Saturday 23 February 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 23/2/2019

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Welcome to The Monocle Weekend Edition

You are among the first to see Monocle's Weekend Edition, our launched-today newsletter for, well, the weekend. As well as our bedrock magazine, we have in recent years – as you hopefully know – published newspapers: seasonal outings The Winter Weekly and The Summer Weekly and editions dedicated to key events, including Milan’s Salone del Mobile (this design special will be returning in the spring).

And while you’ll find this bulletin in your inbox, it delivers many of the things we love about great weekend newspapers – but with a Monocle edge. The Weekend Edition is an email bulletin with some deep newsprint DNA.

In this instalment we take a moment to remember Karl Lagerfeld, who died on Tuesday. The legendary designer sat down with our editor in chief – and that interview for Monocle Films revealed his sharp and witty take on the world around us. We remember some of Lagerfeld’s most memorable pronouncements and our fashion editor Jamie Waters reports on how his death took centre-stage at Milan’s womenswear shows this week.

Elsewhere, Tyler Brûlé reveals the joys of spontaneous rail travel. We hope you enjoy the inaugural ride. See you next week.

Image: Courtesy of Related Oxford

Report / New York

Taking centre stage

After years of construction, Hudson Yards – a huge new project in the west of Manhattan by master planners KPF – will bring a slew of new retail, F&B and architecture offerings to New York when it opens on 15 March.

It’s the latest in a line of recent compact developments that combine well-known monobrand shops with leisure facilities. The expansion of Industry City in the Sunset Park neighbourhood of Brooklyn, FiDi’s South Street Seaport and the new Building 77 at Brooklyn Navy Yard are prime examples. But they pale in comparison to the scope and scale of Hudson Yards.

Despite the density of Manhattan, this plot near Penn Station has long been a dead zone – visited to catch a bus or attend the Javits Center for a conference, but not for much else. No longer. Hudson Yards brings retail brands such as Forty Five Ten and Neiman Marcus to New York for the first time, as well as food concepts from the likes of David Chang and Thomas Keller. The standout, though, is cultural space The Shed, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group, which features a sliding shell structure that can stage musical and theatrical events inside and out.

Some decry the homogenisation of New York. But there’s little doubt that Hudson Yards is a coup for an area that was once deemed a lost cause due to its expansive railyards – as long as the public has an appetite for this sort of experience. We’ve already seen new businesses – from residential blocks to the excellent Legacy Records restaurant – spring up in anticipation of the project. Now we’ll have to wait and see whether the regeneration draws the crowds from Penn Station.

Image: Charles Duprat

Get out / Paris

The road less travelled

We all know that cities are suffering from too much mass tourism – and that’s why many have policies in place to steer visitors beyond the hotspots. But sometimes a city’s suburbs and wastelands are unlikely to appease Jim and Mary from Nebraska, who are after some easy fun. And who can blame them: there is a limit to how much street art anyone can enthuse about.

The task of getting you beyond Notre Dame when visiting Paris has been taken up with gusto by several guidebook authors. Parisian Nicolas Le Goff, author of L’Autre Paris, directs visitors to the overlooked arrondissements around the city centre. “I start where uncurious tourists tend to stop,” he says. “It’s where real Parisian life takes place. You might not have as many monuments but there are many cultural places, a lot of bars and restaurants.”

So if you’re in Paris this weekend, Le Goff recommends Thaddaeus Ropac’s gallery in Pantin. “They have a little café, a garden,” he says. Ground Control is a wholesome food market and beer garden in the 12th arrondissement. We think that even Jim and Mary will enjoy his picks. And, in turn, we’d recommend Le Goff’s book too.

Image: Courtesy of Related Oxford

Check in / Austria

Where are you next weekend?

If you're after a fine, family-run hostel – complete with a smart garage for your G-Wagen (this one was designed by the Japanese firm Simplicity), handsome waiters in good Austrian tailoring and a lovely bar for enjoying a glass or two of fine red from Moric – then next weekend you're going to be at the Almhof Schneider in Lech. It helps if you ski but you can also enjoy the recently completed and well-appointed spa, relax on the terrace or expand your tracht collection at Strolz across the street.

Report / aviation

Switzerland takes wing

Government jets are complicated: technically, politically, financially and otherwise. On the one hand they’re an essential tool and expression of a nation’s brand. On the other they’re rather expensive to run, a lightning rod for the media and opposition parties and a cause of embarrassment when they fail. When Chancellor Merkel’s Airbus had communication issues en route to the G20, not only was there no back up available, she couldn’t even swing a ride with Lufthansa and had to fly with a small team on Iberia. While Germany will now upgrade its already sizeable fleet of VIP aircraft with three new A350s, Switzerland has gone one better by taking delivery of a homegrown aircraft, which overcomes most of the problems that plague government-jet ownership.

The new VIP configured Pilatus PC-24 delivered earlier this week is not only Swiss-made and owned, it’s also small enough that it doesn’t look like it’s a burden on the public purse. Capable of shuttling six ministers and crew to most European capitals, the aircraft also has the advantage of being able to land on gravel runways or unimproved roads, meaning that the Swiss Air Force doesn’t need big airports and all the facilities required by heads of state using Gulfstreams, Boeings or Airbuses. For longer jaunts ministers are getting two used Bombardier Challengers but the comms team at the air-force HQ were quick to point out that these would also be used for medevac missions and deportations. Talk about being sent home in style.

Long read / Trains

Tyler Brûlé’s time out

Do you ever have daydreams about disappearing? Are there moments when you plot how you might make your escape and where you’d go? More importantly, do you meticulously plan how you’d get there, what you’d take along and what you’d do once settled into your new life? Do you think about who might be the first to notice your absence and raise the alarm? Would you go so far as to muster up a disguise?

Two weeks ago I was confronted with a rare open window – a free Saturday in Tokyo. With no meetings, no shave appointment, no must-see sights or friends to meet, was this my opportunity to slip out of the hotel in the early hours and make a speedy dash out of the city? Or, in typically Japanese fashion, should I rehearse first and save my disappearance for another day? Given that I vaguely recalled committing to late-night drinks with colleagues, I opted for the latter but still set myself the challenge of getting as far away from the city as I could, as quickly as possible.

This being the land that invented high-speed rail, fast escapes are plentiful, comfortable and well catered. With pointy-beak shinkansen (bullet trains) hurtling out of the city every few minutes, it’s also rather straightforward to be hundreds of kilometres away before anyone might notice you split town. But what to pack?

In the dark hours of Saturday morning I opted for a low-key canvas tote and kept the contents to the basics: wallet (fully cashed-up), passport, pens, diary, notebook, three copies of The New Yorker, sweater, sunglasses and a very large travel scarf. This being the land of the convenience store, I could buy toiletries and pretty much anything else I’d need while zig-zagging across the country. But where was I going?

With no meetings, no shave appointment, no must-see sights or friends to meet, was this my opportunity to slip out of the hotel in the early hours and make a speedy dash out of the city? I instructed the cab to take me to Tokyo Station and 20 minutes later I was staring at the departure screen and had decided on Aomori: snowy, plenty of apple juice and as far north as I could go while still remaining on the main island of Honshu. I could even sample Gran Class – a step up from the usual premium “green cars”. On the platform, the Hayabusa-class shinkansen was humming and ready to depart. Perhaps the most extreme design of JR’s shinkansen family, the nose looks part crocodile, part platypus while the jade-green livery must have been designed for maximum stand-out during the snowy season. On board, the Gran Class concept didn’t disappoint – slippers, eye-masks and woolly blankets were available at every seat and the pair of attendants offered up Japanese or western breakfast bento boxes and cloudy fresh-pressed apple juice. So far, the act of disappearing was shaping up to be both comfy and tasty.

At a little over three hours, the journey up to Aomori offers plenty of time to get a glimpse of rural Japan. After Sendai, the settlements thin out and the villages and farms start looking a little less prosperous, the forests thicker and the snow deeper. It also allows ample hours to get lost in thought and think about the next steps of your disappearing act. Yes, the real estate is going to be cheap and you’ll be able to buy a lovely farm. No, it’s not going to be that easy to blend into the Japanese countryside and you might have to give some more consideration about what country you choose when you put the plan into proper action.

As is the case with many Japanese cities, the shinkansen doesn’t pull into the city centre and you’re left out in the suburbs needing to connect to a local train. I jumped on one and a few minutes later was in the impossibly snowy centre of Aomori – ahead of me a new-ish suspension bridge and the Wonderwall-designed A-Factory selling a lot of apple products and various regional wares. As first impressions go, they’re a good pair as they divert your attention from a decaying urban core and show that a bit of good design and retail can do a lot to help lift a brand.

The settlements thin out and the villages and farms start looking a little less prosperous, the forests thicker and the snow deeper Inside A-Factory I bought some utensils made from hiba wood, bunaco bowls and all kinds of apple snacks. If the exercise was to help stimulate regional producers, I more than did my bit. Out on the streets, my trainers weren’t quite ready for the snow but I carefully made my way down a deserted main street and took shelter in a charming, if very faded, Sakurano department store. Untouched since the early 1980s, this is where the Aomori action was as the floors were full of shoppers and there was quite a bit of excitement about the chocolate festival on the shop floor. In the aisles of the homeware department I decided I’d have no problem stocking up for my new home but the menswear department offered little promise – save for a wide selection of thermal undies.

On the way back to the station I passed streets dotted with empty shops, rusty awnings and little in the way of life. Could this be the place to set-up a new shopping precinct? Would Aomori be the place to one day reappear as a landlord with a portfolio bursting with smart little businesses from across northern Japan? Could this place be jolted back to life? Perhaps. The disappearance dress rehearsal was over and an evening of whisky highballs were waiting for me back in Tokyo.

Hotels / New York

Big Apple’s big addition

The opening of The Times Square Edition marks hotelier Ian Schrager’s return to a neighbourhood that he helped shape – and one that that badly needs him back.

Despite being open for just three years, Schrager’s fêted nightclub Studio 54 became a byword for excess and louche behaviour. But that was 1981. Today word of Schrager’s latest hospitality opening arrives more mundanely – via a press release. The Times Square Edition, it says, will have a restaurant run by Michelin-star chef John Fraser and a “cultural entertainment space”. Could this really be the legacy of the man whose club spawned thousands of black-and-white Polaroids – the ones with Grace Jones getting giddy, Andy Warhol with his wig askew, and the Stones and Stallone looking bleary-eyed?

But one wonders how Schrager, the gruff Brooklynite behind The Royalton and The Paramount hotels, will turn his one-time golden touch for party-planning and revelry to a new era. Will The Times Square Edition survive in the age of the earnest freelancer and the diffident technology worker grumbling about the wi-fi and clogging up the order book with kale smoothies.

Schrager has a good pedigree, of course. The Edition brand (which works with Marriott International) has launched great hotels in 10 locations, from London to Miami Beach. Here’s hoping that Schrager’s homecoming can move beyond the “cultural entertainment space” and into the revelrous realm of his previous forays. Touristy Times Square could do with the jolt – so too could a few earnest hotels nearby.

Image: Shutterstock

The interview / Fashion

Karl Lagerfeld

The death this week of Karl Lagerfeld was a loss for the world of fashion. But it was also a loss for culture, conversation – and perfect one-liners. In 2014 he sat down with our editor in chief for Monocle Films. Here are just a few words of wisdom from their meeting in Paris. Long live Karl. And look out for two new Monocle projects with Chanel coming to Monocle 24.

On selling: “Marketing is a word I never use, because I don’t know what it means. I don’t have to do that.”

On media: “I love daily papers. But some of them have problems, they are not very well-written. Survival of daily papers depends a lot on the way people write.”

On Germany: “There are many different cities, not only one big city and the rest are sleeping beauties. In that sense, Germany is more diverse than other countries.”

On Berlin: “Berlin could be great but for me it is a human body with an arm and a leg missing. It’s OK to be trendy… they want to look like a second-grade London.”

On change: “You cannot criticise a world because you think it was better before. For me it’s OK, I must be an opportunist, I can still live in my private world, but I’m not against the world of today because if you are against it you are like Don Quixote. I don’t fight windmills.”

On Karl: “I don’t want to be pretentious but maybe I’m not so bad.”

On his life: “I did what I wanted to do and in a way more than I expected to do. But I am never pleased with myself, I always think I could do better.”

Image: Courtesy of Prada

Report / Milan

Show must go on

Milan Fashion Week concludes on Monday – and it’s been a time for reflection for Italy’s biggest houses. For Prada and Gucci – both engulfed in scandals in recent months for releasing products deemed offensive by some – the only way to move forward was by staging strong shows. Gucci’s co-ed show featured flashing lights, bright tailoring and sneakers carried as accessories. Prada’s sultry dresses and sparkling heels portrayed a mood flitting between angry and romantic.

Fendi, meanwhile, unveiled the final collection by the late Karl Lagerfeld, who had designed womenswear for the Roman house since 1965. The German worked on the collection until the end – and you could tell: it was filled with Lagerfeld signatures, including high-pointed collars and laser-cut leather coats. The beautiful collection paid tribute to Fendi’s codes and – as was Lagerfeld’s genius – looked totally modern. It’s not clear where Fendi goes from here. Silvia Fendi could take over or the Italian house could turn to current Dior creative director and Rome native Maria Grazia Chiuri. For now the house needs time to heal and regroup.

This Milan season has also been about new beginnings: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac started to rebuild Benetton by holding its first-ever runway show, storied designer Marco Zanini launched his own label and Daniel Lee had a convincing debut at Bottega Veneta. In an emotional week, the Italians put on a brave face – and a good show.

Report / Winter Weekender

Pleased to meet you

Monocle recently headed to Schloss Elmau in Bavaria for two days of conversation, debate, whisky sours (ouch) and deep snow with some of our longest subscribers and most loyal readers and listeners. The Winter Weekender is part of a new intimate format (we capped the numbers at 50) which will have spring, summer and autumn outings, that was both fun and inspiring. One of the favourite moments saw our delegate from Athens reversing roles with us as he told the story of how, at eight-months old, his child started stealing his copies of Monocle – and could even say the magazine’s name (great – but can you train him to fill out the subscription page?). But it raised a topic that we are all grappling with: screen vs print; the value of reading. I think you know what we think.

We also had a fireside conversation with the Vatican’s Monsignor Paul Tighe, who debated forgiveness (and his need for Tom Petty), and Lebanese food campaigner Kamal Mouzawak who, when asked what his waking thought is each day, gave a simple answer: “Change the world.” Come along next time. But be wise with the whisky sours.

Watch / Read / Buy

Culturally alert

‘Capernaum’. Lebanese film-maker Nadine Labaki’s gut-wrenching Capernaum has already won last year’s Cannes Jury prize – and there’s a good chance it will bag an Oscar for best foreign film this weekend too. It’s no easy watch: a hard-done-by 12-year-old stuck in jail decides to sue his own parents over how they raised him (or rather, how they failed to do so properly). But there’s tenderness and compassion in Labaki’s portrait of her little Beiruti protagonist – and an anger that feels legitimate and necessary.

‘The Spirit of Science Fiction’. There aren’t any actual spaceships in Roberto Bolaño’s first novel (now finally posthumously released in English) but rather two young poets roaming the streets of Mexico City in search of direction and – as all such bohemian types would – everlasting literary fame. Like the best Latin American sagas, this book is peopled with a cohort of odd characters: their fleeting presence is perfectly fitting for this charmingly rambling story.

MK2 Store. French film-production company MK2, founded by producer Marin Karmitz in 1974, has recently opened its own shop in Paris. The shop, integrated into the MK2 Quai de Seine cinema in the 19th arrondissement, is made for cinephiles. Vintage film-themed books and unique pieces including a card game designed by Wes Anderson and the Eames LTR table featured in Mike Mills’s movie Beginners share the space – and there’s even a café.

Eat / London

Postcard from the past

I’ve celebrated several people’s birthdays in the past few weeks and, by dubious dint of being Monocle’s food editor (writes Josh Fehnert), I’m usually obliged to select the restaurants at which to celebrate. A prospect, believe it or not, that fills me with dread and uncertainty. Who’s going to enjoy what, then moan? Whose modish food prohibitions make them shy away from sat-fats or baulk at beef when it arrives rare? If this is you, I’m sorry but I’m omnivorous, unsympathetic and will never fully understand.

So, I decided to try Andrew Edmunds on the recommendation of another Monocle editor. I knew I could shirk the blame if it under-delivered – it didn’t. This storied soot-black townhouse on Lexington Street in London’s Soho doesn’t seem to have changed since the doors creaked open and the candles were lit for dinner service in 1986. The food is stolid and unyieldingly of the 1980s dinner-party variety (think ginger pudding and port, or pigeon then a wodge of pistachio cake in cream). The service is brisk, light low and volume comparable to that of an airport runway – except one in which jeers of laughter and clanking cutlery bounce off the butter-yellow walls. Our party is already having fun.

On the menu there are few concessions to the abstemious, vitamin-rich, virtue-signalling avocado-on-everything options that now define a certain brand of clichéd Shoreditch-approved restaurant – of which there are already too many. Instead, things here are buttered, creamed, salted and slathered beyond a level that most healthcare professionals would sign off. Clearly people were less worried about calories or cholesterol in the 1980s when the menu was forged – people ate out less too.

Andrew Edmunds is that most curious thing, a neighborhood restaurant that’s survived intact while the neighbourhood around it has changed. It’s a place that remains a celebration of the excesses of going out from a time when people didn’t do so every day. Birthday celebrations come along with the exact regularity to enjoy the place – go for glimpse of what fine dining and a raucous night out used to look like.

‘A Private War’

Listen to The Monocle Culture Show with Robert Bound as he unpacks the new film, A Private War, about the late reporter Marie Colvin, with photojournalist Paul Conroy and film director Matthew Heineman.

Creative Mallorca

A group of creatives in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca have made a network of successful businesses. And it’s a business base that delivers an enviable quality of life. Here’s how to join them.


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