Friday. 12/8/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Acielle Tanbetova

Opinion / Natalie Theodosi

Snapping at their heels

There’s a running joke in the fashion industry that it’s always fashion week somewhere. In recent years cities around the world, from Amsterdam to Berlin, Istanbul to Budapest, have been trying to get theirs off the ground, showcase homegrown design talent and help boost tourism. And yet, the best designers still prefer to make the biannual pilgrimage to Milan and Paris to preview their seasonal collections.

Copenhagen Fashion Week, which has been running since Tuesday, is one of the few exceptions: slowly but surely the Danish capital has been catching up with the more established fashion cities and luring the industry’s bigger players to take the flight to Copenhagen twice a year. There are plenty of reasons for its success. First, there’s the Danes’ refreshingly relaxed approach to dressing: designers here focus on serving people’s everyday needs before addressing their own creative fancies.

This season there was also a plethora of new talent, such as up-and-coming tailor Berner Kühl, and an impressive showcase of material innovation. I was particularly struck by Norse Projects’ new merino wool sweaters, which have volcanic ash embroidered inside their fibres to help regulate the wearer’s body temperature.

There’s another, less visible factor that has helped Copenhagen establish itself: Danes show their guests a good time by creating a relaxed, friendly environment that facilitates conversations, new ideas and opportunities to discover their city as much as their fashion. “It’s important to share good energy with our guests,” Cecilie Liv Mortensen, head of design at Copenhagen-based Wood Wood, tells me a few hours before the brand closed a bridge by the harbour to host its 20th-anniversary show. “After all, they come to Copenhagen to experience something different.”

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor. Hear more on Copenhagen Fashion Week from her on today’s edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Sri Lanka

Leader and exile

Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand yesterday, having resigned and fled Colombo last month after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence. Rajapaksa had been staying in Singapore until yesterday’s flight to Bangkok. Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called Rajapaksa’s visit a “humanitarian issue” and said that the stay would be temporary. Back in Sri Lanka, between ongoing debt negotiations with the IMF and widespread food and fuel shortages, new president Ranil Wickremesinghe (pictured) has a lot on his plate. His government has taken some steps toward political reform, such as curbing presidential powers, one of the opposition’s demands. But so far he has focused more on cracking down on activists. They include Joseph Stalin, a prominent union leader named by his communist father after the former Soviet Union leader, who was arrested for participating in a protest but released on bail after an international outcry. As Rajapaksa enjoys a forced retirement, the government left behind should be careful not to follow his lead.

Image: Getty Images

Elections / Italy

Operation credibility

Italy’s general election isn’t until 25 September and most Italians are still sunning themselves on beaches but that hasn’t stopped the country’s heir apparent from getting on the campaign trail. Fratelli d’Italia’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, who according to polls is in line to become prime minister, recently appeared on Fox Business and this week released a video in which she spoke in French, Spanish and English.

The aim? To show that hers is “the political party of Italian conservatives” and ease foreign concerns by “unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and ignominious anti-Jewish laws”. In other words, to distance herself from Mussolini and accusations of being a post-fascist leader. Meloni is also cleverly styling herself as the one true opposition to repeatedly failed Italian governments (as the Five Star Movement did in the past) and wooing centrists by condemning Russia and saying that she doesn’t want to leave the EU. The divided left doesn’t appear to have much of an answer.

Image: Alamy

Culture / UK

Art house

London’s infamous Groucho Club has found new owners in Artfarm, the hospitality and development company of Manuela and Iwan Wirth, the gallerists behind Hauser & Wirth. Founded in Soho in 1985, the members’ club became known as a hub for creative socialites and was lauded for welcoming women as equals, unlike many of the city’s other such establishments at the time. Patrons have included artists Francis Bacon and Tracey Emin, actor Robbie Coltrane and Blur’s Alex James.

This week’s sale is the latest example of art firms moving into hospitality and there are rumblings that Artfarm is seeking ways to appeal to a more diverse, younger crowd than Groucho’s current 5,000 members. With its international connections, there’s also the possibility of expanding overseas. This could be a savvy move but it’s yet to be seen whether the club’s new owners can grow the business while maintaining its exclusive, creative edge over the competition.

Image: Getty Images

Economy / North America

All downhill from here?

Inflation is finally showing signs of easing in North America, after prices in the US soared to their highest levels in 40 years. US figures released on Wednesday showed that inflation could be peaking. In Canada, tumbling prices of goods such as lumber and wheat, as well as a cooling housing market, offer some reprieve. And then there’s the expected passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in Washington later today.

The $700bn (€677bn) package, along with being the largest climate investment in US history, is expected to tackle inflation by easing the cost of health care and energy. But while the bill is welcome, it will take time to come into effect; inflation isn’t expected to return to normal levels for another year or two. North Americans can look ahead with cautious optimism but they’re not out of the woods yet.

Monocle 24 / The Foreign Desk

Explainer: Gaza

Last week, Israel launched air strikes on targets in Gaza. Andrew Mueller explains what makes this event different from the usual warfare with Palestine.

Monocle Films / Athens

Meet Europe’s first chief heat officer

Athens is the hottest capital city in mainland Europe and temperatures continue to rise. That’s why Eleni Myrivili was appointed as the city’s – and continent’s – first chief heat officer last summer. We meet her on Philoppapou hill to hear about how urban design can help to build resilience against rising temperatures. Read more in the July/August issue of Monocle.

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