During fashion weeks, it’s only a matter of time before an overarching theme emerges to define the season. Last week in Milan, the theme was change – not just sartorial change but a radical transformation of brands’ identities and business strategies. Some of the city’s most revered fashion houses, including Gucci, Tom Ford, Bally and Ferragamo, have been subject to rebrands under new creative directors. In most cases, the process follows a similar formula: new executive appointments, a new logo, redesigned shops and a new aesthetic or re-edition of archival clothing.
While change is inevitable, the speed at which luxury brands are hiring and firing creative directors and renewing their visual identities suggests that there might be a glitch in the fashion system. Handing so much control to a single individual, knowing that they could easily decide not to renew their contract in three years’ time, makes little sense. It’s a process that usually creates temporary excitement among those in the know and long-term confusion for customers who are loyal to a brand and its heritage. It’s why the most noteworthy moments of the week were, in fact, delivered by those who chose to stay true to themselves, from Giorgio Armani’s elegant parade of models in metallic tailoring to Miuccia Prada’s line-up of reworked classics, including organza shift dresses and oversized leather jackets. “The clothes speak for themselves,” said Prada backstage.
The recent opening of a Chanel retrospective at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum made a similar point: there’s power in consistency. It’s why the brand, which has stayed true to its little black dresses, tweed jackets and interlocking “C” logo since the 1920s, remains as relevant as ever. At the end of the day, the ultimate luxury is knowing what you stand for – and having the confidence to stick to it.
Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.
Improving work conditions for artists and culture workers is a top priority for Spain during its six-month presidency of the European Union. Ironically, however, critics say that the country isn’t doing enough for its creatives back home. While Spain introduced its first significant reform targeted at bettering artists’ livelihoods in January, inconclusive general election results in July mean that the legislation has been stuck in political limbo for the better half of this year.
This might change soon. The conservative opposition leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has the first opportunity to form a governing majority in parliament on Wednesday but, if he fails, acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez will seek re-election. A win for the latter’s progressive government would probably facilitate the ratification of the decree. But with election results still up in the air, it seems that Spain’s creatives have no choice but to sit, wait and hope for the best.
The southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung is home to one of the island-nation’s biggest ports. Despite this fact, the 100-year-old Gushan Fish Market, in the metropolis’s waterfront Gushan neighbourhood, has gone from a bustling place of commerce to a forgotten asset in a matter of decades (a booming offshore fishing trade is to blame). In a bid to reclaim some of the site’s former glory, Taiwanese design studio CM Chao Architect & Planners was tapped to lead a revitalisation that has preserved the historical memory of the market while making it suitable for contemporary needs.
To do so, the architects opted to keep the original, century-old Dutch-style brick structure at the site’s entry. The project is complemented by landscaping from Taipei-based studio Motif, which has designed a series of pathways snaking through mounds of grass that provide public servants, vendors and passengers a place to unwind on the seafront. The result? A project that sensitively taps in to the site’s history to inform its new use – and an admirable model for any city looking to breathe life into forgotten places.
For more agenda-setting stories on architecture and design, buy a copy of Monocle’s October issue, which is out now.
The National Nordic Museum in Seattle now hosts Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s latest giant troll sculpture installation. Dambo makes fantastical versions of the folkloric figure using recycled wood, proving that sustainable materials can yield something beautiful. The Scan Design Foundation, which promotes US-Danish cultural exchange, sponsored the current residency. As part of Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King, the organisation also connected Dambo with members of the Muckleshoot and Snoqualmie tribes to ensure that these installations would respect Indigenous traditions. Ginger de los Angeles (Snoqualmie) made braided cedar bark weavings for one troll, while John “Coyote” Halliday (Muckleshoot), who traveled to Denmark on an artist exchange, contributed bark and shell decorations to another. Dambo has created a total of more than 100 giant trolls across 10 countries, all of which, have been located on the grounds of ticketed venues – up until now. For his new project, the Scan Design Foundation insisted on free public venues, such as city parks and museum grounds, to make the artwork accessible to the widest-possible audience. “Toddlers and octogenarians alike love these trolls,” Scan Design Foundation president Fidelma McGinn tells The Monocle Minute. “They are wowed by their sheer size and comical forms.”
To hear more about the project, listen to ‘The Globalist’ with artist Thomas Dambo on Monocle Radio.
Art and music have been a driving force behind the cultural and literal recovery of L’Aquila, an earthquake-struck Italian city that is reopening to the world. When Monocle visits, it is bathed in bright mountain sunshine and gaps in hoardings reveal pristinely restored façades (as well as some that are still being worked on).
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In the final episode of our special “In the Room” series, we look back at the 10-week Falklands War between Argentina and the UK in 1982. Andrew Mueller speaks to Michael Heseltine, former deputy prime minister of the UK; David Omand, former director of the British government communications headquarters; and Admiral Lord Alan West, former commander of the HMS Ardent.