Thursday. 27/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Jamie Waters

Life through a lens

By the end of the recent menswear season, I’d become highly skilled at contorting my body and craning my neck in order to glimpse the runway. This had nothing to do with the position of my perfectly good seats. No, it was purely due to the barrage of smartphones held aloft – obscuring my view – by neighbours desperate to snap every outfit and post them on Instagram. There’s a saying that, thanks to live-streaming, you can now get as good a view of a fashion show from your bedroom as you can from the front row. That’s not true: unless there’s a flailing arm in the middle of your computer screen, you often get a better view than those sitting beside the catwalk.

During Paris Fashion Week, there were whisperings from exasperated peers about whether any salvation could be found in Yondr, a Californian start-up that makes secure pouches in which phones are stored for the duration of an event. These are becoming increasingly prevalent at Broadway productions, concerts and art exhibitions to prevent backlit screens from disrupting performances.

At this stage it’s tough to see the fashion industry making such a move: shows are staged partly in the hope of creating a buzz around a brand on social media. But surely – whether our smartphones are stashed in a pouch or not – we can show some restraint? We can all pick our moments to snap clothes and be wary of blocking our colleagues’ views. And, for god’s sake, be present and absorb the world that a brand has so carefully constructed.

Politics / Germany

Two can play that game

Germany’s Social Democratic party (SPD) has taken steps to improve gender equality in the party by adopting a twin-leadership model: one man and one woman will lead the centre-left party together. The European elections were particularly tough on the SPD (currently overseen by three interim leaders, pictured) so Germany’s oldest party is keen to refresh its image in an attempt to appeal to voters who sided with the increasingly popular Greens. But Charles Hecker, senior partner at political and security consultancy firm Control Risks, has reservations. “I think the double leadership can only work when it’s not seen as a desperate political move, when it’s not seen as pandering,” he says. The idea of a shared role was, in fact, borrowed from the Greens; the SPD is right in taking inspiration but should go beyond just mimicking their tactics.

Business / Italy

Raising a glass

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, has become known across Europe for his tough stance on immigration and an approach to domestic policy that is sometimes labelled draconian. So his latest proposals – on changes to the way Italian nightclubs could be regulated – are somewhat surprising. While his plan to give “blue stamps” to clubs that commit to fighting drug dealing and encourage the distribution of breathalysers appears straight out of the Salvini playbook, there’s a liberal twist. To boost the night-time economy, the deputy prime minister would like clubs to be able to sell alcohol beyond the current cut-off time of 03.00. It’s an unpredictable reminder that sometimes the strict way is not the only way.

Urbanism / Spain

What’s in a name?

Monuments to historical villains are divisive – take the fate of Confederate symbols in the US Deep South. Many governments elsewhere have removed tributes that are now seen as inappropriate but few have been so brazen as to reinstate them, as the newly minted centre-right leadership of the Spanish city of Córdoba has done. The ruling coalition of the People’s party and the Citizens party has decided to reinstate three original names of streets and a square honouring figures from the Franco dictatorship that had been changed by the preceding socialist government in accordance with a 2007 law that forbids public Franco-era emblems. The controversy is unlikely to end soon: Córdoba has its eyes on another 12 place names changed by the former government.

Culture / Los Angeles

Rock ’n’ roll-up

Daubed with grungy murals, Hollywood’s vast Amoeba Music shop features an iconic tower lit with circular neon strips. But customers were upset this week when city hall gave the green light for its demolition in another win for developers: the low-rise is set to make way for a mixed-use tower. In truth the clock had been ticking since 2015 when Amoeba – a survivor of music’s migration to digital that bills itself as the world’s largest independent record shop – sold the building for $34m (€30m) and switched to renting. Amoeba is adamant that it’s moving – not closing – but details of a new location are yet to be announced. Its plans for continued success? A potential side business in legal marijuana (already a feature at its Berkeley outpost).

M24 / The Foreign Desk

Stonewall at 50

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we take a closer look at the forces that have shaped LGBT history.

MONOCLE FILMS / Global

Off-the-grid fashion retail

We walk the extra mile to meet shopkeepers who’ve gone off the beaten track to give their customers a different experience.

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