Ricardo Simich brings you the inside scoop from the local social scene and beyond.

Spy: 2016 - Year of the women

Venus Williams, Parris Goebel, Gemma Flynn.
Venus Williams, Parris Goebel, Gemma Flynn.

Happy New Year from Spy! We're looking forward to a year of fabulous parties and celebrity action.

As we looked to the year ahead it became quickly apparent that 2016 could be the year women dominate our pages.

It starts with the glamour girls of tennis this week and continues with visits from two of the globe's biggest stars - Nigella and Madonna.

Read also: Spy: Celebrity summer snapshots

Our female Olympians are set to shine at Rio and - who knows - Auckland may end the year with its first female supercity mayor in Victoria Crone.

From major international visitors to our own stars making it here and overseas, Spy is picking 2016 to be the year of the woman.

Tennis stars

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

The ASB Classic kicks off tomorrow and never has the quality of the women's line-up been better. Five-times Wimbledon champ Venus Williams is one of the all-time
greats and the defending champion.

The power server has amassed almost $50 million in career earnings. She faces stiff opposition from Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic. Wozniacki, who has also turned her hand to swimsuit modelling, lost in the final last year and will be out for revenge. Ivanovic, partner of Manchester United and Germany footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger, is a former world number one with more than $20 million in career earnings. What a start to 2016!


Nigella Lawson. Photo / Supplied
Nigella Lawson. Photo / Supplied

We'll have barely cooled off from the tennis when Nigella Lawson arrives. Men and women alike fall under her sexy, saucy spell and the 55-year-old domestic goddess will delight guests as she speaks about her business success and culinary delights.

Duco Events is hosting an evening with Nigella, where guests will enjoy a sumptuous four-course dining experience. It'll be a sell-out at Auckland's Langham on January 25 before she flies off to the ILT Stadium in Southland the next day.

Nigella has gone from strength to strength after her messy, headline-grabbing marriage split from Charles Saatchi, including allegations of a cocaine habit. Nigella told a British chat show it felt like "having a layer of skin removed".

Madonna . . . and Parris

Madonna. Photo / AP
Madonna. Photo / AP

The Queen of Pop hits our shores for the first time in March. Spy is tipping Auckland to go mad for Madonna's two concerts at Vector Arena. Will her son Rocco be working back stage? It's an added layer of intrigue after the singer's well-documented court battle to see her son at Christmas. And will daughter Lourdes be among the entourage? Will the 57-year-old Living for Love cougar bring a toyboy or, even better, will she find one while out in Auckland? Madge ensures the beginning of this year will be one to remember.
And Spy is dreaming of a collaboration with our very own Queen of Dance Parris Goebel.
This one has been playing on the rumour mill but remains unconfirmed, but Spy says Parris choreographing parts of the Rebel Heart tour would be a match made in heaven.

Justin Bieber's video Sorry, starring Goebel and her South Auckland dance crews ReQuest and Royal Family (Megacrew), has been viewed online by more than 430 million people.

It would be a missed opportunity if the Rebel Heart tour did not involve Goebel in at least part of the Australasian tour. Such a collaboration would be a fresh crown for the star who has worked with the likes of Nicki Minaj, J. Lo and Janet Jackson. Madonna and Goebel performing Vogue please!


Our women are tipped for big things at the August Olympics - and make up more than half the entire NZ team. The Women's Black Sticks are in a strong spot for a medal after making the World League Final in Argentina last year.

The team has plenty of experience - captain Anita Punt is poised for her second Olympics campaign and former captain Kayla Whitelock is hoping to make it to her fourth Olympics. Gemma Flynn has two tournaments under her belt.

Our women's rugby sevens team are hot favourites, led by Kayla McAllister, Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan Wong.

Kayaker Lisa Carrington will paddle for two gold medals, Sarah Walker will look to improve on her silver medal at the last Olympics and our rowing teams are contenders. Throw in swimmer Lauren Boyle, golfer Lydia Ko and our greatest Olympian Val Adams and Spy is picking a record medal haul. Spy will even the ledger this year - we'll pay close attention to the BAHs (Boyfriends and Husbands), including All Blacks Richie McCaw and George Whitelock.

Lord Mayor's show

Victoria Crone. Photo / Nick Reed
Victoria Crone. Photo / Nick Reed

The battle for Mayor of Auckland is looking like a two-horse race between Labour MP Phil Goff and businesswoman Victoria Crone. Spy says may the best person win - but wouldn't it be nice to have a woman in charge come October?

Ones to watch

Trish Peng

Trish Peng (right). Photo / Norrie Montgomery.
Trish Peng (right). Photo / Norrie Montgomery.

Four years into her career, Peng has wowed at NZ Fashion Week and now divides her time between New Zealand and LA, where she is making inroads into the California fashion industry.

Vivien Maidaborn

Vivien Maidaborn (left). Photo / Stuart Munro
Vivien Maidaborn (left). Photo / Stuart Munro

Executive director of Unicef NZ, Maidaborn has had a huge impact on fundraising. Despite the controversy over Sonny Bill Williams' tweets this week, Spy hears his role as an ambassador is just the first in a series of exciting announcements.

Sofia Ambler

Sofia Ambler. Photo / Supplied
Sofia Ambler. Photo / Supplied

The former stockbroker is changing luxury tourism, from the lodges in which to stay through to flying billionaires here. She combines adventure and business acumen.

- Spy.co.nz

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