The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 7 March 2017

Government

Image: Reuters

Spending spree?

Lebanon is set to get its first budget in 11 years – but how will its citizens respond?

It’s budget season across Europe but in Lebanon the delivery of that all-important briefcase has been 11 years in the offing. Not since 2005 has the government been able to agree on a fiscal plan and while corruption and blunders are to blame for many of Beirut’s municipal ills in recent years, the lack of spend has certainly held things back. The appointment of Michel Aoun as president at the end of 2016 has slammed a tenuous lid on some of the squabbles that hobble Lebanese politics and sets the stage for him to sign off on a draft later this week. With a budget, Lebanon has the potential to start spending on much-needed infrastructure again but Aoun still needs to convince the man on the street that it won’t be squandered by those in charge.

Infrastructure

Image: Getty Images

Saving the suburbs

The Italian prime minister cleans up the suburbs and gets tough on crime

Long ignored and considered the unsightly offshoot of a city’s historical core, Italian suburbs are about to take centre stage. Prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has announced a €500m investment in new urbanism projects on the outskirts of 24 cities. From Turin in the northwest to Bari in the southeast, these projects will focus on improving everything from transport to public green space. A much more drastic intervention is planned for the infamous Vele housing blocks in Scampia, just outside Naples. The enormous sail-shaped buildings, rife with drug dealing and organised-crime-fuelled degradation, will now be razed (with destruction set to start as early as this summer). A further 96 projects have also been planned but will need an additional €3.9bn. Whether Gentiloni can raise the money remains to be seen.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Fashionable ending

Paris’s fashion-week marathon comes to a suitably stylish (and soggy) close

Tomorrow night’s Louis Vuitton show will close the women’s ready-to-wear fashion-week marathon. With 82 shows and countless presentations, showrooms and tradeshows to visit, it has felt longer than usual. The unceasing rain has not helped either, while political rallies and demonstrations unconnected to fashion week have contributed to the chaotic atmosphere. There have been highlights though, such as Dries Van Noten’s milestone 100th fashion show and a parade of model muses from the 1990s. Dior’s workers’ blue overalls were also a high point, as was the stunning second ready-to-wear show of Pierpaolo Piccioli in solo at Valentino. And that’s before we mention Balenciaga’s show and APC’s 30th-anniversary event last night in Jean Touitou’s rue Madame headquarters.

Art

Mineral make-up

London gets the abstract treatment courtesy of Olivier Malingue and Makoto Ofune

Olivier Malingue of the storied French art-dealing family opened his own gallery in London’s Mayfair last October with a show from South Korean abstract artist Cho Yong-ik. With a new-year foray into the familiar, familial territory of top-notch modernism (“Picabia to Picasso”), Malingue is back with some fine Asian abstraction in the form of Japan’s Makoto Ofune, open today until 20 May. Ofune works with iwa enogu – layers of fine mineral pigments – that end up as sculptures on paper in colours such as turquoise, indigo and dark grey. Nature is present at every turn, from the four elements to heavy weather (some of those mineral-specked works suggest Hiroshi Sugimoto photographing a sea squall) to something as deftly philosophical and beguiling as International Klein Blue. Give yourself the time to enter a cool wonderland somewhere between the spiritual and the downright beautiful.

From Monocle 24

Pete Naughton, podcast critic for ‘The Telegraph’

Culture with Robert Bound

Robert Bound and Pete Naughton discuss the rise of the podcast, its relationship with radio and how a critic can recognise what’s worthy of a listen in an increasingly saturated market.

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