The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 31 December 2016

Image: Mick Tsikas/PA

In with the old

So long 2016, you won’t be missed. Ringing in the New Year with fireworks and champagne has become a universal tradition but country-specific customs remain alive and kicking. Perhaps you’ll join us in trying them all at once? Dress like the Brazilians in white from head to toe and jump seven waves at midnight for luck and happiness. Or do like the Germans do and pour molten lead into cold water to tell the future. The Greeks, with brooms in hand, literally sweep out the old year, while the Italians consume lentils to bring wealth and the Spanish eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. Finally, why not do as the Portuguese and jump off a chair into the New Year? Just make sure you land on your right foot.

Image: Hideo Kurihara/Alamy

You’ve got mail

The New Year’s holiday is a busy time for Japan’s postal workers. While most of the country takes a well-deserved break, an army of mail carriers will fan out in trucks and vans, as well as on scooters and bicycles, to deliver 2.3 billion nengajo (New Year’s postcards) during the first three days of the year. For 2017, Japan Post is trying something different: it will halt deliveries for a day on 2 January. That should save the entity, which issued an IPO last year, an estimated ¥1bn (€8m) without making too many people unhappy. By the end of the first day of the year the ultra-efficient postal service will have deposited nearly 90 per cent of the total nengajo into letterboxes.

Image: Roger Bacon/Alamy

Fashion forward

This year has been an eventful – if rocky – one for fashion, with creative directors of houses dropping like flies and brands increasingly staging mixed-gender shows. But what lies ahead in 2017? Our eyes are on a pair of much-anticipated debuts. This January in Milan, Alessandro Sartori will show his first collection as artistic director of Ermenegildo Zegna. “I think Zegna’s quite an exciting proposition,” says Jo Ellison, fashion editor at the Financial Times, adding that Sartori’s idea of his role “is very tied to distribution, management, merchandising and looking at the design from the mill to the shopfront.” Shortly after Sartori’s big moment Raf Simons will unveil his inaugural men’s and womenswear collections for Calvin Klein in New York. “A lot of people think of Simons in terms of the work he did at Jil Sander, which was incredibly minimal,” says Ellison. “He worked so well at that label and did such beautiful things, and people are thinking possibly that he’ll bring more of that to Calvin Klein.”

Image: Mats Lindberg/Alamy

Born identity

Finland is issuing new passports and ID cards to celebrate the centenary of its independence in 2017. Next to advanced security features, the new editions will be embossed with the nation’s jubilee logo and thematically revolve around Lapland, as determined by a public survey conducted at the Matka Nordic Travel Fair in January 2016. The pages of the passport will showcase images inspired by the country’s northernmost destination: lakesides, snowflakes and the aurora borealis, as well as illustrations of the whooper swan (the national bird), Finland’s coat-of-arms and the text of a poem by Eino Leino. The revamp was a collaborative effort by the Finnish border guard and police, the Population Register Centre, the Finnish Immigration Service and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs; a commendable way to start the year “together”, which is what the centenary is all about.

From Monocle 24

Image: Getty Images

2016’s most fascinating film-makers

We discuss our favourite titles of 2016 and the film-makers to watch out for in 2017. Plus: the year’s most fascinating film identities, including Xavier Dolan, Ken Loach, Todd Solondz, Ben Wheatley and Peter Greenaway.

From Monocle Films

Soft Power Survey 2016/17

In this year’s Soft Power Survey we look at the hard truths of politics and how a tumultuous year has affected the softer sides of nations. Find out who’s in and who’s out as we count down to the winner.

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