Saturday. 31/12/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

The best is yet to come

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to celebrate the return of the tuxedo and also reveal recommendations for a relaxing visit to New York. Plus: we find out about Santa’s witchy Italian cousin and discover how to bid on Elvis Presley’s private jet. But first, here’s Andrew Tuck on his highlights of 2022.

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Reasons to be cheerful

So we are about to shed 2022 and wake up to a fresh new year. But before we let this one go, a few things I will hold on to and cherish from the past 12 months.

  1. Being back on the road. Monocle headed up to the mountains and St Moritz for our Winter Weekender event, crossed to Paris in June for the Quality of Life Conference and then, in November, touched down in Dallas for The Chiefs. All three events were different in scale and tone but across them all I got to take part in great conversations on stage and spend valuable time with Monocle readers over drinks and dinners.

  2. And Paris was full of laughs, including a raucous auction with our Robert Bound swinging his gavel. Tyler and I were among the lots that were auctioned off (for lunch). Big thanks to Sarah-Joan for being the paddle-raising champion (and then inviting Sinead and Susanne along too when we all met in Zürich).

  3. Taking part in other people’s events too, including interviewing Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko on stage at the Summit of Cities in Prague and talking hospitality at IHIF with Nick Jones, founder of Soho House, in Berlin. To hear people’s stories is the privilege that comes with being a journalist. Both of these people shape many lives in extraordinarily different ways.

  4. Seeing the pandemic ease its grip. Many people’s lives were forever changed, businesses and cities bent or even boosted by its sanctions, but being able to stop talking about coronavirus was joyous. And now it’s sometimes hard to imagine how we navigated the lockdowns and how many times we had to stick a stick up our noses.

  5. Palma. A small apartment bought just before the pandemic, which didn’t feel very clever for a long time, has opened the door to another life. And this summer we drove to the city from London so that the hound could come too. An adventure. A moment of summer that still lingers like the sun on your skin.

  6. A second hit of summer. A friend who faces a health challenge took a house and invited people to come and stay. Time for conversations, breaking bread and a lingering glass of rosé. Who knows what will come our way.

  7. Some good colleagues – friends – found challenges beyond Monocle’s walls but new faces have arrived and are reshaping what we do. But there’s always some satisfaction when you think you may have helped someone on their journey.

  8. My colleague Josh’s wedding in Ireland. Travelling with one of those former colleagues and a current one too. Big birthday bashes for Brenda and Sophie. Thank goodness we don’t work in a company where socialising is frowned upon.

  9. A dog called Macy. A tonic. A quick cuddle every morning and all is well. And the other half too, of course.

  10. Seeing our reporters step up to the plate. Carlota Rebello and Chris Cermak travelling across Ukraine was a highlight. First, we sent them and Chris Lord for hostile environment training in Norway. I am hoping it’s why the Lord was calm when he met a bear while out jogging in Asheville, North Carolina.

  11. Just the hum of ambition – a new book series, papers and magazines that carried the work of so many talented people. Monocle’s most successful year ever for print.

  12. Driving across Mallorca with the photographer Ben Roberts to meet the makers fighting to make this more than just a holiday isle. Not quite Ukraine but it’s vital to flex the writing muscle.

  13. A successful meniscus operation. Going running again. Seeing the city at night. Huffing and puffing.

  14. Celebrating 15 years of Monocle. The anniversary March issue reminded us all of the epic journey – and made us a little proud too.

  15. Support. You need some human buttresses to keep you in place. The Monocle crew has each other’s backs. And again and again I have experienced the loyalty and passion – and support – of Monocle’s readers over the past 12 months. What a good year.

OK, come in 2023 and show us what you’ve got to offer.

The Look / Tuxedos

Suit up

This New Year’s Eve the look to aim for is polished, celebratory – and even a little over the top (writes Natalie Theodosi). Cue the tuxedo, an old-fashioned favourite that has been due a comeback post-pandemic. What better antidote to the wave of casualisation and lack of social gatherings that we have had to face in the last few years than dressing up in the most elegant outfit possible?

This renewed appreciation for tailoring hasn’t come about by chance: fashion designers, both young and established, have been working towards this throughout the year, reintroducing great tailoring to their collections and reminding the world of the power of a good tux to make you look and feel your best. Giorgio Armani, for one, showed an extensive line-up of velvet tuxedos (pictured) for his Fall 2022/23 collection that would really turn up the temperature on New Year’s Eve. A young crop of tailors, from Daniel W Fletcher in London to Lerici in Seoul, have also been eschewing the streetwear movement that their generation is often associated with and encouraging their customers to suit up by giving their own spin on the tuxedo: a little looser, yet still sharp.

Image: Getty Images

The tux is seeing its popularity rise just as much in the women’s department as more and more female shoppers choose it over the party dress. Beirut-born designer Racil Chalhoub has built her entire business from designing elegantly cut tuxedos, which often come in holiday-appropriate velvets and decadent silks.

The verdict is clearly in. Just ensure you indulge in the holiday spirit and add the right accessories, from a brightly coloured silk pocket square to jazzy jewellery – after all, New Year’s Eve should set the tone for the rest of the year, sartorially at least.

Read more about the latest fashion trends in Monocle’s December/January issue, which is on sale now.

How we live / New Year’s Eve

The grand plan

Whenever a friend tells me that they’re letting a birthday pass without celebration I gently remind them that life is short and suggest they approach its good moments the same way they do the bad (writes David Hodari). Nobody forgets to mark a death or a break-up with alcohol so why should we pass up a chance to celebrate? In short, I’m in favour of pomp and I’m no stranger to ceremony. There is one exception to my attempts to maintain perspective though. I hate New Year’s Eve with the fury of a dozen cancelled Ubers.

The beauty of a birthday party or a wedding is that not everyone was born or gets married on the exact same day. That means not everyone in the world is on the hunt to make memories they can’t remember, rendering bars, streets and the floors of public transport unusable. The demand for fun and the vanishingly short supply of it means that every New Year’s Eve, millions of people build up expectations that can only ever be too high as part of some kind of self-defeating social ritual.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

I’m aware that this is hardly a hot take. People have probably been complaining about having to go through the motions of getting excited for the beginning of a new year since before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. I find it easy to imagine myself in the middle of what would later become December, sometime in the 16th century, trying to get enough grog down me to “just try and have a good time, David”. In an increasingly secular society, New Year’s Eve remains one of the vanishingly few events that everyone celebrates – and therein lies part of the problem. Everyone makes plans for it because everyone makes plans for it. So, the only thing worse than making New Year’s Eve plans is not making them.

Monocle Concierge / Your Questions Answered

Biting the Big Apple

The Concierge will surely draw many jealous looks from all the non-curmudgeons among you when we say that we’ve been in New York City this week. It’s New Year’s Eve in the city that never sleeps and we can barely contain our excitement. If you’re heading somewhere and would like some top tips for where to eat, drink and stay, click here. We will answer one question each week.

Dear Concierge,

The Monocle life is a good life indeed. Any recommendations for a burnt-out professional wanting to escape the tropics of Singapore for New York City in the new year? I’m looking for 10 days of slow food, culture and balconies with a view in one of the most energetic cities in the world to reignite that jaded soul.

Kind regards, Dee Mohd, Singapore

Image: Getty Images

Dear Dee,

If you’re looking to escape the tropical heat, New York in the winter will indeed offer respite. You may catch the first big snowfall of the season, an experience that even the most jaded New Yorkers never tire of. And even if it’s a blizzard, rest assured that nothing brings this city to a halt – New York’s energy is bottomless, and you’ll always find locals out and about.

As you know, there’s certainly nothing slow about New York, but you will find superb restaurants to sometimes linger a little longer. For a snug meal, go to The Commerce Inn in the West Village, for braised oxtail and spoon bread; or Koloman, the new Viennese-Parisian restaurant in NoMad, for cheese soufflé and beef tenderloin. Or amble over the bridge into Brooklyn to the neighbourhood joint Gus’s Chop House for a slow Sunday roast of pork shoulder and leeks à la Wedge.

On a particularly chilly day, New York’s many museums are ideal places to get lost indoors. Quintessential spots like MoMA, The Metropolitan and Guggenheim are always must-sees. But also check out smaller independent art spaces like The Gallery and 55 Walker. In the evenings, catch a surprise stand-up show by some of the country’s top comedians at the Comedy Cellar on MacDougal Street or settle in for a night of jazz, champagne and caviar at the intimate Special Club down the road.

To get the best views of New York, you have to go up. Manhatta, a glass-encased bar in Tribeca, has 360-degree views of the city and good cocktails – order the Manhatta(n). As does the nearby Overstory, a plush retro bar on the 64th floor. It’s here where you’ll find your balcony – even though it’s not properly open during the winter, you can ask to pop your head out and brave the outdoors for a minute, knowing that a very good Gyokuro Martini awaits inside.

Christmas Traditions / Befana, Italy

Bridging the gap

The last in our series looking at colleagues’ native Christmas traditions takes us to Italy, where Monocle’s executive editor Chiara Rimella explains the strange figure of Befana.

Italians are already the envy of many around the world because of the long holidays they enjoy in August, when most businesses in the country all but shut down for two weeks. But they also enjoy longer breaks than others in winter. While elsewhere in the world employees tend to return to the office on the first working day after New Year’s Day, in Italy many can sleep in a bit longer. Companies often allow for a so-called ponte, a “bridge” until the Epiphany on 6 January. In Christian tradition, the festivity celebrates the arrival of the three Magi to baby Jesus – but in Italy the day is most commonly known as the “Befana”, in honour of the folkloristic figure that is said to visit children with yet another load of candy.

Image: Getty Images

A witch on a broomstick, complete with nose wart and soot-stained shawl, Befana isn’t quite as benevolent as her December cousin Santa Claus; she actually delivers on her promise to fill stockings with lumps of coal if the recipients have been naughty in the past year. That said, the hard-line has slightly softened over the past few years. Nowadays actual coal is often substituted for remarkably realistic large blocks of black-coloured sugar, which goes on sale at most street markets come January. Given how sickly sweet and rock-hard they are, these tooth-breaking treats still feel like punishment enough.

What Am I Bid? / Elvis Presley’s Jet

Love me, spender

If you’re looking to snap up a post-Christmas bargain, you could undertake the prosaic acquisition of cut-price clothes or electrical goods (writes Andrew Mueller). But seriously: such workaday purchases are unlikely to enhance your happiness significantly, nor impress anyone else appreciably. Alternatively you could buy Elvis Presley’s private jet. Well, one of Elvis Presley’s private jets. Mecum Auctions is taking bids on The King’s 1962 Lockheed 1329 JetStar until 15 January. Presley paid $840,000 (then €790,000) for the plane in 1976. It is unclear how much use he made of it as he sold it within months. But not, crucially, before it was customised to his exorbitant whims.

Image: Mecum auctions
Image: Mecum auctions

The aircraft, therefore, boasts wood-panelled interiors, gold-plated bathroom fittings, red velvet upholstery and such cutting-edge technology as a cassette deck, video player and microwave oven. On the – considerable, if we’re honest – downside, it doesn’t actually fly. It has been parked idle, outdoors, for decades. Much of the cockpit has been removed and it has no engines. Prospective purchasers should probably be thinking in terms of theme park attraction – or, perhaps, quite the statement garden retreat – rather than viable conveyance. You may, however, enjoy the satisfaction of paying less for it than Elvis did: last time this aircraft was sold, in 2017, it fetched just $430,000 (€408,000).

mecum.com

Culture Cuts / Nordic Pop

Who’s the Daði?

Every Saturday until the New Year, we’re presenting the top of the Nordic pops – pop stars from across the region whose catalogues provide ample fodder for your Christmas playlists (writes Gabrielle Dellisanti).

Iceland / Daði Freyr
It’s a widespread assumption among Eurovision fans that, had the show gone ahead in 2020, Iceland’s Daði Freyr would have claimed the trophy (writes Gabrielle Dellisanti). With his catchy, synth-heavy entry “Think About Things”, the Reykjavík-born star made his name well beyond his country’s borders. So much so that the single now ranks as the third most-streamed Eurovision entry of all time, just below Abba’s 1974 hit “Waterloo” that brought the Swedish group to global fame.

Daði Freyr’s newfound success led to follow-up single “10 Years”, which despite sounding remarkably similar to his previous single, ended up fourth at last year’s Eurovision festival. His Christmas tune from 2021, “Something Magical”, is well worth resurfacing for the season – as is recent single “I’m Fine”.

New Year’s Resolutions / Go on an Adventure

Power of Patagonia

In the latest in our series of New Year’s resolutions, we look at another way you could change your life in 2023. The full list of resolutions, accompanied by beautiful black-and-white photography, appears in Monocle’s December/January issue, which is out now.

Image: Stefan Ruiz

Saving up your leave and heading on a proper adventure can change the way you think. Go for a whole month; don’t follow the pack. Open skies and awe-inspiring landscapes await in Patagonia. This huge plateau is divided by the Andes and cupped by two oceans, and spans both Argentina and neighbouring Chile. In the latter’s Aysén region (pictured), conservationists Kristine and Doug Tompkins have sponsored the creation of Patagonia National Park, a haven for species in the Chacabuco Valley. Kristine also recently opened her private three-bedroom hilltop home, Casa Butler, to guests through hospitality group Explora. Designed by architect Francisco Morandé Ruiz-Tagle and Tompkins’ late husband, the cosy lodge is a great base for trekking Patagonia’s stunning steppe – and going off-grid for a while.

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