Disneyland Paris enters Marvel universe with Avengers theme

Super heroes characters perform during the opening show at Disneyland Paris, west of Paris, Saturday, June 8, 2018. (AP)
Updated 10 June 2018
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Disneyland Paris enters Marvel universe with Avengers theme

  • A $2.5 billion park expansion will feature Marvel superheroes

CHESSY/FRANCE: Helicopters, concept cars and SWAT teams shrouded in smoke heralded the launch of the first Avengers-themed season at Disneyland Paris following the announcement of plans for a $2.5 billion park expansion that will feature Marvel superheroes.
Movie and sports stars, including French Olympians Teddy Riner and Camille Lacourt, attended an official opening Saturday night for the season that brings the Disneyland resorts a step closer to merging its traditional cast of characters with the Marvel universe.
It follows similar moves in Hong Kong Disneyland as well as in the Disney California Adventure.
“We are delighted to have the Avengers assemble in Disneyland Paris for the first time ever,” Euro Disney President Catherine Powell said. “They’re here to delight thrill and surprise you with incredible action and amazing special effects.”
Actors glided down ropes from a hovering helicopter before Spiderman, the Hulk, Ironman, Thor, Captain America and other Marvel characters took the stage for several shows.
“It’s really spectacular,” said “The Beach” actress Virginie Ledoyen, who watched the action.
Behind the special effects and celebrity guests were hard-negotiated business plans.
The Paris park’s expansion into Marvel terrain was unveiled earlier this year following a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Disney Chairman Robert Iger.
Disney Group said the makeover of Walt Disney Studios Park, one of the two theme parks that make up Disneyland Paris, will be rolled out in phases beginning in 2020. It includes three new areas based on Marvel superheroes as well as the Frozen and Star Wars franchises.
The Hotel New York will be redesigned to resemble the architecture and decor favored by Tony Stark, aka Ironman.
Analysts see the plans as a major area of investment that will aim to drive long-term growth for Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009.
“The massive Marvel collaboration and $2 billion plus investment speaks to Disney’s positive view for the future of this all-important European asset as it further drives mindshare among consumers,” GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives said in an interview.
“While Disneyland Paris has seen its shares of speed bumps from an attendance perspective post-recession and Paris attacks, its appears to be on a healthy trajectory,” he added.


Azzedine Alaia exhibition at London’s Design Museum captures the essence of his creative spirit

Updated 21 June 2018
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Azzedine Alaia exhibition at London’s Design Museum captures the essence of his creative spirit

LONDON: For lovers of fashion, a visit to the Azzedine Alaia exhibition, showing at London’s Design Museum until 7 October, is a must. Looking at the wonderful displays there is a sense of loss at his passing in November last year, but this is a great retrospective of the Tunisian designer’s life and work, which allows you to go right up to the garments on display and take in the breathtaking quality and detail of Alaia’s designs.

Alaia, born in 1935, trained as a sculptor at the School of Fine Art in Tunis. That background is evident in many of his figure-hugging designs — particularly the stunning, pared-down evening gowns.

When you look at the super slim-line garments on display it can be a bit disheartening when you see the tiny hips and waists. It makes you think of the remark attributed to Wallis Simpson: “You can never be too rich or too thin.”

But Alaia’s world was not for ordinary mortals — it was an extraordinary place for beautiful people living a dream. In the film made by Ellen von Unwerth during the preparation, staging and aftermath of an Alaia show in 1990, you see Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen  and Christy Turlington at the height of their beauty and fame reminding us of the ‘supermodel’ era, when these women dominated the international tabloid press.

Alaia himself said, “I make clothes, women make fashion.” And you only have to think of stars such as Rihanna and Penelope Cruz wearing his designs on the red carpet to understand what he means.

The film of models walking in his designs is mesmerising – each model is filmed in sequence with close up shots of what she is wearing — an excellent way of showing the fabrics, cut, patterns and innovation and how they are all brought alive through movement. Alaia’s designs flatter the female form and seem enhance women’s beauty.

The influence of Arab architecture is evident in some of his designs. His use of lace and perforated fabrics, especially broderie anglaise and punched or laser-cut leather, recalls the mashrabiya.

His ability to transform leather into such a soft, wearable, high-fashion fabric was stunning to see up close.

Also notable was his avoidance of surface embellishment such as embroidery or applied decoration. Instead, Alaia keyed pattern into the very fabric of his garments, making it an integral part of their structure, altering both their weight and form.

His fascination with African influences is also evident in his use of unusual materials including flax rope, raffia, shells or Nile crocodile skin and animal patterns.

Alaia was also deeply inspired by Spanish culture — his earliest fashion memories were reportedly of the girls in Diego Velazquez’s 1656 paining, “Las Meninas” and his voluminous ball gowns evoke the formality of the hooped gowns of the Spanish royal court during that time. He also took inspiration from Spain’s vibrant folk costumes, as seen in the effusive flamenco-inspired ruffles of some of his designs.

Through the photographs mapping his life you get a sense of the creative process and hard work that went into his couture. You also realize that this was a man who was at the top of his profession for several decades.

The exhibition does a fine job of conveying Alaia’s creative energy, and reminds visitors that his legacy lives on in the inspiration his work provides for young designers today.