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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Most designers, no matter what field and regardless of how much talent they have, go to specialized schools to master their craft. British jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge, however, tells a different story. A graduate of French and Spanish languages, Azagury-Partridge jump-started her career in 1987 when she designed and created her own engagement ring using a gold band and an uncut diamond. This piqued her interest in jewelry design, and Azagury-Partridge began teaching herself the craft.

Solange Azagury-Partridge’s first job in jewelry was at Butler & Wilson in London, later moving to work for antique dealer Gordon Watson. Here, Azagury-Partridge formed a love for vintage jewelry and in 1995, opened her own shop on Westbourne Grove. Azagury-Partridge’s talents caught the eye of established jewelry company Boucheron, which hired her as Creative Director for three years. In partnership with the Labelux Group, Azagury-Partridge was able to open boutiques bearing the brand in several key cities around the world, and has allowed her to step more into the spotlight she well deserves.

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In an industry as wide and as dynamic as fashion, it takes something very unique to make it – and Ozwald Boateng has this in just his name, in addition to his talents. An Englishman with Ghanaian roots, Boateng has taken the sophisticated and classic English style of tailoring, especially in menswear, and put his own spin on it, creating a new line of contemporary clothing that has redefined style in the country.

Ozwald Boateng was born in North London and from an early age, was impressed by the elegance of the suits his father, a teacher, wore all the time. At the age of eight, Boateng got his first suit and by the time he was a teenager, knew that bespoke was the industry for him. Inspired by his mother, a seamstress, Boateng took on a job while in high school sewing linings in suits, later moving on to cutting and designing while at Southgate College. With the help of his mother’s old sewing machine, Boateng began turning his designs into reality and took it one step further by helping with a fashion show.

Boateng debuted his first menswear line in a shop in Covent Garden and on Newburgh Street. This proved to be a success, allowing Boateng to open a studio on Portobello Road in London in 1991. Soon, Boateng joined Paris Fashion Week, presenting his collection and opening a boutique in Savile Row in 1995. Boateng’s sharp, new approach to suits drew in the younger crowd, helping put suits back on the rack as popular wear. In 2005, Boateng’s work of 20 years was celebrated in an event at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has also collaborated with other famous fashion labels such as Givenchy and Coutts, and designed Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class amenity kits. Ozwald Boateng’s work has also been featured in films and television shows, more notably “James Bond 007: Tomorrow Never Dies”, “Sex and the City”, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “The Matrix”.

There are many circumstances and situations that can prompt a person to open a business. For Australian native Donna Ida, it was the poor service she experienced while buying jeans in department stores that prompted her to open Donna Ida, her own self-named line of denim wear based in London. First launching in fashionable Chelsea in 2006, Donna Ida has since expanded to three more exclusive boutiques in the London area and an ecommerce website.

Donna Ida specializes in denim for women, emphasizing excellent customer service and launching the revolutionary idea of a “denim clinic” where customers are given advice on jeans and fitting. Aside from her own label, Donna Ida stores also sell other high-quality denim brands, known as designer denim, such as Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham. Donna Ida has been the recipient of many awards for her work in women’s wear, and has been named one of the 50 best boutiques in the country.

The entire art world knows the Saatchi Gallery to be one of the planet’s most prestigious art galleries. The entire advertising industry, on the other hand, knows Saatchi & Saatchi and its history as the world’s largest advertising firm in the ‘80s. Both bear the stamp of Charles Saatchi – one of Britain’s most high-profile and wealthiest businessmen.

Born to Jewish parents in Baghdad, Iraq, Charles Saatchi’s father, Nathan, foresaw the danger that Iraqi Jews would face in their homeland and relocated his family to London. After purchasing textile mills, the Saatchi family soon enjoyed success in business in their new home. Charles Saatchi grew up in London, attending private schools and early on, showing a penchant for collecting memorabilia and collectible items. Saatchi’s love for art was highlighted in a viewing of a Jackson Pollock painting, and he decided to become a collector.

Saatchi’s first job was in advertising as a copywriter. He then entered into a partnership with Ross Cramer, opening creative consultancy agency CramerSaatchi in 1967. In 1970, Charles Saatchi put up advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi with his brother Maurice and in 16 years, turned the company into the world’s largest with 600 offices in various locations and the largest corporations in the UK and the rest of the world as clients. The brothers later left the company and founded M&C Saatchi, a rival advertising agency.

Charles Saatchi’s love for the creative side of life manifested when he was 26, when he began his now famous art collection by purchasing his first piece – art done by Sol LeWitt of New York. Soon, Saatchi’s collection had grown to include numerous works of modern and abstract art by popular contemporary artists. Saatchi is a patron of the Young British Artists and has been instrumental in launching many aspiring artists’ careers. In 2009, Saatchi was ranked among Britain’s wealthiest men.

Danny DeVito is the most famous proof that, indeed, big stars come in small packages. Standing at just 5 feet – a petite person by Hollywood standards – DeVito’s body of work in theatre, television and film as actor, director and producer will put to shame many of his taller contemporaries.

Born Daniel Michael DeVito on 17 November 1944 in Neptune, New Jersey, DeVito did not exactly have a meteoric rise to A-list stardom. In the 1960s until the early 1970s, he worked on several short films, acted on stage productions and generally just tried to make a name for himself.

Then came Taxi, a hit television series, where he played Louie De Palma, the despotic dispatcher, which became one of DeVito’s iconic roles so far. He then became a household name from then on with film credits like Romancing the Stone, Ruthless People, and Batman Returns, among others.

To say that DeVito with crazy mane of hair on an otherwise bald head is an icon of film is an understatement. His face, after all, is the most recognizable on the red carpet even with his physical stature and because of his film stature, pun intended.

Mention Robert Zemeckis in any gathering of film enthusiasts and the typical reaction will be to discuss the favorite scenes and dialogues from his commercially and critically acclaimed movies from the 80s to the 90s. We are talking about these films – the Back to the Future series with Michael J. Fox (1980s), Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks (1994), and Contact with Jodie Foster (1997). Let’s not forget the revolutionary live-action/animation film Who Framed Roger Rabbit with Bob Hoskins (1988) either.

Indeed, Zemeckis is one of the few directors who will unapologetically yet so effectively use special effects to enhance the dramatic narrative of his movies! Back to the Future, for example, used an early version of the match moving effect to highlight the seamlessness between past, present and future – and the audiences lapped it up! The movie series is an icon in its own right even in Hollywood where the match moving effect is routinely used in live television broadcasts.

Then there’s Zemeckis’ use of archival footage in the modern-day film, as was the case with Forrest Gump. His special effects coupled with his dramatic narrative of the story earned Zemeckis the Academy Award for Best Director for the film. Now that’s a validation of his love for special effects in his movies as a tool to tell a story, one that will move audiences to line up, sit down, and enjoy a movie for hours on end.

Zemeckis has also used motion or performance capture technique ahead of other directors, thus, cementing his place as a truly pioneering filmmaker in the industry. Watch his movies The Polar Express with Tom Hanks (2004), Beowulf with Angelina Jolie (2007) and A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey (2009) to get an appreciation of his genius in action even before James Cameron came in on the action.

Steven Spielberg was right about Zemeckis – he is a whiz kid in filmmaking, bar none.

Anyone who’s been on the internet long enough would and should know what file sharing is. Those who are a bit more savvy would know what peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol is, or for that matter, what BitTorrent is in the first place. The genius behind this revolutionary program is Bram Cohen, a computer programmer from New York City who was a mathematical savant from an early age.

BitTorrent was the first file sharing program ever to use protocol – a design Cohen used based on the concept that a file can be downloaded from many different sources, allowing it to be completed at a much faster pace. Cohen presented his work at the first CodeCon Conference and BitTorrent became known as the most popular presentation at such an event. Since then, BitTorrent has become a worldwide favorite for music and movie file downloading, earning Cohen a spot on the list of the planet’s most successful figures in technology.

Google – who in this day and age doesn’t know the name? It has come to represent how far the world has come in technology, and is practically synonymous with the internet. No one can go online without coming across it, and the phrase “to Google”, has become acceptable verb use. A rich resource for everything, anything, everyone and anyone, this search engine giant is now one of the planet’s most powerful, most influential, most creative, most innovative, most technologically-advanced and wealthiest corporations. It is also the brainchild of Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin.

Larry Page, a native of East Lansing, Michigan, was raised by a father who had a doctorate in computer science and a mother who taught computer science at the Michigan State University, and grew up in a home filled with computers. By playing with the equipment made available to him, Page developed an interest in computers and began taking things apart out of natural curiosity. While at Stanford University, Page began looking into the World Wide Web, which at the time was just developing. Page delved into the mathematical properties of the internet for his dissertation and his research project, named “BackRub” was completed with fellow student Brin. By studying algorithms and information, Page and Brin developed PageRank, which became the backbone for a search engine capable of far more superior performance compared to others at the time. In 1996, the first version of Google was launched via the Stanford University website, and in 1998, the pair founded Google, Inc. The rest, as they say, is history.

Larry Page served as Google’s co-president from 1998-2001, then replaced Eric Schmidt as CEO in 2011. Page also sits on the Board of Directors of Google. As CEO, Page oversees the company’s daily operations and is head of the company’s product development and technology department. Page’s personal wealth is valued at some 20.3 billion dollars, and he has been ranked one of the Forbes 400 richest Americans, not to mention one of the world’s most inspiring figures in science and technology.