Wednesday. 29/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Ben Rylan

Stick to the rules

When Fred Astaire’s character receives an invitation to a formal party in the 1935 musical film Top Hat, he breaks into a number celebrating the ritual of dressing up, singing “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”. This was the age (if the movies are to be believed) when men were never seen outside the house open-necked or hatless. Sadly, formal attire has suffered a slovenly backlash in the years since.

Consider the Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped up at the weekend. The event has a reasonable dress code: tuxedos for men, gowns for women. But the complainers never miss their cue. There are gripes that the weather is too warm for bowties, that telling people what to wear is sexist and that the observance of a dress code is a foolish and antiquated thing. But we don’t blame Cannes for maintaining some decorum. This isn’t Sundance – denim and flannel are out of step with the French festival’s identity. Alas, things can be taken too far, such as the time director Asif Kapadia’s wife was barred from a premiere due to her high heels failing to rise quite high enough.

In 1949 the mayor of Cannes joined a chorus of complaints over the festival’s formalwear rules and special screenings were introduced for people who wanted to dress down. But many directors felt that those who arrived in open-neck shirts were disdaining the work on screen. Now, as ever, dressing up is as much about respecting the occasion as it is about looking sharp.

International relations / UK & Japan

Dim view

The UK and Japan have spoken of a shared outlook for centuries but today a new Chatham House report makes the case for an even stronger relationship between the two tea-drinking island nations. Such a thing would bolster peace in the Asia-Pacific region and benefit the economies of both countries, argues Global Britain and Proactive Japan: Developing a 21st-century Partnership. But what’s holding the relationship back? “Brexit is the real distraction,” says John Nilsson-Wright, the report’s author. “The lack of clarity and the uncertainty it has created is giving Japan misgivings about the UK as a business and geopolitical partner. The two countries together have the potential to spread liberal principles and protect against the threats to open societies.”

Politics / Israel

Worlds apart

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is used to navigating tough situations. Today however – and by 21.00 GMT to be precise – the embattled leader will need to form a coalition government or have another general election. Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, has been in office for a decade and is facing fraud and bribery allegations, which he denies. The chances of the prime minister patching together a working coalition aren’t good. “These parties are not coming from the same ideological background,” says Yossi Mekelberg, head of international relations at Regent’s University London. “Sticking them together to form a coalition? Good luck.” Few citizens will welcome a return to the polls – another election means another few months without governance.

Tourism / Canada

Hearty rebrand

Canada’s official tourism body, Destination Canada, unveiled an unashamedly jaunty rebrand this week. The new logo – designed by Québec City-based agency Cossette – features the word Canada styled in the shape of a heart, accompanied by a phrase from the national anthem: “For glowing hearts”. The rebrand is an attempt to capitalise on Canada’s ascendant soft power: international visitor numbers have risen steadily since 2014, peaking with a record number of tourists last year. The government has also pledged to invest CA$58m (€38.4m) over the next two years and to create 54,000 tourism-related jobs by 2025. Canada is pitching itself as a feel-good destination just as the political climate is having an adverse effect on traditional holiday hotspots.

Politics / France

Much a-moo about nothing

Many city slickers imagine the countryside to be a quiet escape but its bucolic sounds are causing a furore in France. Bruno Dionis du Séjour, the mayor of Gajac, a village between Bordeaux and Agen, has requested that the Ministry of Culture enshrines the sounds of rural France as an intangible cultural asset. A French MP has picked up the request and is preparing to table a bill at the National Assembly. The move would scupper legal cases against the owners of livestock, some of whom are facing action for disturbing holidaymakers with the lowing of cows, braying of donkeys and crowing of roosters. As cities become bigger and more crowded, this farcical affair masks a deeper need for mutual respect; a noisy rooster and the clatter of cowbells are nothing to crow about.

M24 / Monocle on Design

Book cover design

Should you judge a book by its cover? We stock up on some reading material and ask designers Sonya Dyakova, David Pearson and Monocle’s culture editor Chiara Rimella what makes a book cover fly off the shelves.

Monocle Films / New release

Monocle preview: June issue, 2019

Seatbelt securely fastened? In which case, prepare to fly through the new issue of Monocle, with its focus on the mobility movers and shakers who are getting us around by air, on land and by sea. You’ll also meet a couple of private detectives, Norway’s prime minister and a convoy of American truckers. Let’s roll.

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