gallery at 51 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10011, is showing Anthropocene Vision: Photography by Four Artists, exhibiting works by four New Zealanders: Nichola Clark, Jonathan Pilkington, Claire Price, and Andrew B. White.
   The images show ‘nature and interiors that conceal—or reveal—vestiges of a human presence,’ noted the gallery. Anthropocene refers to our present era, one where humans have had a permanent impact on Earth. The works being shown attempt to ‘capture, influence, understand, and form a spiritual connection with the world we inhabit.’
   Each photographer covers a different part of the main theme, with Clark exploring land and belonging, looking at Hiruhārama, New Zealand and the Ngāti Hau people, Pilkington examining the relationship humans have with stone; Price studying how humans can manipulate and destroy nature; and White photographing Prospect Park in New York as he studies an urban park and the human presence concealed within his images.
   The exhibition runs till April 29.

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.

April 3, 2016

Gala honours Naomi Campbell, with guests Lena Gercke, Catherine Hummels, Eva Padberg, Franziska Knuppe

Lucire staff/12.49




Gisela Schober

Gala magazine in Germany celebrated its 20th anniversary Spa Awards at the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, awarding the best names in the cosmetics and hotel industries.
   Supermodel Naomi Campbell was named Beauty Idol of the Year, with the judges citing her various careers in modelling, acting and authoring, and her support of social projects.
   A Special Prize was awarded to Prof Michael Braungart, founder of environmental consulting institute EPEA and a supporter of conservation and the cradle-to-cradle principle.
   Other awards went to Givenchy for its Le Soin Noir Masque Dentelle (Luxury Concepts award), Dr Grandel for Beautygen Renew Body (Innovation Concepts), Weleda for Skin Food Hautcreme (Cult Concepts), Skinceuticals for Metacell Renewal B3 (Men Concepts), Börlind for Beauty Shots Intensiv Konzentrate (Organic Concepts), Clarins for the Art of Touch (Treatment Concepts), Royal Mansour of Morocco (Luxury Hotel City–Resort), and the Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru (Innovative Spa Concepts).
   Guests at the event included Eva Padberg, Stephanie Stumph, Ursula Karven, Catherine Hummels, Julia Dietze, model Lena Gercke, Dagmar Kögel and her daughter Alana Siegel, Jochen Llambi and Motsi Mabuse, Jorge Gonzalez, Franziska Knuppe, Stefan Konarske, Lisa Martinek, Erol Sander and Caroline Godet, Jochen Schropp, Carolina Vera and Birthe Wolter. Barbara Schöneberger was MC and singer Philipp Dittberner performed live at the event.
   Other sponsors included BMW, Cadenzza, Emcur Bio Matcha, Fabletic, Moroccanoil, Pommery, Talbot Runhof and Und Gretel.

























Gisela Schober, Axel Kirchhof

March 5, 2016

Finding the Upper East Side’s far eastern haute cuisine at Philippe by Philippe Chow

Lola Cristall/10.38



Philippe by Philippe Chow, located on the Upper East Side in New York City, radiates with elegantly modern, yet simple, décor. The cozy setting welcomes guests into an elongated dining area in a slightly boisterous surrounding. For a quieter dining experience, a separate, private, serene room awaits guests. Lit candles glimmer within the romantic backdrop as hints of red underline the scene.
   Chow’s Beijing-style cuisine, with a modern twist, demonstrates his haute culinary skill. Dishes can be accompanied by a tasty cocktail, a delicate wine, or a delectable martini. Whether a whole steamed fish of the day with a simple soy sauce alongside minced green scallions and ginger vegetables, appetizing chicken satay, crisply luscious glazed pecking duck with house-made pancakes, delightful lettuce wraps, deliciously steamed shrimp, vegetable dumplings or crispy scallion pancakes, each dish explodes with intense flavours. While appetizers and main course are divine, the desserts are just as exciting. Pastry chef Kostas Paterakis presents a number of sweets to choose from, including a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and dark chocolate layer cake. The pastries are mouthwatering and heavenly, both beautifully accompanied by a delicious raspberry sauce.
   Chef Chow has over three decades’ worth of cooking expertise, since his teenage years in Hong Kong. Since 2005, he has been sharing his culinary skill, revealing his knowledge and know-how amongst New Yorkers, celebrities and many notables. Guests can look forward to haute cuisine with dishes that reveal the chef’s close attention to detail, in the complexity of taste to a marvellous presentation.—Lola Cristall, Paris Editor






February 27, 2016

Gala Italia: New York gets a taste of the best Italian wines

Lola Cristall/2.33



The 31st edition of Gala Italia certainly proved to be a lavish, elegant and classy event at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The Italian Wine & Food Institute’s (IWFI) event combines delectable wines with good food amongst enjoyable company. Chef Ashfer Biju and pastry chef Michael Mignano served enticing dishes with appetizing, high-end ingredients, paired with a selection of nine different wines ranging from sparkling to deliciously sweet, each intended to revive the senses. The variety of wines were: 2006 Ferrari, Riserva Lunelli, Trento DOC; 2014 Planeta, Chardonnay, Sicilia IGT; 2013 Tenuta Santa Caterina, Silente delle Marne, Monferrato Bianco DOC; 2011 Marchesi Antinori, Villa Antinori Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva; 2008 Tenute Lunelli, Carapace, Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG; 2008 Condè, Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Riserva; 2007 Mezzacorona, NOS Teroldego Rotaliano DOC Riserva; 2012 Bertani, Villa Arvedi, Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena DOCG; and 2011 Sorrentino, Fior di Ginestre, Passito IGT Pompeiano. They provided various tastes for different palates with immensely flavoured textures to accompany the five-course menu, including a cheese platter.
   Ferrari’s Riserva Lunelli, made using a traditional method called metedo classico evoked succulent flavours in one sip. A bouquet of savoury aromas erupted while sipping on delectable Tenute Lunelli’s Carapace, appropriately accompanying a tasty citrus semolina olive oil cake.
   Roma-based Eredi Pisanò’s menswear fashion collection featured a number of pieces as the company toured the Grand Ballroom to introduce guests to sophisticated ensembles. As the intimate crowd continued to indulge in a delectable meal in the midst of this exquisite ambiance, a select few, who had contributed to the victory of Italian wine in the US, were recognized for their work and honoured with an award by the IWFI’s president, Lucio Caputo. Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato (the Serafina Restaurant Group), Sirio Maccioni (Le Cirque), Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW (the president of the International Wine Center), Florence Fabricant (a New York Times food writer), John F. Mariani (a food and wine editor and author) and Adam Stru (founder and chairman of wine enthusiast companies), were recognized for their contributions to the wine industry.—Lola Cristall, Paris Editor

February 18, 2016

News in brief: shrinking swimsuits, Guess’s spring smartwatches, and romantic holiday activities

Lucire staff/8.14


Karen Ishiguro

Auckland, New Zealand’s 10 Days of Fashion in the City will see the New Zealand Fashion Museum exhibit The Shrinking Swimsuit: 100 Years of Fashionable Swimwear in New Zealand, taking place at Te Wero Island (on the waterfront promenade, on the city side of the drawbridge), from February 26 to March 6, 12 to 6 p.m. daily, with early openings of 7.30 to 9 a.m. on March 3 and 4.
   The exhibit will feature swimwear that represent their eras, from an Edwardian sailor suit to the newest of styles from Lonely and Moontide, revisiting everything from 1930s woollen suits, the Hollywood-inspired looks of the 1950s, and thigh-high swimwear from the ’80s.
   Guess entered the smartwatch game last November, and its latest designs for spring 2016, powered by Martian Watches, are on show this week in Barcelona at the Sequel AG–Guess Watches booth in Hall Congress Square, stand CS124. The ladies’ design features a 41 mm case, featuring light blue crystals atop a silver case with a sky blue leather band. The men’s design measures 45 mm, with a black and silver silhouette and a red second hand. The watches sync to IOS or Android smartphones via Bluetooth, and have a microphone and clear audio speaker, allowing wearers to give voice commands.
   Finally, the Lake District’s holiday letting agency, Lakelovers, surveyed 168 of its customers in February to find out what the most romantic holiday activities were for couples. Dining at a restaurant came out tops, with 21·2 per cent of respondents, followed by watching a sunset, going for a picnic, taking photos, star-gazing, watching a movie, taking in some art, spa pampering, shopping and playing games.

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