The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 27 April 2018

Politics

Image: Alamy

Second fiddle

Angela Merkel touches down in the US today but has the French president already stolen her thunder?

German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Washington later today for a series of bilateral talks with Donald Trump. It will be a closely watched encounter, not least because the pair shared a number of awkward moments the last time Merkel visited (remember the spurned handshake?). Yet the events of the past few days make the backdrop to this rendezvous even more intriguing. French president Emmanuel Macron, in Merkel’s place just two days ago, stole the show by charming Trump in person but then immediately criticised the Trumpian worldview in a powerful speech to Congress. Can Merkel match that? Less chummy with Trump and with her influence back in Europe on the wane, she has fewer options than her French counterpart did. This week may go down as the week Macron outshone Merkel for the first time on the world stage.

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Friend zone

Thawing relations between Asia’s political leaders bodes well for the region.

In Asian politics there are reasons to be cheerful as the weekend approaches. The North and South Korean leaders, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, are meeting at the so-called Peace Village on the southern side of the border, with an end to the enduring state of war between Seoul and Pyongyang potentially on the cards. And there’s another friendly get together taking place too, this time on the Chinese inland city of Wuhan. President Xi Jinping is hosting an “unofficial” summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as the two men address the long-running border disputes that have recently triggered more skirmishes between the two countries. Modi is then set to make a formal visit to China in June. Fruitful discussions between the heads of the world’s two most-populous countries ought to have a positive bearing on the region’s future. Happy Friday, indeed.

Hospitality

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New look

The revamped Principal hotel in London’s Bloomsbury signals a shift west for London’s long-eastbound hospitality openings.

The last few scaffolding boards are being removed from the terracotta facade of the Principal in London’s Bloomsbury, and the hotel is now open for business. Dating from the 1890s, the vast 334-room establishment is a breath of fresh air in a market that’s become dominated by sparse, industrial-style spaces, exposed-brick walls and concrete floors. But it’s the location rather than the aesthetic that’s prompting questions. “One of the Starwood executives described Bloomsbury as ‘the hole in the donut’,” the Principal hotel’s brand director Simon Willis told Monocle. “It’s not the most obvious place to open.” After years in which London’s best bars, new hotels and hippest restaurants have ebbed east, the Principal intends to turn the tide. Whether or not it provides the filling in the proverbial donut remains to be seen.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Best in show

Young designers get the chance to impress industry insiders in the South of France.

In the fine modernist Villa Noailles in Hyères an event is taking place that gives visitors a glance into the future of fashion – and provides young designers with one of the biggest career boosts available in the industry. The Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography features 10 up-and-coming designers who show their work to a powerful creative panel, this year headed by Belgian designer Haider Ackermann, the former creative director of Italian fashion brand Berluti. The victor receives a very valuable prize – an instant positive hit for their reputation. Last year Vanessa Schindler scored a job with Chanel’s couture department immediately after scooping the Grand Prize. This latest winner will be announced this weekend and the exhibition will remain open at the villa until 27 May.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

The crowd effect

The Urbanist

We examine how crowdfunding is being applied to real estate and local government – and why one US mayor is taking this phenomenon with a pinch of salt. Can you create a more successful city if you ask the crowd?

From Monocle Films

Speciality retail: Prague

Prague butcher Nase Maso has married traditional know-how with contemporary design to create a culinary destination in the Czech capital. This month’s specialist retailer tells us about his special cuts and meaty passions.

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