- Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 12/11/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

At your convenience

Kicking back for the weekend? And why not? Here to ease you in is a rumination on the latest ‘it bag’ and tips for a wintry weekender in Copenhagen. But first, Andrew Tuck reports from Dallas.

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Different class

The Monocle Chiefs conference took place in Dallas this week and it was a bit of a triumph. People flew in from around the world for a day of debates that focused on leadership and how to run nations, cities and businesses better. And there was also a fun alfresco dinner on the balmy roof of the Thompson Hotel. Everyone who came also got to see Dallas up close and for many – me included – it was their first time in the city. It was all very inspiring, challenging and might have involved more margaritas than anyone should wisely consume. Here are 10 things I learned this week.

People dress well in Dallas. Men wear polished shoes and dapper jackets. Sid Mashburn, the celebrated menswear designer and retailer who lives in Atlanta and has shops across the US, said during our onstage conversation that dressing well in this part of America was about good manners. Let’s not forget that Dallas is also home to Neiman Marcus.

And sticking with Mr Mashburn, he explained that what his shops sell to men are not just good jackets, sharp ties and double-monk shoes but also confidence. People should leave feeling good about how they look. I went to his new Dallas shop and dropped some cash. I will report back on whether a plaid shirt can change your outlook on life. I am hopeful.

The Nasher Sculpture Center is a perfect pocket of urbanism and art. There is a series of galleries as you enter but the best bit is beyond this: a small garden dotted with impeccable works. A Henry Moore work reclines by a pool. A Picasso face stares with a certain haughtiness over proceedings. It’s a soothing oasis in this city of highways.

Evelyn Webster, the CEO of SoulCycle, gives a great interview. We talked about managing talent, fighting for values to be adhered to and how to get through a crisis – she never dodged a question. I also liked how she mentioned her age, 53, with confidence to make clear that she won’t be judged on that number and is happy in her skin. It’s all about confidence – she doesn’t need Sid (or the women’s line, Ann Mashburn).

There’s a lot of money in Dallas. I walked through Highland Park and acre after acre of grand houses. It is a world of polished cars and immaculate lawns; nothing out of place. Without exception, everyone I passed said hello. And there’s poverty too. Dallas might not have the homelessness of New York but it still confronts you.

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is the daftest film ever made. I watched it on the in-flight entertainment – every minute of it. So did Sophie Grove, Konfekt’s editor and one of my co-presenters at the conference. We started thinking of possible sequels featuring our team: Sophie Grove Goes to Hove, Mr Brûlé Goes to St Tropez. But then Josh Fehnert, Monocle’s editor, went rogue and suggested an inappropriate rhyme with Andrew Tuck Goes to… He needs some time at a Texan finishing school.

American breakfasts don’t make sense. If you decline having a pile of potatoes with your eggs, they offer you watermelon instead. Little pots of jam arrive unexpectedly with savoury dishes. And I have views on the coffee.

Katrice Hardy, executive editor of The Dallas Morning News, has views on coffee too. She explained how the arrival of a branch of Starbucks in a neighbourhood can be enough to ignite change in less fortunate parts of the city. While snobs see a global chain, she saw a company whose brand presence could attract other businesses.

Mexico City continues to be a magnet for talent – both local and international. Chef Elena Reygadas and Rafael Micha of hotel company Grupo Habita spoke with passion at The Chiefs about the city but so did all the Mexicans who had flown into town to join us.

Names are interesting. Rebecca Wesson Darwin, co-founder of the Allée Group behind Garden & Gun magazine, which is based in Charleston, explained that the title was not some outlet for the NRA but simply a celebration of rural life (and they don’t show dead animals on page). The name actually comes from a former nightclub in the city that had chosen “Garden & Gun” because it seemed to embrace everybody.

The great thing about these events is that while so much unfolds onstage, it’s in the conversations afterwards that debates dive deeper and shared interests are discovered. I got home yesterday having met some extraordinary speakers and readers – and with a couple of good wardrobe additions too. So thank you, Dallas, and everyone who rocked up. It was great being with y’all.

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Cosy Copenhagen

The highlight of the Concierge’s week is being transported on one of your wonderful voyages. From the comfort of our desk, we hopscotch across the seven seas, on the lookout for the best places to eat, drink and sleep. This time we’re in Copenhagen, sampling the city’s many delights. If you would like some tips for a forthcoming trip, click here. We will answer one question every week.

Dear Concierge,

I plan to visit Copenhagen with my family for five days later this month. I would be happy to receive some tips for that time of year.

Many thanks in advance,
Alp Özpar

Image: Felix Odell

Dear Alp,

What a time to visit Copenhagen! With Christmas approaching, streets across the Danish capital are being decked with lights and seasonal markets are popping up around town. It’s the darkest time of year but the best to practise hygge – the pursuit of comfort and conviviality – the local way (despite the commercialisation of the concept, it’s very much still a thing here).

Pop by one of the city’s numerous candlelit cafés to enjoy a soft cinnamon bun alongside a warming glass of gløgg. We recommend the recently revamped Meyers Bageri in the Frederiksberg district for an unforgettable example of both. Once you’re there, walk down to Vaernedamsvej, a lively alley lined with independent design boutiques, fashion retailers (including menswear brand Another Aspect, which was featured in Monocle’s November issue) and takeaway lunch spots.

If you’re hungry for culture, hop on the metro to Gammel Strand station in the historic centre and take a stroll down the canal, which is dotted with plenty of colourful façades. You’ll walk past Christiansborg Palace, the Danish parliament well-known to avid Borgen fans, and reach the OMA-designed Blox, home to the Danish Architecture Center and its dedicated exhibition space. From there, a short stroll down the harbour will lead you to another imposing all-glass building: the Black Diamond. This modern library is one of Copenhagen’s architectural jewels and boasts light-filled reading rooms, a tasty café and stunning views over the water. Hyg dig!

The Look / Ikea chic

Not my bag

Not all “it bags” are the same but they usually share three qualities: recognisable design, exclusivity determined by price and availability, and flawless craftsmanship (writes Grace Charlton). In recent years the Birkin by Hermès, Celine’s Trapèze and the Musubi by Acne Studios have all earned this status. But every now and then an unlikely contender emerges off the railings and onto the shoulders of the great and the good, as I discovered on a recent shopping trip in London.

Image: IKEA

As I wandered the strip-lit aisles of Ikea in Hammersmith, stopping occasionally to stroke a sheepskin rug or sniff a scented candle, I spotted a dark and shiny corner. There, tacked on the wall, was an Ikea Frakta laundry bag – usual cost: 70p (€0.75) – but this one was priced at the relatively dear £3 (€3.40). The difference? It was a rather chic black. I sauntered over to the nearest help desk to enquire. “It’s sold out,” said the shop assistant in what sounded like a well-rehearsed response. “You can’t even buy it online.” Not even online? I hastily got out my phone and opened the Ikea website – on the Ikea shop floor. He was right.

When I got home, I engaged in more extensive research. On Ebay I found one of these bags, which turned out to be the product of a collaboration between Ikea and EDM group Swedish House Mafia, for the frankly stratospheric price of £20 (€22.70). Now, a slice of fashion history doesn’t come cheap but when that slice is made from 100 per cent polypropylene, you hesitate before taking a bite. In its eternal quest for mastery of the zeitgeist, high fashion has begun to co-opt the symbols of mass consumerism – think the DHL T-shirt by Vetements or Moschino’s McDonalds french-fries handbag. Indeed, the Ikea laundry bag has already been imitated by Balenciaga in 2017. But by playing their game and forcing the vagaries of seasonal fashion onto perennial items, Ikea’s new collaboration has enforced a time limit on their use. I think I’ll stick with my 70p Frakta.

The Interrogator / Reb Fountain

Calling the tune

Reb Fountain is a San Francisco-born, New Zealand-raised singer-songwriter. Her career began in jazz before moving to a rockier, country-influenced sound. Fountain’s latest album, Iris, is out on Flying Nun Records and she plays London’s The Water Rats on 15 November. Here, she shares her love of markets and the voices of Rosalía and Stephen Fry.

Image: Marissa Findlay

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with the headlines?
Decaf coffee and the crossword.

Do you have a favourite weekend market?
When I’m travelling I always check out a local market. Most recently I bought potatoes, hand-knitted woollen socks and wild flowers at the farmer’s market in Nelson, British Columbia.

Which news source do you wake up to?
I listen to Radio New Zealand, the country’s national public radio station; it’s my go-to.

What are you currently humming in the shower?
I’m obsessed with Beyoncé’s Renaissance, Kendrick Lamar’s Mr Morale & the Big Steppers and Rosalía’s Motomami.

Any movie recommendations?
An oldie but a goodie: if you haven’t seen the Alien series, watch it. Sigourney Weaver changed my life.

What about books?
I have just read Maya Angelou’s All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better by Regina Jackson and Saira Rao.

What do you listen to before drifting off?
I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E Butler. And I often put on Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology Series; his voice – and storytelling – can lull me to sleep.

Culture / Watch, visit, listen

Committed to record

‘No Bears’, Jafar Panahi. Iranian auteur and dissident Jafar Panahi was unable to receive the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Venice International Film Festival as a result of being sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for criticising his country’s government in July. His latest film, No Bears, was shot in secret on the Turkish-Iranian border and blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction. Panahi places himself at the centre of this complex story about cultural dogma, oppressive and regressive forces, and the often serious consequences of making art.

‘Alice Neel: Un Regard Engagé’, Centre Pompidou, Paris. US portraitist Alice Neel captured New Yorkers with a kindly eye but her work also had a political edge. This exhibition dives deep into the role of communism and the women’s rights movement in her work. It includes a piece by Jenny Holzer based on Neel’s FBI record – proof that her art, even at its most aesthetically pleasing, was still somehow considered dangerous.

‘The Loneliest Time’, Carly Rae Jepsen. It has been 10 years since her smash hit “Call Me Maybe” but Carly Rae Jepsen has managed to maintain a loyal fanbase and earn the respect of music critics. For her sixth album, she ventures into a mellower sound with songs such as lead single “Western Wind”, a surprisingly melancholic ballad. The Loneliest Time showcases the Canadian singer’s introspective side but she swerves the predictability of a boring “mature” album by punctuating the release with catchy pop on tracks such as “Talking to Yourself” and the album’s highlight, “Beach House”.

Photo of The Week / ‘Prabérians’, Thomas Rousset

Village people

Every November the French capital becomes the centre of the photographic universe (writes Kamila Lozinska). The 25th edition of Paris Photo opened on Thursday and runs until Sunday at the Grand Palais Éphémère. Almost 200 galleries will be showing historical and contemporary artworks by everyone from masters to young talents. I’ll be making a beeline for the stand run by Loose Joints, the London and Marseille-based publisher behind Périphérique, a body of work by Mohamed Bourouissa that has just won photobook of the year at Paris Photo.

Image: Thomas Rousset 2022 courtesy Loose Joints

I’ll also be taking a sneak peek at Prabérians, Loose Joints’ forthcoming compendium of images by Thomas Rousset. The photographer documented his family village over a 12-year period, capturing a panoply of surrealistic yet intimate portraits and observations of French village life, including this fantastical shot of a burning car in the woods.

Prabérians by Thomas Rousset is published by Loose Joints


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