Thursday, October 30, 2008

#216 You can get your N*E*R*D here (but not for free)



Announced mere minutes ago, N*E*R*D will perform right here in Auckland at Vector Arena on 26 February 2009. This blogger has been a fan of N*E*R*D ever since Lapdance (video above) came out in 2001, but Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams have been working together as producers since 1994. The pair have produced tracks for artists as varied as Justin Timberlake, No Doubt, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears.

Pharrell is just as well known outside the record business for his clothing label Billionaire Boys Club, footwear brand Ice Cream and collaborations with Louis Vuitton. Little known fact: the baby faced Pharrell is actually 35 years old. What he does to stay looking so fresh is unknown...perhaps making mad beats keeps you young?

Tickets will go on sale Monday 10t November at Ticket Master.



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#215 How do they choose a winner at the Best Dressed Businessman Awards? "Find out how much they bloody spend..."


The Bill and Ben Party's Ben Boyce.

"What's this all about?"
said Working Style's managing director Chris Dobbs. "It's a bit of a marketing jolly, a night to push my brand, funnily enough. And to acknowledge those guys who get it right. Celebrating the men who go the extra mile in this increasingly casual world." So the sixth annual Best Dressed Buinessman Awards were opened, and it proved to be a night of laughs... with a few slick suits thrown in for good measure.


Mr Wellington: Peter Standish.


Mr Auckland: Peter Huljich


Mr Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.

Being a man of the political arts, (him, not me) I asked Mayor Parker some political questions. Who's going to win the election? "John Key. But it'll be very close." So you don't think Helen has one more left in her? "She's been an incredible politician. Nine years, it's a long time. Labour's never done it before. I met with John Key recently and he impressed me." Well, he is from Christchurch as well. "(Laughs) Maybe that's why!"


Mr New Zealand Dr Hylton LeGrice. "It's refreshing to learn a few tricks after 21 years in the game from a master of the art," said Dobbs.

When I first heard about the Working Style award, I was dubious – how could a suit company fairly judge a national best dressed businessman award? I needn't have concerned myself. Chris Dobbs wasn't shy to admit his bias, which was met with a roar of laughter from the crowd: "How do we find our winner? Find out how much they bloody spend with you! In 2002 we did that too!" But it wasn't all slanted (just). Yes, three out of the four winners were loyal Working Style customers. But the fourth, Peter Huljich (of Top Hat meat fame) had never set a foot in a store until this morning – and those feet walked out in a new pair of shoes (which he wore tonight).


Dr Parma Nand – next year's Mr Auckland?


Hamish McKay accepting his custom-made jacket.

The most exciting moment came from political hopefuls Bill and Ben, who presented MC Hamish Mckay with a jacket emblazoned with their now famous I HEART COCK! bumper stickers. McKay had earlier complained that: "I've never been nominated for this award, in fact my tie's already been criticised tonight. I did make it onto David Hartnell's Best Dressed List in 2002 though, obviously TV3's makeup department do a good job."

No word yet on whether he'll make the cut for next year's nominations but with a jacket like that, he's sure to get nominated for something.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

#214 Tea Time by Jordan Rondel


Photo: Roses and Teacups

I love vintage teacups. I never have been someone to collect but these make an exception. Since buying my first couple from a cheap antique store, I've been hooked on finding and purchasing these dainty little cups.


Photo: Royal Doulton

When collecting this sort of thing, it is important to have lots of colour, patterns and clashing floral designs, and for each cup to have its own character and charm. The well-known brands such as Royal Doulton and Royal Albert make the best teacups. But nameless beauties are everywhere.


Photo: Shop Til You Drop

Ponsonby Road's Agnes Curran is one of my favourite places to go for a cup of tea; they use the prettiest vintage tea cups, each different and usually mismatched with their appropriate saucers. My fetish with vintage teacups comes down to feeling excitement about seeing which teacup I'll get and resorting to swapping it with the cup of the person I'm with if theirs is cooler. Somehow tea just tastes so much better when sipped from a pretty teacup.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

#213 ACT comments, with a sense of humour as sunny as Rodney's jacket



After emailing Rodney Hide for a comment on his tagged billboard, (above – let's call it Rodneygate) I was disappointed to receive the following meagre reply:

All the parties get their billboards vandalized. It’s a jolly nuisance. I will get it attended to. rodney

(Yes, he spelt his name with a lower-case r.)

However I fretted too soon, because this email from ACT's Campaign Operations - Candidate Support Bruce Haycock arrived in my inbox last night:

Hi, even got a text from my daughter about this one, will fix in morning. A number of billboards have Rodney’s face excised – we think it might be the work of an unknown Rodney worshipping sect – we assume they will all Party Vote ACT. Bruce

I don't know about a Rodney worshipping sect – methinks it was more likely the work of a worshipping devotee of another, Italian besuited politician. (He and Rodney don't seem to have been getting along so well lately.)

But hats off to ACT – possibly the country's most conservative party – for being able to have a laugh about Rodneygate in what one would assume is the most stressful month of the last three years.

UPDATE 30/10 5:00pm: The offending billboard is still there – on the left hand side of Dominion Road as you're driving towards Upper Queen St. Someone needs to get their ACT together...

Friday, October 24, 2008

#212 Rodney Hide's far right... but not THAT far right... right?



It's begun. Helen's in red, John's wearing his best blue tie, Rodney's pulled out the yellow blazer... New Zealand's politicians officially have election fever. And with election fever comes politicians on billboards. And with politicians on billboards comes a scientific certainty: anybody with a strong opinion and a spray can (or a stanley knife) can and will make their mark.

Case in point – the above billboard on the Dominion Rd underpass depicting ACT Party leader (and former Dancing with the Stars contestant) Rodney Hide as Adolf Hitler. If you click to enlarge it, you'll be able to see a Hitler-esque moustache, a swastika and the words MEIN FUHRER (a title referring to Hitler as the supreme ruler of Germany). This comes just days after a comment on Darren Rickard's Political Animal blog, which said "Rodney Hide is a...joke. He reminds me of Adolph Hitler..."

This is a label that no politician would want next to their name, but presumably even more insulting to Rodney Hide for the following reasons.

If the National Party wins the upcoming election, their obvious coalition partner will be the ACT Party, meaning that Rodney Hide will be in parliament alongside John Key, the son of an Austrian Jewish woman. And when Helen Clark suspended diplomatic relations with Jerusalem after two Israeli men attempted to gain fraudulent New Zealand passports in 2004, it was Rodney Hide who spoke out, calling Helen Clark's anti-Israeli sentiments, (his words) "an embarrassment". Further, the following quote "I continue to enjoy your blog. It's excellent." -- Rodney Hide, Member of Parliament, and Leader of the ACT Party, New Zealand. is prominently displayed on Canadian academic John P Palmer's EclectEcon blog, which bears a Friend of Israel logo. Hardly anti-semitic.

I gave the ACT Party a call to see what they had to say about it all, and they directed me to Chaz Te Runa, ACT's communications officer. Upon reaching him, I was told that not only could I not have a comment, but I couldn't even make an appointment for an interview until next week.

If I was working for a political party and someone called me with news that the party's leader had been depicted on a billboard as Adolf Hitler, I think I'd have something to say about it.

I hope to get a comment from Mr Hide soon.

In the interests of full disclosure I am of Jewish lineage – through my maternal great grandfather.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

#211 New Zealand's Next Top Model – the agents have their say


Photo: Clyne Management
Karla Devine, one of New Zealand's Top Models. (But without reality TV assistance.)

New Zealand's modelling industry is a small but beautiful thing. So despite New Zealand's Next Top Model still being a mere twinkle in TV3's eye, it seemed only right to get the opinions of the people who know the industry best – the bookers. Isaac Likes contacted the five largest agencies in Auckland; 62 Models, Clyne, Red Eleven, Nova and August for comments. Of the five, 62, Clyne and Red Eleven consented to interviews. Nova and August declined to comment.


Photo: Ecube
Red Eleven's Amanda Betts with models.

First, I spoke with Amanda Betts, director of Red Eleven:

Have you heard anything about New Zealand's Next Top Model?
Do you know what? I've only heard about that from over the weekend.

Right, so just in the Sunday Paper.
Yeah yeah yeah.

So nobody's contacted you or anything about possible involvement?
No no not at all. I thought that it should be open to everybody, because there're some bloody good models at all the agencies at the moment.

(ed's note: According to the rules of America's Next Top Model: You must not have previous experience as a model in a national campaign within the last five years (including, but not limited to, appearances on television and print advertisements). Additionally, if you are currently represented by an agent or manager and are selected to be interviewed for the Series, you must provide sufficient evidence to the Producers that you will be able to effectively terminate such representation prior to your participation in the Series, if selected. If selected to participate in the Series, you must terminate, prior to your participation, any representation which conflicts with the terms of your participation. So, presumably, a contract with 62 Models would be up for grabs meaning other agents would not want their models to be involved in the competition.)

Do you have anything you'd like to say about the competition? Or the possibility of the show going ahead in New Zealand?
I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Personally, I'm not sure, because I think that New Zealanders are traditionally kind and humble towards each other. And if they do want to win and at any cost will they have the tendency to keep it to themselves? So rather than mercilessly saying she's fat and I'm not, or I'm hot and she's not, they are more inclined to just quietly cook away, and succeed in their own right, and independently. So, sometimes I wonder if the New Zealanders are too humble and afraid with the tall poppy syndrome to make it good television. But I guess, the thing is too, is finding the next top model, so sometimes the best drama comes from people that will never be able to be top models, and that's why they're so hungry and competitive for it. At the end of the day, you've got to be able to be really competitive in order to be a really good model, and so, if they can draw out some people that have got really good competitive spirit and find a really great model in the process, that's just fantastic for New Zealand in general.

Without getting agents to judge it, do you think we have enough celebrity type people who know enough about the modelling industry that would be able to properly judge the show?
I don't think that celebrities should be choosing models. It's a totally different game. It's like if you're looking at rugby league and rugby. Close, but it's not exactly the same sport. It's the same sort of goal, with the business of modelling, and it's the same thing with celebrities as opposed to having somebody who's an industry expert, in there, but again the problem is that, I think that rather than just having one agent who judges it, I think that maybe it should be a collective, you know, would be a really good idea because everyone would have a different opinion about what's going to be successful.


Photo: Clyne Management
Clyne's Marama Nicholas.

Next stop, Marama Nicholas, Clyne's Agency Manager:

Have you heard the announcement about the possibility that there's going to be a New Zealand's Next Top Model going ahead?
Yeah, I know that it was sort of being looked into, but I wasn't sure sort of where it had gone from there.

Right so had somebody contacted you about it at all?
No.

So you haven't had anybody talk to you.
Oh I thought we had initial contact, oh bro it would have been a year and a half, couple of years ago? But they sort of haven't made any inroads into it since there.

So what do you think it would be like, a New Zealand's Next Top Model?
(Laughs) Ummmm, it'd be interesting, I think with any modelling competition, uh you're going to get a range of talent?

Especially in New Zealand.
Yeah, in New Zealand as well, I mean the general sort of genetics and body shapes of people here in New Zealand is unique to New Zealand, but then you're going to get that in any part of the world as well. Umm it doesn't matter where it is, you're going to have people characteristic to that sort of country.

And what is that characteristic do you think.
For New Zealand?

Yeah.
We've got a lot of Pacific Island and Maori population here, a large Asian population here now, in general for New Zealand? We tend to, our body mass index is slightly different? And I think we tend to have slightly shorter people here in New Zealand, especially women. That it's very difficult to find that over all package here in New Zealand, I mean I've spent a lot of time in the US and Europe or Australia, and more often than not, you'll come across a person who fits that certain criteria for modelling, and you come across that a lot less in New Zealand. But in saying that, we produce some amazing models here in New Zealand, and the top models that we've had come out of New Zealand compete with the best in the world. So there are those gems there, but it's just that matter of finding them amongst everyone else.

Oh, and just so you know, I've just placed Karla Devine with the main women's board at Ford Models New York. (ed's note: Karla Devine is pictured at the top of this post in the controversial Air New Zealand Fashion Week campaign wearing Kate Sylvester.)


Photo: 62 Models
Rhiyen Sharp from 62.

And finally, Rhiyen Sharp, booker from 62 Models (the agency that Isaac Likes suspects the winner of New Zealand's Next Top Model will win a contract with):

What are the chances of finding a girl who could become a supermodel out of girls who are not already signed with agencies?
Look at what happened with Australia, they found Alice Burdeu, there are definitely those amazing girls out there, we're in Auckland we can't find some girl in some tiny little town in the South Island from up here. It could open up doors for that.

Do you think 62 will be involved in it? Would you personally be involved in it?
I can't say that, because I just don't know.

Who do you think will be the judges?
We've got so many top make up artists, top photographers, there are so many people that I think would love to get involved in it here, and when you look at all the other versions of the show there's like Nigel Barker in the American version, a noted fashion photographer, we could get one over here, but I'm just not sure who they'd want to use for the judges.

So there we have it. The agents have had their say, now you can have yours.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#210 New Zealand's Next Top Model – the facts so far


Picture: Media Fetish

There has been a lot of talk over the last few days about the possibility of TV3 doing a New Zealand version of the hugely successful Next Top Model series. An Australian version began in 2005, and will commence its fifth cycle in early 2009. (The winner of Australia's Next Top Model's third cycle, Alice Burdeu, was named one of models.com's Top Ten Newcomers of Fall/Winter 2008.)

Most of what has been said concerning the New Zealand version has been pure speculation, (such as the suggestion that Sara Tetro will be hosting the show) so I gave TV3 a call to find out everything I could.

I decided to try Jacqueline Loates, TV3's Group Publicity Manager (and the TV3 representative who gave confirmation that TV3 is in talks about the project in the Herald on Sunday article three days ago). The results confirmed that TV3 is considering doing the show, but little else:

I was wondering if I could ask a few quick questions about New Zealand's Next Top Model?
"Ah sure but it's not confirmed."


I understand that, I was wondering how close are you to making a decision about whether it's going to be confirmed or not?
"I really don't know, it's at the discretion of our director of programming so it's whenever she decides. She hasn't given us any indication of what the time frame is on a decision at this point."

But if it was running it would be a 2009 thing?
"Um, I would assume so but again I don't know what she's thinking in terms of if we decide to do it or when it will be, but I assume it would be 2009."

Have you only been talking to 62 Models about it? Or would there be the possibility of talking to other agencies about it?
"I really don't know. I can't answer that question at the moment, I just don't know. Basically, the media keep calling up about it, but it's something that we're only thinking about, so there has been absolutely no confirmation that it's going to happen. So it's all supposition at this point."


As far as this blogger can see, the ball is rolling, but with no confirmations on any of the important stuff – such as a host for the show – they're unwilling to give anything away.

I contacted Sara Tetro requesting a comment about the possibility of her hosting the show, but she chose not to discuss it at this stage.

I would speculate that the reason Sara Tetro's name has come into the equation is that 62 Models will be the modelling agency that the show's winner will eventually be awarded a contract with. (Coincidentally – or not – Chantal Jones, a previous contestant on America's Next Top Model was represented by 62 Models when she came to New Zealand earlier in the year.) My discussions today with some of New Zealand's other top agencies, (including Clyne and Red Eleven – interviews with them and others will be published tomorrow) would suggest that – since they have not been contacted about the show – they will not be involved in it.

More on this tomorrow.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

#209 Cassius Eyewear – Believe the Hype? You Thought We Wouldn't Notice Don't...


Photo: You Thought We Wouldn't Notice

The internet is a weird and wonderful thing – we have websites dedicated to enthusiasts of anything and everything your average person could ever hope to imagine. Even so, I was fascinated to find You Thought We Wouldn't Notice, a website dedicated to breachers of intellectual copyright – specifically in the design arts. And guess who their latest target is? None other than New Zealand's own Cassius Eyewear.


Photo: Invitation to Cassius Eyewear's NZ launch party

And like Mr Clay, Cassius' namesake, they haven't pulled any punches. In a post that points out the, ahem, similarities between Cassius' debut collection of sunglasses and famous heritage sunglasses, You Thought We Wouldn't Notice wrote:

"It seems we have a bad case of some kiwi’s given it a good ol poke. they have released their first “collection” of sunglasses. only instead of doing something unique they decided to “take inspiration” from some of the best known sunglass designs in History. im sure that you would all notice the Original Persol 649 that was notoriously worn by Steve McQueen. or Maybe the most well known of all the Cazal 607. worn by Run DMC! As you can see the list goes on. hey inspiration is one thing. but releasiing designs as your own that look VERY similar heritage sunglass designs for your debut collection is just plain silly, shame on you cassius."

Call it copying, call it appropriating or call it referencing, but I'd be surprised to hear anyone call it incorrect. You Thought We Wouldn't Notice did, and this blogger thinks they're onto something.

In their own press release for the launch of the brand, Cassius said the following, and I will highlight the ironic words:

"Embodying a sense of nonconformity, and reviving a style and class of eyewear long forgotten by the major fashion houses, Cassius makes a unique departure from the proliferation of generic branded eyewear on the market. Founder and creative director Jason Ng references the look and attitude of the 1960’s and 70’s but for a new generation of modern consumer, filling a niche for the avid vintage collectors and eyewear connoisseurs who want individuality, classic styling and quality."

Despite the bad press, Cassius Eyewear appears to be doing pretty well, with, according to them, stockists in "Edmonton, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Osaka, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sydney and Tokyo". And why wouldn't they be? Those styles have, after all, proven to be pretty popular in the past.

Friday, October 17, 2008

#208 Jaeha's Alex Kim shortlisted for major international award!


Photo: Alex Kim

Incredibly exciting news for New Zealand’s youngest rising star designer Alex Kim (of label Jaeha). Kim has just been named one of ten finalists in the prestigious Mango Fashion Awards. From a pool of 200 designers Kim made it into the 50 short-listed candidates, and, announced yesterday, into the top ten.



Photo: Michael Ng from the recent Jaeha show at ANZFW

Australian label Josh Goot has also been announced among the 10 short-listed. The award will be judged next May with each designer putting on a fashion show in Barcelona. The winning label will be awarded a cash prize of €300,000 (NZD$651,719.81)



Photo: Michael Ng from the recent Jaeha show at ANZFW

Simply for being selected as a finalist, Alex Kim has earned himself a tidy €15,000. I contacted Kim for a statement and received this:

“Ok, I just got awarded NZ$30,000 and in top 10 of Mango Fashion Awards and having a fashion show in Bacelona!!! Next April!!! To compete with Josh Goot and mega talented designers from around the world for NZ$600,000!!!! This is the biggest fashion award in the world!! Last year Valentino and Liz Hurley were guest judges with Hedi Slimane and Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano!! OMG!!! And the judge is Karl Lagerfeld for this year!!”

Go get ‘em Alex!

Update: 6:30pm 17/10 From Alex Kim:

I am real excited about being in top 10, It will be amazing to meet those mega talented designers like Josh Goot and Jean pierre Braganza and more..

The 40k(not 30k now.. coz of currency) will cover the half of flight to Bacelona and sampling Northern Hemisphere collection of 12 outfits. It is different to the AW09 collection i showed in ANZFW, the collection i have entered is much paired back yet technically complex in draping.. *giggle*

Thursday, October 16, 2008

#207 Movember Mo Problems



So that's what I'd look like with a luxurious black moustache. Tonight saw the launch of Movember – the month long grow-for-charity fest that is November. This time round the recipients are Prostate Cancer and Men's Depression; the latter a group I may be joining at the end of the month when my dreams of a full mo are destroyed. (My growing powers are extremely limited.) The best part of the launch were the moasties – toasted cheese and Marmite sandwiches. In commemoration of Movember, Marmite have renamed their product Mo-mite for the month. You'll start seeing it in supermarkets shortly.




(Shortland Street's Scotty and Kip – how they managed to be at the launch AND on TV at the same time beats me.)

I've never participated in Movember before, but when the charities were announced this year I couldn't say no. My grandfather passed away last year after a short battle with prostate cancer so it's an issue that's dear to my heart. I plan on raising as much money as possible, and when I find out how to go about it with sponsorship and all I'll post it up here. $1 from each of you will surely amount to... at least $3?


(The four moustachateers.)


This handy contraption allows you to see what you'd look like with a full mo and beard. It took the picture of me up top. On the left is another ex-flatmate Harry, on the right is my best good friend Sheida who doesn't look unlike Borat with that mo.


(Party photographer Norrie throws up his mo.)


(I held up the wide end of a pool cue to compare it with this guy's champion mo. Mine still paled in comparison.)

All attendees at the mo-launch had to give the following pledge to participate:

FROM THIS TIME FORWARD,
UNDER THE GREAT MOUSTACHE,
I PLEDGE MY COMMITMENT TO MOVEMBER,
THE MO AND ITS PEOPLE,
WHOSE MALE HEALTH BELIEFS I SHARE.

I SWEAR I WILL BEAR TRUE ALLEGIANCE TO THE MO,
AND THAT I WILL FAITHFULLY TALK ABOUT MY HEALTH,
AND FULFILL MY DUTIES AS A CITIZEN OF MOVEMBER,
UNITED WE BELIEVE MOVEMBER.


I urge all my fellow men to grow the mo for Movember and raise some money for a very good cause. I'll chronicle my (feeble) progress over the month to give you some inspiration!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

#206 Vinnie Woolston – from Agyness to Formichetti


Photo: Runway Reporter

As seen on Runway Reporter last Friday, New Zealand model Vinnie Woolston chumming it up with Brit superstar Agyness Deyn at the House of Holland after party during London Fashion Week. The boy from Raglan, (repped in New Zealand by 62 Models) has been modelling up a storm in London for the past few months with FM Models (also rising star Levi Clarke's London agents).



My Australasian readers will most likely recognise Woolston from the racy Wrangler Strangler TVC, (above) where he struggles to get his jeans over his crotch. Besides Wrangler, Woolston has also featured in numerous other campaigns here and in Australia, including Sunglass Hut, Zambesi and Nom*D.


Photo: FM Models (with Josh Beech)

Described as having "a winning personality" by one of his agents, since being in London Woolston has shot editorials with US and British GQ, Arena, Numero, iD and Dazed and Confused, including the above shoot with models.com's #10 on the top 50 male models list Josh Beech, and #19 Cole Mohr (not pictured). According to 62 Models, he also recently shot "something for Hermes", though no word on whether it's a campaign or when it's coming out.


Photo: Nicola Formichetti's Blog


Photo: Nicola Formichetti's Blog (Vinnie pretending to kiss what looks to be a poster of Miranda Kerr)

But it was the two photos above that really caught my eye today, as seen on Nicola Formichetti's Blog. I was on there looking at the post about young male model Randy Johnston who died in the weekend – read all about it at Patty Huntington's frockwriter blog.

Nicola Formichetti is perhaps the biggest name in styling right now, with his resume including fashion stylist, Creative Director DAZED & CONFUSED. Fashion Director VOGUE HOMMES JAPAN, Senior Fashion Editor ANOTHER MAN, and Contributing Fashion Editor V and VMAN. The above photos were included in a post titled MAVI JEANS / TOSCANI - BODRUM, TURKEY! which leads this blogger to believe that Woolston was shooting the Turkey denim label Mavi Jeans' campaign, styled by Nicola Formichetti.

So does it get any better than that for a young model? Well, apparently it must. As told to me today by 62 Models, Woolston is on his way back home to New Zealand this weekend for the summer. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I hope he does whatever he needs to do here and gets back over there as quickly as possible. Boy's got a career to think of!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

#205 First tax cuts, now Alt TV programme cuts



Cheese on Toast posted the following story about Alt TV's programme cuts this morning:

ALT TV today announced that many of its hosted music shows will be axed immediately and those remaining will be "streamlined" to thirty minute shows. ALT TV cited resource issues as the driving force behind the decision as members of ALT TV staff rang the affected hosts, who are all unpaid volunteers, and advised them of the decision today. One ALT TV staff member actually just did a bulk eMail asking hosts contact them to find out what is happening. Cheese on Toast understands that ALT TV will replace the axed shows with rotating playlist. Cheese on Toast TV will remain on Monday nights at 9.00pm till 9.30pm.


A source told Isaac Likes this morning that Alt has downsized the amount of shows they're running – from 60 to 30 – in an attempt to cut out the lower quality, less popular programmes. Like Cheese on Toast have already said, Alt was concerned they didn't have the resources to continue to work on 60 shows, with the majority of those resources presumably going into in-house editing, programme directors and camera operators. So, presumably, with fewer shows to deal with, Alt can now concentrate on a higher-tier level of programming, with higher resources, thus providing a more polished set of shows.

Isaac Likes contacted Alt TV for a comment on the programme cuts today, and got this tight lipped, one line response:

"We are changing from our winter line up to our summer line up."

No answer was provided to the following questions:

Will you be approaching NZ on Air for funding, and putting more energy into getting advertisers alongside the pre-existing show sponsors? Will Alt TV attempt to get back onto free to air TV rather than just being linked with Sky TV? Which of the shows are doing best and will be kept? How was the decision made to cut shows?

On their website, Alt TV have said the following:

A couple of days of sunshine and ALT's calling it summer - so why not get a big stick that we've found at the beach and take it to the line-up! The logo may even change slightly. New presenters? New shows? All will be revealed [in] a new summer line-up in days. Check back in a couple of days to see the changes - it's exciting with lashes of genius! - Alt TV


While sympathy must be given to the presenters who have lost their shows, a higher quality of programming and more concentrated use of resources can only be good for Alt TV's progress.

After all, it must be pretty tough battling with that TVNZ/TV3 duopoly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

#204 Burn After Reading



I heard a statistic a few months ago that Will Smith is the only actor left in Hollywood who can pull a crowd with the mere mention of his name. At the time it sounded like a flimsy fact, but it could explain the star studded ensemble cast of the Coen Brother's new film Burn After Reading – Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich. (No Will in sight.)




Judging by the film's title and poster, (above) I wouldn't have held it against you for expecting a slick spy movie with Brad and George playing smooth heroes and John Malkovich the evil genius bad guy. But this is the Coen Brothers, so you'd be wrong. Oh so wrong.

First up, there's Brad Pitt. As the lovable idiot Chad Feldheimer, a frosted tipped personal trainer at Hard Bodies gym, Pitt is as far from Rusty/Mr Smith as he's ever been. Clooney worries the whole film away as a nervous ex-CIA operative slash compulsive adulterer, and John Malkovich is, yes, a genius, and yes, angry, but an honest angry genius at least.

The ladies are more true to their usual characters, with Frances McDormand playing a weird, lonely, plastic surgery-obsessed Hard Bodies employee, and Tilda Swinton the quintessential heartless ice queen. And, like most middle aged women, they both have a thing for Clooney.

Following five characters connected through sin; largely lust, greed and pride, Burn After Reading is black comedy at its best; hilarious then frightful, cute then cringe-inducing. It's undeniably a character film, with the plot coming a distant second to the larger than life onscreen personalities, but it works because the characters are so large.

And, set in Washington, the film wouldn't be complete without a CIA presence. And it comes, in the form of an agency-wide cameo. Surprised by everything going on in their midst, they're the ultimate good samaritan janitors, cleaning up everyone's messes without even being asked.

Burn After Reading opens in NZ cinemas this Thursday.

See it, then discuss below!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

#203 Disclosure



No, I'm not talking about the film, though it was one of Demi's best. After re-reading the debate below I thought it would be best to disclose my personal and professional affiliations.


Some of you may have wondered about the following comment on #199 Why so much media coverage of Fashion Week? from Murray Bevan:

"Showroom 22 has decided to assist Isaac with his promotion, as we have with a lot of small fashion-based companies in New Zealand, because we believe he has talent and that blogs like his will help bolster the depth of the fashion industry here in NZ. We feel it's important to back the little guys as much as we do some of the bigger labels we represent."

As well as being my flat mate (I live with Murray and his girlfriend Anna), Murray Bevan's PR company Showroom 22 (which represents Karen Walker among other labels) assists Isaac Likes with media relations here in New Zealand.

I mentioned in a comment on #202 NZ Fashion Journalism Part 2... The Debate Continues that I write full time for a magazine. The magazine is Urbis, an architecture and design publication owned and operated by AGM Publishing.

What I haven't mentioned anywhere but should disclose here is that I have a professional tie to the New Zealand clothing company Working Style – I write a small amount of promotional material for them. My 27 August post #149 Working Style was, however, written and published before I had any personal commercial tie to them whatsoever.

I also used to do some PR writing for Stolen Girlfriends Club but stopped doing so several months ago. In reply to Natalie Smith's comment on #202 NZ Fashion Journalism Part 2... The Debate Continues:

"And, possibly irrelevant but I am curious - Isaac why did you not review the Stolen Girlfriends Club show?"

My choice to not review the Stolen Girlfriends Club Fashion Week show had nothing to do with that previous professional tie. I didn't review several other major shows during the week, (Zambesi being one of them) because I simply didn't have sufficient time and/or energy. After coming home from the Stolen Girlfriends Club after party I had to choose between writing about Trelise Cooper or SGC. I chose Trelise Cooper.

Friday, October 10, 2008

#202 Debate adjourned + Heads and shoulders above the rest of them



As much as I've been loving the debate going on below, I think that Anonymous' comment telling someone where they could stick their head (and they weren't meaning out the window) heralded the death of what was an intelligent discussion on an important topic.

I've contacted some interesting people to ask their opinions, I'll post them when I get them.

Now on to something a bit lighter for your Friday afternoon...



I was just flicking through the Runway Reporter shots from the NZ Music Awards on Wednesday night when I came across this gem.

Pictured above is Janina Percival; Promotions and Publicity Assistant at Universal Music, New Zealand's answer to Grace Jones AND my old flatmate.

Is she a bad ass (in Vivienne Westwood) or what??

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

#201 NZ Fashion Journalism Part 2... The Debate Continues



It would seem that the state of fashion journalism here in New Zealand is of considerable interest to a lot of you, so I wanted to publish some of the feedback I've received.

Yesterday was fascinating for me. After commenting on a great piece of journalism from TVNZ ondemand's show Media 7 – and on what I see as a huge amount of media coverage on New Zealand Fashion Week in the form of low standard journalism – plenty of diverse opinions came out. It was particularly interesting that some of the people (possibly media themselves?) commenting on this blog did not do so publicly, choosing to write under the easy pseudonym "Anonymous". It follows my argument that the New Zealand fashion media are all too often afraid to give their real opinions about New Zealand designers for fear of repercussions – will the designer still be nice to me if I write what I really thought about their collection? Or, I just received all these free/cheap clothes from that designer, shouldn't I say nice things about the clothes? Or, if I tell the truth, will that designer pull their advertising dollar from my publication?

Here were some of the comments I received:



Is any reporting, whether it be fashion or entertainment or even possibly hard news, ever really objective? Regardless of my cynicism, I respect what you're saying Isaac. Let me know when you get your first designer hissy fit, and let's compare notes! :)
x Zoe

Zoe Walker – features writer for Viva/NZ Herald.

NZFW gets coverage because people love looking at other people, and this sells more papers/gets more online traffic etc. More readership means more advertising revenue…

No matter how many journalists (fashion or otherwise) want to believe that they are unbiased and objective, at the end of the day one can’t bite the hand that feeds you and if a designer is spending thousands of dollars in advertising with a magazine or newspaper, a bad review will not go to print (whether it’s the editor or journalist that makes the final call) because small NZ publications can not afford to lose such revenue at the expense of writing a critical and unsavoury review.

It happens all over the world, just on a larger scale in New Zealand because we are small and there is virtually no disposable money in our fashion industry. Every New Zealand editor must ‘keep the advertisers happy’ if they intend to continue to make a profit, whether it’s for APN, APC, TVNZ, Pacific or an independent publication/blog, whatever, as long as advertising subsidies journalism, there is never going to be any ‘true’ objectivity in mainstream media when it comes to our small fashion scene.

Anonymous



Having seen first hand the bias and fluffing of such reviews on New Zealand fashion., Fashion Week being a pearler of an example, witnessing writers true thoughts of a show, followed by a weak and sickeningly nice review.

As much credibility as you lose by remaining anonymous and making anonymous comments and reviews, maybe New Zealand needs more anonymity so what needs to be said can be.

Anonymous

To which I replied:
I wholeheartedly disagree. What New Zealand needs is a bunch of journalists, proper journalists, who are willing to get out there and tell the truth and put their names to it. I think posting nasty or honest things about anyone under an anonymous name is cowardly and promotes bad feelings rather than promoting journalistic integrity - which is what we need so badly!



I received this email last night about the Media 7 report and my blog-post from an associate who wishes to remain unnamed.

There are a number or different things that I see happen – the really well connected PRs have mates in the top rating tv shows, so you see stories that just cannot be justified ending up being big items on CloseUp, Campbell and others.

Then you see the dumb ‘alternative view’ approach where ill-suited journalist (specifically chosen to be a mis-fit) goes along wanting to take the piss. I’m sure that Deborah (Pead) leveraged this anti-fashion sentiment to get her over-sized men’s fashion item on tele – which was, simply, blatant PR.

Sadly neither of these approaches get us any items of real interest at all – it is either PR or paparazzi and little in between.

The stories I wanted to see but never emerged:

· When World duo say they missed fashion week for a few years because they were “showing in Paris” – did they actually do a show – or did they in fact just take a trade fair stand at a trade event in Paris?

· Let’s go looking in stores in international markets and see if we can find NZ garments on the racks – I think that some are actually doing business and selling garments, but many do the ‘we sell all over the world’ line and noone looks further. Let’s see some examples.

· How was it that Kate Sylvester won last year’s Air New Zealand export award, only to use that travel budget to NOT show at our fashion week? This patently was a surprise to most or I doubt that Air NZ would have used an outfit from them if they’d had any indication. This outrageous slap in the face was taken without comment!

· Why were there no buyers this year at what your panel described as a trade event. The ‘delegate’ numbers were through the roof, but the ‘buyer’ numbers through the floor – I find this very worrying as the sustainability of the event must surely be based on this.

· Simon Lock was here from IMG – was he here to look at buying NZ fashion week or not? What would a sale potentially mean to our fashion industry? What would its value be? Does Pieter have the heart to continue…


I'm eager to hear everyone's thoughts, so don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

#200 Interview with Dayne Johnston



I had a talk with Zambesi's menswear designer Dayne Johnston about his design process, the pros and cons of taking a walk at the end of a show and what we can expect to see when they show in Sydney next April...




Tell me about the inspiration behind your winter 09 show.
The show was held in an old city council car parking building, a warehouse type space with beautiful rectangle windows, just across from the Zambesi HQ, built in the late 60s. The catwalk was 60 metres in length, we wanted to create an atmosphere of space so the clothes could breathe and speak for themselves. I recently spent time in Berlin and this location somehow reminded me of the feel of this city. One of the tracks chosen for the show was by an electronic band; Booka Shade, a group from Berlin that makes music on their laptops. For this collection there is a kind of circular theme running through both the women’s and menswear collections; lots of black, army green and lively contrasts of hand knitted mohair. The prints are an important story and one in particular has zebras, tigers and giraffes, reminiscent of psychedelic. We worked with New Zealand Deer leather this season making bomber jackets and shirts. A cape and tunic have been laser cut from the leather, inspired by a hand cut vintage bag. There are traditional men’s wool suitings, these often contrasted with chunky plastic zips. The collection is for Winter 2009 and will be available in store from February.

How closely do you and Elisabeth Findlay work on collections and what is the design process?
We work extremely closely and share the same vision, we seem to be always on the same wavelength and Liz is a very inspirational person to be working alongside. Liz is the womenswear designer and I am responsible for the Zambesi Men’s collection. We design the shoes and accessories together. We are not so much into working on a thematic formula for any Zambesi collection so ideas come naturally and intuitively. The fabric is always the beginning and acts as the muse and ideas and concepts unfold from this. The men’s and women’s collections are always developed and shown together with similar themes and ideas running through both. We spend several months working on choosing and developing fabrics. The planning of a collection is huge, from first idea to the finished product. The patternmaking process begins, calicos are constructed for fittings, balance and proportion are considered. The process evolves over a number of fittings and changes. At Zambesi we tend to work in an organic way, there is a natural sense to our development. We are very passionate in our work and we are always making decisions with the help of each other and the talented team we have.



Correct me if I'm wrong but this year's fashion week was the first time you've walked at the end of the show, what prompted this decision and was it exciting/scary/overwhelming?
No, it’s not the first time, I have walked at other shows, it’s not my favourite part, I’m more comfortable back stage, checking models as they are called. It is important to acknowledge your audience and it’s always a proud moment at the end of any show. I loved when all the models walked in a pack down the end of the runway at this show, it was a really inspirational moment for us.

What's in store for the summer 09/10 season that you'll be showing in Sydney – any sneak info you can give us?
We have only started to begin, you will just have to wait and see! The summer 09/10 collection is shown in April next year, it will be Zambesi's 30th anniversary....

Has Zambesi ever considered showing further afield that NZ/Aus? If you could choose any of the international fashion weeks, where would you show?
We have shown before at London fashion week and also shown at Paris fashion week at Tranoi, a trade fare. For now we are sticking with NZ and Sydney fashion weeks. We are developing our market in Japan at present and are working with a new press/sales agent in Tokyo. We also have press and sales agents working for us in London. The US market is an important field for our growth also....New York fashion week would be a great vehicle for us to show at.




What was your favourite piece from the Winter 08 collection?
The Deer skin leather bomber – a slim fit bomber jacket, trimmed with knit wool bands and half lined in a black cotton calico. The footwear is also a favourite, especially the loafer boot, a mix between a traditional men’s loafer and gumboot, from black patent leather.

What do you like right now?
I love travelling and I am lucky to do so on a regular basis for work. I rate Europe right now, especially Paris.

Any last words?
Isaaclikes! Keep up the great work!

#199 The Seen on Alt TV tonight at 8pm

Hi all, I'll continue the below conversation (about how Fashion is treated by the NZ media) tonight on The Seen with Anna Fitzpatrick at 8pm on Alt TV.

Keep commenting! I love to hear all your opinions.

I LIKE YOU

Monday, October 6, 2008

#198 Why so much media coverage of Fashion Week?


Noelle McCarthy

I just watched Media 7's post-Fashion Week report on TVNZ ondemand. Russell Brown sat down with guests Deborah Pead, Noelle McCarthy and Trish (?) for a good chat about the high level of media coverage of NZ Fashion Week.

It was an interesting discussion - it's true that there's a disproportionate amount of coverage on Fashion Week. As Noelle said, fashion brings in lower export earnings than onions. But people will always jump all over something a bit glitzy, and Fashion Week is definitely as glitzy as we'll ever get here in New Zealand (now that those Louis Vuitton races have long since departed our shores).


Trish

But I did think one thing was left out - in my opinion, all that mainstream media coverage is due in part to all those mainstream media people - the reporters, the journalists, the producers - wanting to get out of their offices and along to New Zealand's only glitzy event. It's hard to resist the pull of the goody bags, the celeb spotting, the free alcohol, the chance to dress up and celebrate the fact that, hey we're media, and we have access to things Joe Public doesn't, so let's milk it till it's dry. And the more coverage those media groups promise, the better their seats are, the bigger the goodie bags, the greater the chance of sitting next to a celeb.


Deborah Pead

The standard of fashion reporting in this country is ludicrously low; for a place that prides itself on a semi-thriving fashion industry, there are very few people in the media willing to go out there and put their names on the line and say - that NZ designer is ripping off that international designer, or, having a Kate Sylvester dress in the main Fashion Week campaign was a PR mistake. So it seems we have (some) world class designers but we certainly don't have world class fashion media!

I had one reporter tell me in the media room that she hadn't liked the show we'd just seen, but her editor had told her she had to write a nice review about it because the designer had called to complain about a slightly scathing review of a previous collection.



If such a disproportionate amount of coverage is going to continue to be given to Fashion Week and fashion in general, I hope that some of the mainstream media might begin to take an objective look at what's actually going on here. Isn't the role of the media to take an unbiased approach to news? At the moment most fashion reporting reads like rehashed press releases. Media 7 seems to be the only group taking an educated, responsible look at the New Zealand media coverage of the event.

Something has to change!

Thanks to Paul Blomfield for the heads up about the interview.

All photograbs from TVNZ ondemand.