Tuesday. 12/10/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Alexis Self

Follower of fashion

Chinese multinational conglomerate Fosun Fashion Group announced yesterday that it will henceforth be known as Lanvin Group. You don’t need an MBA to recognise an attempt to cash in on the worldwide recognition of the group’s most prized asset (and shrug off a less storied name). Lanvin, founded by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889, is a product of the belle époque and a time when Paris was the engine room of modern European fashion. Today it is the third-oldest French fashion house still in operation and a name that’s synonymous with that most nebulous of terms: luxury.

By contrast, the Fosun International Group was founded as the Guangxin Technology Development Company in Shanghai in 1992; today its various components are worth about $120bn (€104bn). But if Paris in the late 19th century was the centre of high-end fashion, China is in many ways its 21st-century successor. Fortune estimated the luxury goods market in the country to be worth $290bn (€250bn) in 2020. A considerable proportion of that is made up of European heritage brands, many of which are now owned by large international conglomerates such as Fosun. But even in its home market, it seems more likely that people would desire Lanvin over Fosun as a marker of taste.

What’s in a name? When Fosun bought Lanvin in 2018 it was acquiring a label in the very literal sense of the word; Jeanne Lanvin’s designs became known across fin-de-siècle Paris for their quality and propensity to define the avant garde. In a crowded marketplace, consumers tend to search for easy markers of such attributes. The problem is that, as with terms like “luxury”, a word can lose meaning through overuse. If Fosun decides to extend the Lanvin label to other products within its umbrella group (it operates, for example, in everything from travel to food), it could dilute the prestige that the label took so long to accrue, at such expense. If that happens, Fosun will find out that in the world of high fashion, there’s not only a lot to gain in a name but a lot to lose too.

Image: Getty Images

Election / Philippines

Late entrant

A former boxing world champion, an ex-television star and the son of an erstwhile dictator are all in the running to become the next president of the Philippines but it’s a retired policeman who has political tongues wagging. Ronald dela Rosa (pictured), a first-term senator who rose to infamy as current president Rodrigo Duterte’s first chief of police, entered the race just before Friday’s deadline at the behest of the Duterte’s PDP-Laban party. While speaking to the media yesterday, dela Rosa sounded as surprised as anyone by this turn of events. His lack of a political manifesto has also led some to believe that he might be a placeholder willing to step aside for Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who has so far stayed out of the race despite topping most opinion polls. A late entry would be a repeat of her father’s strategy in 2016; the result at the ballot box next May could well be the same.

Image: Alamy

Politics / Norway

Two out of three

After Norway’s Labour Party claimed victory in elections last month, the centre-left party embarked on tough negotiations to form a three-way coalition government with the Socialist Left and the rural Centre Party. After weeks of talks, the Socialists pulled out over disagreements on climate policy and, in particular, the future of oil. Now the Labour Party, led by Jonas Gahr Støre, is forming a minority government with the Centre Party.

It’s a gamble that highlights just how much the future of Norway’s oil industry remains a contentious issue. Although there’s increasing criticism of the country’s reliance on oil, it’s something that many Norwegians are reluctant to relinquish; after all, according to figures from 2018, the oil and gas industries represent 18 per cent of Norway’s GDP and most of its exports. There should be a new government in place by the end of this week but the challenge of balancing Norway’s environmental and economic future has only just begun.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / USA & Mexico

High ideals

A meeting in Mexico City between US secretary of state Anthony Blinken and Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (pictured, fourth from right, with Blinken, second from left) has kick-started a series of talks on a new joint security pact. But while the US says that the agreement will involve both countries acting as “equal partners in defining [their] shared priorities”, hashing out the details will hardly be easy. Relations were dealt a major blow last year when US anti-narcotics agents arrested former Mexican defence minister Salvador Cienfuegos and perceptions in the US remain that Mexico is soft on drug crime.

Developing a policy on gangs will be particularly thorny: Joe Biden’s administration supports a far tougher stance on organised crime than his Mexican counterpart. “Obrador doesn’t seem to have a security plan,” Christopher Sabatini, senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, tells The Monocle Minute. “When he campaigned, his plan was ‘hugs, not bullets’. So there are going to be points of friction.”

Image: Nicola Tree

Culture / Poland & UK

Drawn of an era

How do you keep the memory of a country alive? In the late 18th century, Poland was partitioned by Russia, Austria and Prussia, resulting in 123 years during which it was effectively absent from Europe. During that time, a group known as Young Poland sought to preserve its identity through art and creativity. A new exhibition at London’s William Morris Gallery shows the fruits of its labour. “It helped to define and protect Polish cultural heritage during the time of the country’s political non-existence and the oppression of its culture,” Roisin Inglesby, curator of the exhibition, told Monocle 24’s The Globalist. Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement, which opened this weekend, marks the first time the group has been showcased in the UK. It will also have a unique focus on crafts that was absent from previous iterations in other countries. “We’re able to approach Young Poland from a new angle,” says Inglesby. “It highlights everyday, useful objects as key features of this artistic movement.”

M24 / The Menu

Mandy Yin and Malaysian cuisine

Mandy Yin discusses her new cookbook, Sambal Shiok: The Malaysian Cookbook, and gives us an overview of the rich and varied culinary culture of Malaysia.

Monocle Films / London

All around the table: deli dipping in London

Hanna Geller and Jeremy Coleman of Building Feasts take us on a tour around their favourite London food shops and pick up supplies on the way to put their effortless hosting skills into practice.

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