The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 27 May 2017

Hospitality

Image: Adrian Houston

The Curtain’s open

East London’s newest hotel has something to crow about – and it should help raise standards too.

This weekend marks the latest in a spate of new London hotel openings. The Curtain, on a once-inauspicious stretch of road in clamorously cool Shoreditch, is a new-build that’s been seven years in the making. It’s also New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum’s first European venture and includes Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster restaurant on the ground-floor, a taqueria named Roosteria (really) and an appealing pool and Mediterranean-esque terrace on the roof. The 120-room affair is close enough to the soon-to-open Nobu Hotel Shoreditch to smell the miso-marinated black cod, and a clear challenger to stalwart stopovers Hoxton Hotel and Shoreditch House. Thankfully, east London’s punters are a picky bunch and the rising number of hotels here is likely to raise the standard of hospitality as each competes for the crowds in an increasingly packed market.

Film

Image: Getty Images

Yes she Cannes

Ageing actors can be overlooked but, if film festival premieres are anything to go by, Nicole Kidman is more in demand than ever.

The 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival draws to a close this weekend after a week and a half of dazzling premieres – and some puzzling ones too. The final prize has yet to be handed out (that comes tomorrow) but a clear winner has already emerged: Nicole Kidman. Though the actor has been relatively quiet in recent years she has taken the Cote d’Azur by storm, giving stellar performances in three films and a mini-series all premiering at the festival. Kidman not only stars in Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of the Sacred Deer, both of which are competing for the Palme d’Or, but also appears in the non-competing film How to Talk to Girls at Parties and has a scene-stealing role in the second series of Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake. It’s an astonishing output for any actor but for Kidman, who many had assumed was entering the twilight of her career, it’s especially exciting. Cannes may be wrapping up but it appears the Kidmannaissance is only just beginning.

Fashion

Image: Mark Shaw

Head for figures

The V&A is showcasing works from, and inspired by, one of the industry’s most influential designers.

Today Balenciaga is one of fashion’s most talked-about houses. This has a lot to do with Demna Gvasalia, the Georgian designer who took over as creative director in 2015. Of course, it has far more to do with Cristóbal Balenciaga, the Basque couturier who founded the label in San Sebastian in 1919 and pioneered the sort of proportion-busting designs that Gvasalia (and so many of today’s designers) now creates. A new exhibition at London’s V&A museum, opening today, shines a light on the founder’s works: extreme, abstract silhouettes proved that clothes didn’t need to follow the hourglass curves of women’s bodies to be attractive. More than 100 pieces – from Cristóbal and from designers who have been inspired by him, including Rei Kawakubo and JW Anderson – are on show. Highlights include a green caterpillar-like dress comprising three bulbs and a flat black “envelope” dress, while an X-ray technology system reveals the skeletons of hoops inside the masses of fabric. It’s a timely show that tells you a lot about the Spanish master and, perhaps, even more about the state of fashion today.

Cities

Image: Getty Images

Looking up

San Francisco has passed a law granting developers more vertical leeway on the proviso that they provide more affordable housing.

San Francisco’s skyline could be changing. Height restrictions on buildings aim to protect a city’s appearance and stop unbridled construction yet, in some cases, these regulations have been known to exacerbate housing shortages. The California hot spot is no exception. The population has been booming for years now but with residential building height restricted to about 12 metres (depending on the area) there’s been little vertical space to accommodate the influx. However, this week the city’s Board of Supervisors passed a law that, if not solving the problem, could be a step in the right direction. Buildings in the centre are now allowed an additional six metres as long as 30 per cent of the apartments built within are sold at below-market rates specific to the area. This may not seem much but the new law has been heralded as a milestone in a city where middle-income housing has been long neglected.

From Monocle 24

Toby Jones at Cannes

The Cinema Show

Among the renowned film-makers taking a seat inside the Palais du Festival at the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival this year is Michael Haneke. We speak to Toby Jones, the star of his latest film, ‘Happy End’, whose past credits range from the Harry Potter and Captain America franchises to Oliver Stone’s political drama ‘W.’ Plus: why Roger Moore will be remembered as one of the screen’s great action stars.

From Monocle Films

Speciality retail: Barcelona

Offering the best in local produce and rare wines, Vila Viniteca continues the Spanish retail tradition of a no-nonsense ‘colmado’ in the historic neighbourhood of el Born.

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