Saturday 17 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 17/6/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Easy breezy

Andrew Tuck counts us in this week with tales and tips from the island of Mallorca. Elsewhere, the impending release of the ‘Barbie’ movie makes for a colourful discussion, menswear comes under sharp focus at Pitti Uomo and Donna Summer’s lesser-known artworks are up for grabs.

Image: Illustrator: Mathieu De Muizon

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Pieces of paradise

I’ve been in Mallorca all week, having a few days off but also seeing some projects and meeting people for upcoming stories (to land on page in our summer paper, Mediterraneo, and the September issue of the magazine – another reason to subscribe). For anyone who hasn’t heard me bang on about my slice of life here, a small recap. I started coming to the island some twenty years ago after Tyler recommended a visit. It had been the venue for Wallpaper* away days when he ran that magazine and he suggested that we stay at the Portixol Hotel. We did. And so it began. Then in the summer of 2009, Monocle had a summer pop-up shop in the Santa Catalina neighbourhood of Palma and we offered staff the chance to play shopkeeper for a few days – lots of people jumped at the chance, including me. By then I was a little smitten.

Then, rather annoyingly, friends began moving to the island – although, to be fair, they would generously invite us to stay. While here I met people doing interesting things and started telling their stories in the magazine, making friends along the way. And, suddenly, I had gone from being smitten to a full-on relationship. So we started looking for a place to set up a home and finally found a small apartment close to the Palma Sport & Tennis Club (owned by the Portixol folk and which is a few minutes’ walk away from the site of the former Monocle shop). It’s a modernist, low-slung, white edifice that’s surrounded by clay courts and pine trees stuffed with cooing doves. With impeccable timing, we managed to take ownership in the depths of the pandemic and months passed before we could open the front door. But it has all worked out.

I find it hard to explain why Mallorca has this hold on me – on so many people. In the summer it can be stiflingly hot, tables in popular restaurants harder to secure than in London and many beaches busy. Plus, there’s a world of package tourism that the island often struggles with. Perhaps the reason it does work, however, is because it has so many guises. This week we have driven to appointments along hairpin-bend mountain roads, visited a hotel that sits on a secluded spot surrounded by forest, met a chef who runs an impeccable restaurant on the beach, headed across flat countryside dotted with farms, stopped in towns rich from industry and met people pushing the boundaries in art, architecture and design.

In short, Mallorca is a nation in miniature, able to be read and experienced in so many ways. It reveals itself slowly – the more I see, the less I feel I know it (plus locals are slow to share their swimming spots). So just in case you are coming this way, I thought I’d hand over a few random suggestions for Palma. Most are modest but all are places that are special.

Art to buy. In Palma there are some terrible galleries full of bloated monstrosities (the art that is, not the purchasers) but also some gems. If you want to do a quick circuit of the good ones, include Galería Pelaires, Aba Art Lab and 6A Galeria D’Art. (La Bibi gallery just outside the city and Pepnot, in Artà, are also ones for your tour).

Good coffee. La Molienda and Mistral for a proper flat white. Cafè Riutort is almost a spot of Hoxton in the Med. And for a minimalist setting, there’s Nanø Coffee Lab. Old school? Has to be Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo – there are three branches – which is famed for its cuarto cakes and almond ice cream.

More ice cream? Ca’n Miquel looks a bit spartan from the outside but is sublime.

Retail hits. Carmina for formal men’s shoes, La Pecera and Studio Jaia for “Made-in-Mallorca” furniture, Paparkone for ceramics, Arquinesia for perfumes in a shop that’s like an amazing art installation and Cav for wine.

Palace life. Can Vivot is a remarkable palace lived in by the same family for centuries. You have to book your visit in advance but when we went, we were guided around by a family member who told us its long, rich story.

Cocktails. Coquetier, a small cosy spot in the old town. Gino Bar and Bar Nicolás are good for people-watching as they have al-fresco seating. Or the garden of the Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden is hard to beat.

Eat. Giromatto for a bowl of pasta, Palma Sport & Tennis Club for a healthy lunch on the terrace, Cap Rocat for the ultimate lunch by the sea, La Rosa Vermutería & Colmado for tapas and El Camino for fast, fun counter dining and great wine.

OK, I think that’s enough for today. But really, you should come and find your own version of this island and let it weave its magic. Oh, and the best place where you can swim alone? Not telling.

The Look / Barbiecore

In the pink

When did it become so bright (asks Sela Musa)? And no, I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about our collective deportation back to a sickeningly sweet, marshmallow-infused version of the early 2000s. The pre-release hype for Warner Bros Pictures’ new film Barbie, starring Margot Robbie as the titular doll, has brought a wave of hot pink across the ocean before its release in July.

Image: Shutterstock

The trend, dubbed “Barbiecore”, involves wrapping yourself in the fabric equivalent of a pink highlighter. The colour achieved industry recognition in Valentino’s autumn 2022 runway show (pictured), when Pier Paolo Piccioli dedicated most of his collection to it. Piccioli reportedly adopted this approach to prevent viewers’ eyes from straying – a goal that you’ll agree he achieved with flying colours. But can Barbiecore become popular among ordinary people? We think that this technicolour look should stay firmly where it belongs: on the film set.

How we live / Australian vaping

Up in smoke

It is difficult to name a modern policy initiative which has done as much to improve everyday life as the expunging of tobacco smoke from public spaces (writes Andrew Mueller). It seems outrageous that, at one time, malodorous clouds were permitted to befog public transport, billow across restaurant tables and seep into the clothes and hair of gig-goers. But smoking – of a sort – is mounting a surreptitious comeback. The furtive vaper is growing in numbers and insouciance. In just the past few weeks, I have seen people sucking on their electronic pacifiers and emitting a sickly exhaust, in many environments where it is now understood that smoking is forbidden: pubs, trains, buses and sports grounds. This week the International Air Transport Association cited vaping on planes as the top non-compliance issue among passengers.

Enforcing rules against vaping is more difficult than isolating and – if necessary – ejecting traditional smokers. Lighting a cigarette attracts several minutes of attention; a vape can be stashed in a pocket after a single inhalation. Therefore, observance of strictures against vaping depends entirely on vapers, an exasperating minority of whom are as careless of the comfort of their fellow citizens as those who play audio out loud on their phones. Last month, Australia joined the ranks of countries that have imposed restrictions or bans on vaping. That list should be longer. If we had known what we know about smoking tobacco a century ago, we would – one hopes – have heeded the warnings.

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Taking the high road

Dear Concierge,

We will be flying to Bologna in early September for a road trip, taking in some of the beautiful towns and cities of the Emilia-Romagna region and the Adriatic coast, before heading west for Rome. Can you recommend any must-dos or must-sees?

Frank Goulbourn,

Image: Alamy

Dear Frank,

Though Emilia-Romagna has had to contend with the effects of climate change lately, with droughts and a deluge that submerged many towns and cities, it remains an intensely rich region in terms of culture and cuisine. With a clean-up operation in full swing, its residents, who are already well known for their hospitality, will surely be glad to welcome visitors by September.

Bologna is known as La Rossa, meaning “The Red” – not only for the colour of its rooftops and rich ragu meat sauce (best enjoyed with thick, freshly made tagliatelle) but for its political persuasions. Once you have taken in the porticoed streets around the impressive, rusty-red-hued Piazza Maggiore, head to the outskirts of town to the Fondazione MAST. This museum, which focuses on photography – Andreas Gursky: Visual Spaces of Today is currently on show – is funded by a group of packaging manufacturers, Coesia, whose sleek factory is next door.

Then we travel northwest for Ferrara’s Renaissance delights. As well as the awesome Castello Estense, make sure to visit the stunning Palazzo dei Diamanti (pictured). The palace’s name refers to the diamond-like texture of its exterior walls; the interiors, meanwhile, have been expertly modernised by Rome-based architectural firm Labics. For lunch, head north, cross the mighty River Po and take a seat at Il Pontile, a restaurant-pontoon, for a satisfying plate of cappellacci con zucca (pasta stuffed with pumpkin). Maybe go easy on the vino because the journey continues to the coast: Ravenna, then Rimini. These two cities are crucibles of Italian culture, both ancient and modern. Not only is Ravenna a treasure trove filled with churches adorned with golden mosaics but it is also the site of Dante’s tomb. Rimini’s Grand Hotel still evokes all the quirky belle époque splendour of the 1973 film Amarcord, which was shot here by Federico Fellini, a native of the city.

Culture cuts / Visit, read, watch

Class acts

P Staff, Kunsthalle Basel. All institutions across Basel put on their best blockbuster shows during the week of the city’s hallmark art fair, Art Basel. The Kunstmuseum Basel and Fondation Beyeler will sate your thirst for big-name artists with shows on Shirley Jaffe and Jean-Michel Basquiat respectively. To see something a little more cutting-edge, however, it’s always worth stopping at the Kunsthalle Basel. Here, the works on display by British artist P. Staff (featuring light installations, video pieces and an actual electrified net) have an almost ominous tension that is hard to look away from.

‘Valentino’, Natalia Ginzburg. Palermo-born author Natalia Ginzburg was a master at capturing the complexity of mid-century, post-Fascist Italy. The latest translation of one of her lesser-known novellas focuses on a complicated family with aspirations of transcending social class. These ambitions don’t quite go to plan and the eponymous character’s scandalous engagement arouses suspicion about his motives. Writing with incisive and terse insight, Ginzburg reveals the psychological intricacies of social class, wealth and marriage, resulting in a work of quiet desolation.

‘Blood & Gold’, Netflix. Set at the end of the Second World War, the new Netflix drama by German director Peter Thorwarth follows Nazi defector Heinrich (Robert Maaser from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) as he teams up with the woman who rescues him from being hanged for treason. The two are determined to protect a bounty of gold that the SS are hunting. What follows is an absurd, Tarantino-esque ride that will please fans of Inglourious Basterds.

Fashion update / Pitti Uomo

Keeping it cool

Some of the best menswear brands from around the world got together this week at the Pitti Uomo trade fair in Florence to present their new summer collections (writes Natalie Theodosi). This year’s fresh trends reveal a collective leaning towards sturdy materials such as corduroy or seersucker that suit fluctuating temperatures, from scorching heat to breezy evenings.

Portuguese brand La Paz unveiled an array of smart shirts in sunny yellow or khaki green stripes and polo shirts, made using a light cotton-linen corduroy fabric. Up-and-coming Spanish label Unfeigned (pictured) presented plenty of loose polo shirts and matching trousers in velour – a new signature material for the label. “It's extremely comfortable but you still look sharp,” the company’s co-founder, María Gomez, who runs the brand with her four brothers, tells Monocle.

Image: Unfeigned

This smarter, more polished look is top of the agenda this season. Most attendees showcased the power of a classic navy suit (usually paired with chocolate-brown loafers) and there were very few trainers in sight across the fair’s shoe halls, as brands doubled down on fisherman sandals and more formal dress shoes. French label Kleman’s new pair of lace-up moccasins featuring suede patchwork was a highlight.

A sense of refinement translates into the world of resortwear too, where brands such as Catania-based Pier Sicilia presented tailored shorts in seersucker fabrics, often paired with matching tote bags. “Don’t follow what the rest of the market is doing,” Pierfrancesco Virlinzl, the label’s CEO, advises Monocle. “I had been missing this sense of old-school elegance in swimwear and, as it turns out, so had many of my customers."

Photo of the week / ‘We Stay’

Personal perspective

Image: Unfeigned

Ukrainian photographer Lesha Berezovskiy’s new book We Stay, published last week by Sturm & Drang, is a visual chronicle of the 15 months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of his homeland. His are not images of soldiers on the frontline but of civilians on the home front. Berezovskiy has a keen eye for portraying the reality of everyday life during wartime – the anti-tank defences on a quiet residential street, his wife trying to have a lie-in during an air raid. He also knows more than a thing or two about keeping calm and carrying on: he grew up in the Donbas, moving to Kyiv after Russia’s initial 2014 occupation of eastern Ukraine. In the image above we are presented with a cyclist navigating a twisted, bomb-damaged highway on the outskirts of Kyiv. The photo is disorientating; the perspective wonky and gnarled. It arrests the vision and suffuses the viewer with admiration for Ukrainian stoicism – as well as gratefulness that their commute hasn’t been delayed by any missiles or suicide drones.

What am I bid? / Donna Summer

Hot stuff

Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” is, probably, the track you would reach for if you had five minutes to introduce a visiting Martian to disco. From now until 29 June, the late singer's wardrobe and ephemera are being auctioned off online via Christie’s.

The biggest-ticket item is a diamond-and-platinum necklace that Summer wore on stage at least once (pictured), on which the gavel should fall at about €18,500. Many other lots, however, pertain not to the recording career for which she is best remembered but to Summer’s other life as a painter. Several of her colourful – if often angry-looking – daubs are on the block at estimates more than five figures.

Image: Christie's

If the auctioneer's estimates are any guide, there are some absolute steals available at the other end of the market: less than €200 for a pair of Louis Vuitton silk pumps or rhinestone-studded Manolo Blahnik mules and only a bit more for sequinned Blahnik boots. These would seem – at least to people who take a size 40½ – like a bargain even if they had not been worn by the disco’s pre-eminent diva.


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