Saturday 6 May 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 6/5/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

In the hot seat

As the UK gears up for the coronation of King Charles III, our editor in chief ponders the appropriate headwear for his neighbourhood’s street party and reflects on the runaway success of Monocle’s inaugural Asheville Weekender. Elsewhere, we tour Toulouse, zoom in on photography fair Photo London and party with Pucci.

The Opener / Andrew Tuck

Royal treatment

The nation has an extra day of holiday on Monday to mark the coronation of King Charles III – well, that’s one reason to be grateful to the fella. The ceremony, however, is today. And what does it all mean for modern Britain? Well, I am not sure anyone can quite tell you. Depending on their political views, the newspapers are either offering predictable harrumphing or the chance to wallow in royal minutiae. They are not serving up much in the way of insight.

Many people surprised even themselves with how moved they were by the pageantry and moments of reflection that surrounded the Queen’s funeral back in September. But a coronation’s meaning and emotional reverberations seem insignificant in comparison to that. Essentially the guy in your office who’s been desperate to be promoted to manager for years is finally having his wish granted. Everyone from accounts to the canteen knows that he’s messed up in the past so is intrigued to see how he fares.

On Thursday evening I took the dog for her evening walk and, in a neighbouring street, met someone I know, a Canadian, putting in place the final stretches of Union Jack bunting that now crisscross the road, flapping loudly in the evening breeze like pigeon wings. I admired his handiwork and he explained that the street was going to be closed on Sunday for a coronation party and that I should join in. But, he stressed, he was not a royalist. “My neighbours planned the party and I thought that I should get involved despite my views because I definitely expect them to make an effort when it’s Halloween – and I doubt that many of them believe in 17th-century superstitions.”

As I walked on, I passed two women, I imagine in their eighties, deep in conversation. Both were wearing gold paper crowns decorated with the name of a well-known supermarket. To ensure that they stayed in place they were progressing at a genteel regal pace and looked rather fine, I thought. I made a mental note to get myself a crown for the street party.

When I filed this column last week, I was just about to depart for Asheville in North Carolina for The Monocle Weekender, heading for a city that I had never visited before. I had three days in town and loved the experience. We met passionate business owners, people determined to ensure that the city offers opportunities for all, great chefs and hospitality players. And all in a spot that has a deep connection to craft.

The Weekenders are very social affairs for 50 readers and listeners and the Monocle team are the hosts. So you get to talk – in depth. People told me their rich life stories about how they found Monocle and why they decided to join us in Asheville. And, by the end of it, I felt rather proud of what the team has created over the years. There was the woman who discovered in Monocle Radio a connection to the world that she sometimes struggled to find elsewhere, the reader who had been with us from the very start and was so generous about our reporting, and also Eric, who had driven from Wisconsin for two days to get to Asheville (coming in his truck also meant that he could bring his dog, which always makes me like someone).

Brands talk a lot about building a “community” but that always sounds a little artificial and manipulated. In Asheville something special happened: the art dealer from Shenzhen, the young couple who had just sold their dynamic business, the orthopaedic surgeon, the banker, the bookshop owner – they all pitched up in town with a willingness to talk, a sense of curiosity and a generosity of spirit. And Monocle was the simple thing that connected them all.

Sophie Grove, Konfekt’s editor, and I took the same route home. We had a couple of hours to kill in Charlotte’s airport before our flight to London and found a sushi bar that served wine from rather regal plastic goblets. So perhaps it was the booze to blame but as the plane took off, I felt a bit emotional about Monocle’s journey as a company and the readers who are on the ride with us. I might have been willing to have a 40,000ft tear but two minutes after wheels up, I was out for the count.

The Look / Frog Shoes

Spawning a classic?

As spring tentatively rears its head in the northern hemisphere, a pair of durable and waterproof boots is a sensible sartorial fallback (writes Grace Charlton). But what about those wet mornings when a touch of whimsy would do wonders for your mood and brighten your day? Step forward British Wellington-boot brand Wellipets and Jonathan Anderson, founder of JW Anderson and creative director of Spanish luxury house Loewe. The pair has collaborated on a collection of frog-faced clogs inspired by a style that was first popularised in the 1990s.

Image: Shutterstock

Available in three timeless colourways (navy, yellow and forest green), these high-fashion amphibians are crafted in Italy from recyclable and injection-moulded PVC rubber with a cushioned suede insole. The final touch is a hand-applied swipe of red paint to represent the frog’s mouth. My style tip: make sure you are under the age of 12 before stepping out in public with this croaker of a shoe. Even one of the frog wellies’ original adopters, Prince Harry, is unlikely to be wearing this high-fashion re-edition anytime soon. Although it would make for a memorable coronation statement about his decision to hop across the pond.

How we live / Community radio

Local voices

For a time living in London after university, I had nothing but a radio in my apartment (writes Christopher Cermak). I discovered a weekly show from Minnesota Public Radio called A Prairie Home Companion, then hosted by Garrison Keillor. It was the only time in my life that I made sure to be home to huddle around a radio like the good old days.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

On a recent trip to Chicago I came across another enduring breed of community radio. For the past 30 years, Maria Klimchak and her husband Mykhailo have hosted a weekly hour-long show in Ukrainian. They took over from the original hosts, who had started the programme in 1952 and were ready for a well-earned retirement in Florida. Maria, a teacher back in Ukraine who emigrated to Chicago after the fall of the Soviet Union, says that she never imagined doing radio. Now she chuckles and proclaims herself a “star” in the local community. She's also the curator of Chicago’s Ukrainian National Museum and says that she gets occasional reminders of her work’s importance: a woman called from a nursing home to say that it’s the only thing keeping her alive; listeners frantically called the station, worried she had got the axe when the show was moved 6pm to 7pm on Sundays.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Maria says that she’s tried to tell stories that connect the many generations of Ukrainian immigrants in Chicago. But she also starts each week with Slava Ukraini, smert voroham (Glory to Ukraine, death to the enemy). “I never imagined that I would say, ‘death to the enemy’,” she says. “But this is how everything changed that day.” The show is on WSBC, a local AM radio station that plays host to some 30 ethnic radio shows in 13 languages. Community radio is alive and well in Chicago.

Concierge / Your Questions Answered

Toulouse sleepover

Our in-the-know sister, Monocle Radio’s The Concierge, is available to download or stream from wherever you get your podcasts. If you are travelling somewhere and would like to ask it – or us – a question, click here. We will answer one each week.

Dear Concierge,

Any recommendations for a 24-hour trip to Toulouse?

All best,
Los Angeles, California

Image: Alamy

Dear Amelie,

Affectionately known as La Ville Rose due to its pink-hued bricks, Toulouse is just 75 miles from the Spanish border, so you can enjoy the best of French haute cuisine while benefiting from the slower pace of Iberian life. Base yourself in Toulouse’s historic centre at Maison Soclo, an airy boutique hotel in a renovated 18th-century house with a rooftop bar. Toulouse is a largely pedestrianised, compact city so head out on foot to the bucolic botanical garden Jardin des Plantes. Continue east along the tranquil Canal du Midi (pictured) on your way to the luxury French department store chain Galeries Lafayette, off the Place du Capitole. You’ll find a host of luxury labels there, as well as a stylish rooftop restaurant, Ma Biche sur le Toit, which has a contemporary menu created by Toulouse-born Michelin starred chef Michel Sarran. For a more curated collection of brands, head to the Rendez Vous boutique.

For the apéritif hour head to the lively Marché Victor Hugo, which has been serving charcuterie, cheeses, pastries, olives and wine since the 19th century. The regional dish of the Gascony region is cassoulet, a hearty stew of pork sausage or duck confit slow cooked in haricot beans. The unpretentious bistro Le Colombier has been dishing up an authentic cassoulet since 1873, while Le Bibent is worth a visit simply for its ornate art nouveau interior. Shake a post-prandial leg at the Fat Cat jazz bar, which remains lively until the early hours. Bon voyage!

Culture Cuts / Photo London

View finders

Photo London, one of the world’s best photography fairs, will run at Somerset House next week from Wednesday to Saturday. If you’re on a schedule and plan to whizz around the booths, here are the show’s unmissable bits (as selected by Monocle’s photography director, Matthew Beaman).

Image: Fenna Schilling / Courtesy Homecoming

Homecoming, Haarlem
In the discovery section, which is dedicated to up-and-coming photographers, this Dutch gallery focuses on those who have an upbeat approach to chronicling the world. Look out for Amsterdam-based Fenna Schilling’s Dalí-esque collages (pictured).

New Dimension, London
Solo booths can be a treat in the almost overwhelming deluge of images that is a photo fair. Southeast London-based art-book and magazine distributor New Dimension is giving space to UK photographer Sam Wright and what he saw on the streets (and beaches) of Naples.

Grob Gallery, Geneva
Collectors seeking to bag a classic should make a stop at this Swiss gallery’s booth. Its bewitching 1960s William Klein print, from a Vogue shoot in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna, is a masterpiece of composition.

Fashion Update / Pucci

All hands on deck

On Thursday night a model in a bright, printed caftan stood at the fore of a boat on the Arno river in Florence (writes Laura Rysman). She alighted at the Società Canottieri, a historical rowing club on the banks below the Uffizi, which had been transformed into a waterfront runway for designer Camille Miceli’s first-ever show for the house of Pucci.

Image: Pucci

Celebrating a year of Miceli’s tenure as the brand’s artistic director, Pucci returned to the city where it was founded in 1947, embracing the joyous prints and vacation-ready glamour that rendered the designer one of the most influential of the postwar period. Miceli proved that she was ready to capture the same luxe leisure spirit: Pucci’s riotous patterns covered everything from scuba suits and Lycra jumpsuits to swim caps and even pool noodles.

But on this first warm night of the season in Florence, the best representation of Pucci was Miceli herself, who kept the after-party going until the early hours of the morning.

The Interrogator / Jeanne Damas

High style

Jeanne Damas is a French model and fashion designer behind popular Paris label Rouje (writes Natalie Theodosi). Her restaurant Chez Jeanne in the French capital’s Montorgueil neighbourhood is known for its home-made pastries and extensive selection of natural wine. Rouje recently opened its first shop outside France on London’s South Molton Street. Here, Damas tells us about Paris’s best bookshop, the markets that she frequents and her love of baguettes.

Image: Vincent Ferrané

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with the headlines?
Coffee, boiled eggs and a baguette every morning, with music and phones switched off.

Do you have a favourite weekend market?
I love the Marché d’Aligre. It isn’t far from home and it’s where I grew up so I always find a familiar face to drink Moroccan mint tea with at Le Penty.

Your favourite bookshop?
I always go to 0fr on rue Dupetit-Thouars if I want to find a gift for someone. It has a beautiful selection of art books and also stocks my books.

Which radio station do you listen to?
If I’m not listening to France Inter, then it’s FIP for music.

Are you plugged in to any podcasts?
I religiously listen to La Poudre by my friend Lauren Bastide. She made feminism more accessible for young French people: wonderful and important work.

What are you currently humming in the shower?
Juliette Armanet or Charles Aznavour

Any film recommendations?
Aftersun by Charlotte Wells – it’s such a powerful movie dealing with memory and actors Frankie Corio and Paul Mescal are just incredible in it. All of Pedro Almodóvar’s movies are also favourites and inspire my designs for Rouje.

What about books?
I’m currently reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, already an American literary classic.

What Am I Bid? / Steve Jobs cheque

Sign of the times

First-generation Apple products have been pulling in eye-watering amounts at auction houses in the past few months (writes Charlotte Banks). Indeed, collectors looking to own a piece of technology history might have to look elsewhere. Step in RR Auctions, which has put up for sale a mint-condition cheque (pictured), made out by one Steven Jobs.

Image: RR Auctions

Bearing the address of the mail drop location that Jobs and Steve Wozniak used to collect post from while operating out of the Jobs family garage, it dates from a mere three months after the two decided that they could make some cash selling their homespun contraptions – devices now as obsolete as the cheque itself. It’s addressed to Crampton, Remke & Miller, a technology-focused management consultancy that also counted Atari and Xerox among its clients. Its advice clearly worked. This cheque is currently estimated at $25,000 (€22,500) and bidding closes on Wednesday. Jobs’ signature carries a premium that may or may not justify the price – the late technology pioneer was known to refuse autograph requests.


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