Pageant out to overhaul 'toxic' image

As 20 hopefuls count down the days until they hit the purple carpet and a night of glitz and glamour, beauty and smiles, the Miss Universe New Zealand competition is aiming to turn heads and change stereotypes.

Among them is Sophie Hopes, daughter of broadcaster Paul Henry.

After a year rebranding the competition, executive director Nigel Godfrey has sought to add some integrity and transparency to the once toxic “pageant land”.

“I don’t think there has been any real dignity in the way the competitions have been judged in New Zealand,” he says.

“We are not sitting there with All Blacks going, ‘Oh yeah, she’s really nice’, which is what pageant-land has done. It’s been a joke.”

Competing for the top three places and the Miss Photogenic title, girls are judged on a range of criteria from stage presence to personality, beauty to figure and makeup to poise. Elimination rounds cut 20 finalists down to 10, and then five.

“I thought it would be like pageants you see on TV, but it hasn’t been like that at all,” says contestant Mariah Te Whana, 20, who had felt no pressure from the organisers.

Neekita Naidu, 24, said her experience had convinced her the competition stereotype was a myth.

“We have different races and not everyone is super-gorgeous and tall. I really wanted to get rid of the stereotype of how it is all blonde, pretty, blue-eyed girls, so I really want to win it being an Indian.”

Mr Godfrey said he was not sure why celebrating beauty was seen as wrong in a country that celebrated a lot of other things people were born with, such as singing, dancing or sporting talents.

“None of the girls in this competition were born and spent the last 20 years doing nothing but eating KFC.

“They all keep themselves fit, they care about fashion, they are interested in makeup and hair and I am not going to knock that.”

Minnie May Niha, 18, another Miss Universe NZ contestant, said she had been training in the gym as much as she could and eating healthily.

“There’s a lot of effort that we need to put in, not only with our body image but promoting ourselves within the media and fundraising for the Children’s Variety Charity.”

The Miss Universe New Zealand finals take place on Saturday at Auckland’s Sky City Theatre.

By Meghan Lawrence

Upcoming NYC Auction Features Key Pieces by Luxury Brands

Photo Courtesy of Fortuna Auction House

It may be a newcomer for luxury jewelry auction houses, but Fortuna is already making a name for itself. Just a year after being founded, the auction house, which is one of only two that focuses solely on jewelry, will hold its second auction tomorrow in New York City.
Held at the Fortuna showroom on Fifth Avenue, the jewelry auction will feature more than 400 antique, contemporary and estate jewelry pieces from big-name labels like Cartier, David Webb, Tiffany & Co., Hermès and Van Cleef & Arpels. An interesting spin on this auction gives sellers the option of giving 5 percent of the buyer’s premium to their charity of choice.
Key pieces in this event include an Art Deco bracelet, as well as a 29.56-carat pear-shaped brown-yellow diamond ring. Set on an 18-karat rose gold mounting, the ring is expected to go for between $500,000 and $600,000.

Pippa Small Jewellery Inspires With Humanitarian Efforts

Home > Fashion > Jewelry & Watches > Pippa Small Jewellery Inspires With Humanitarian Efforts

Pippa Small Jewellery Inspires With Humanitarian Efforts

Posted: Nov. 6th, 2012 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment

Pieces from

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brand Pippa Small Jewellery may be stunning to look at, but its the designers motivation behind her brand that makes them even more inspiring and beautiful. Looking at the pieces, one is at once in awe of the sheer quality, size, and design of the stones all of which are semi-precious and set in 14-22k gold. But when learning that these gorgeous gems are all ethically produced with fair-trade practices, it makes us commend the designer even more.

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Finding the best in luxury can be a daunting task, which is why we’ve taken it on for you.

A New York State of Mind

The cycle of charity events is almost nonstop in Manhattan, but when the beneficiary is a Manhattan institution—in this case, God’s Love We Deliver—the stars really come out. The nonprofit’s Golden Heart Awards celebration drew Robert De Niro, Bette Midler, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the evening’s Lifetime Achievement honoree, Michael Kors. Along with Kors (who announced a $5 million donation to God’s Love), Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy and powerhouse volunteer Cindy Little received nods for their work with the organization, which has been providing meals to people homebound with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses for over 25 years.

But the night’s unofficial award went to Bette Midler, for being the biggest ham in the room. Discussing the man of the hour, she said, “I’ve been asking him all night to tell me the winner of Project Runway—I’m addicted. Thank God I’m finally in a room with people who understand and also did not watch the vice presidential debate. Actually, I have a really hard time watching the news these days because every story is about the debate and every commercial is about Viagra, so it’s election, erection, election, erection…Either way, I’m getting screwed.” By the time she called “the adorable, naturally blond genius we know as Michael Kors” to the stage, the crowd was in hysterics. Murphy even made a plea: “Bette, will you please be on Glee?” he asked during his speech.

Meanwhile, at another New York institution—the Four Seasons—Manhattan itself was being celebrated. The Swedish label Acne took over the space to launch the new issue of its biannual Acne Paper, dedicated to the island and its denizens. While the Blue Velvet Latin jazz quintet played New York-y tunes from above—yes, it suddenly dawned on you, that was the Sex and the City theme music—New Yorkers new and native milled about. Clémence Poésy is one of the new ones; she’s currently in the city performing in Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, and sighed happily to be staying in New York during, for the first time, its famously beautiful fall. “My parents are coming,” she said, “so I hope it stays this way.” Her fellow nouveau New Yorkais, Olivier Theyskens, was there, too, as were Alexa Chung, Sofia Coppola, and a runway’s worth of models. Soon it would be back to adopted-hometown London for the mag’s NYC-loving, Norway-born editor (how’s that for international?) Thomas Persson and his team, but first, that most Manhattan of desserts: the Four Seasons’ famous cloud of cotton candy.

Eco-Friendly Jewelry by MONIQUE PÉAN Uses Exotic Materials

Home > Fashion > Jewelry & Watches > Eco-Friendly Jewelry by MONIQUE PAN Uses Exotic Materials

Eco-Friendly Jewelry by MONIQUE PAN Uses Exotic Materials

Posted: Aug. 15th, 2012 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment

Photo Courtesy of MONIQUE PAN

Monique Pan may just have stepped onto the luxury jewelry scene a few years ago, but in that short time shes already made

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, establishing herself as a designer and garnering awards and praise from


, Tiffanys & Co. and Oprah. Not only is the jewelry found in the MONIQUE PAN brand uniquely gorgeous, but the artist focuses her designs, materials, and production on the idea of sustainability, making it the premier eco-friendly fine jewelry collection on the market. And if that wasnt enough reason to love Pan’s jewelry, shes also correlated her line with several philanthropic organizations as a way to promote sustainability and humanitarianism.

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