What’s the secret to a good outfit this autumn? You might want to consider reaching for a tie. Or, why not head to Japan for some fresh inspiration? Plus: we visit London’s latest arts and social club and get into gear for a Ferrari auction. But first, Monocle’s editor in chief has a few tricks up his sleeve.
It has been years in the making but this week the 57-room Broadwick Soho hotel will finally open its doors to guests. On Thursday I went along to the launch party for its restaurant, Dear Jackie. We’ll review the dining spot in the fullness of time but one of the many things that made the night and the place feel special was the sense that the project’s protagonists have been so fully involved in every decision; that this is the product of not just business acumen and detailed spreadsheets but passion too.
Broadwick Soho is the creation of a new entrant to the market, Coterie Hotels, backed by Noel Hayden who made his fortune from online gaming (the betting kind). The managing director is his long-time friend Jo Ringestad. Indeed, there’s a large cast of friends and collaborators who clearly still like each other, even after all the stress that it must have taken to build this opulent, glorious outpost of fun.
But Hayden knows how risky this business can be. He gave a speech in which he explained how his parents had run a hotel in Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, but lost everything when guests started heading off for cheap, sunny package holidays in Europe in the 1980s. Jackie, his mother, now in her nineties, was there looking glam and beaming with pride at her son. “It might have taken 40 years,” said Hayden, “but mum, we are back in business.”
Hayden also pointed out a large, framed photograph on the wall that suggested he might have a few tricks up his sleeve should anything go awry. His dad, as well as being a hotelier, was an accomplished magician and the young Noel would regularly be drafted in as his assistant. Live doves, I was later told, would often be concealed in his trousers. Sadly, no avian action came to pass after his speech on Thursday but I did stop to look at that picture of father and son on stage and marvel at how lives work out.
At dinner I sat next to Ringestad, who also grew up in a family of hoteliers before moving into fashion for many years. I watched him taking in the scene, beaming. After seven years of hard work, the multitude of decisions that had been sweated over, from the fulsome and flamboyant interiors by Martin Brudnizki to the choice of pillows, had finally come to fruition.
We had a deep discussion about the right percentage of down to feather required in a pillow for a good night of sleep and it was the only topic that he seemed to regard as a huge secret. Anyway, the whole evening was a moment of colourful joy. And joy is something that people need right now.
My passport was almost out of space for stamps so I had to speedily get a new one. And it was simple. I paid a princely sum, completed an online form and uploaded a photograph that I will regret for the next 10 years (an odd spike of hair protrudes from my scalp like a miniature aerial). A couple of days later, I was able to collect it. The London Passport Office has just moved from Victoria to Docklands, out near the Excel convention centre. You’d think the move would be a chance to create somewhere slightly inspiring, somewhere that makes you rather proud to be the bearer of a British passport. But no joy here. The whole thing looks like an unemployment office or old hospital waiting room. But the oddest element is that the new centre is tucked behind a Chinese restaurant – the China Palace. There’s no permanent signage for the passport office, just a flapping flag on a pole that clearly gets wheeled out every day. But perhaps the restaurant has been an inspiration because I was able to get my passport to take away in just 15 minutes.
The Great Male Renunciation – a historical phenomenon during the late 18th century – saw Western men, almost en masse, cede the practice of elaborate dressing to women and the English lounge suit assume a monopoly on formalwear (writes Alexis Self). In more recent years men began to forego the necktie in favour of the open shirt, leading to even more desultory uniformity. Ten years ago, it still felt necessary to cultivate a proper tie collection. I was proud of the breadth of my portfolio: the knitted, blue tie from Charvet in Paris; the zany nautical-themed Moschino; Brooks Brothers’s most waspish of college stripes.
Today they lie dormant in a box at the foot of my wardrobe. Donning a tie has gone the way of another morning ritual, the wet shave: down the drain. In recent years, however, the only ties that I have had cause to call on are those that fall into the category of solemnity (funerals) or joy (weddings). But things are looking up. The return of ties to fashion – Bottega Veneta and Prada have championed them on their runways, while traditional Milanese tie-maker Bigi recently reported an uptick in business – can only be a good thing. Is The Great Male Reawakening already underway? Not a moment too soon.
prada.com; bottegaveneta.com; bigicravatte.it
The leafy London neighbourhood of Marylebone has welcomed French womenswear brand Sézane’s new flagship shop with Parisian flair (writes Grace Charlton). At the opening last week there was a flower counter and a boulangerie that offered loaves with the brand’s name flour-dusted on top. Guests even walked away with a bottle of Saint-Émilion, two wine glasses, a Jane Birkin-inspired wicker basket and a floral handkerchief. It was kitsch and a little over the top. But it also seems to have been a successful announcement of Sézane’s arrival, judging by the queues that have snaked around the block every day since the opening party. In the age of online retail, watching shoppers wait patiently in an area demarcated by red-velvet ropes to browse delicately-scented knitwear, patent-leather shoes and berets is oddly refreshing. Though the clothing is available to buy online, witnessing the development of a new fashion and retail space in person is something that cannot be bought.
Encouraging queues to build brand visibility and hype is not a new marketing technique by any means – US streetwear brand Supreme is renowned for making its customers shuffle along pavements for unbearable stretches of time – and neither is the practice of spritzing clothes with perfume to entice buyers (Abercrombie & Fitch took the concept to a nauseating extreme in the early 2000s). It’s a strange turn of events that, in 2023, the concept of waiting in line and letting anticipation build is the height of shopping excitement. But the buzz that Sézane has given Marylebone High Street has certainly livened up my lunchtime strolls around the block – and receiving a bottle of red wine as a party favour is always très welcome.
‘Wolfgang Tillmans: To Look Without Fear’, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In a tradition of photo-diarists, including Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans has created a body of work that reminds us that beauty is out there if you know where to look. The photographer captures everything from crumpled clothes and tender kisses to awestruck images of musical icons and natural wonders.
‘Lessons in Chemistry’, Apple TV+. This adaptation of Bonnie Garmus’s best-selling novel follows Brie Larson as Elizabeth Zott, a chemist who is forced to become the host of a cooking show. While this initially seems like a demotion, Zott quickly begins to see her new job as an opportunity to battle everyday sexism and empower women. What follows is a heartwarming tale about struggle and survival. It’s feel good TV with a conscience.
‘A Time to Love, A Time to Die’, Amor Muere. The Mexico City-based music collective Amor Muere – comprising cellist and songwriter Mabe Fratti, singer and sound artist Camille Mandoki, violinist Gibrana Cervantes and electronic musician and tape manipulator Concepción Huerta – has released its debut album. The record is an homage to the burgeoning Mexican experimental music scene from which the group originated and plays on every member’s individual strengths. Expect Fratti’s signature string arrangements, synths and plenty of textured soundscapes.
A new shop opening by the Tokyo label Visvim is always noteworthy but the latest edition has the added charm of being housed in a 90-year-old building in a refreshingly unfashionable corner of Ginza (writes Fiona Wilson). Such is the popularity of Hiroki Nakamura’s label that first-day customers were chosen via a lottery and many of the most popular items – notably a quilted shirt-jacket in a traditional Japanese chirimen (crepe) – sold out in no time.
The pre-war, three-storey building, a rare survivor in a sea of modern structures, has been given a gentle makeover: the exterior tiles have been restored, striped canopies added and window frames returned to their original pale-green colour. A Japanese maple has been planted outside while there are exposed wooden beams and vintage furniture inside. Nakamura has always combined his love of Americana and Japanese craft, hence the Edo-era map of central Tokyo on the wall of the shop and the mustard-coloured vintage carpet, brought from the US, that lines its VIP room.
Trends are mostly irrelevant for Nakamura, who returns to his core designs every season and has a knack for making sweatshirts and T-shirts look worn-in. This season’s denim jacket, featuring a corduroy collar, has been given a dorozome mud-dye treatment in Kagoshima, while traditional Japanese silhouettes inspired a pair of striped wool trousers. Visvim’s popular hand-sewn brigadier boots are also here, as are sweaters hand-knitted in Tohoku and down jackets made with bespoke wool yarn. This is a menswear-only shop but many female customers are happy to pick up pieces.
Ferrari’s victory in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race was its first since 1965 (writes Andrew Mueller). You can buy your own version of the triumphant Ferrari 499P, which will cost you about €5.1m, but you’ll only be able to drive it at dedicated Ferrari track days – and probably run the very real risk of resembling some sort of nouveau riche lout. Or, on 13 November, you can acquire a more graceful evocation of Ferrari’s illustrious motorsport heritage via Sotheby’s in New York. On the block is the scarlet Ferrari 250 GTO driven by Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini at Le Mans in 1962 (pictured). It retired after six hours with a radiator full of dirt, collected via a collision with a sandbank. Repairs have long since been made and this beautiful car has enjoyed a quiet retirement of being admired at upscale, vintage motoring events.
The bad news is that it is almost certainly going to cost more – probably quite a lot more – than even the 499P. Two of the three most expensive cars ever sold are Ferrari 250 GTOs of roughly the same vintage. In 2018, about €65m was paid for the vehicle that contested the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans and came fourth. Any discount for a non-finisher is unlikely to be significant.