Friday. 17/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Adam Katz Sinding

Opinion / Natalie Theodosi

Returning to form

The menswear industry has been having its biannual international reunion at Florence’s Pitti Immagine Uomo fair this week, with more than 600 brands setting up booths across the Fortezza da Basso and guests flying in from all over Europe and the US. You can feel the buzz in the city’s streets, where tourists rub shoulders with fashion professionals who stand out in their smart, white suits. This is in stark contrast to January’s edition, when coronavirus travel restrictions dampened an attempt at a comeback and reduced the number of exhibitors.

The fashion industry thrives on in-person contact, hence the renewed optimism at the fair. Exhibitors also speak enthusiastically about the return of US buyers, whose orders are now exceeding pre-pandemic levels. “This felt like an arrival,” says London-based Grace Wales Bonner. Her spring/summer collection, presented at the Palazzo Medici, made clear her ambitions to grow beyond the UK capital and create fashion’s next luxury house.

Copenhagen’s Silas Adler was also in town to kick-start celebrations of his label Soulland’s 20th anniversary. “This feels like a hybrid between a fashion week, a fair and a festival,” he tells Monocle. “There’s a lot of anticipation around the shows that take place here and we wanted to take on the challenge.”

Perhaps the biggest display of confidence has come from brands opting out of gimmicks and re-embracing their identities. Conversations have shifted away from NFT launches to the joys of craft, natural fabrics and long-lasting products. Fashion is back on the runway – and on track.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor.

Image: Shutterstock

International Relations / Russia

Slim pickings

The World Economic Forum ended last month but an event with similar ambitions started on Wednesday in Russia. The St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), launched by the Kremlin in 1997 to help bring in foreign investment, has attracted Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde in the past. But sanctions have forced this year’s organisers to give pride of place to those undeterred by Western embargoes, so SPIEF might lack the gravitas of its counterpart in Davos. Today, Chinese president Xi Jinping is expected to address the forum by video, reiterating the support that he pledged to Russian president Vladimir Putin in a call earlier this week. “This year’s event looks like a damp squib,” Russia analyst Stephen Dalziel tells The Monocle Minute. “When your honoured international guests include members of Afghanistan’s Taliban, the impression is that Putin is scraping the bottom of his contacts book.” At least there will be room at the bar.

To hear more about the shifting sands of international diplomacy, tune into ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24.

Image: David & Kathrin

Culture / Switzerland

Words to the wise

Next weekend brings the World of Words literature festival to the Swiss mountain resort of Gstaad. For the second time, founder Thomas D Gommes and his team will welcome a line-up of writers, including Elliot Ackerman and Martin Suter. World of Words was founded as a literary festival with a difference, giving participants a chance to get up close and personal to their favourite authors with the intention of stimulating public dialogue about literature. “We want to create an immersive experience where attendees get to meet the writer, go on hikes or dine together,” says Gommes.

Monocle is the event’s official media partner and our broadcaster Georgina Godwin and editorial director, Tyler Brûlé (pictured, on left), will be there. Anyone wishing to get the inside scoop from the intimate festival can tune in to a live broadcast of Monocle on Sunday on 26 June.

A few tickets remain and are available atwowgstaad.comandticketcorner.ch. Don’t miss out.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Colombia

Poised for change

The media likes to talk about a “pink tide” of left-wing leaders sweeping Latin America as voters reject more traditional rulers who are thought to represent social and business elites. Just look to the Southern Cone, where Chilean leftist and former student leader Gabriel Boric assumed office in March. Colombia probably has the most entrenched conservative political class in the region and no one from the left has ever been president there. That could change on Sunday, however, in a second round of presidential elections featuring 62-year-old leftist Gustavo Petro (pictured), up against conservative former mayor Rodolfo Hernández. With polls showing them extremely close, the latter has so far refused to appear in a debate ahead of the vote; a judicial ruling earlier this week ordered a tête-à-tête to go ahead. The reticence is understandable, if not forgivable: at stake is everything from Colombia’s economic model to the legacy of the incumbent, Iván Duque.

Image: Ben Roberts

Design / Spain

Temple of cool

As a heatwave drifts across Europe, sweltering city dwellers are reminded of the importance of architecture that can help keep us cool. In Palma de Mallorca, a new Passivhaus-standard apartment block has been designed to reduce the need for both air-conditioning and heating – helpful when the price of energy has jumped due to global inflation and the conflict in Ukraine. Its materials have been chosen with the environment in mind too. Palma-based architecture firm Ohlab is behind the calm yet striking Paseo Mallorca 15, in which sliding timber-slatted panels soften the harsh summer light that would otherwise hit the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The cedar kitchen cabinets are made nearby and the walls are covered with lime mortar rather than paint. Ohlab’s husband-and-wife team Paloma Hernaiz and Jaime Oliver have impeccable taste in all of their design choices. “People understand that you have to spend a bit more to eat healthily,” says Hernaiz. “We need the same attitude in architecture if people want to be part of the sustainability story.”

To read more about Paseo Mallorca 15 and how clever design choices can improve your quality of life, pick up the July/August issue of Monocle, which is out now on newsstands.

Image: Arden Wray

Monocle 24 / The Entrepreneurs

Toronto retail special

Tomos Lewis speaks to the founders of three independent businesses in Toronto, all of whom opened their first bricks-and-mortar shops since the onset of the pandemic. Exploring the value of physical retail are Martha Sharpe of Flying Books, Krysta Oben and Nicole Campbell of the Grape Witches natural-wine retailer and Natasha McDiarmid and Sam Johnstone, founders of the Troublesome design shop and coffee bar.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: July/August issue

See if your city made the cut for our annual Quality of Life survey in Monocle's July/August issue, where we crunched the numbers and hit the streets to rank the world's most liveable cities. Elsewhere explore the business of language learning, brush up on the brands to help you stay sharp and see what songs should be on your summer soundtrack. Grab a copy today from The Monocle Shop.

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