The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 23 January 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

A softer touch

Is the tide turning for ‘Davos Men’? For the first time, the Alpine gathering is led by women.

The state leaders, top economists and chief executives who are in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual summit, which officially kicks off today, will surely be aware of the historic leadership shift that’s taken place this year. In a well-publicised first, all seven chairs of the meeting are women, including International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde and Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg. The move was designed to send a signal that the summit is evolving yet you could be forgiven for thinking it a largely empty gesture considering the majority of attendees – about 79 per cent – are still men. Of course, that won’t be the only challenging issue this week, as presidents and prime ministers from around the world tout the benefits of globalisation, despite many pandering to populist backlashes against it at home. Even Donald Trump, whose America First campaign helped him win the presidency, is scheduled to make a speech on Friday at the summit – the first US president to attend since Bill Clinton.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Free reign?

Brazil’s former president, ‘Lula’, wants another crack at the top job – but he needs to fight the law first.

Tomorrow may be a make-or-break day for Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. After being convicted on corruption charges in 2017 he appealed to a higher court which is set to either ratify or throw out the conviction. If the decision doesn’t go in Lula’s favour it will be a setback for the politician who is once again a presidential hopeful; he has just hit the road to drum up support and has the full backing of his Workers’ party. But even if the conviction is thrown out and his name is cleared, it’s unlikely to be an easy ride to election day in October: he faces six more corruption cases that are awaiting trial. For more on Lula and his potential comeback, read our exclusive interview here.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Follow suit

Once the sole domain of pure couturiers, Paris’s couture week is rapidly filling up with ready-to-wear labels.

Still surprised by the announcement that Hedi Slimane will be the new creative director of Céline, the fashion crowd has stayed in Paris but shifted its focus from menswear to haute couture. Yet it’s debatable whether this week is deserving of the name “couture” as an increasing number of brands are taking advantage of the fact that editors are in town to stage events that don’t involve couture. On the programme this week, collections will be presented by ready-to-wear labels such as Acne Studios and Proenza Schouler, as well as high-end jewellery lines by Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels, while yesterday Louis Vuitton launched its new fragrance. Burberry is curating a photography exhibition, Hermès has opened upmarket hardware shop La Quincaillerie Petit h and Alaïa is paying tribute to the late Azzedine Alaïa with an exhibition. Couture week – which used to be exclusively for intimate salon shows by designers specialising in bespoke pieces – has become one of the most popular forums for fashion houses of various shapes and sizes.

Transport

Image: Alamy

Safe and sound

Have Japanese rail chiefs gone barking mad with their plan to reduce deer collisions?

In remote parts of Japan, trains could soon be roaring along the tracks in more ways than one. It’s a low-tech idea that’s still in the testing phase but a team of scientists at the Railway Technical Research Institute in Tokyo has found that blaring select animal noises can successfully scare wild deer grazing near the tracks. The hope, say institute officials, is that railroad operators could use sounds, not fences, to reduce the number of collisions with deer and other wild animals along tracks that run through forested mountainous areas. Such accidents were blamed for delayed or suspended services in a record 613 cases in fiscal 2016, the most recent year of data, according to Japan’s transport ministry.

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