Saturday 28 October 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 28/10/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Back in black

Thinking about how to dress for the colder weather? The secret is going goth (trust us). And, in the spirit of cooler climes, the hunt is on for autumn’s shifting hues in New England. But perhaps it’s still warm enough for a few days in Greece? A luxury art auction on Hydra certainly has us pushing the boat out, though we can’t say the same for our editor in chief: Andrew Tuck still prefers Mallorca, even if the island sometimes feels like a bit of a mystery.

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Life well lived

Last Friday we caught the train up to famously flat Cambridgeshire and, at a sodden Ely station, found the taxi we had booked to take us to the church in Soham. “You gents look very smart,” said the driver to my partner and I. “Off anywhere nice?” While this could have been jarring, he was sort of right: we were going to a church service celebrating a life. And as our friend, Peter, had been cremated earlier that morning, even the driver’s gothic-novel chit-chat didn’t faze us. “Round here, when the earth gets this wet, you can’t bury folk; soil falls in the hole as fast as you dig it out. When my mother-in-law died, we had to keep her out of the ground for weeks.” I was only surprised that he didn’t have a crow on his shoulder.

When someone has died too young it leaves people feeling lost. Peter’s younger brother, Mark, spoke during the service about this sense of injustice, yet his words also made clear that this was not a moment to dwell on that. Knowing that he was going to die, Peter, a successful, skilled designer, had also been able to help shape the day – make sure it was to his taste. The vicar said that she had also been firmly instructed not to make things “too religious”. She also revealed that Peter and his partner, Martin, had quietly married before his death and, with those words, a congregation of locals, family and friends cheered and clapped. Even Oscar, the dog, with a front-pew position on Martin’s lap, stirred from his slumber. It was a celebration of a life of good deeds, impeccable taste, love, a husband, family and a faithful dog too.

These services are, however, jolts of a different kind for the living. “Do you think you would get a turnout like this?” one friend asked me while we drank champagne at the wake. Crikey, I thought, do I now have a different type of deadline to worry about being ready for? Honestly, as long as nobody includes a typo on my headstone (there’s a potential rude slip with “Tuck”), I am OK with whoever wants to pitch up.

Saturday morning, I went to Mallorca alone (the other half was going to the US for work). Late October can be an amazing time on the island. The package-tourism season is in its final throes and lots of the resort hotels are already shuttered. But in the city, in Palma, there’s a renewed calmness – apart from the squawking cherry pickers being used to put up Christmas decorations and the cruise-ship guided tours jamming the streets up to the cathedral. The weather is still warm; after spending time in rain-lashed London, it was good to be back in shorts and Birkenstocks. And a T-shirt too, of course.

I have become a little obsessed with my adopted city, with its architecture, its culture and its way of doing things. It’s a place whose soul, for outsiders like me, can feel elusive – so much happens out of sight and earshot (Mallorquín, a Catalan dialect, is the real language of the island). It knows how to protect its private life. But, just as when you pass a door that has been left ajar to reveal a hidden courtyard in the medieval city, every now and then you catch glimpses of that soul. My only strategy is to go full flâneur, walking and walking – and taking endless pictures. And last weekend, as I coursed through its long-shadowed alleyways and dappled streets in the soft autumn light, Palma felt like it was letting me in on at least some of its secrets.

The Look / Soft goth

Looking ghoul

As Halloween approaches, stepping out in a gothic-inspired outfit is, for some, a seasonal impulse (writes Grace Charlton). This autumn, a more studious influence on the gothic aesthetic is taking hold of the fashion world, with designers sending models down the runway in monochromatic uniforms that wouldn’t look out of place at St Trinian’s, the fictional boarding school for girls with anarchic tendencies. Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s teenage daughter inspired his austere autumn/winter 2023 after raiding his wardrobe for a suit and tie – the collection features plenty of black leather blazers, starch-white shirts and the occasional mohawk.

Image: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Turkish designer Bora Aksu looked to the existentialist paintings of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch for his autumn ready-to-wear collection, which was shown at London’s – very real – Goodenough College. Models were seen sporting swipes of black lipstick and plenty of Victorian ruffles that would appeal to 19th-century romanticists. In New York, US brand Rodarte also dabbled with black lace, showing dresses with witchy sleeves that grazed the runway. As this year’s iteration of gothicism is arguably less punk and more academic, we suggest dressing as a member of the Addams family to blend in with your local misfits and tortured existentialists.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

How we live / Peak foliage

Leaf no stone unturned

This is the second year running that I have taken part in the great American pastime of hunting for peak foliage (writes Christopher Cermak). This is when the colours of autumn leaves are at their most vibrant. Last year I tried to find it in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park but this year I went straight to the most famed source: New England. Taking the advice of local forecasters and their highly touted peak-foliage prediction maps, I rented a place on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire last week. I would wake up at sunrise (a rarity for me), sit out on my patio to stare at a stunning sunrise across the lake and glare at the overlooking trees that were mostly green. And so the hunt for peak foliage began.

To get the full range of autumn colours that this time of year represents, it’s not just about when you go but also about where you go. Added to the challenge is the fact that even veteran foliage watchers have conceded that this has not been a great year for it as the weather in the northeast hasn’t really co-operated. Still, I was determined and, not having too much time on my hands (this was also an election-related work trip), I found a few promising spots hiking up one of the hills on the periphery of the lake. When I saw autumn colours at their brightest, however, was always when I wasn’t really looking: on the drive back down to Boston, at a small unpopulated lake just north of Providence in Rhode Island and again at a nature reserve in the Hudson Valley outside New York. On my ride home I chose my moments to spontaneously veer off the highway in search of these hues – sometimes successful, sometimes not so much – but I enjoyed the challenge nonetheless. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying: life is a journey, not a destination.

The Interrogator / Vérane Frédiani

Much ado about cooking

Born and raised in Marseille, film producer and writer Vérane Frédiani now divides her time between France and London. Passionate about evoking her hometown through its cuisine, she recently published the photographed food guide Taste the World in Marseille. Here, she tells us about her latest work, her cultural obsession with American painter and cook Richard Olney, and waking up to film soundtracks.

A few words about your latest project?
I have just finished writing and photographing a book titled L’Afrique Cuisine en France, which is about creative African chefs working in France. It’s a kind of road trip for people who are passionate about food, with recipes to try at home. I really wanted to showcase African cuisine and document the culinary revolution taking place in local kitchens. My book Taste the World in Marseille has also just been published in English.

What news source do you wake up to?
I read The Guardian and Le Monde.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines?
Fresh orange juice.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
Ever since I was a teenager, I have enjoyed waking up to film soundtracks. The Piano, Moulin Rouge and the intro of Much Ado About Nothing have got me out of bed many times.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
Madonna’s “Express Yourself” or “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music.

Favourite bookshop?
Quai des Brumes in Strasbourg. It stocks feminist and human-rights literature. I can spend hours in there and always end up buying too many books. Last summer I discovered Nooroongji Books on Granville Island in Vancouver. I love their selection for kids and adults with a focus on Asian narratives and stories. It’s unique.

Favourite podcast?
The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White. She also wrote a smart play called Never Have I Ever, which I just saw in Chichester.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched on TV recently?
Three seasons of Ted Lasso and The Morning Show.

Who’s your cultural obsession?
Richard Olney, a perfectionist cook and wine expert. He loved the Provence of my childhood – the Provence I feel that we lost. Next year is the 50th anniversary of his book Simple French Food and I’m co-directing a documentary about him. American food writer Ruth Reichl just finished writing a novel about him. I can’t wait to read it; I already offered her the opportunity to direct the film adaptation.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off?
I tend to work on my computer until 02.00 to 03.00 and then collapse in my bed within one minute of finishing. While I’m working, I like to listen to French rapper Keny Arkana (“Vie D’artiste” is my favourite), Nigerian singer Teni (“Hustle” is a great track) and Beirut’s Gallipoli album.

Culture cuts / Read, watch, listen

Smooth operators

‘Welcome to the Hyunam-dong’, Hwang Bo-reum, translated by Shanna Tan. Hwang Bo-reum’s quirky debut novel follows Yeongju, who leaves her corporate job and career-oriented husband to open an independent bookshop in Seoul’s Hyunam-dong neighbourhood. What ensues is a reflection on the power of community and the joy of finding comfort in small things.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, Martin Scorsese. Based on a book by journalist and The New Yorker staff writer David Grann, director Martin Scorsese’s latest film tells the true story of the mass murder of Osage Native Americans and the conspiracy to steal their oil in the 1920s. A chilling tale about greed and its gruesome effects.

‘Madres’, Sofia Kourtesis. Berlin-based Peruvian DJ and producer Sofia Kourtesis dedicates her debut album to her mother – but she also celebrates neurosurgeon Peter Vajkoczy, who operated on her mother, with the joyful single “Vajkoczy”. The album’s title track gives the collection a bright start but the highlight is the dance-floor-ready “Si Te Portas Bonito”.

Fashion update / Fforme

In good shape

At art school, Dutch designer Paul Helbers was told that he would be suited to almost any creative field, from ceramics to sculpture, but not fashion (writes Natalie Theodosi). Nevertheless, he went on to build one of the most impressive résumés in the fashion industry, from dressing shop windows at a young age to setting up his own label rooted in 1990s minimalism and, eventually, developing the menswear divisions of The Row and Maison Margiela. More recently, he has taken on the role of creative director at New York-based label Fforme, a brand focused on artisanal quality and timeless design. Given the opportunity to return to his minimalist roots, he describes his new role as a homecoming. Here, he tells The Monocle Weekend Edition how he has built Fforme into one of the most exciting new names on the market.

What was the appeal of becoming creative director of Fforme?
I could go back to creating shapes, making patterns and being the intuitive designer that I used to be. Craft has always driven me and at Fforme, we focus on pattern cutting, draping and creating three-dimensional, functional garments. Our ultimate goal is to create a library of signature shapes.

How do you approach the fashion industry’s appetite for constant renewal?
We always build on our existing designs and aren’t trying to run after trends. It’s about the beauty that you find in simplicity. There are enough clothes in the world – we want to offer small, studied collections and items that can be worn in many different ways.

How do you envision the evolution of Fforme?
We want to keep introducing new techniques and launch a line of accessories. Like any company, we want to be healthy and grow but, at the same time, we want to stay true to our commitments to women and the environment.

What am I bid? / Hydra: The Karpidas Collection

Lots for ewe

This is plausibly one of the most prestigious garage sales ever conducted (writes Andrew Mueller). The waterfront mansion long maintained by Pauline Karpidas on the Greek island of Hydra has acquired a deserved reputation as a repository for modern art. On 30 October it will open a shop of sorts, via Sotheby’s. There are 241 lots offered in Hydra: The Karpidas Collection, some of which are less alarmingly expensive than might be anticipated. A budget of €600 or so should allow you to adorn your living room with one of a few available pairs of Jacques Grange lamps and about the same amount will get you the cheery Francis Sultana rattan bench, which you can sit on to admire your newly acquired lamps.

At the upper end of the estimates are works by Grayson Perry, Damien Hirst, Juan Muñoz – and a great deal by François-Xavier Lalanne. Whether or not this is indicative of a recent change of heart on Karpidas’s part in favour of Lalanne’s entrancingly odd animal installations, there are many options, including a pair of bronze tables in the form of hollow cows, which are expected to fetch up to €800,000). A more straightforward but less-useful sheep sculpture will set you back about €200,000 – it is for bidders to decide whether this counts as getting fleeced.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00