Saturday 9 March 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 9/3/2019

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Opener / Andrew Tuck

In praise of tangled tails

Saturday mornings in London always start the same way for me: taking Macy, my wire-haired fox terrier, to Regent’s Park. There are other parks, of course, but sometimes there’s pleasure in repetition. In this instance it’s seeing the slide of seasons that inform city dwellers where they are in the year – you can feel spring edging forwards now.

A dog is a useful sidekick if you are feeling social. In the hour it takes to walk the park’s perimeter you will have a dozen conversations with other hound owners. Usually there’s someone who will mention Macy’s distinct look: unlike most fox terriers, her tail is not stripped to something resembling a wagging finger. It’s bushy, fluffy and a bit camp. The polite version of this conversation starts, “I’ve never seen a tail like that.”

This week it’s Crufts in Birmingham, the UK’s premier dog show, where best-in-breeds trot around and get judged on how close they come to perfection (no wayward hairstyles here). But as you watch some of the fluffed-up entrants you can’t help feeling that this shares a lot of DNA with shows such as Love Island, where pecs-perfect boys and poised women parade for the cameras. It’s fine but makes you realise that frozen, pouty poise isn’t always what you want. Waywardness is more fun.

How we live / Bourgeois dressing

Changing tack

Fashion has always celebrated youth (writes Jamie Waters). In recent years that has meant courting millennials: brands talk endlessly about wooing cool young shoppers, sending teenage models down runways in trainers and hoodies. But luxury firms make most of their money from older customers: millennials contribute about 30 per cent of luxury spend.

So what happens when the bourgeois style of older folk becomes the inspiration? The autumn/winter 2019 shows – for both men and women – were dominated by polished, wearable clothes; there was barely a trainer in sight. It was most striking at Celine: Hedi Slimane dressed women in pleated skirts and ruffled scarves, and men in smart derbys. It was also true of shows by Balenciaga, Givenchy, Hermès, Burberry and Ami. The clothes were mostly worn by slim young models (old habits die hard) but they were accessible – and often desirable too.

The appeal of this trend is that these are clothes that people actually want to wear – even those over 40. Sometimes fashion is at its best when it proposes a fantasy but it is perhaps more effective when it offers the best versions of everyday items. Finally – mercifully – mature shoppers are not being ignored.

The faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Media circus

I’ll start by setting the scene. I’m on a terrace overlooking the Atlantic; below, palms are swaying, mangoes are begging to be picked and there’s a bougainvillea climbing the walls. Waves are crashing against the rocks, the orange juice in my glass is from a grove along the coast and sharply attired cabana boys are setting up the loungers. It’s about 22C, I’m still in the EU and I’m also the youngest guest on this island by a good 25 years. For the past few days I’ve read my favourite newspapers and magazines, braved the choppy sea and created my own architecture safari. But the problem with most remote islands, no matter how frequent the air services, is that newspapers arrive at least a day late. On balance this is no bad thing as it allows you to get a clearer view of what makes a digital news page tick, versus a printed front cover.

The on-screen news agenda is consumed with devoting stories to those who are offended by pretty much anything that they think inappropriate. In Canada a woman (not Japanese) goes to a gallery opening in a kimono jacket and it’s deemed insensitive (not by any Japanese people, note). In LA a straight actor is attacked for hoping to portray a gay person, while a black man (Will Smith) is deemed too light-skinned for a role. Stories that once would have been down-page in the comment section, or a sidebar in the culture pages, are now thrust to the second or third news item on many English-language news sites, taking important screen real estate from real reporting. On her ABC TV show The View, Whoopi Goldberg recently said that if you’re looking to find something inappropriate, you’ll find it. Sadly many newsdesks lack the time to debate what merits being a top-five story and what should remain a contained Twitstorm.

I decided to put Whoopi’s theory to the test yesterday: I cranked up my sensitivity filters and strode out of the hotel. I was looking to be offended and was not disappointed (or maybe I was?). If you make a right out of the driveway and head towards the city centre (I’m not going to tell you where I am but there is a clue somewhere in today’s Weekend Edition) you come to a busy intersection. In the middle is an oversized bronze hand and, resting atop its palm, a naked man in flight. I didn’t have time to dart between the cars to read the plaque on the modernist statue because I had to get to a meeting. Also, why pay attention to something as offensive as a massive male hand propping up a smaller man via his crotch? Surely this must be on the shortlist to be ripped down, not least because it could cause an accident if you’re behind the wheel. Not far away there’s a bronze torso, looking out to sea. It might commemorate a lost sailor or a famous explorer but it doesn’t really matter because it too causes offence: genitalia is dangling a little above eye level, for all to see.

Indeed, all across this tiny city there are monuments that cause offence because of their pert nipples, exaggerated testicles and bubble bums. Without a balanced filter I could have penned an article about all the wrongs I witnessed in the span of 15 minutes and found enough “followers” to cause headaches for the island’s tourist authorities. That’s because we have arrived at a place where we’re just waiting to be offended and looking for a way to publicly shame others. The time has come to find a balance and reset our judgement of what truly passes as news.

The interrogator / Edition 02

Enric Pastor

For the second instalment of our series investigating the media habits of the great and the good, we drop anchor in Madrid. It’s here that AD España’s editor in chief wakes up to the smell of coffee (with oat milk) and he reveals the tunes, podcasts and publications that keep him inspired. We’re sure that they also help shape the eclectic and vibrant take on interiors that his publication is renowned for.

What news source do you wake up to?
El País and The New York Times apps. Then I open Instagram – though not exactly in this order every day.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with the headlines?
Coffee with oat milk. But if the milk runs out – which is pretty common – then it’s just black coffee.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
My Spotify Ahora playlist: a selection of about 30 newly released songs that I update every week with electronic tunes to challenge my ears.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
“Fina Estampa” by María Dolores Pradera, perfect for its sharp pitch and falsettos. “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters also puts me in the mood for partying.

Papers delivered or a trip down to the kiosk?
Trip down to the kiosk. Nowadays it’s a long trip because kiosks are progressively closing in Spain. Can someone please open a good, big newsstand in my neighbourhood with local and international press – and coffee?

Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?
Vogue Living Australia, Buffalo Zine, Monocle, Perdiz and a couple of issues of Popeye that I discovered last month in Tokyo.

Are you a subscriber or a newsstand browser?
I am a devoted and exhausted newsstand walker. I love to buy brand-new magazines because I love pressed and clean paper. If they were sent they’d arrive in unknown condition.

Bookshop for a drizzly Saturday afternoon?
Panta Rhei in Madrid; Galignani in Paris.

Sofa or cinema for the evening?
Depends on the movie, the day and the weather.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched of late and why?
I recently rewatched the 1977 horror movie Suspiria by Dario Argento and was fascinated by its aesthetics, the interior design, the use of vibrant colours and the bold music by progressive-rock band Goblin.

Sunday brunch routine?
I love to cook paella and open a great Spanish red.

What papers and periodicals will be spread around the dining table?
El Cultural by ABC newspaper, Fuera de Serie by El Mundo, El País Sunday edition, Condé Nast Traveler España and The New York Times Style Magazine.

Do you still make an appointment to watch the nightly news?
No, I only watched it at home when my cousin Amalia Sebastian was the TV anchor at Canal 9. Sometimes I watch it on mute at the gym in the morning.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off?
La Rosa de los Vientos podcast on Onda Cero. It covers all kinds of topics: science, ecology, history, legends and espionage.

Culture / Read / Listen / See /

Delightful debut and fond farewell

‘Daisy Jones and the Six’. We read some books for their plot and others because of the author’s name – but occasionally the setting draws us in. Here we’re talking Sunset Strip in the 1970s: sex, drugs and, well, you know what completes the trio. The eponymous heroine is a rockstar whose band makes it big and then comes crashing down. Author Taylor Jenkins Reid assembles the story as a fictional oral history, lending the novel the quality of a biography dedicated to a sun-soaked, blurry-round-the-edges reality that’s all too easy to fantasise about.

‘Sucker Punch’ by Sigrid. Norwegian pop has been nipping at the heels of Sweden for a while but Sigrid’s debut might be this year’s decisive victory blow. It is direct and energetic – and makes us feel like jumping around. Ålesund-born Sigrid’s voice is high-pitched but never saccharine; her feel-good choruses are refreshing but the 22-year-old’s lyrics can be fierce too. This is a self-confident record that’s at it best when breaking into explosive 1980s-inspired anthems.

The Hara. The epic scale of a large museum can be thrilling but there is something enticing about a small hidden gem; the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo is such a place. Tucked away on a side street in Shinagawa, it was designed in 1938 as a residence for industrialist Kunizo Hara. In 1979, Hara’s grandson, Toshio, turned the Bauhaus-style villa into a contemporary-art museum. Though it has been extended and repaired, its owners have conceded that the 81-year-old building is no longer fit for purpose: the Hara will close for good at the end of next year. Its activities will be transferred to the Hara Museum ARC, an outpost in Gunma, but the closure will be a loss for Tokyo. Go this weekend to see Sophie Calle’s Exquisite Pain, which runs until 28 March.

Image: Felix Bruggemann

House news / Midori House

Magazine magic

At the start of this week Jackie Deacon, our production director, was at our new printers in Germany to oversee the April issue (on newsstands 21 March). She also pulled off a clever trick. We wanted readers to be able to see pictures of the issue as it was printing – and we wanted those pictures to feature in the very issue that was coming off the presses. A high-speed photo shoot, and Jackie agreeing to hold one section back, has allowed us to seemingly do the impossible. A founding member of the Monocle team (and an even longer-term colleague of Mr Brûlé), she’s one of the main reasons that Monocle had been able to stay true to its start-out ambition to always celebrate the craft of magazine-making. Subscribers will start getting copies later this week; Jackie would be very happy if you signed up.

Go shopping / New York

New kid on the block

New York’s retail travails and sky-high rents are well documented but independent brands continue to open shops – even though they’ll need to work harder than retailers elsewhere to get shoppers through the doors. The latest debutant is Aimé Leon Dore on Soho’s Mulberry Street. Founded by Queens native Teddy Santis in 2014, the menswear brand has become known for its polished take on streetwear but its flagship steps things up: the parquet-floored space is lined with leather sofas and has an in-house café serving pastries that nod to Santis’s Greek heritage. This patch of Soho has become a hub for great menswear: Noah also sells its easy, playful designs on Mulberry Street, while the recently relaunched Alex Mill has a showroom around the corner.

Wardrobe update / Germany

Funky trunks

Tracking down a good pair of swimmers isn’t easy so we’ve done the hard work for you. We recommend A Kind of Guise’s new trunks in dark navy and an even darker olive. The liner keeps everything in place, the cut’s a little baggy so you can probably go down a size (makes you feel slim even after a winter of cakes on the slopes) and they’re made in Germany. Imagine! You can find them at AKOG’s shops in Berlin and Munich, as well as online.

Weekend plans? / Madeira

Mid-Atlantic outpost

Next Friday you’re going to start summer early when you touch down on a small-ish speck of Portugal off the coast of Morocco. Yes, you’re off to Madeira – and you’re not even 90 yet. You’ll be the youngest person for miles as you snake through the streets of Funchal or plunge into the Atlantic. But that’s a good thing: youth is definitely on your side here. That said, we like that Reid’s Palace is still a proper grand old dear of a hotel. The rooms are fit for the nana in all of us: big sofas, floral patterns and crisp linen. There are many things that require cosying up – the lobby lighting definitely needs a dimmer – but the pool is ideal and Vitor will take good care of you on the terrace. Get there quick as you never know what new ownership might mean on the design front.

Get out / Kowloon

Artistic licence

For some time, Hong Kong residents in search of more space have been heading across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon (writes James Chambers), moving to neighbourhoods such as Prince Edward (they call it going over to the “dark side”). Then, last year, island hospitality businesses followed suit: boutique hotel Page148 and its café PageCommon, co-living development The Nate and the first Kowloon openings from restaurant groups Black Sheep and Pirata all jumped on the ferry. But the most noticeable change happening this year is at the tip of the Kowloon peninsula.

Landscape architecture and urban design firm James Corner Field Operations – of High Line fame – has given Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars, a formerly tacky tourist spot on the Kowloon waterfront, an impressive makeover. While it’s a popular spot for viewing the high-rises of Hong Kong’s islands, turn your back on the crowds and take in the new additions to the rear. Not least Victoria Dockside, a mixed-use office, retail and hospitality development courtesy of Manhattan firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

Inside the project a new Rosewood hotel will occupy 43 floors of the 65-storey main tower; the interiors are by designer Tony Chi. The whiskey bar, Darkside, has an art installation on its ceiling that’s a series of rotating hourglasses, handblown at Murano’s WonderGlass; it could be a countdown to the neighbourhood’s artistic awakening.

November sees the reopening of the nearby Hong Kong Museum of Art; M+, the museum of visual culture, is taking shape in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Attendees of future versions of Art Basel Hong Kong, happening later this month at a dreary conference centre in Wan Chai, will flock to this purpose-built arts district, shifting the city’s cultural core across the harbour.

M24 / Monocle On Design

Stefan Sagmeister

Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister talks about growing up in Austria, his big break in album art and why sabbaticals are important. Listen to the episode here.

Film / Germany

The Monocle Travel Guide: Hamburg

There’s a frisch new addition to our collection of Monocle city-guide books: Hamburg. And our new film about the trading post explains why coffee still makes the German port city tick. Watch the film and buy your copy here.


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