Thursday 20 October 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 20/10/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: LVMH

Opinion / Natalie Theodosi

Hidden luxuries

This week, LVMH hosted its fifth edition of Journées Particulières (“heritage days”) in which the luxury group offered the public a glimpse inside its storied ateliers around the world. Participants could tour the Tiffany & Co design studios in Manhattan, meet the tailors at Berluti’s Paris atelier or tread the terroir of the Champagne region where its Moët & Chandon, Krug and Veuve Clicquot brands are headquartered. A luxury indeed.

What stood out to me about the initiative wasn’t solely the access offered by LVMH to its oft-secretive brands but the degree of public interest in seeing how and where these coveted products are made. According to the group, the three-day event welcomed 200,000 visitors globally – double the attendance of the first edition in 2011.

So what does this show? First, members of the public, whether they are luxury buyers or not, seem to be moving away from consumption for its own sake or based purely on an appealing label and towards becoming interested in craft and how things are made. Second, the initiative demonstrates LVMH’s move away from spectacle or celebrity endorsements: gimmicks that some firms fall back upon to create a stir. The alternate focus was refreshingly intimate and gave visitors the time to discover the ateliers and artisans.

It’s a democratic approach that creates a more meaningful dialogue between companies and customers. By investing in the growth of heritage days alongside traditional runway shows, LVMH is showing that businesses of any scale can show a human side and stay relevant.

Knowing how and where things are made is vital and the Paris-based firm knows it. The fact that LVMH has just invested in two new Italian factories for the Roman brand Fendi also shows that making it in the luxury industry increasingly means manufacturing things closer to home.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / Russia

Rallying the troops

On Tuesday, Russian general Sergei Surovikin made a rare public statement and admitted that Ukraine is putting President Putin’s invading forces on the back foot. “Difficult,” was the word Surovikin chose to describe the conflict in Kherson, a strategic city on the Black Sea and the Dnieper river, before insisting with false magnanimity that he would ensure the safe departure of those at risk from the region. While it’s understandably rare for generals such as Surovikin (pictured, on left, with Putin) to admit battlefield strife, in this instance his statement seems to be strategic. “The Russians are using the deteriorating military situation to deport large numbers of Ukrainians,” Richard Shirreff, former Nato Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, told The Briefing on Monocle 24. Shirreff says that by acknowledging the chaos in Kherson, Surovikin is also priming people for a change of tack to justify more decisive action to stem Russian losses.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Colombia

Open to talks

Colombia’s new president Gustavo Petro has announced his government’s intention to resume peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group in November after a four-year hiatus. Most of Colombia’s left-wing rebels laid down arms in 2016 after a landmark deal between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government. However, a truce with the Marxist-Leninist ELN has long eluded lawmakers in Bogotá.

So why are the ELN returning to the negotiating table now? “Petro used to be a guerrilla fighter and that gives the ELN a degree of comfort,” Eemeli Isoaho, programme co-ordinator for peace mediation at ETH Zürich, tells The Monocle Minute, adding that a successful deal could add stability to both Colombia and the wider region. “It is also significant that Norway, Cuba and Venezuela are all involved in the talks. Oslo has historically played a very active and constructive role in the peace process in Colombia and the ELN has operated partially out of Venezuela.”

Image: Getty Images

Tourism / Kyoto

Home comforts

Despite its rich history and beauty, Kyoto is facing a crisis. The ancient capital has suffered the largest population decrease in Japan in the past few years (almost 12,000 people left between 2020 and 2021). This isn’t just due to an ageing population either, as many of those heading elsewhere were under the age of 40. One cause of the exodus is related to Kyoto’s largest, and by some measures most successful industry: tourism.

The city of about 1.5 million was geared up to greet some 53 million visitors a year before numbers tumbled during the pandemic. Despite this, the act of providing rooms for overnight visitors has driven up the price of housing here, as well as the market for homes better suited to wealthy weekend visitors rather than low- or middle-income families. As Japan opened up to the world last week after a long lockdown, the city’s leadership must use the likely windfall to invest in residents’ quality of life.

Image: Getty Images

Publishing / Frankfurt

Literary ambitions

The latest chapter of the Frankfurt Book Fair started yesterday at the city’s Trade Fair Grounds, where more than 4,000 exhibitors from some 80 countries, including booksellers, editors and literary agents, gathered to discuss the future of publishing and ink deals. Despite rising paper costs and slower delivery times, the buzz of the fair was palpable as rights were negotiated and deals discussed between industry panels on themes such as adapting books for the screen and the art of translation.

This year’s nation of honour is Spain; its 200-member delegation is hosting a programme of events on literature and the arts (as well as a doff of the crown from King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia). A focus on Ukraine will highlight the importance of upholding literary culture in times of war and Volodymyr Zelensky will remotely address the attendees today. Argentina is also one of the nations present at the fair. “Being here means international visibility,” says Paula Vázquez, director of cultural affairs at Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It’s important as Argentinian literature continues to bloom.”

For the latest plot twists from the Frankfurter Buchmesse, tune in to ‘The Stack’, our dedicated weekly print industry review on Monocle 24.

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