The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 10 April 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Turkey’s test

A controversial referendum this week could hand president Erdogan sweeping new powers.

A decisive week starts for Turkey as the country prepares for a referendum on Sunday. If the vote is “yes”, it will deliver a raft of new powers to its president; if it’s a “no”, well, that’s a great unknown especially as the debate takes on an increasingly frenzied pitch. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criss-crossed the country to drum up support and name-called those European nations that didn’t allow his party to rally for the diaspora. Yet the outcome ultimately sits in the hands of those who have kept Erdogan in power for so long – those conservative Turks and Kurds of inner Anatolia who found common ground in Erdogan’s Islamist-lite message and promises of development. After two years of repeated terrorist attacks, a coup and the economy in freefall, this week is the real test of whether Erdogan’s promises still cut it in his heartland.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Race to the Élysée

From socialists to capitalists, internationalists to protectionists and liberals to conservatives – the one thing French voters aren’t lacking is choice.

Today marks the official opening of the French presidential election campaign with just under two weeks to go until the first round of voting. Although the party leaders have all ostensibly been campaigning hell for leather for months already, from now until midnight on 22 April strict regulations govern the candidates’ “temps de parole et d’antenne” (time spent speaking on TV and over the airwaves). Yet while “égalité” governs the media from here on in, the campaign itself will become increasingly bloody over the next 12 days. You wouldn’t want to attempt a prediction but one thing is clear: never have 11 candidates in a French election covered such a broad swathe of perspectives. While we may find some of those views noxious, this election gives the lie to the populist claim that traditional democracy has neglected “the people”.

Fashion

Image: Tom Chance

History is the new black

Gucci’s brand is coming up roses after its garden gift will make the label’s catwalk a masterpiece.

In the past five years Italy’s fashion houses have turned their coffers towards restoring some of the country’s major historical sites: Bulgari financed work on Rome’s Spanish Steps, Fendi the Trevi Fountain and Tod’s the Colosseum. Last week Florentine giant Gucci joined their ranks as it announced a three-year, €2m plan to spruce up the Boboli Gardens in its hometown, with works already underway on the 33-acre plot. Under the administration of the Uffizi Gallery, the gardens are home to masterpieces such as statues by 16th-century sculptor Giambologna and grottos laid out by the renowned Giorgio Vasari. In return, Gucci will be allowed to host its next fashion show on 29 May at the Uffizi-owned Palazzo Pitti, built for the aristocratic Pitti family in 1457 at the foot of the gardens. Last year’s catwalk took place at Westminster Abbey, showing that Gucci is keen to bring a historic flavour to its events.

Design

Image: HKIFFS/Flickr

Keeping it simple

Pared-back graphics are stealing the spotlight at Hong Kong’s film festival.

Hong Kong International Film Festival opens on cinema screens across the city tomorrow with ‘Love Off The Cuff’ – the final act in a local love-story trilogy. However all the talk during the build-up has been about the festival’s scene-stealing graphic design by Wong San Mun. The veteran designer returns for a second time as the festival’s art director after last year’s well-received 40th anniversary revamp. Wong’s new logo and simple yet striking film poster is a far cry from Hong Kong’s lamentable ‘more is more’ approach to graphic design. This is one film sequel that should run and run.

From Monocle 24

An Australian take

The Menu

The success of Australia’s Four Pillars gin, the potential of the Indian wine market and the week’s top news stories from the US.

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