Saturday. 9/7/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

In the frame

This week we’re delighting in all the touchstones of summer: ice cream, swimming and, of course, white trousers. We’ve also been snooping around potential European holiday homes and trying to dislodge persistent Italian earworms from our heads. Observing it all is our editor in chief, Andrew Tuck.

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Picture perfect

On Wednesday night we hosted a party at the Leica shop-cum-gallery in London’s Mayfair to mark the publication of The Monocle Book of Photography (what do you mean you haven’t got yours yet? Do you want me to deliver it personally?). It was hot, people poured out onto the pavement and the Laurent-Perrier flowed. But there was an added frisson: our guests, the city and the country were all waiting to see whether Boris Johnson would resign as Britain’s prime minister. You see, just as our party began, Johnson had arrived back at Downing Street where a cohort of ministers had gathered to urge him to quit while he still had a jockstrap of dignity left. Was this it, we all wondered – the moment when the so-called “greased piglet” would finally be defenestrated?

Rob Bound, the host of our podcast Monocle on Culture and contributor of an essay in the book, joined me for a talk about the power of photography (along with Matt Beaman, our photo director) and told the audience that the phone in his back pocket was buzzing with so many news alerts that he risked being as stimulated as someone perched on top of a washing machine set at the highest spin speed. People laughed and I don’t think anyone lowered their gaze to see if the newsflashes were really that exciting.

Rob and I have worked together since the launch of Monocle, at first with him in-house full-time and, in recent years, as a gun for hire. He’s a good sparring partner on these occasions, although his demeanour – he’s got some of the swagger of Mick Jagger, mixed with the wry insouciance of Bill Nighy – requires you to step up your game if you don’t want to be a backing singer. Anyway, we had fun. Rob talked about life on the road with great snappers and how he had once essentially persuaded me to send him on a dirty weekend in Benidorm for an amazing Expo report about the Spanish resort’s tanned-to-leather residents and their passion for serving full-English breakfasts to the endless hen and stag parties that stumble into town. Matt also revealed how numerous photographers he works with are using film and are even heading off on assignments with large-format cameras that aren’t that far removed from the kit that the Victorian pioneers in the field invented.

Many of our guests had come with their own cameras, hanging from their shoulders on well-worn straps or gently cradled in their hands like newborn kittens. One young guy had a film camera that was 40 years old; another, a digital number that seemed to echo a similar old-school aesthetic. But what united them – and the men and women in our book – is that they have discovered the joy of taking in, mediating and understanding the world by looking through a tiny viewfinder and clicking a shutter button.

In the public’s mind this process casts the photographer as a rare-butterfly hunter, hoping to somehow capture an elusive prey. But it strikes me that plenty of great photographers are involved in something far more exhaustive and exhausting: trying to produce longer visual narrative arcs, often following a story, a theme, an idea, for years.

At the event this week I told the audience about the photographer Rena Effendi, featured in the book and a speaker at our recent Quality of Life Conference in Paris. At the conference she spoke about the years that she has spent trying to document conflicts around the world and what they do to people. In Ukraine this year she met a young boy whose parents had been killed. A keen collector of all sorts of kids’ stuff, he wanted to show Rena his latest haul – pieces of shrapnel. Of course, that would be an image that might stop you in your tracks (and Rena had clearly found it hard to erase the scene from her mind) but it’s also all the work that led to that moment that makes her a great shooter and her work so rich with meaning.

That’s not to say that taking in, ordering, recalling the things around us should be left to the professionals. Even the cameraphone in your pocket can step up to this task – I really must show you my fine work one day, perhaps when I pop round with your Monocle Book of Photography. But for these pictures to have potency, perhaps we all need to worry less about capturing the perfect image and think of them as a visual diary of our lives.

As people headed off, Boris was still refusing to budge (morning would see him finally face up to reality and agree to quit) and I was left wondering whether it was time to dig out my old film camera. Even if I took awful pictures, the camera would make a nice summer accessory.

The Look / White trousers

Haven’t got a hue

A taste of the Riviera? Channelling The Talented Mr Ripley? Stealing the bride’s thunder at a summer wedding? White trousers are a telltale sign of this sartorial season (writes Jack Simpson). They come with a host of rules and perils – but also joys.

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

They might be cheaper than buying a yacht but they take about the same amount of work to keep clean. If you can trust yourself and those around you at the dinner table, a tailored pair that’s worn in the right location can bring breeziness to any outfit. Still, it’s crucial to choose the right fit and cut: think more Richard Gere on the Italian coast than content creator in Mykonos. Options from the likes of Scott Fraser Collection and Beams Plus should do the trick.

White trousers loathe spontaneity. Drinks on the lawn? I think not. Dinner at a charming (though slightly grubby) hole in the wall? Best of luck. The good news is that white-trouser season brings ample opportunities for sunny refreshments and dining: stick to white wine and grilled fish and you should be fine. They are the fun cousin of jeans, the blondes-have-more-fun of the trouser realm. If you can overlook the risk, they’ll become a staple of the weeks to come.

How We Live / Noom

Weight lifting

Diets. Tricky topic. No matter how much I believe in body positivity, there’s something about growing up with Kate Moss as a beauty icon that lingers in the mind – and Italian beach holidays don’t help (writes Chiara Rimella). As a woman in my thirties, social pressures dictate that I should worry about my weight – and I oblige. Over the past seven years – when I haven’t been busy militantly trying to accept myself the way I am – I’ve tried protein bars, spin classes, meal kits, intermittent fasting, and eating pretty much just bone-dry chicken (a low point). People have blamed lockdowns for them putting on a few kilos and have joined me in financing the well-fed diet industry.

One player has been particularly insistent. The cheerily branded app Noom has been desperate to enlist me on social media, promising lasting change via countless targeted ads. I tried to resist but, as my failed diets have proved, willpower is not my forte. Noom is different in one way: unlike most calorie counters, it is not free. The base cost for membership each month is $60 (€59) and with more than 50 million users those numbers add up. Last year it completed a $540m (€531m) round of funding; a potential IPO could see it achieve a valuation of $10bn (€9.8bn).

Noom is adamant that it is not encouraging a restrictive diet but a psychological (the magic word) shift in eating habits – though with a meal log, daily calorie budget and recurring weigh-ins as the main ingredients, it all feels familiar. After a long therapy-like questionnaire to understand the profound reason that I want to shed the pounds, every day I’m presented with bite-sized lessons on why I need to eat foods that fill me up with fewer calories (go heavy on the grapes). The idea is that there are no bad foods, only some that I should have in moderation. Push notifications encourage me to list every mouthful (and if I don’t for three days, I’ll get an angry text to bloody tell me). A personal coach from Noom has slid into my DMs offering help; cheery copy, frequent click-throughs and daily quizzes on what I’ve learnt keep up the gaming “playfulness” of the whole enterprise. Is this Duolingo for slimming? Perhaps.

Maybe my scepticism is just a way to project my fear of failure onto an app and not take responsibility – and I’m afraid it might cost a bit more than $60 a month to fix that…

Image: Jacob Russel

The Correspondent’s Scoop / Beirut

Cold comfort

In the first outing of a fresh series, we're asking one of our correspondents around the world to reveal their city’s best ice-cream parlour. In Beirut, Leila Molana-Allen takes us to Hanna Mitri.

A scoop from Hanna Mitri has been a Beirut institution for more than 50 years. Multiple scoops if you know what you’re doing: brightly coloured layers of flavour piled high on a distinctive square wafer cone that marks out Lebanese ice cream or bouzah. Pick any sunny day and you’ll find a queue winding down the Ashrafieh alley outside the small store made up of eager customers happy to wait for one of the city’s most highly vaunted treats.

Like his father before him, owner Mitri Hanna Moussa is there from 05.00 every day, carefully mixing his concoctions of fresh fruit, nuts and milk by hand before freezing. The flavours are distinctive: zingy lemon sorbet packed with tart rind; ripe mulberry that fills your mouth with its rich sweetness; crunchy, creamy candied almond; rosewater with its heady aroma. After the explosion in Beirut in 2020, when the shop was shattered like so many others, the family decided it was time for an upgrade. Their shiny new location down the street from the original spot is filled with gleaming freezers and countertops, ready to serve generations of old and new customers. The recipes, though, are sacred and remain untouched. Sometimes the traditional ways are the best.
El Saydeh, Beirut.

Image: Mattia Parodi

What’s in your suitcase? / Izmail Tazi

Eats and beats

Izmail Tazi (pictured) and his wife, Adnane, founded their brand, Trame, in 2020 to create connections between artisans and designers across the Mediterranean. Each collection of tableware, textiles and vases is inspired by a journey around southern Europe. After Fez-Meknes in Morocco and the Calabria region of Italy, their third set of releases takes inspiration from the Alhambra, celebrating the geometry of this impressive palace in Grenada with 3D-printed, hand-glazed objects made of clay. The company has recently opened a new showroom in Paris, where Tazi is based. Here he reveals his choice of holiday playlist and why he loves Tangier.

Going anywhere nice this year?
Every year we go to a place called Cabo Negro near Tangier, in the mountains overlooking the Med. It’s very nice. Tangier is my favourite city in Morocco. It’s wonderful. There are French, Spanish, Italian, American, English and German influences. It’s a very international city and really vibrant culturally.

What’s the first thing you pack?
I travel very light. I would say my charger.

Which books will you be taking?
I will be tackling the memoirs of Charles de Gaulle. I’m a big fan of reading about historical leaders who guided us through difficult times.

What music will you be listening to?
At the moment I’m into the Chilled Beats playlist on Spotify. I also listen to long DJ sets. One of my favourites is by deep-house Mexican DJ Sainte Vie. Otherwise, African music, whether it’s Ethiopian jazz from the 1960s or Senegalese and Malian artists like Youssou N’Dour and Ballaké Sissoko.

Swimwear of choice?
I’m very basic in matters of fashion. Just some black shorts from Uniqlo or maybe Muji.

What’s your aperitivo of choice?
In Texas I discovered tequila and Topo Chico: tequila and sparkling water with lime. It’s actually quite light – you get that late-night vibe without the headache.

Any good restaurant recommendations on the Med?
Near Tangier there is a restaurant called L’Ocean. The view is nice, overlooking the beach, and it serves great seafood. It’s where you meet all your friends from the city.
trameparis.com

Image: Ben Roberts

Summer go-see / Art

Worth the wait

In the June issue of Monocle, our Expo section showcased a group of exceptional makers and creatives in Mallorca, including the artist Pedro Oliver. When we visited his extraordinary studio in Palma, we were staggered by the number of stunning works that he had stored meticulously on shelves and in cupboards, from large-scale canvases to small prints. This was because Oliver didn’t want to be part of the art market’s major fairs or find that a gallery owner was organising his life, so he had been running his sales slowly and privately.

But now, after years out of the spotlight, a new show of his work is about to take place at the Centro de Cultura e Congressos da SRNOM in Porto from 14 July to 6 August. Segundo os Segundos will feature some of his recent, powerful graphic works – created with single, twisting brushstrokes – and offer a rare chance to buy pieces by this special artist.
nortemedico.pt

Image: Martine Franck / Magnum Photos

Photo of the Week / “Swimming Pool Designed by Alain Capeilleres”

Quality time

Sun-soaked holidays on the beach have been an integral part of French culture since 1936, when a strike of more than a million people forced the government to sign a deal mandating 12 days of leave a year. At the time, workers revelled in the news. For decades vacations had been exclusively for the rich and those in blue-collar work had to settle for resting on Sundays but that year more than 600,000 wage-earners took time off. Among the first photographers to capture this joyful time was Henri Cartier-Bresson, who documented France’s first paid holidays in a series titled En Vacances.

In 1976, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the French holiday, Belgium-born photographer Martine Franck went on a sunny escapade. In her photos of lakeside campsites and music festivals, the mood was similar to that of 1936 – albeit slightly more mischievous (it was the 1970s, after all). Her shots are included in a new title published by Teneues, Light on the Riviera: a handsome book featuring images of the French coast through the decades, with images from the likes of Elliott Erwitt, Helmut Newton and Lee Miller. “I wanted to express what the holidays were without proving anything and evoke an atmosphere without necessarily describing it,” said Franck at the time. Fittingly, the series’ best-known photo (shown here), “Swimming Pool Designed by Alain Capeilleres”, depicts a small group of people casually lounging by the water. Shot in a Provençal town, Franck’s silver gelatin print captures a dreamy, almost metaphysical atmosphere. But there’s a hint of menace in the photo too. Summer holidays can evoke strange feelings when you know that there’s an expiration date. So, in that spirit, grab a bottle of SPF and find your own sunny patch this weekend. For now, the days are still long.
teneues.com

Summer house hunter / Europe

Home from home

We’ve all had the urge on a good holiday to linger a little longer – or potentially a lot longer – as we find ourselves peering at estate-agent-window listings, planning to purchase that perfect place in the sun. Today we don’t even need to be abroad to engage in this indulgence thanks to the rise of wonderful websites such as L’Exploreur. This French operation, based in the Mediterranean city of Toulon, is managed by tasteful architecture aficionados and estate agents Rémi Guisset and Jérémy Bailet. With an editorial approach, L’Exploreur lists a selection of seaside properties for rent and sale, while delivering stories celebrating the type of design the pair favour: stripped-back, sunny modernism.

Image: L’EXPLOREUR
Image: L’EXPLOREUR
Image: L’EXPLOREUR

The site is focused on France’s southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and homes currently available for sale include a view-laden loft apartment, which sits within the handsomely renovated Casino du Manteau in Tamari. Renters can secure the sumptuous 1962 Villa Eole (pictured) by prolific Hyères architect Lucien David for €25,000 per week, a price that affords them a paradise of luxurious privacy and panoramic views.

People seeking something special beyond the South of France should look in the direction of Fantastic Frank. The Swedish online service provides homes and holidays across Europe. Our picks include this cosy and well-furnished apartment in Palma, Mallorca and this funky brick family home near Barcelona. Finally, for those who prefer to holiday in cooler climes, British online property favourite The Modern House is serving up a single-storey, balconied mid-century treat in rural Scotland.

lexploreur.com; fantasticfrank.com; themodernhouse.com

Download now / Italian tormentone

No pain, no gain

The battle for the title of tormentone of the summer – the hit that’s so popular it torments you for months – is closely fought in Italy every year. Sometimes, the winner is obvious from the outset but even when the result is less clear, by this time in the season some frontrunners start to emerge. After a strong performance last year with the vintage-sounding “Mille”, rapper-cum-singer-cum-influencer (and one half of Italy’s most gossiped-about couple) Fedez is back with the doo-wop-style “La Dolce Vita”. Talent-show winner Irama might well claim the top spot with his textbook 1980s power ballad “5 Gocce” but our bets are on Singapore-born, Milan-based Baby K. The singer is no stranger to this game and virtually hibernates all winter only to release a well-judged banger every June. This year she’s enlisted the help of none other than Mika (a huge deal in the country given his role as judge on X Factor), who croons with her in impeccable Italian on the beat-heavy “Bolero”. Special mention goes to Elettra Lamborghini, heiress of the family fortune and pop provocateur, who doesn’t quite match her previous successes with this year’s tamer “Caramello”; and Puglian reggaeton outfit Boomdabash who go a bit more experimental on “Tropicana”. Give in to the torment and download them all.

Image: Sotheby’s / ArtDigital Studio

What am I bid? / Les Lalanne at Sotheby’s Monaco

Counting sheep

After a successful pop-up gallery on the Côte d’Azur last year, Sotheby’s opened its newest permanent outpost in Monaco this summer, hoping to entice collectors who have decamped to the Riviera. To start proceedings, the auction house has gathered a selection of works by the 20th-century French artist couple Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, including Claude’s intricate floral jewellery and the sheep sculptures that François-Xavier is famous for.

The whimsical animals, which are up for grabs in a selling exhibition that runs until 1 September, were beloved by Yves Saint Laurent, who liked lounging on his (the pieces were always intended to be used as furniture). They have spawned plenty of cheap copycats but the originals, such as the fluffy “Mouton de Laine” (pictured), fetch handsome prices (a herd of four sold for about €1.2m in 2018). Savvy collectors should be flocking to this.
sothebys.com

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