Thursday. 30/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

Social skills

Earlier this week in Rome’s Capitoline Museums, Gucci plunged a crowd of editors and buyers into darkness, armed them with flashlights and sent models roving the runway between them. Many people will have seen footage from this event, Gucci’s Cruise 2020 show, on social media. Cruise shows, held between the spring/summer and autumn/winter fashion weeks, are good at attracting eyeballs.

Cruise shows are the preserve of the biggest luxury brands, which lavishly decamp to exotic locations and provide real escapism. Because there’s no strict schedule – they’re held intermittently from April to June with gaps between them – each event lingers online, on social media and in the press. With regular jam-packed fashion weeks, by contrast, a brand can be eclipsed by another show an hour after its last model exited the runway. Are smaller players missing a trick, then, by focusing only on the runways of the major fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, London and New York?

These days, the goal for brands – in fashion and also in other industries – is achieving cut-through by staying at the forefront of conversations and at the top of Instagram feeds. The cruise model – showing in a surprising location outside the regular fashion-week scrum, even if it isn’t actually a cruise show in May – could do this for scrappier brands as well as luxury heavyweights.

Politics / Europe

Collision course

France and Germany are at odds over who should be picked for the EU’s top job. Five high-level positions will become available next year but there is disagreement over who should succeed Jean-Claude Junker as president of the EU Commission. German chancellor Angela Merkel thinks it should be her domestic political colleague Manfred Weber but French president Emmanuel Macron favours a raft of other candidates. Professor Richard Whitman, associate fellow of Chatham House’s Europe programme, doesn’t expect a quick resolution. “The easiest claim to legitimacy is Merkel’s,” he says. “That might have held if we had a clearer outcome from the EU elections. As it stands, I think this debate is going to run for quite a lot longer than people expect.”

Legal / USA

World of pain

The opioid backlash continues. We’ve seen it in the string of global arts institutions blocking donations from the billionaire Sackler family, owners of controversy-mired Purdue Pharma. But it’s the state of Oklahoma that might provide the watershed moment in a public-health crisis that continues to devastate many US states. Yesterday saw day two of a trial brought by the state against Johnson & Johnson for its alleged role in getting Americans hooked on powerful prescription painkillers. (Two other manufacturers, the aforementioned Purdue – maker of OxyContin – and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals, reached multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlements.) Johnson & Johnson’s is the first of the many opioid cases recently launched to have gone to trial and will set a precedent for further litigation across the country.

Workplace / Japan

Office politics

Power harassment – or pawa hara – is the term used in Japan to describe workplace bullying by seniors. Although it has long been a problem, workers have often had to suffer in silence with little legal protection – until now. Yesterday five laws were revised and specific types of harassment were defined for the first time. The new rules prohibit the mistreatment of workers who make allegations against senior colleagues or of those who make allegations of sexual harassment. Pregnant women or women who come back to work from maternity leave are also now protected. It’s a step in the right direction – and a welcome shift in workplace dynamics – but many have pointed out that there is still no framework for punishing offenders.

Culture / Italy

Making a pitch

Of all the artforms panned for being antiquated, inaccessible and unashamedly elitist, opera is perhaps the most frequently bashed. But at Rome’s Costanzi theatre, plans that ought to shake up perceptions are afoot: the opera house has hired Chinese superstar artist Ai Weiwei to direct and design costumes for his version of Turandot. This isn’t Costanzi’s first such collaboration – three years ago it commissioned Sofia Coppola to direct La Traviata – but it might be its bravest. Providing a platform for the world’s most fêted artist to reinvent a text that is often decried for featuring Chinese stereotypes will give opera fans the crescendo they’re looking for.

M24 / The Monocle Culture Show

‘Thunder Road’

Robert Bound meets Jim Cummings, director, writer and star of new film Thunder Road. It’s a tender comedy about a Texan police officer trying to forge a relationship with his young daughter, while also grieving for his recently deceased mother.

Monocle Films / Denmark

Cosy Homes: Hellerup Estate

In the first of two films to celebrate the publication of The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes we visit the residence of Knud Erik Hansen, managing director of Carl Hansen & Søn and grandson of the company's iconic founder. Hansen has transformed an impressive Danish estate into a comfortable family home, filling it with beautiful furniture and preserving the property’s charm.

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