Saturday. 23/10/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Just the job

On magazines and newspapers, there’s often a fork in the road that appears for young journalists. Take one direction and you continue as a writer, take the other and you set a course for becoming an editor (there’s also a well-used side gate here that gets you the hell out of the profession). Both routes can be fine ones; it’s hard, for example, to think that there’s any difference in prestige among your peers between the two roles.

When I approached this choice long ago, I went for the path that I hoped would one day lead to editing a magazine. It was the right one for me. For starters, I was surrounded by people who were far better writers: just look at my days at The Independent on Sunday, where I worked alongside Maggie O’Farrell, author of current hit Hamnet, as well as Kate Summerscale and Jojo Moyes, both of whose books always leap to the top of the bestseller lists.

But, from the beginning of my career, I was drawn into watching editors put pages together. Dominic Wells at Time Out just had a way of envisioning a story, which showed a mental dexterity that I wanted to emulate. He and deputy editor Nigel Kendall also wrote genius headlines that made a story sing. And, years later, I worked with Simon Kelner at The Independent, an editor with crisp views on everything from politics to newspaper design: the perfect all-round editor.

Over time, I discovered that I was not bad at both finding the right writer for a commission and liaising with everyone needed to deliver something that read well and hopefully caught people’s attention – then continued to keep them engaged. And many of the writers who I met all those decades ago are still with me. Andrew Mueller and I have a long history of mad commissions. Michael Booth, our Copenhagen correspondent, has been a partner in words since my Time Out days. I am sure both would also like me to point out that they too are successful authors.

Why am I giving you a meandering start to the column today? Well, a few reasons.

Firstly, you might have read last week’s missive. (What? Better things to do, you say? How impertinent.) If so, you will know that we are in recruitment mode and have been meeting lots of interesting journalists in recent weeks. It turns out that quite a few of them are standing at that fork in the road: they are applying for editor roles that could set them on a new direction in their careers. So you have to quiz them about why they want to do this – and what they think this job will actually involve. Some have just never really thought about it that much and should probably stick to being writers. Thankfully, others are obviously keen to influence the look and feel of a report and have a passion for how magazines are made.

Strangely, however, I’ve found it annoyingly troublesome explaining to the truly uninitiated the intricacies of editing. When you have learnt how to do something across a long expanse of time, it becomes a reflex (yes, there are plenty of things that don’t work out but we will ignore those for the benefit of a more interesting column).

Explaining instinct is hard. It’s easy to trot off a list of the day-to-day tasks required but the passion part – the values you try to work by, the subtleties that you try to add along the way – seems to wriggle away from you as you try to explain it aloud. The fact is, as it is in so many jobs, what you need as much as flair, or talent, is to make a commitment to one path and then just allow time to do its business.

The Look / Cargo trousers

On the loose

If fashion weeks in Milan and Paris this year are anything to go by, cargo trousers are back (writes Stella Roos). And their new status – thanks to appearances on the runways of Burberry in a light beige and Miu Miu in an iridescent fabric – is a notable jump up the fashion food chain for an item of clothing initially conceived for the military.

Image: Getty Images

The trousers were first donned in the 1940s by UK and US armed forces, whose soldiers found the loose fit ideal for demanding physical activity and used the large utility pockets to carry tools and weapons. By the 1990s cargo trousers had been co-opted by skaters for similar reasons (hopefully sans weapons). The look eventually entered the mainstream through workwear brands such as Dickies, Carhartt and teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, which famously filled its catalogues with shirtless men wearing nothing but the baggy trousers. But, as the fashion-savvy began to opt for slimmer trousers in the 2010s, the style was relegated to use in outdoor settings only – think fishing, camping and dads on holiday – until now.

The recent resurgence is partly due to a return to more generous trouser silhouettes and fashion labels’ nostalgia for the early 2000s. But it’s also a reminder that practical clothing, even when covered in pockets, still appeals. The not-so-noble reason? Regular trouser pockets have become too small for the latest smartphones.

How We Live / Badminton

Shuttlecock a hoop

In what sport do teams compete for the Thomas Cup? I guarantee that someone, somewhere will have been asked this question in a pub quiz this week (writes James Chambers). The Thomas Cup – named after an aristocratic Brit – is awarded to the world champions in men’s badminton. This year’s tournament ended earlier in the week with a smashing victory for Indonesia against the previous holders, China. It ended an almost 20-year wait for the sport’s otherwise most decorated team, earning the players a front page splash in The Jakarta Post.

Asian countries dominate the biennial competition, which is perhaps why readers in the US and Europe might not have come across the news in the sports pages of their newspapers. Danes might be the one exception. Denmark hosted this year’s event and is the only non-Asian nation to have lifted the title (beating Indonesia in the 2016 final). I’ll admit that I didn’t watch the finals, nor have I handled a racquet since school, but I have seen plenty of amateur, street-level games in my travels around Asia for Monocle, most memorably in Hanoi on the tree-lined pavements outside the Metropole hotel.

Badminton connects Asian cities like no other sport and there’s just something about the soft, elegant, almost meditative, flight of a shuttlecock back and forth that suits the climate here, the temperament and the dense urban landscape. In Hong Kong, I regularly see couples and children playing badminton in the playground near my apartment block. There are court markings but you have to bring your own net to hang on the fixed poles. Or you just do without, which is what happens in most Asian cities. Not all sports require expensive infrastructure and you don’t always have to keep score. Although try telling that to an Indonesian shuttler.

The Interrogator / Cecilia Carlstedt

Drawing conclusions

Combining screenprinting, ink and collage techniques, Cecilia Carlstedt’s elegant illustrations of people and clothing are highly coveted in the fashion world (writes Grace Charlton). Throughout her career, the Swedish illustrator has contributed to the likes of Japanese Vogue and Elle in Sweden, and collaborated with brands including Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co and Estée Lauder. Having worked in London and New York, she now lives in her hometown of Stockholm. Carlstedt tells us about mood-enhancing playlists and her pick of the best bookshops in Europe and North America.

What have you been working on recently?
A special anniversary issue of Emporio Armani Magazine. I also illustrated the runway looks that were donated by an amazing selection of designers for this year’s Amfar show in Cannes to support the prevention of Aids and HIV. And I am currently creating a range of figurative and abstract visuals for Dorchester Hotels as part of its new branding.

What news source do you wake up to?
The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and daily news updates from The Guardian through my English husband.

Something on the radio or Spotify playlists?
I use my playlists as a mood enhancer: a bit of jazz in the morning, classical piano when I need to focus on work, electronic music for inspiration and strong beats for energy.

Any humming in the shower?
When no one is home, it’s “Summertime, and the living is easy...”.

Which magazines are on your weekend sofa-side stack?
I have a soft spot for luxurious magazines. Recent buys include The Gentlewoman, Luncheon, Port, Cabana and Monocle.

Favourite bookshops?
I love browsing in bookshops, especially when I’m visiting other cities. A few that I go to, when I can, include Konst-ig and The English Bookshop in Stockholm; Strand and Dashwood Books in New York City; The Ofr Bookshop in Paris; and Claire de Rouen Books in London.

Favourite podcasts?
I like history podcasts such as P3 Historia and Fall of Civilizations.

A current cultural obsession?
Now that everything has opened up here, I crave live performances. I have a special love for ballet and modern dance.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off?
Right now I’m listening to the audiobook of Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York by Alexander Nemerov. But if I have trouble falling asleep, the sleep stories on the Calm app are very helpful.

Culture / Visit / Watch / Listen

A world apart

Fondazione Merz, Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa, Palermo. Founded by Beatrice Merz, the Fondazione Merz is one of the best contemporary art spaces in the northern Italian city of Turin. Now it’s spreading its radical approach to programming all the way south to Palermo, where it has opened up a second location inside a sprawling former factory. Exhibitions feature artists such as Chilean-born photographer and film-maker Alfredo Jaar, veteran performance artist Joan Jonas and video artist Lida Abdul.

‘Paris, 13th District’, Jacques Audiard. Few directors working today can move as seamlessly between genres as Jacques Audiard, whose previous films include a brutal prison epic and a sombre western. Now the French director returns with an erotic urban drama, adapted from an American comic book about the intertwined lives of four young Parisians, playing out in an arrondissement that has not traditionally been part of the city’s on-screen iconography. Shot in black and white, the film draws out the French capital’s enduring beauty while eschewing outdated romantic tropes in favour of a more modern, morally detached take on dating and sex in the City of Light.

‘Prioritise Pleasure’, Self Esteem. Rebecca Taylor might be known by some as one half of indie-folk duo Slow Club but on her own, as Self Esteem, she makes music of an altogether different genre. This follow-up to her 2019 debut Compliments Please is another slice of indulgent, energetic pop. Prioritise Pleasure combines excellent high-octane songs such as “Moody” with straight-up ballad “How Can I Help You”. The title track is a wonderful explosion of electro-pop refrains.

Outpost News / ‘The Anguillian’

Isle say

Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the tiny island of Anguilla is an alluring place with a small population of just over 15,000 (writes Nyasha Oliver). Known for its sandy beaches and arid climate, it also has a sizable wild-goat population – much to the surprise of many visitors. The island’s key trades have historically been sea salt production and boat building. “But in the last 30 years, we’ve started focusing more on tourism,” says Nathaniel Hodge, editor of the island’s longest running weekly paper, The Anguillian. Here, Hodge tells us about the history of the publication and a new link with Miami.

Image: Getty Images

How did ‘The Anguillian’ start?
It all happened back in the late 1990s. I had just retired from working in the government as the director of information and broadcasting for the Anguilla Public Service. And, at the time, there was only one newspaper. It wasn’t serving its purpose so everyone told me that I should start my own.

What’s the biggest story at the moment?
On 6 October, the Aurora Anguilla aircraft made its first non-stop flight from Miami, Florida. It’s great news because it means that from December onwards, we should be expecting more direct flights from the US to Anguilla from carriers including American Airlines. We’re looking forward to getting more tourists on the island so that businesses can open up again. Otherwise, there’s going to be a constitutional talk on the topic of same-sex marriage on the island soon.

A favourite image from the latest edition?
It would have to be the plane, the Aurora Anguilla, coming into Clayton J Lloyd International Airport.

Wardrobe update / Moncler x Hyke

After party

Last month, Moncler unveiled Mondogenius, its latest brand collaboration, by putting on quite a show. The Italian-owned luxury label invited 11 designers from five cities to create their own collections and presented them with a multiplatform extravaganza, which included a film screening with Luca Guadagnino, air acrobatics in Shanghai and a live concert by Alicia Keys. But now that the strobe lights have been switched off, we have the chance to take a proper look at the apparel.

Our favourite collection comes courtesy of Hideaki Yoshihara and Yukiko Ode, the duo behind Tokyo-based fashion label Hyke. Taking inspiration from Moncler’s archival pieces and French workmen’s uniforms, the designer couple stuck to a wearable palette of black, dark navy and taupe. The results are the kind of unfussy essentials you’d happily be wrapped in as the weather gets colder: oversized quilted jackets, utilitarian parkas that reach below the knees and soft down coats with pillow-like, detachable collars. The silhouettes, while generous, still look sharp. And the fact that the clothes have been serenaded by a 15-time Grammy award winner? Well, it can only be a plus.

What Am I Bid? / Picasso

Safe bet

When you hear the words “Las Vegas Bellagio”, your mind might go to the strip, slot machines, debauchery and garish pastiche (writes Will Higginbotham). What you might not think of is fine art. But this iconic hotel, founded by art collector Steve Wynn in 1998, has an extraordinary collection of paintings, including a number by Pablo Picasso.

While the Bellagio is home to this desert city’s premier art gallery, most of the modernist’s paintings here are found on the walls of its Picasso restaurant. The French- and Spanish-inspired establishment has, for more than 20 years, offered the public the chance to dine surrounded by masterpieces and enjoy food by chef Julian Serrano. The pairing has worked a treat, as its two Michelin stars attest.

Image: Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Earlier this year, Bellagio’s operator, MGM Resorts, took the decision to auction off a few works from the restaurant’s namesake artist, with Sotheby’s overseeing the auction. Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection from Las Vegas is taking place at 18.00 tonight. Under the hammer are 11 pieces – paintings, works on paper and ceramics – spanning more than 50 years of the Spaniard’s artistic output.

The star of the auction is the 1969 painting “Femme au béret rouge-orange” (pictured), a portrait of the artist’s muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, with estimates starting at $20m (€17m). Rounding out the paintings are two large portraits: “Homme et enfant” from $20m (€17m) and “Buste d’homme” from $10m (€8.5m). For the past 20 years, the latter painting has cast a watchful gaze from behind the restaurant’s bar. And, for one lucky bidder, it might soon occupy a similar space.
sothebys.com

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