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Giorgio Armani had three important things to say on Monday: yes, he can do colours other than grey and beige, no, he is going nowhere and no, he has not had a nose job.

The first point was made by his Spring-Summer 2016 womenswear collection, an unexpectedly colourful affair suffused by various hues of red (flame, lacquer and geranium, since you ask).

The second and third were made by Armani himself at the launch of a self-penned book about his extraordinary life and career, told largely through a total of 410 pictures, many of them previously unpublished snaps from his private archive.

Among them is one of him as a baby -- looking remarkably similar to how he does today, at the age of 81.

Asked why he had chosen that image for the cover, the designer replied: "Yes, there was a reason for that: the nose.

"Many have said, quite impertinently, that Armani had a nose job and that it made him look younger. Well, that nose you see there is the same as this one."

- 'He'll never retire' -

Armani also found impertinent a question about where he imagined his multi-billion-euro empire being in 30 to 40 years.

 

 

That did not however stop him answering in terms which suggest that, while he has begun planning for what happens after he has gone, retirement is not on his immediate agenda.

"In any case I won't be there," he said, admitting that, without him at the helm, it might be difficult for his company to remain the independent, private structure it is now.

"Independence is a beautiful thing. You can choose everything from the light you have in your office to the kind of fashion you make.

"But independence also means having the means to preserve your independence. As long as I am alive, I think, independence will be there. After, immediately after, perhaps we will prepare the ground for a more modified, more controlled independence.

"But it will depend on what fashion is at that time and the position we find ourselves in."

 

 

 

 

 

Grammy award-winning American musician Pharrell Williams will face a protest by thousands of Palestinian supporters at a concert in Cape Town on Monday, organisers of the demonstration said.

Members of pro-Palestinian group Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) are campaigning against the singer's partnership with major South African retail group Woolworths, over its imports from Israel.

The South African branch of the BDS movement vowed to hold "the largest protest any artist would have faced since the end of apartheid" at Pharrell's concert at Cape Town's Grand West Casino.

On Friday the group won a court battle against an attempt by Cape Town authorities to limit the number of demonstrators to 150, and said it expected 40,000 people to turn out.

Earlier this year, Pharrell became Woolworths' new style director "in a ground-breaking collaboration across a series of sustainability-focused projects", the upmarket retailer said.

BDS accuses Woolworths of importing Israeli agricultural produce from the occupied territories, a charge the company denies.

 

 

 

 

Soul legend Aretha Franklin, the daughter of a preacher, will sing for Pope Francis during his highly anticipated visit to the United States this month, it was announced Monday.

Franklin, originally a Gospel singer but best known for her feminist-tinged cover of "Respect," will perform for the reform-minded pope in Philadelphia at the September 26 "Festival of Families," organizers said.

The 73-year-old Franklin, whose father was a Baptist minister, recorded her first album, 1956's "Songs of Faith," at his Detroit church when she was 14.

The 18-time Grammy winner said in a statement that it was "indeed a blessing" to sing for Pope Francis.

The Festival of Families, sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church and put on every three years, also announced that actor Mark Wahlberg would serve as the host of the event.

Wahlberg, a devout Catholic, embraced the church after deciding to turn his life around during a short jail term for racially motivated attacks as a teenager in Boston.

 

 

 

 

Brazilian millionaire Bernardo Paz has dedicated his life to turning a vast outdoor park of tropical rainforest studded with contemporary art works into one of the most original museums in the world.

Part botanical garden, part gallery, Inhotim is the expression of Paz's unstoppable dream -- and of the fortune he amassed in iron ore mining when Chinese demand for raw materials was booming.

But today, while the tycoon's dream is intact, Brazil's economic crisis and the drop in China's appetite mean his fortune can no longer keep up.

Inhotim covers the area of about 300 football pitches, an oasis of tropical rainforest in the heart of Brazil's mining region Minas Gerais. Dotted through the foliage are hundreds of works of art produced by some 200 international artists.

And despite being far from the main cities of Rio or Sao Paulo, almost half a million make the journey here every year. It's a place, says Paz, 64, "where people want to stay."

 

 

Paz has lived within the park for years, now with his sixth wife and two of his seven children. But even in this paradise, where toucans and monkeys roam freely, there's no way to escape the economic gloom growing in the Latin American giant.

He directly finances a third of Inhotim's budget and because iron ore prices halved last year, down to around $50 a ton, the 64-year-old with the look of a refined hippie is reluctantly having to tame his wild dreams.

"I was going to keep growing Inhotim at the same speed, but my industries which give me the resources to keep the process going are complicated," he said regretfully in an interview with AFP.

"The world is very complicated."

 

 

The United States on Thursday returned to French authorities an oil painting by Pablo Picasso that was reported stolen from a major Paris museum 14 years ago.

"The Hairdresser," which Picasso created in Paris in 1911 during his Cubism period, was seized by US customs agents in New Jersey.

Valued at $15 million, it was authenticated in January by experts from the Centre Georges Pompidou museum, its previous home.

"Picasso used to say: 'A painting truly exists in the eyes of the beholder'," said Frederic Dore, deputy chief of mission at the French embassy in Washington, where the painting was formally handed over.

Once back in the French capital, the diplomat said, it will "come back to life" and return to public view after careful restoration "thanks to this outstanding Franco-American customs cooperation."

The painting had been listed on Interpol's database of stolen works of art since it was reported stolen from the Centre Pompidou's archives in 2001.

It had last been publicly displayed in Munich, Germany in 1998 -- and no one is clear on where it has been since.

US customs agents came across it during a targeted inspection in Newark, New Jersey, just outside New York, in December 2014.

Wrapped as a Christmas parcel sent from Belgium, it bore a shipping label that claimed it was a mere $30 handicraft, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said.

 

 

Half a century later, the famous rivalry between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones may not be over.

Stones guitarist Keith Richards in a new interview has denounced "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the 1967 album by The Beatles famed for its experimentation.

Richards told Esquire magazine that the Fab Four "sounded great" when they stayed true to their original sound but "got carried away."

"Why not? If you're The Beatles in the '60s, you just get carried away -- you forget what it is you wanted to do," he said.

He said of "Sgt. Pepper": "Some people think it's a genius album, but I think it's a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like 'Satanic Majesties.'"

He was referring to "Their Satanic Majesties Request," the Stones' psychedelic album that came out in 1967 shortly after "Sgt. Pepper" and which Richards has previously described as the Stones' work of which he is least proud.

The Beatles recorded "Sgt. Pepper" after retiring from touring and the album has often been seen as a historic moment in turning pop albums into broader artistic concepts.

Moving away from The Beatles' pop roots, "Sgt. Pepper" takes influences from a range of genres including Indian classical music after guitarist George Harrison traveled to India and became enthralled by Hindu philosophy.

 

 

A British bravery medal awarded to a female spy who parachuted into France during World War II and was executed by the Nazis was sold with her other awards on Wednesday for £260,000 ($406,000, 373,000 euros).

Violette Szabo, the daughter of a British father and French mother, was one of only four women to receive the George Cross, the second highest British honour.

She was twice sent behind enemy lines with Britain's secret Special Operations Executive, firstly to confirm reports that one of its sabotage operations had been compromised and then to arrange a similar set-up elsewhere.

 

 

 

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been arrested again in New Zealand and was behind bars on Sunday night, his lawyer said.

Details of the charges were unclear and police refused to confirm the 61-year-old had been arrested, less than two weeks after he was sentenced to home detention after pleading guilty to threatening to kill and drugs charges.

However, his lawyer Craig Tuck told journalists Rudd would be appearing in court on Monday.

"All I can say is he has been arrested and will be appearing on Monday at 10am (Sunday at 2200 GMT) in the Tauranga District Court," Tuck said.

"That's all I can say for now and that's all I am telling everyone who is calling."

 

 

 

Christian Dior's creative director Raf Simons brought a "garden of earthly delights" to Paris Fashion Week on Monday, slipping models into luxurious chainmail in a couture collection inspired by mediaeval art and fashion.

Sashaying down a lilac catwalk, models in flowing silk taffeta gowns inspired by the Belle Epoque and cowl-necked cloaks in deep purple and black reminiscent of the late Middle Ages, would not have been out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones.

Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o was one of the stars attending Dior's autumn-winter unveiling on the second day of the couture shows unique to Paris.

 

 

Simons said his collection was inspired by the Old Masters of Flemish painting and the age-old fusion ofart, history and fashion.

"I was intrigued by the idea of forbidden fruit and what that meant now," said Simons in a statement.

"The idea of purity and innocence versus luxury and decadence and how that is encapsulated by the idea of Dior's garden -- no longer a flower garden but a sexual one."

Draped gowns and historical sleeves, hand-painted patterns and coats resembling Middle Age mantles provide a "broad sweep" of fashion history.

Glittering chainmail peeking from beneath a short taffeta dress with sleeves cinched at the wrists, or placed over another as a gilet, put jewellery at the focus of the outfit.

Over a long billowing gown hanging delicately from the shoulders, a heavy gold chain dripped from the model's neck.

- Schiaparelli in 1930s Paris -

Italian fashion legend Elsa Schiaparelli continued to haunt her eponymous brand a year after the long-dormant house made its comeback.

 

 

 

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, who for eight straight years gobbled up all comers in the famed Nathan's hot dog eating contest in New York, finally met his match Saturday.

Chestnut, 31, was defeated by Matt Stonie, 23, his longtime rival in the niche competitive eating circuit.

Stonie devoured 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, two more than Chestnut at the hugely popular July 4 contest, held each year on the boardwalk of Brooklyn's Coney Island and broadcast live on television.

It was ketchup-flavored revenge for Stonie, who was runnerup to Chestnut in last year's showdown.

The women's contest was won by veteran competitive eater Miki Sudo, who wolfed down 38 hot dogs.

That was seven more than second-placed finisher Sonya Thomas, a former champ with multiple eating records under her belt.