Saturday 26 November 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 26/11/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

A flying start

From the transatlantic trend of repairing old clothes and art-handling in Aspen to Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak’s love of heavy metal, our Saturday newsletter provides some compelling talking points to kick off the weekend. But first, Andrew Tuck takes the red-eye to Lisbon….

The Opener / Andrew Tuck

Bird on the wire

Luckily, Tyler was there; otherwise I would have been surprised when the presenter from CNN Portugal arrived without a cockerel perched on her arm or an adorable hen nesting in her hair.

As you get older you get wiser about a few things in life and, for me, one of these has been, “Don’t take the 7am flight.” It looks fine when you are booking it but it actually involves getting up at 4am and by lunchtime you find yourself wondering whether it would be terribly rude if, instead of eating your salad, you temporarily used it as a pillow. Anyway, on Tuesday I broke my rule for a trip to Lisbon for the official launch of Portugal: The Monocle Handbook. The alarm blared.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

Once in Lisbon, Tyler suggested that we meet up for a planning lunch with Carlota, our Portugal-born, London-based Monocle 24 producer, at Café de São Bento, a ridiculously charming old-school restaurant near the parliament. Because of my tiredness and a port tonic, I might have lost focus for a second but I distinctly heard Carlota say that the reporter from CNN Portugal would be at the party and wanted to know “whether live chickens would be OK”.

Now I know that Portugal has its unique traditions but I found myself wondering how the reporter even transported her clutch of feathery friends around the city. Tyler, surprisingly, was all for it. “Sounds great,” he told Carlota. The conversation drifted on but I felt someone needed to inject some common sense here, even if this was a culturally sensitive issue. “Sorry,” I said, “but, really, CNN wants live chickens?” Carlota, whose English is more cut-glass than anyone’s, gave me the sort of look that made me think that I might get parked in a care home by the end of the day. “I said that they want live check-ins,” she explained patiently. I returned to my bacalao strudel and let them proceed with the media schedule.

Despite the lack of chickens or, indeed, any birds, the event was wonderful. We held it at LAB – A Padaria Portuguesa, a café-cum-bakery on Avenida da República (I wasn’t joking last week when I promised a cheeky pastel de nata if you rocked up). It was packed and we managed to sell and sign every book and win over some new subscribers too. And the people: architects, designers, writers, entrepreneurs, developers, furniture-makers. There’s something so incredibly entrepreneurial about Portuguese people and by the end of the night I had lots of stories to follow up on. One person even showed me a slightly surprising screenshot of an image that they had seen on a dating website; they had kept it on their phone for more than a year, they said, hoping that our paths would cross. The photograph was of an underpanted gentleman who seemed reluctant to show his face but was willing to grip in his hand a copy of Monocle. I scanned the room – was he here? With only a rear view to work with, it was hard to tell. Perhaps he’d be up for a cross-promotion.

And Lisbon. The skies were grey but not threatening – more a pleasing shade of Farrow & Ball paint. The temperature was balmy and the city looked ready for Christmas. On street corners, wisps of smoke eddied up from the mobile chestnut-roasting stands and sales assistants were carefully gift-wrapping stocking-fillers. And I got to stay at the Four Seasons Ritz (though seeing as I compounded my flight-booking error with a 7am return, “staying” turned out to be more of a passing duvet surf). The city, however, was a jolt of joy.

On a different story. Well, wow, some people are still super-focused on the work-from-home topic. My personal view? Determine what’s best for your company and do that. Simple. For Monocle? Over the next few weeks we will send a multitude of complicated projects out of the door that require hundreds of decisions made at some speed and across teams. That requires being aware of shifting workloads, stepping in to help in real time, using hopefully some grace and humour to get things done. So for us, being together is vital. Plus, I get to work with amazing people and enjoy the spirit of Midori House. Then there’s the mentoring issue and, yes, we want to be a meaningful part of our neighbourhood. But it happened again this week: someone who likes to work from home, whose company does not need close contact, getting a little serious about the issue, as though there should be one model that suits every business. It’s almost political for some folks.

Enough of that. Shall we return to diary planning? On Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December we have our Christmas Market in Zürich and the following weekend (10 and 11 December) at Midori House in London with reindeer, Santa Claus, Monochan, tombola and Monocle 24 live (sadly only check-ins, no chickens). So come to see us. It will be fun.

The Look / Patches

Make do and mend

Patches on clothes, long confined to the elbows of substitute maths teachers and disgruntled librarians, are slowly becoming more widespread (writes Jack Simpson). If the shirts, jackets and jeans of the fashion set in cities such as Austin and London are anything to go by, it’s a stylish choice. Part of a movement driven by sustainability concerns and brands’ desire to ensure the longevity of their pieces, shrewd operators are providing a range of means to make minor, tasteful repairs to clothes.

In the Texan capital, for instance, fashion brand Fort Lonesome uses a 100-year-old machine to create chain-stitched graphic patches (pictured) that can be fitted onto clothes, covering rips and tears. Available from shops such as Austin-based Stag, customers can choose from cacti, rattlesnakes and other Western-inspired patch designs to add personality to old outfits and prolong their life.

Image: Fort Lonesome

Part of a similar trend in the UK capital is Re.Uniqlo Studio in Uniqlo’s Regent Street flagship: a repair shop established in collaboration with pattern designer Zeena Shah and London-based Studio Masachuka. Here, in a renovated art deco building that celebrates the spirit of reuse by retaining many of its original 1920s features, customers bring their damaged Uniqlo products to be fixed using a 17th-century Japanese embroidery method called sashiko. This involves the repair of garments with embellished patches and intricate embroidered motifs.

With the movement taking off on both sides of the Atlantic – and with both high-street and boutique brands getting involved – expect it to be a lasting trend that will ensure your treasured items stay in wardrobes longer.

How We Live / Australian Christmas

Season’s heatings

In 1977, Australia Post issued, as usual, a Christmas stamp (writes Andrew Mueller). But it wasn’t the usual seasonal stamp. The mail company stepped boldly free of the Yuletide clichés that it had previously bound itself to: adoring Magi, guiding stars etc. Instead, it invited Australians to lick the back of a cartoon featuring a beaming, barefoot Santa Claus on a surfboard. It remains the most remembered and beloved Australian stamp of all – because, or so this Australian would prefer to believe, it acknowledged that Christmas in the southern hemisphere is different.

Image: Uovo

It is different for an obvious reason: it’s hot. When I grew up in Sydney, Christmas was a barbecue, maybe a trip to the beach. On 26 December, you could elbow your way to the harbour foreshores for the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, or tune into the Boxing Day test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. You could probably get from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day without putting on shoes, never mind a coat. It is curious, therefore, that so much Australian Christmas advertising still refuses to admit this 45 years after Australia Post’s Father Christmas.

The Australian marketing research agency Cubery ranks the season’s most effective TV ads. Much – way too much – of the 2022 crop could have been shot in snowbound Europe: phoned-in scenes of gift-giving adjacent to decorated trees, many also including roast feasts that no sane person would consider when it’s 35C, and some deploying unemployable actors clad in stupid novelty jumpers. Australia Post remains the unheralded pathfinder. Its Christmas ad is charming and beautiful, depicting a Santa Claus balloon drifting cheerfully beneath Australia’s sunny skies, between its sparkling skyscrapers and over its suburban swimming pools and lawn bowls-rinks, before colliding with a wind turbine – and there is a heartwarming twist, which I won’t spoil.

Retail Update / Uovo, Aspen

Collect calls

’Tis almost high season in Aspen, Colorado, where there’s plentiful powder on the ground and the ski town’s much sought-after chalets are getting cosy for the winter (writes Christopher Lord). Several top-flight art collectors have houses in Aspen and in the past year the city has established itself a little more on the international art market, with the second edition of art fair Intersect Aspen and a growing number of galleries and auction houses opening locally.

Image: Uovo

It’s also attracted Uovo, the ambitious New York-based collection-storage service, to expand its operations there and the firm’s eye-catching blue trucks are now hauling prized artworks and fashion through the remote highways of the Rockies. This follows a string of openings for the firm, which has gone from a single space in Long Island City to 12 locations across the US in two years, with another due to open in Dallas soon. “Aspen was an obvious next step for us,” Uovo’s CEO, John Auerbach, tells The Monocle Weekend Edition, adding that he and the team were ready for the chilly climes. “Our facilities are climate-controlled to maintain optimal storage conditions, regardless of the weather outside.”

Monocle Concierge / Your Questions Answered

Moving mountains

The Concierge had a highly edifying time reading about where you will all be spending Christmas and New Year’s. If any readers would like recommendations for places that they are visiting, click here. We will answer one question every week.

Image: Alamy

Dear Concierge,

My husband and I are spending a few days in Santiago, Chile, after an activity-packed trip in Buenos Aires and Mendoza, Argentina. What do you suggest in terms of restaurants, nightlife, performing and visual arts?

Jessica Wong

Dear Jessica,

If your bags are almost packed on reading this, ¡felicitaciones! Late spring and the onset of summer are simply sublime in Santiago: cool enough to walk around during the day and, in your case, to spot the snow-capped peaks of the Andes that overlook the Chilean capital.

For nightlife and decent restaurants, look no further than Lastarria. This neighbourhood at the foothills of Santa Lucia park is a haven of cosy bars, galleries and market stalls. President Salvador Allende, who was ousted in a military coup, and current leader Gabriel Boric have both called the area home, likely attracted by the dozens of terraces to put the world to rights over glasses of pisco or regional wine. Bocanáriz, with its tasting menu and 300-bottle cellar, is one of the most sought-after.

Santiago has been rocked by street protests in recent years. You’ll get a sense of that from the graffiti covering monuments, museums and fountains. For art, head to the Gabriela Mistral cultural centre, which runs a packed calendar across dance, film and photography. Alternatively, take a bicycle tour of Yungay, a residential district further west that’s full of street art and brightly coloured houses, one of which the young president moved into recently, after shunning the stuffier presidential palace. Swing by Matucana 100 for workshops and performances, then refuel at Panadería Selvaggio or the family-run sandwich shop Fuente Mardoqueo.

For impressive panoramas of the mountains, catch the teleférico (cable car), or take the lift to the glitzier Sky Costanera observation deck inside a 62-floor mega mall. It’s best on a clear day and, at this time of year, you’re guaranteed to enjoy many. ¡Buen viaje!

The Interrogator / Elif Shafak

Heavy metallurgy

Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak’s work has been translated into 56 languages (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). Set between north London and Cyprus, her latest novel, The Island of Missing Trees, follows a teenage girl as she begins to grapple with her identity and her parents’ past. Here, Shafak tells us about a penchant for ginger shots, her favourite bookshops and her love of heavy metal.

Image: Getty Images

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines?
Black coffee and a ginger shot.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
Heavy metal, metalcore, industrial metal or progressive metal. These days I hum Lorna Shore or the Indian folk-metal band Bloodywood.

Favourite bookshop?
Daunt Books, John Sandoe and Gay’s the Word in London. In Paris, Shakespeare & Co.

Is that a podcast in your ear?
It is. I am listening to Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time and I used to love Simon Mayo’s Confessions.

What’s the best thing that you’ve watched on TV recently?
Spirited Away and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.

Who’s your cultural obsession?
Jim Jarmusch and Jane Campion.

Do you still make an appointment to watch the nightly news?
Yes. And my favourite newsreader is Stephen Sackur on BBC World News.

Culture Cuts / Watch, Read, Listen

Appetite for disruption

‘The Playlist’, Netflix. The success of series such as WeCrashed proved that there’s an appetite for TV that shines a light on the spiky personalities who have shaped some of the world’s most disruptive companies. Based on a book by Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud, this new production focuses on the controversial decisions of Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Ek (Edvin Endre), looking at how his app Spotify ended up becoming a global success, changing the way we listen to music – but not without making enemies along the way.

‘Idol, Burning’, Rin Usami. It is perhaps ironic that a book about fandom has become a fan favourite. Since it was first published in Japan in 2020, Rin Usami’s second novel has sold 500,000 copies in her home country. Now that it has been translated, Idol, Burning is sure to find a keen new following among international readers. It follows Akari, a high-school student whose idol, a pop star called Masaki, makes her feel alive – at least until he’s accused of assaulting a fan and the backlash begins. An electric coming-of-age tale.

‘L’Emprise’, Mylène Farmer. The Canadian-born French singer returns from a four-year absence with her 12th studio album. Her decades-long career shows no sign of slowing down. Moody electronic single “Rayon vert”, in which Farmer whispers her lyrics accompanied by French duo Aaron, has a distinctly 1980s atmosphere. Expect collaborations with French director Woodkid and Moby to lend a futuristic vibe to proceedings.

What Am I Bid? / Max Beckmann

Portrait of an artist

On the evening of 12 November 1943, German painter Max Beckmann scrawled down a few lines in his diary. “Six hours on the self-portrait with red, yellow and pink – finished, I think,” he wrote. “Exerted myself tremendously.” With about eight decades of hindsight, it seems safe to conclude that the effort was worth it (writes Stella Roos). Estimated to sell for between €20-30m, “Selbstbildnis gelb-rosa” (“Self-Portrait in Yellow and Pink”) will go under the hammer at Grisebach in Berlin on 1 December and is poised to become the most expensive painting ever sold in Germany.

Image: Max Beckmann

Beckmann, a key figure in Germany’s interwar avant-garde, painted “Selbstbildnis” while in wartime exile in Amsterdam, soon after Nazi troops had overrun the city. Instead of using his habitual dark colours, Beckmann depicts himself in light, warm hues, looking serene as a monk. “It seems as though in the midst of mounting chaos and destruction, he found a monumental calm inside himself,” says Micaela Kapitzky, partner at Grisebach. “There’s a subtle smile on his face.” Beckmann never returned to his home country (he died in Manhattan in 1950) but his self-portrait is currently en route back from New York to Berlin, where it will be on view at Grisebach’s headquarters until Wednesday.


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