The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 12 January 2018

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Dutch courage

As the US ambassador to the Netherlands has discovered, the country’s journalists take their roles as hard-nosed hacks very seriously.

Peter Hoekstra, the US’s new ambassador to the Netherlands, was welcomed to the country with a swift lesson on how the Dutch press corps operates. A Donald Trump pick, he’s famous in the Netherlands for having once falsely claimed that Islamist extremists were burning cars (and even politicians) in the country. He’s since denied making the claims but during his first press conference in his new residence in The Hague this week, journalists held his feet to the fire. After he dodged the first question about his false statement, the next journalist called on a similar question. And the one after that. As one reporter put it, “This is the Netherlands: you have to answer questions.” Though Hoekstra didn’t retract his claims, the display of persistent solidarity should serve as a potent lesson to the Washington press corps facing similar evasion from the White House.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Dressing to the left

Why are the big brands eschewing men's fashion weeks in favour of their womenswear counterparts?

The menswear season follows a well-trodden path: from Pitti Uomo in Florence, fashionistas head to Milan (which begins tonight) and on to Paris. Yet the nature of each stop-off is changing. “Womenswear has taken a lot out of the men’s weeks – particularly Milan, which has lost a lot of its marquee brands to joint shows [held during women’s weeks],” says Josh Peskowitz, co-founder of Magasin, a men’s shop with locations in LA and Palm Beach. “When you don’t have those big brands showing – Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Missoni – that takes something away from men’s fashion week. And it makes it harder for buyers and editors to justify coming, particularly at such great expense.” But Peskowitz does note one silver lining: the loss of big brands means that smaller designers, such as Sunnei, have the chance to shine. You can see our favourite picks from Florence here.

Urbanism

Tall trees

Milan’s garden skyscrapers are being exported but is this cut-and-paste solution really the best way to go green?

Not everyone is convinced that garden towers are the best solution for cities that lack public parks but few doubt that Stefano Boeri’s green skyscrapers, Bosco Verticale, have been good news for Milan. Now the towers are heading abroad, as different property developers work with Boeri to create similar projects in their own countries. The Dutch city of Eindhoven will be getting its own version of the skyscrapers, modelled on the originals, and replicas have already broken ground in Lausanne and Nanjing, with more planned for Utrecht, Paris and Tirana. The apparent simplicity of Boeri’s model (based around furnishing the towers with plenty of balconies to fill with hundreds of trees, bushes and plants) has made it easily exportable. But while each new tower will have minor adaptations to fit its new home, is replicating essentially the same formula in wildly different cities a recipe for success?

Television

On-screen magic

Brazil’s fascination with soap operas has taken an unexpectedly fantastical turn – and it’s got a very real following already.

Globo, Brazil’s most popular broadcaster, has decided to freshen up its line-up of telenovelas for 2018. Instead of the usual mix of sexually charged melodramas, the new roster suggests fantasy stories are in. This week marked the release of big budget soap Deus Salve o Rei (God Save the King), a Game of Thrones-meets-Disney soap set in two fictional kingdoms. The stunning visual effects seem to have struck a chord with Brazilian viewers: it drew the biggest audience for the first episode of a soap in the 19.00 slot in five years. Also in the works from Globo this year: a Western-themed effort and a series that will be based on the work of Jane Austen. Stay tuned.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

New York: murder rates

The Urbanist

As New York records its lowest number of murders in the modern era, we talk criminality, race and justice in US cities.

From Monocle Films

Iceberg hunters

Monocle Films meets the little-known International Ice Patrol that is keeping ships safe as they navigate Atlantic waters.

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