Friday 19 February 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 19/2/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Laura Huhta

Fashion friendly

Menswear had a big start to the year but now the fairer sex has stepped onto the catwalks, with the women’s autumn/winter 2016 calendar having kicked off in New York last week and London Fashion Week (LFW) beginning today. At the latter, industry heavyweights are preparing for Alexander McQueen’s show, which is taking place in the British capital rather than Paris this season. Unlike previous seasons, members of the public can now easily enjoy the sartorial delights of McQueen and company: runway shows will be broadcast on 60 public screens across the UK over five days. Part of a push by the British Fashion Council to make shows – which are trade events – consumer-friendly, the move aligns with an industry-wide trend to remove barriers between designers and the public. Once LFW ends, for example, there’s London Fashion Weekend, a public event staged in the Saatchi Gallery that will see four designers showcase their spring/summer 2016 collections. Meanwhile, the Council of Fashion Designers of America has just recruited The Boston Consulting Group to come up with ways to make New York Fashion Week’s shows more accessible.

Image: Getty Images

Rocking the votes

Iran’s parliamentary hopefuls hit the campaign trail yesterday, with only a week of canvassing to go before Iranians head to the polls on 26 February. As votes will be cast in both a parliamentary election and an election for the next Assembly of Experts – a body that may select the country’s next non-elected supreme leader – on the same day, it’s shaping up to be Iran’s most important political moment in a generation. There is potential, in fact, to overturn the entrenched hard-liner bloc in both the Assembly and the Majlis. It’s not going to be an easy ride – vast numbers from the pro-reform camp have already been disqualified – but leading the charge is Mohammed Reza Aref, who bowed out of the presidential race in 2013 to allow Hassan Rouhani to take the top spot. If the reformists win, Aref might once again be the kingmaker of Iran’s future.

Image: Getty Images

Hit the Saks

Luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue debuted in Toronto yesterday, more than two years after being acquired by Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company. Occupying four floors on Queen Street West, the new outpost is the New York retailer’s first flagship in more than 40 years and is set to change Toronto’s high-end retail landscape. In addition to designers such as Dior and Stella McCartney, customers can expect private shopping salons and a food hall by upscale grocer Pusateri’s. “It’s the first time domestic luxury retailers such as Holt Renfrew have faced competition at this level,” says Francine Kopun, business reporter for the Toronto Star. “We are going to find out if the luxury market in Canada can accommodate both brands.” With the country’s economy suffering, right now might strike some as a risky time for the brand to make an entrance. However, Saks has indicated that it is here to stay.

Image: Getty Images

Promised land?

Bread, meat and milk, among other food staples, are becoming scarce in Venezuela – so much so that last week opposition leaders in the country declared a “food emergency”, urging president Nicolás Maduro to take action. In response Maduro has created a Ministry of Urban Farming and is encouraging Venezuelans to take up the task of growing their own food. Blame for the shortage is being cast in a number of directions: the president’s economic policies; the expropriation of farms and food-processing plants; and the falling price of oil, the country’s main export, leading to less capital for food imports. Topping it off, there’s a shortage of farm supplies. While the country has a vast amount of arable land, 83 per cent of Venezuelans live in cities, meaning a large majority are lacking a green thumb – or the time and space to take up the task.

Image: Glyn Lowe

Victorian social history: who were the Londoners of the 1800s?

Who were the Victorian Londoners and how did they live in the city? Social historian Lee Jackson sits down with Tom Edwards to chat about these Victorian city dwellers.

Vive le béret!

Monocle pays a visit to the last beret-maker in France and meets the Irishman trying to revive this quintessentially French piece of headwear.


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