Thursday, 30 September 2021
Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Charles launches TV channel on fighting climate change as ‘we must act now’
Saturday 25 Sep 2021 12:01 pm
Prince Charles is the editor-in-chief of new environmental channel RE:TV, on Amazon Prime Video (Picture: Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales will tell the world how we are ‘running out of time’ to defeat the climate emergency on his new TV channel.
Prince Charles is the editor-in-chief of new environmental channel RE:TV, which is available today on Amazon Prime Video.
The channel aims to encourage businesses and individuals around the world to actively work towards sustainability.
Speaking in The Time to Act is Now film, Prince Charles said: ‘I’ve spent a lot my lifetime trying to engage people and businesses with the issues and solutions of the climate crisis.
‘RE:TV was therefore set up with the aim of capturing the will and imagination of humanity and champion the most inspiring solutions for sustainability from around the world.
‘I hope that with this partnership with Prime Video we can bring these inspiriting innovations and ideas to a wider audience and demonstrate together what is possible in the pursuit of a sustainable future.’
He added the films are an ’embodiment’ of his more than four-decade vision to address pressing concerns including a rapid transition to net-zero carbon emissions.
RE:TV also includes a direct plea from His Royal Highness Prince Charles that ‘we must act now’ – though he says there ‘is hope’.
Programmes on the channel provide a showcase of the best examples from across the world of how to tackle climate change.
Curated by Charles, the RE:TV team has identified businesses that specialise in the most innovative approaches to reusing and recycling.
The films cover a wide range of topics including recycling coffee, reseeding rainforests, refining solar, revitalising cities and remodelling fashion.
The names of some of the programmes are ‘Remapping Restoration’, ‘Recycling Everything’ and ‘Refuelling Aviation’.
RE:TV worked with local TV crews and international partners to highlight important projects across Asia, Africa, North America and Europe.
They intend to be positive and forward-thinking – showing how human innovation has the potential to save the planet if cultivated in the right way.
Amazon Prime members can watch it here or by searching for RE:TV on their Prime Video app on mobile, tablets, smart TVs or Fire TV.
Monday, 27 September 2021
The Servant - Official Trailer | Starring Dirk Bogarde / Losey and Pinter’s nightmarish version of Jeeves and Wooster
The Servant review – Losey and Pinter’s nightmarish version of Jeeves and Wooster
The subversive 1963 classic crackles with undertones of class, sexuality and communism, with Dirk Bogarde at his finest as the sociopathic manservant
Fri 10 Sep 2021 09.00 BST
Joseph Losey’s monochrome psycho-horror satire from 1963 is now re-released; it took an expatriate American to orchestrate this very English festival of class, fear, sex and shame with its menacing screenplay by Harold Pinter. Dirk Bogarde stars as the sinister manservant who gradually gains psychological control over his weak-willed master played by James Fox. The film was first considered unreleasably upsetting and weird, and notoriously gathered dust for a year on the shelf while Bogarde was humiliatingly forced to make another of the cheesy Doctor comedies he was trying to put behind him – Doctor in Distress – to pay off a tax bill.
Bogarde plays Barrett, a professional manservant whose manner is sometimes self-effacingly blank, sometimes ingratiating, camp and cunning. He is hired as a live-in valet by Tony (Fox), a spoilt and indolent young man on a private income who lives in a handsome London townhouse. Barrett soon makes himself indispensable, parasitically reducing the already lazy Tony to a state of infantilised torpor, becoming a kind of wife to him, to the irritation of Tony’s actual fiancee Susan (Wendy Craig). Then Barrett asks if his sister Vera (Sarah Miles) can come as the live-in maid, and the sexy Vera entrances Tony – who gets weaker, more reliant on drink and hopelessly submissive in the face of Barrett’s controlling mind games.
Gay sexuality is everywhere and nowhere in The Servant: the relationship with Vera in fact heterosexualises an actual event in the life of Robin Maugham, author of the original novel, when his own manservant offered to introduce him to a teenage boy described as his “nephew”. It is a woman who seduces Tony, but it is a man (Barrett) who pulls the strings, effecting the seduction at one remove. Pinter’s own elliptical, disquieting dialogue is able to hint, imply, suggest, seduce, repulse in precisely the way that gay men were forced to adopt in 1963, when homosexuality was still a criminal offence. The Servant is like a nightmarish version of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster: the benign, discreet and all-knowing servant effectively controlling everything in the life of the feather-headed young man who is notionally in charge. In The Servant, they are more like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or maybe Edward II and Gaveston in Christopher Marlowe’s play.
In the end, servant and master are bound by the hideous intimacy of shame; this is what brings them together in their dance of psychological death. Tony is ashamed of having fraternised with the servant, and Barrett – however gleeful he might secretly be at the success of his strategies – is finally ashamed of having been trifled with by the master. Losey’s film was a brilliant attack on the British class system, which showed every sign of continuing on into the swinging 60s era.
And my own view is that Losey was electrified by this material because Barrett is not simply a parasite, a predator and a sociopath, but also a parodic fifth-columnist: the enemy within. The red-baiters, the people who had effectively driven Losey out of the United States, were obsessed with the threat of these people: insinuating themselves allegedly into every institution in the country, especially Hollywood, with their agreeable and plausible liberalism, but their gradual communistic influence was undermining the nation, undermining its patriotic resolve and leaving it vulnerable to attack. Losey made a brilliant and counterintuitive imaginative leap, dramatising this paranoia and bringing it to monstrous life. It is one of Bogarde’s greatest performances.
The Servant is released on 10 September in cinemas and on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital platforms on 20 September.
Sunday, 26 September 2021
Linda Evangelista says she was left 'deformed' by cosmetic procedure
Published21 hours ago
Supermodel Linda Evangelista has said she has been left "permanently deformed" due to an adverse reaction to a fat reduction procedure.
The 56-year-old revealed she had experienced a rare cosmetic side effect of the treatment five years ago which actually increased her fat cells.
"I have been left, as the media has described, 'unrecognisable'," she told her 900,000 Instagram followers.
Evangelista explained it was the reason she'd disappeared from the public eye.
The Canadian model went on to say she had undergone "two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries" after the slimming procedure - also known as body contouring - had had the opposite effect.
"To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers' careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by... [a procedure] which did the opposite of what it promised," Evangelista explained.
She said the side effect she experienced "has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness and the lowest depths of self-loathing. In the process I have become a recluse."
In her social media post, the star said she wanted to tell her story publicly in order to move on with her life, and suggested she would be suing the company she said was responsible.
The company which Evangelista claims to have used has not yet responded to the BBC's request for comment.
"I'm so tired of living this way," she continued. "I would like to walk out my door with my head held high, despite not looking like myself any longer."
The non-surgical procedure, which has grown in popularity in recent years, uses cold temperatures to reduce fat deposits in certain areas of the body.
Describing the "very rare but serious side effect" she had experienced, Evangelista said it "means the fat cells in the treatment site grow larger rather than smaller", adding: "It's not fully understood why this occurs."
Evangelista rose to fame in the 1990s as one of a group of emerging supermodels, gracing high-end catwalks around the world and the cover of leading fashion magazine Vogue.
She also appeared in a George Michael music video alongside Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington.
The model has kept a low profile in recent years, rarely posting new images of herself on social media.
In the few pictures she has posted, her face is often partially obscured by a headscarf or hat.
Stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and stylist Karla Welch showed their support in the comments underneath Evangelista's post, as did designers Jeremy Scott and Brandon Maxwell.
"You are and always will be a supermodel, now adding super role model of courage to your glorious resume," wrote Scott, while Paltrow posted a red love heart emoji.
Maxwell posted: "I have always recognised you as someone who was physically beautiful, yes, but more importantly you really shone bright from within... In your darkest moments may you never forget the light you have sparked in so many, and continue to."
Fellow model Karen Elson said: "Sweet Linda. I love you dearly, you are so brave and wonderful."
Supermodel Linda Evangelista Says Cosmetic Procedure Left Her ‘Disfigured’
The ’90s-era supermodel said side effects from a fat-freezing procedure caused her to become depressed and turned her into a recluse after “not looking like myself any longer.”
By Christine Hauser
Published Sept. 23, 2021
Updated Sept. 24, 2021
Linda Evangelista, the supermodel made famous in the 1990s, said she had become “brutally disfigured” and “unrecognizable” after a cosmetic body-sculpting procedure that had turned her into a recluse.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, she referred to filing a lawsuit, saying that she was taking “a big step towards righting a wrong that I have suffered and have kept to myself for over five years.”
She added: “To my followers who have wondered why I have not been working while my peers’ careers have been thriving, the reason is that I was brutally disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting procedure which did the opposite of what it promised.”
Ms. Evangelista, 56, said that after the fat-freezing procedure she developed paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, a side effect in which patients develop firm tissue masses in the treatment areas.
She said the cosmetic procedure left her “permanently deformed even after undergoing two painful, unsuccessful, corrective surgeries.” She said she had not been told of the risk.
“PAH has not only destroyed my livelihood, it has sent me into a cycle of deep depression, profound sadness, and the lowest depths of self-loathing,” she wrote. “In the process, I have become a recluse.”
Ms. Evangelista, who was known as one of the five top supermodels in the 1990s, detailed her story on Instagram, where she has 912,000 followers and where thousands of people commented or expressed support. Her story was also widely covered in international and national media outlets.
Ms. Evangelista filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit said she was seeking compensatory damages of $50 million for her distress and loss of work, promotions and public appearances.
Representatives for the company did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. A lawyer for Ms. Evangelista was not immediately available for comment.
The lawsuit said Ms. Evangelista had seven treatments from August 2015 through February 2016 to break down fat cells in her abdomen, flanks, back and bra area, inner thighs, and chin. Within a few months, she developed “hard, bulging, painful masses under her skin in those areas,” it said, and was given a diagnosis of PAH in June 2016.
The filing said her quality of life, her career and her body “were all ruined in 2016 after she was permanently disfigured” by the procedure and the multiple attempts at corrective surgery that followed.
“Ms. Evangelista enjoyed a wildly successful and lucrative modeling career from 1984 through 2016, until she was permanently injured and disfigured by Zeltiq’s CoolSculpting System,” the lawsuit said.
The suit accused the company of having “intentionally concealed” the risks or “failed to adequately warn” about them, and said Ms. Evangelista developed depression and a fear of going outside.
Ms. Evangelista had full body liposuctions after the diagnosis by a doctor referred to her by Zeltiq in 2016 and 2017, but the procedures were unsuccessful and resulted in scarring, the lawsuit said.
“Ms. Evangelista was promised a more contoured appearance; instead, the target fat cells actually increased in number and size and formed hard, bulging masses under her skin,” it said.
According to CoolSculpting, its procedure has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of visible fat bulges.
In response to questions, the F.D.A. said in an email that it could not comment on litigation, but that it was “committed to ensuring medical devices are safe and effective and that patients can be fully informed when making personal health decisions.” It said that it monitors reports from consumers of adverse events after a device reaches the market and would “take action where appropriate.”
Cryolipolysis, the name of the nonsurgical fat-freezing procedure, uses cold temperature to break down fat cells, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
It is mostly used by patients who want to reduce a specific fat bulge that they have been unable to diminish through other means. Generally, the area of concern is “vacuumed” into the hollow of an applicator, where it is subjected to cold temperature.
The surgeons’ society said the complication rate was low, with less than 1 percent of patients who may develop paradoxical fat hyperplasia, which is an unexpected increase in the number of fat cells. The side effect is more common in men than in women, the society said.
Ms. Evangelista also said that the public scrutiny of her appearance had harmed her emotionally. “I have been left, as the media has described, ‘unrecognizable,’” she said.
Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.
Christine Hauser is a reporter, covering national and foreign news. Her previous jobs in the newsroom include stints in Business covering financial markets and on the Metro desk in the police bureau. @ChristineNYT
Saturday, 25 September 2021
Friday, 24 September 2021
Elwes was born on 29 June 1902 at Hothorpe Hall in Northamptonshire (also near Theddingworth, Leicestershire), the sixth and youngest son (two daughters were born later) of famed tenor Gervase Cary Elwes (1866–1921), and his wife, Lady Winifride Mary Elizabeth Feilding, daughter of the 8th Earl of Denbigh. He was the scion of the recusant Cary-Elwes family, of which many branches are known simply as "Elwes", which includes noted British monks and bishops, such as Abbott Columba Cary-Elwes, Archbishop Dudley Cary-Elwes and Father Luke Cary-Elwes. His niece, Polly Elwes, was a famous television personality in Britain. His grandson is the prominent English actor Cary Elwes.
Elwes' mother was so determined to have a painter in the family she studied art and herself started painting while pregnant. For his education Elwes first attended two Catholic schools, Ladycross School in Seaford, and the Oratory School in Edgbaston. In 1918, at the age of sixteen, he was taken out of the Oratory and installed in the Slade School of Fine Art where Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Steer taught. After the Slade Elwes spent eight years in Paris, first at the Académie Delécluse and then at the Academie des Beaux Arts. While there he met a Belgian refugee, Mme. La Forge, who aroused his latent interest in painting. Mme. La Forge gave him the run of her studio and encouraged him to start again where he had left off. In 1920, Elwes began studying in earnest at Andre Lhote's Academy in Montparnasse, Paris. Fellow students included Henri Cartier-Bresson, Conrad O'Brien-ffrench and Elena Mumm Thornton Wilson. While in Paris Elwes did a black and white drawing of the Irish tenor and recording artist, John McCormack. McCormack would say to his wife of Elwes: "This lad has remarkable talent and will do big things, mark my words." From France Elwes visited art galleries in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. In 1922, Elwes sailed to New York, having borrowed the fare. He repaid the loan by doing charcoal drawings at $5 to $20 apiece. During this visit he managed to draw President Harding from life. In 1926, he returned to England and on 25 November married the Hon. Gloria Elinor Rodd (born 1901), the daughter of the diplomat and scholar, Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell.
After his return from New York a period of undistinguished hard work followed until his portrait of Mrs. James Montgomery Beck Jr. (née Mary Ridgely Carter) was hung at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1930. A flood of orders followed the next day and continued to do so. The following year Elwes showed another portrait at the Academy of Lady Lettice Lygon, the first of many aristocratic sitters that would include many of Britain's royal family. Thereafter, his portraits hung in the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy every year. From London's Mayfair to Manhattan's Park Avenue Elwes soon began to establish himself as a stylish, sought-after portraitist. In 1929, Elwes was created a Knight of Malta and four years later was elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. In 1930, Elwes was invited to paint Robert Baden-Powell founder of the Scout movement. When asked by the artist in a letter how he would like to pose for this, Baden-Powell replied:
My suggestion that I should be 'doing something' when sitting to you has a twofold meaning underlying it. One (entirely selfish) is that it is difficult for me to sit still and do nothing when I have so much on hand to do. Secondly, I (in common with many others) feel that (though it is very usual with portraits) to hand down to one's successors the representation of a man staring vacantly into space with hands lying idle, does not give a true picture of an active worker.
That same year he painted a portrait of the Hon. Lady Aitken. A year later his portrait of the Hon. Mrs. Roger Chetwode was one of nine portraits chosen to be exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 45th Annual Show. In 1936, Elwes was commissioned to paint the then Duke of York, in uniform as colonel-in-chief of the 11th Hussars. That December he was commissioned by the new King to paint himself and the Queen, of whom Elwes said, "No couple ever was more popular in England, even before this happened". Two years later he was commissioned to paint another royal portrait of Queen Mary. In December 1938, an exhibition of his work was held at the M. Knoedler & Co. Gallery at 14 East 57th Street in Manhattan which included that portrait.
Second World War
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Elwes initially joined the Welsh Guards. He was later transferred to the 10th Royal Hussars and was stationed in North Africa and Egypt serving as a lieutenant colonel. After fighting in the battles of Benghazi, Mersa Matruh and Knightsbridge, he was made an official war artist by the local army command. His role as a war artist was recognized when the War Artists' Advisory Committee purchased several of his works. Whilst stationed in Cairo in 1942 he painted portraits of King Farouk, his wife Queen Farida, their daughter Princess Ferial, and General (later Field Marshal) Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Troops in Egypt. In South Africa, he painted the portraits of Paul I of the Hellenes, his wife Frederica of Hanover as well as Prime Minister J. C. Smuts and his wife. He painted two other field marshals: Sir Claude Auchinleck and in India, Viceroy Archibald Wavell. While there he did portraits of the Maharaja of Patiala, Lord Mountbatten, and various Indian Army soldiers who had won the Victoria Cross, namely Naik Nand Singh, 11th Sikh Regiment; Havildar Gaje Ghale, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles; Company Havildar Major Chellu Ram, 4/6 Rajputana Rifles; Major Premindra Singh Bhagat, 21st Bombay Sappers and Havildar Parkash Singh, 8th Punjab Regiment. In Delhi, Elwes also gave art lessons sponsored by Lady Wavell (wife of the Viceroy) at the Viceregal Palace. Other instructors included American war artist Millard Sheets.
Stroke and Fountains Abbey
In 1945, Elwes suffered a near-fatal stroke which paralysed the right half of his face and body, including his painting hand. He was diagnosed with hemiplegia. Believing that he was about to die, Elwes received the last sacraments. He spent two years in hospital recuperating and, after receiving treatment from renowned physiotherapist Berta Bobath, was soon able to stand with the aid of a cane. During his recovery, Elwes stated that he repeatedly dreamed of the ruins of Fountains Abbey which he had visited in 1933. In the dream he saw the abbey restored and himself talking with one of the monks who kept saying: "It was built for God; it must be returned to God." Elwes became convinced that God had ruined him physically because he had wasted his talent and that he had been chosen to restore the abbey and rededicate it as a monastery. Although he never accomplished his dream, Elwes enlisted the aid of the Duke of Norfolk, Cardinal Spellman; the Marchioness of Lothian; novelist Evelyn Waugh; Lord Lovat and many of Britain's leading Roman Catholic laymen.
He never regained the use of his right hand, but taught himself to paint with his left surmounting his disability enough to become president of the Guild of Catholic Artists, and vice-president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters from 1953 to 1957. In 1947, he visited Hollywood and painted a number of movie stars including Gloria Swanson and Bert Lahr. He had become enough of a celebrity himself that in 1949, whilst bedridden in the South of France after suffering a stroke, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told Lord Beaverbrook:
I think I shall stay here for four or five days. Then ... I would like to paint with Simon Elwes.
In 1953, Elwes was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, to paint the 1948 investiture of her daughter, then Princess Elizabeth with the Order of the Garter by her father King George VI. The next year he would paint a full-length portrait of the Queen, which remains part of the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. In 1956, Elwes was appointed an associate of the Royal Academy. Besides the Queen he painted King George VI, Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Kent and by 1960, had painted every member of the Royal Family except the Duke of Windsor. ] Elwes also received a large commission by Viscount Camrose to do a conversation piece of leading members of White's club, of which he was a member. The sitters were Lord Birkenhead, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., David Stirling, Evelyn Waugh and the Duke of Devonshire set in the coffee room of the club. In 1960, Elwes joined an exhibition of other portraitists at the Portraits, Inc. gallery on West 51st St. in Manhattan.
In 1963, he held an exhibition of his work at the Palm Beach Galleries which included portraits of the Hon. John Hay Whitney, (a former ambassador to the Court of St. James's), Eleanor Robson Belmont, Madame Alain Bertrand, Mr. & Mrs. John S. Borden, Mrs. Henry Pomeroy Davison, William Cox Wright and Randolph Churchill.
In 1967, Elwes was made a full member of the Royal Academy. One observer, who witnessed him there in his later years, recalls him as being: "Handsome, fresh of complexion, finely dressed, with a scarlet flower in his buttonhole, he enriched the proceedings with his smile, no less than with his air of being a visitor from a world more carefree and elegant than the one in which deficits and disappointments were certain to be discussed." Many of Elwes' paintings can be found in museums, palaces and academies around the world. Some of his early sketches form part of Mark Birley's private collection at Annabel's nightclub in Berkeley Square.
In the last months of his life, he had to be pushed about in a wheelchair, hardly able to speak. Even though his face had grown thinner and paler, had a look of the greatest nobility. Elwes died on 6 August 1975, in Amberley, West Sussex. He and his wife Gloria had four sons, Peter, father of painter Luke Elwes, Giles, who died in infancy, Tim and Dominick, who died one month after his father. His wife died in October of that year.
Wednesday, 22 September 2021
Condé Nast today named Hamish Bowles as the new editor in chief at The World of Interiors. Bowles brings with him over 25 years of experience at American Vogue on the senior editorial team, where he is currently global editor at large overseeing all house and garden features, contributing profiles of cultural figures, as well as reporting on the history of fashion and style.
In his expanded role, Bowles will lead The World of Interiors’ editorial team into a new era that honours the magazine’s timeless heritage while expanding its influence and reach to audiences across digital and video. Bowles will succeed Rupert Thomas, after 22 successful years at the helm, and will be only the third editor in chief in the magazine’s 40 year history. The World of Interiors was founded in 1981 by Min Hogg from her flat on the Fulham Road and quickly became known for celebrating the unique and the unusual. It was acquired by Condé Nast in 1982 and is today appreciated by lovers of art, culture and style worldwide. The magazine has an iconic status, acknowledged as the ultimate authority on design bringing together exceptional interiors and decorative arts.
Photography: Simon Upton.
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
LuLaRich - Official Trailer | Prime Video / ‘It’s very culty’: the bizarre billion-dollar downfall of fashion company LuLaRoe
‘It’s very culty’: the bizarre billion-dollar downfall of fashion company LuLaRoe
LuLaRich, the Amazon docuseries on a multi-level marketing company, is a four-part dive into greed and faux-girlboss ideals
Wed 15 Sep 2021 20.37 BST
Roberta Blevins first heard about the leggings in the fall of 2015, in a post by a fellow member of a motherhood-themed Facebook group. They were loudly patterned, buttery soft, interesting – clothing functional for chasing around young children, accommodating of changing bodies post-birth, and cute enough to be socially acceptable outside the home. The woman who advertised the leggings said she bought them wholesale from a company called LuLaRoe, and sold them for double the price.
Blevins was intrigued. She was struggling with the alienation of young motherhood and looking to supplement her family’s income, and LuLaRoe offered an alluring, soothing promise: sign up to be a retailer, and you could run a successful virtual boutique out of your home while still being present for your kids.
LuLaRoe seemed to offer “this built-in community, where I knew I could have an instant friendship”, she told the Guardian. As Blevins recalls in LuLaRich, a four-part Amazon docuseries on the beleaguered multi-level marketing company, LuLaRoe women added her to Facebook groups, texted her, invited her to parties that doubled as fashion sales, and showered her with encouragement. By March 2016, Blevins paid $9,000 to become a LuLaRoe consultant and receive a starter package of clothing to sell.
At first, things went well – she was enthusiastic about the clothing, and made money selling LuLaRoe on Facebook out of her home in suburban San Diego, California. But Blevins quickly felt the strain of the company’s precipitous growth, owing to its emphasis on recruiting new “consultants” – people on the “downline” whose start-up costs traveled up the ranks as “bonus checks”. By the end of 2016, what had started in 2012 as a homespun business selling maxi skirts out of the trunk of a car by two Mormon grandmothers had reached over $1.3bn in sales with over 60,000 consultants – and faced lawsuits alleging that LuLaRoe founders Mark and DeAnne Stidham misled retailers and ran a pyramid scheme.
Over four episodes, LuLaRich, directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason (makers of Hulu’s Fyre, on the spectacular meltdown of the scammy music festival), surveys the warp speed growth of a company that preyed on millennial, overwhelmingly white women’s sense of purposelessness, repackaged the fallacy of “having it all”, and saddled thousands in debt and broken promises while the company’s top brass raked in millions. The company appealed, said Furst, to the “middle America millennials who don’t have the same opportunities that their parents had, who are facing a lot of different struggles, who are susceptible on one hand to the patriarchal nuclear family structure but then also the pitch to be a girlboss and to be empowered and to be a feminist who is selling these leggings”.
Blevins, like several of the former LuLaRoe consultants who appear in the series, was at first convinced by the promise of running her own business. The company hammered home the perks of being not just a LuLaRoe retailer, but a member of a movement – a “boss babe”, “part-time work for full time pay”, contributing to household income without going to an office. Or, as Mark puts it to Nason and Furst in the first episode: “Take your creativity, your passion, your excitement for life, and here’s a place that’s a pure meritocracy.”
“They saw me, they’re like she’s bubbly, she’s energetic, she knows how to use social media, she’s an asset to moving this forward,” Blevins said of the “love-bombing” grooming process that convinced her to join LuLaRoe. “At that point, I was just another walking dollar sign.”
Slowly, inconsistencies began to pile up. Blevins would visit “home office” in Corona, California, or attend company events, which increasingly took on the feel of pop religious festivals (corporate events included performances by Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry), and Mark would start reciting passages from the book of Mormon. “I thought we were selling leggings?” Blevins recalled thinking. “It just seemed strange.” Blevins received an order of merchandise that reeked of mold; quality was slipping, and some leggings straight-up poorly designed, with prints that resembled anatomy at the crotch. Now with several consultants down-line of her, Blevins passed questions up the chain, “and they would give me an answer that made sense,” she said.
“You reach up inside the organization [for answers]. You don’t reach outside the organization for information or to have your questions answered. It’s very culty.”
Through interviews with former and current consultants, employees, and even Mark and DeAnne themselves, LuLaRich takes a bird’s eye view to what Blevins couldn’t see at the time: the company, allegedly designed to make money not on clothing but through the unsustainable recruitment of new members, was collapsing under its own weight. Mark and DeAnne, who married in 1998, trademarked LuLaRoe in 2013, and staffed it with members of their large extended family. In 14 months from 2015 to 2016, the company grew from $70m in sales to over a billion. The profits for those who joined early in the company, and whose down lines flowered into the thousands, were astounding: some in the series claim to have received bonus checks of anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 a month.
Meanwhile, the majority of LuLaRoe consultants struggled to make ends meet – encouraged to take on debt and saddled with merchandise they couldn’t sell. With a glut on the market of LuLaRoe consultants, most buckled under the weight. “A lot of people lost their marriages, their lives were in shambles, people were selling breast milk for startup costs – are you kidding me?” LaShae Kimbrough Benson, who started as an administrative assistant at the company’s headquarters in 2015, told the Guardian. “People were taking out loans, all kind of stuff. And [Mark and DeAnne] knew that.”
The lopsided margins were by design of multi-level marketing companies – essentially, pyramid schemes legal under the guise that they’re selling a product rather than membership – according to experts featured in the series such as Robert FitzPatrick, author of Ponzinomics: The Untold Story of Multi-Level Marketing. Legal MLMs have to have a buyback policy, and prohibit buying new inventory until retailers have sold 70% and have at least 10 new customers. As Benson and other former employees recall, LuLaRoe more than skirted this line. “We always had a quota to hit,” said Benson, who eventually worked for the “onboarding” team for new members.
The Stidhams maintain that LuLaRoe, which is still in business (though startup costs are down 90% and the commission structure altered), was never a scam, but a meritocratic ladder reflective of personal effort and character. The couple participated in an initial interview with the film-makers to detail the origin story behind the company and their values of entrepreneurism while maintaining a traditional family structure; they declined a second interview to specifically address claims made against the company in 50 lawsuits filed since 2016, as well as some of the more outrageous elements of corporate culture – that they pressured consultants to get weight-loss surgery in Tijuana and received kickbacks from the doctor, for example.
The company instead offered a statement presented at the end of the series: “We continue to bring greater focus to our mission of improving lives and strengthening families through the principles of entrepreneurism while continuing to educate small business owners about the opportunities found in personal responsibility and individual choice.”
“It’s that dual-edged sword of personal responsibility,” said Furst of the statement. “That’s what the MLMs feed off of in the first place: if you’re a failure, it’s your fault.”
Blevins felt the stigma as she began to lose faith in the company over the course of 2017. The last straw was joining a Facebook support group for ex-LuLaRoe consultants and “having every little thing that I had ever complained about, any question I had, all answered”, she said. She read through the posts and cried.
“There’s a process of grief that you go through when you leave an MLM,” said Blevins, who left LuLaRoe in September 2017 and now advocates against MLMs through her own podcast. “There was a lot of ex-communication, a lot of harassment, a lot of people telling me I was crazy, or saying ‘You’re going to ruin your life by leaving.’”
The internal pressure to stay quiet and avoid “negativity” was something that dogged many women who participated in the series, according to co-director Julia Willoughby Nason. “There was just tons of the behind the scenes peer pressure and bullying, and blowback that these women had already experienced, and I think that they were very scared of the repercussions if they were going to have a platform like a multi-part docu-series,” she said.
In February, LuLaRoe agreed to pay $4.75m to the state of Washington to settle a 2019 consumer protection lawsuit alleging the company operated a pyramid scheme that made “unfair and deceptive misrepresentations regarding the profitability” of being a retailer. Through its collation of first-person testimony, LuLaRich offers an “invitation, tacitly, to attorney generals around the country to do what Washington did, protect their consumers” said Furst. In the meantime, the company still promises a “community of lasting love and fellowship” on a website that pitches “creating freedom through fashion” over a single button: “Join LuLaRoe.”
LuLaRich is now available on Amazon Prime
Monday, 20 September 2021
Prince Charles ‘cash-for-honours’ scandal grows with fresh allegations / Charles and the Chinese donor who's a wanted man in Taiwan: So did the Prince know of the allegations when Foundation accepted tycoon's cash?
Prince Charles ‘cash-for-honours’ scandal grows with fresh allegations
Prince reportedly ‘met at least nine times’ with William Bortrick, the alleged fixer at heart of the claims
Prince Charles reportedly met with Bortrick in England, Scotland and Saudi Arabia over the past seven years.
Sun 19 Sep 2021 18.05 BST
Clarence House is facing fresh questions over further revelations in the royal “cash for honours” scandal involving middlemen who reportedly took cuts for setting up meetings between wealthy donors and the Prince of Wales.
Prince Charles “met at least nine times” with William Bortrick, the alleged fixer at the heart of the claims, who is said to have received thousands of pounds to secure an honour for a Saudi billionaire and brokered a personal thank-you letter from Charles to a Russian donor, the Sunday Times reported.
Clarence House has previously said it had “no knowledge” of the practice of paid intermediaries arranging access to the royal family or honours in exchange for donations to the Prince’s charities.
Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday reports that Charles met with Bruno Wang, who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated £500,000 to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation.
The newspaper claimed that Wang is wanted in Taiwan for alleged money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he strongly denies, and draws comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus.
Leus was likewise accused of money laundering and made a donation of £500,000 to the foundation. Leus’s conviction was overturned.
The Russian banker reportedly received two invitations to private events at Charles’s royal residences in Scotland, allegedly secured by Bortrick. They were both cancelled because of the pandemic and concerns about the donor’s past.
The allegations have prompted an investigation at the Prince’s Foundation which has led to Michael Fawcett temporarily stepping down as chief executive. Fawcett said he fully supports the investigation. Douglas Connell, the chairman of the Prince’s Foundation, also resigned, citing evidence of possible “rogue activity” and “serious misconduct” of which he had “no knowledge”.
The Sunday Times reported that Charles met with Bortrick in England, Scotland and Saudi Arabia over the past seven years. Bortrick attended donor dinners hosted by Charles at Dumfries House, the royal residence in Ayrshire; saw the prince in London at Clarence House, St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace; and met the prince over tea and sandwiches at the British embassy in Riyadh.
In summer 2020, Charles, 72, and Bortrick, 48, met at the Castle of Mey, the late Queen Mother’s former home in Caithness, the newspaper reported.
Weeks before this meeting, the paper claims Bortrick had brokered a six-figure donation to the charity from Leus in exchange for a meeting with the prince. He received a £5,000 (€5,860) cut of the donation for “expenses”.
On 5 August, shortly after the meeting, Bortrick wrote to the Russian: “I have just had an excellent private visit with HRH the Prince of Wales who appreciates your generosity and asked me to send his personal good wishes to you.”
The Prince’s Foundation declined to comment on either articles when approached for comment.
A spokesperson for Clarence House told the Guardian: “The Prince of Wales has no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities and fully supports the independent investigation now underway by The Prince’s Foundation.”
Bortrick is the editor and owner of Burke’s Peerage, a genealogical publication that chronicles the aristocracy. He has used the publishing company behind it to receive payments for consultancy services to ultra-wealthy individuals seeking access to the British establishment.
The Guardian attempted to contact Bortrick through Burke’s Peerage. A spokesperson for Bortrick told the Sunday Times: “Mr Bortrick is a proud supporter of the Prince’s Foundation. In his dedication to the foundation, Mr Bortrick has introduced a number of potential benefactors to the Prince’s Foundation.”
They said he had met the prince only “in a group setting and never in private”.
Bruno Wang, who lives in the Cayman Islands, is being pursued in Taiwan for the millions made in a 30-year-old warships deal overseen by his now deceased father, Andrew Wang.
A spokesperson for Wang said Bruno was never involved in the original transaction.
He said: “These 30-year-old accusations in Taiwan against his deceased father are politically motivated and without foundation. When they were made about his father before the Cayman court in 2014, the Honourable Chief Justice, Anthony Smellie dismissed them as not only ‘wholly unintelligible’ but ‘scandalous and vexatious’.”
He added: “Bruno is committed to supporting charitable endeavours that promote art, wellness and social inclusion.”
Charles and the Chinese donor who's a wanted man in Taiwan: So did the Prince know of the allegations when Foundation accepted tycoon's cash?
Bruno Wang posed for a photograph with Prince Charles in January 2019
It was taken at the opening of a health and wellness centre at Dumfries House
Plaque says centre was 'made possible by the generosity' of Wang's foundation
By IAN GALLAGHER and JONATHAN BUCKS and KATE MANSEY FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
PUBLISHED: 22:35 BST, 18 September 2021 | UPDATED: 01:19 BST, 19 September 2021
A a deeply private – some might even say mysterious – individual, Bruno Wang rarely courts publicity.
Still, he was willing to pose for `a photograph with Prince Charles in January 2019 at the opening of a health and wellness centre at Dumfries House, part of the Prince's charitable foundation.
Behind them, a plaque unveiled moments earlier by the Prince prominently records that the centre was 'made possible by the generosity' of Mr Wang's foundation.
What a contrast between this cheery image and another of 54-year-old Mr Wang which now, as then, features on the Taiwanese government's Ministry of Justice website.
Alongside an appeal for information, Mr Wang's face looms from what is effectively a wanted poster accusing him of money laundering and being a fugitive from justice.
Though he vehemently denies the allegations, and indeed denies any wrongdoing, Mr Wang – who describes himself as a 'Chinese philanthropist' – is only too aware that should he set foot on the island, he would be arrested and put on trial.
Whether this uncomfortable fact is known to Charles and his advisers is unclear, but it is perhaps worth drawing a comparison between Mr Wang's donation and one from Russian banker Dmitry Leus, highlighted last week by The Mail on Sunday in our 'cash for access' revelations that have prompted an investigation at The Prince's Foundation which has led to Michael Fawcett temporarily stepping down as chief executive. Mr Fawcett says he fully supports the ongoing investigation.
Mr Leus gave £500,000 to the foundation last year only to later learn that its ethics committee had rejected it, apparently because it did not consider the gift appropriate.
Like Mr Wang, Mr Leus was accused of money laundering in his homeland, but the Russian's conviction was overturned and he was exonerated. Little wonder perhaps that Mr Leus now feels aggrieved, especially as he hasn't had his money back.
Some might forgive him for wondering why Mr Wang (who, it must be said, was not seeking an honour of any kind in return for his donation) escaped similar treatment.
Mr Wang would argue that he is innocent, stands no chance of a fair trial in his homeland and he, too, is a victim of a vexatious prosecution.
It stems from one of France's biggest political and financial scandals of modern times, which left a trail of unexplained deaths, nearly half a billion dollars in missing cash and troubling allegations of government complicity.
The scandal centred on a £2 billion arms deal between France and Taiwan, signed in 1991. France agreed to supply Taiwan's navy with six frigates, a deal which Mr Wang's arms-dealer father, Andrew Wang, helped broker.
It was beset by allegations of bribery, with Andrew Wang said to have received millions in kickbacks – claims he always denied. His son was said to have provided 'assistance to [his father] to secure bribes' – which he adamantly denies.
Andrew Wang left Taiwan in 1993 and never returned. It was said that he disappeared before he was due to be questioned about the murder of a navy captain who was about to blow the whistle on the kickbacks. Wang Snr, who died in 2015, accused the Taiwanese of adding the murder allegation only to improve the chances of his extradition.
At some point, the rest of his family – his wife and Bruno and his three siblings – also moved abroad, settling in England.
Taiwan issued an international warrant for Andrew Wang's arrest, alleging murder, corruption and breaking defence secrecy laws. Investigators in France and Switzerland looked into at least some aspects of the transactions. In 2001, a BBC report said the Swiss authorities 'have now blocked several accounts of Mr Wang and his family both in Switzerland and in Luxembourg'.
At the same time, Swiss newspaper Le Temps said the authorities were alerted to the accounts after a bank official in Zurich became suspicious that Mr Wang's wife and Bruno were moving documents and millions of dollars into several different accounts across Switzerland. According to legal documents in the Cayman Islands, where Bruno now lives, his father once said he could never return to Taiwan because of 'a sustained media campaign for over 20 years'.
He added: 'I cannot imagine that I or my family can face a fair trial in Taiwan… [after] my image has been completely demonised by the public statements made about my role in obtaining the [defence] contract.'
His case was that all the money he received was legally paid to him. In 2014, a court in the Cayman Islands dismissed all of the allegations made against him and described the Taiwanese claim as 'wholly unintelligible' and based on allegations which were 'hopelessly general and vague'.
But even after Andrew Wang died in London, aged 86, prosecutors in Taiwan continued their pursuit of the millions from the warships deal, claiming Bruno and his family were still 'at large'. In October 2019, the Taiwanese Supreme Court ruled that Andrew Wang's widow and children were 'innocent third parties' who could 'not rightly be considered to be co-offenders and who could not be charged with any criminal offence'.
Last month, however, the Taipei Times, an English-language newspaper in Taiwan, reported that a request had been granted to seize more than £300 million in funds held by the Wang family in Swiss bank accounts. Sources close to the family say the vast majority of these funds have been released.
Despite the vociferous claims of innocence, the allegations hung over the Wangs, including Bruno, for two decades.
Dividing his time between London and the Cayman Islands, Bruno describes himself as a 'philanthropist, patron of culture and businessman'. His website also describes him as a 'dedicated practitioner of energy healing and mindfulness' who established the Pureland Foundation – which supported Charles's wellness centre – 'to support social, spiritual and emotional wellness and enrich lives through art and music'.
Moving in exalted social circles, and often accompanied by his sister, Rebecca, who has been described as a friend of the Prince of Wales, Bruno has attended events held by Charles's charitable organisation, the Prince's Trust.
On one occasion, he was pictured with Prince Edward. In addition to his charitable ventures, he runs Bruno Wang Productions and has financed several Olivier-nominated West End shows.
The Prince's Foundation last night declined to discuss Mr Wang or his donation to the Dumfries House Wellness Centre, which was also funded by glamorous Taiwanese businesswoman Christine Chiu and her plastic surgeon husband Gabriel, the stars of the Netflix series, Bling Empire.
The Wellness Centre does not represent the first time that Charles has benefited from Mr Wang's largesse. He also supported Children & The Arts, a charity the Prince founded to give underprivileged children access to the arts.
The idea came to him after he visited a school for excluded children in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, where he saw a class studying Romeo and Juliet. Surprised that the children had not seen the play performed, Charles invited them to see a Royal Shakespeare Company production in Stratford.
'My hope is that children will gain a lasting love of the arts and be confident to walk into a gallery, museum or theatre and know it's somewhere they belong,' he said.
But as laudable as Charles's project was, it has since become drawn into the 'cash for access' scandal threatening to tarnish his good work.
In 2017, Hussam Otaibi, a Jordanian merchant banker and a generous financial backer of Children & The Arts, was appointed its chairman and brought with him several key employees of his investment fund Floreat.
An art lover, Mr Otaibi arranged auctions of works by prominent artists, including Tracey Emin, to raise money for the charity.
According to Floreat's website, where it describes itself as 'long-term supporters of the charity', it has raised £240,000 for Children & The Arts by hosting contemporary art auctions.
By 2019, however, the charity found itself in financial trouble. According to one source, donors dried up after Prince Philip stepped back from public life and Charles was required to take on more duties. 'Once Charles stopped being so involved with the charity, we struggled to attract the big donors,' the source said.
Another source said: 'There was a feeling that you had to say to the charities, 'Well, you'll have to learn to stand on your own two feet because the Prince is going to be King one day and he won't be there to help in the same way.' '
Children & The Arts began the process of winding up but, for reasons that remain unclear, required £200,000 to complete the process. Last September – at the alleged behest of Mr Fawcett, who was for many years Charles's most trusted executive and remains a confidante – £200,000 of Mr Leus's money was transferred to the charity.
In its annual report, the charity said: 'Although the charitable fundraising climate remains highly challenging, the charity has organised itself to secure the funds of £233,000 to settle its remaining liabilities and undertake the orderly closure of its business activity throughout 2019/20.