This week, we try on the season’s best parkas, make ‘Succession’ plans at an auction, head to Marseille for a taste of France’s annual galette wars and visit Gucci’s first Aspen outpost. But first, Monocle’s editor in chief, Andrew Tuck, gets himself organised…
Do you remember the Filofax? In the 1980s these personal organisers – a wallet with a clip-shut metal binder for securing loose-leaf inserts – dominated the market for a certain type of urbanite: the so-called Yuppie, a young urban professional. Just as today people deposit their smartphone on a restaurant table to show how busy they are, back then diners would arrive with a bulging Filofax, containing not only their paper diary but also their handwritten address books, perhaps a world map just in case they forgot where New York was, sheets of notepaper, conversion tables, you name it. If you asked your fellow diner for a contact or whether they might be free to attend a party, there would ensue much paper flicking before any information could be passed on or invitation accepted. While the organisers came in various sizes and colours, black leather dominated. It was a little macho.
This kind of personal organiser has roots going back to 1910 and Filofax (literally your file of facts) as a brand has been in existence since the 1920s. It was, however, its adoption as a symbol of 1980s have-it-all business swagger that propelled the company to stardom. The first electronic organisers stole its glory when they arrived in the 1990s, though how we ever loved the likes of the PalmPilot and its easy-to-lose stylus is hard to fathom. It took an age to add a new contact on its dreary monochrome screen. Then, of course, came the Blackberry and the iPhone.
I have always owed a small debt to Filofax’s moment as a status symbol. After university, the first place to offer me work experience was Time Out in London. I was initially enrolled in a small office in Covent Garden that produced guides to London’s restaurants and shops but also miniature city surveys designed to be inserted into a Filofax. Some months ago, I was talking to our twentysomething assistant managing editor, Jack, about my first job and these dinky surveys that I had been so proud to have seen my name credited on (the Filofax takes some explaining to a digital thoroughbred, though I thought it a little harsh when he asked whether we all travelled to work on horse-drawn carts in the 1980s).
Cut to the last few days before Christmas, when I also happen to have my birthday, and Jack has organised a present for me: a handsome, black-leather Filofax (oh, yes, the business is still going). Inside, the first insert: “A Time Out Filofax Guide – Help and Information London”. It’s a vintage edition from 1986 and there, at the end of the credits is “Research: Andrew Tuck”. Those words are printed in a point size that requires a magnifying glass. Unsurprisingly, there was a plastic one that you could purchase for your organiser.
While the Filofax is unlikely to negate the smartphone’s ubiquity, how we organise ourselves, plan, plot and prepare for a new year is still open to question. Of course, we have endless super-efficient digital planners but none of them is truly loveable and they often fail to cater for people whose work and personal lives overlap (you don’t want your colleagues seeing when you are planning a lunchtime haircut). They are also laborious to manage. So, alongside my world of online calendars and meeting notifications, I am also embracing a back-to-the-future moment and seeing whether putting my life in a binder might be helpful in 2024. We are, after all, a company that’s proud of print and paper. To accompany the move, I might also start wearing box jackets à la Miami Vice. You don’t get that reference? So…
When the mercury is well below zero, a waist-length winter coat just won’t cut it (writes Gregory Scruggs). Enter the parka, whose three-quarter length design amply stuffed with down – a minimum of 600 fill, no exceptions – will keep you warm whether you’re in Helsinki or Minneapolis. Uniqlo makes a serviceable number but if you plan to spend hours at a time outside when it’s minus 20C and still want to look sharp, layer up in Shackleton’s goose-down Haakon Tactical Parka. With a name that evokes the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, the UK-based brand’s polar credentials are as solid as an iceberg.
US heritage manufacturer Woolrich’s duck-down Arctic Parka is no slouch, either. After all, the first models outfitted workers building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Want to ensure that you’re visible in a blizzard? Teammates and rescuers alike are sure to spot the brightly coloured Helly Hansen Arctic Patrol Modular Parka 2.0 through any whiteout on the tundra. While this second iteration of the Norwegian brand’s coat was developed with insights from Arctic professionals, for expertise on what makes a truly warm parka, look to the word’s etymology: “parka” derives from the Nenets language group of the Russian Arctic.
Indigenous Arctic people perfected the parka long before fashion houses began affixing faux-fur hoods to polyester shells stuffed with synthetic down. While vintage examples are most likely found in museums and faded archival photographs, the craft of parka-making is alive and well. Anchorage-based Inupiaq clothing designer and furrier Bobby Brower stitches parkas by hand for discerning customers who know the value – in warmth and style – of a velveteen shell, quilted liner and a ruff made from real silver fox.
It’s the time of year when one of France’s greatest culinary divides is debated across the hexagone (writes Mary Fitzgerald). What’s at stake? The galette des rois: a dessert that’s traditionally enjoyed on 6 January to mark the Christian feast of Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem. In northern France, it’s a buttery puff-pastry disc filled with almond-cream frangipane. In the south, it’s called gâteau des rois and it’s a ring-shaped, fleur d’oranger-scented brioche decorated with sugar pearls and candied fruit. With more than 30 million cakes consumed in France every January, the question of whether you’re on Team Frangipane or Team Brioche is taken very seriously.
Media outlets run reports assessing the merits of each. In recent years, Team Frangipane has been making inroads in Provence. I regularly see galettes des rois outnumbering their brioche counterparts in my local pâtisseries in Marseille. What both kinds have in common is the hidden fève, a small charm baked inside every cake, which is often a tiny porcelain figurine depicting a character from French folklore. The person who gets the fève in their slice is allowed to wear the golden crown that comes with the cake. While younger pastry makers have experimented with the likes of pistachio galettes or brioche with boozy macerated fruit, the traditional versions remain the most popular. Despite being an adopted Marseillaise, I confess to being Team Frangipane – but I know I’m not alone.
Norwegian-Sámi Hanna Moen Reinsnes is one of the sister duo who founded Gobmi, a luxury fashion brand inspired by their heritage. Since launching in 2021, the brand has garnered attention both at home and abroad for its collections of reindeer leather and other designs that celebrate Sámi culture. Here, she speaks of her brand’s rise, her coffee rituals and her favourite reads.
A few words about your latest project?
The past year has been all about launching Gobmi, which blends modern fashion with ancient Sámi culture. From being featured in Vogue Scandinavia and showcasing at Oslo Runway to speaking in Iceland, witnessing our vision come to life and receiving such recognition have been amazing.
What news source do you wake up to?
I always start my day with NRK, the Norwegian public broadcaster, for an update on national and international news.
Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with the headlines?
An Aeropress-made cup of coffee with freshly ground beans from Kaffebrenneriet [a popular Norwegian coffee shop chain]. It’s the perfect start to any day.
Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
I have recently been listening to some old favourites, such as The Hives, The White Stripes and the Arctic Monkeys. They take me back to when I was 16.
What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
“Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas.
Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?
National Geographic, Subjekt [a Norwegian magazine about culture and society], Vogue, Monocle and one newspaper: Altaposten [for local updates].
Is that a podcast in your ear?
I don’t listen to many podcasts but when I do, I like Philosophize This! by Stephen West.
Who’s your cultural obsession?
What’s your film genre of choice?
I love sci-fi and war films. If I can get a mix of the two, that’s the dream.
Do you still watch the nightly news?
I only catch it when I’m at my parents’ place. It’s a nostalgic and comforting routine, and my favourite part of it is watching it with my parents.
Any good restaurant or bar recommendations?
Tilt in Oslo. It’s a fun arcade bar with a great ambience. I also recommend Trasti & Trine in Alta. It’s a unique spot that offers a true taste of the local cuisine and culture.
‘The Goldfinger’, Felix Chong. Set in 1970s and 1980s Hong Kong, The Goldfinger is an action-packed thriller based on the fall of the conglomerate Carrian Group following a corruption scandal. Tony Leung and Andy Lau, reunited 22 years after the acclaimed Infernal Affairs, play a financial kingpin and an anti-corruption investigator, expertly weaving a tale of opulence, excess and obsession.
‘¡Agua!’, Chanel. After becoming a fan favourite while representing Spain at Eurovision in 2022, Cuban-Spanish singer Chanel Terrero is releasing her first studio album, ¡Agua!, which promises to deliver a heady dose of Latin pop to get 2024 off to an energetic and sultry start. If the catchy and upbeat singles “Loka” and “Ping Pong” are anything to go by, ¡Agua! will quench your thirst for pop.
‘JK Bruce-Vanderpuije: Unveiling the Shadows of the Past’, Efie Gallery. The Dubai-based gallery is presenting an exhibition of 25 works by Ghanaian photographer JK Bruce-Vanderpuije. Through streetscapes and portraits, Bruce-Vanderpuije captured an important chapter of modern Ghanaian history. The photos document British colonial rule, the country’s independence in 1957 and the subsequent social and political change under Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first African prime minister and president.
Italian fashion house Gucci has opened a new shop in the ski-resort town of Aspen, Colorado. Throughout the winter, holidaymakers can stock up on creative director Sabato de Sarno’s debut collection, which was first unveiled in September 2023 at Milan Fashion Week. As well as the usual leather goods, clothes, jewellery and sunglasses, shoppers can also find Gucci’s Après Ski collection, as well as exclusive products that are only sold in the snowy location. The shop’s overall design reflects the new direction that Gucci has taken since De Sarno’s arrival as the brand’s creative director in January 2023. Gone are the maximalist and floral aesthetics introduced under Alessandro Michele, who left the post in late 2022.
The current aesthetic is more demure, something that has been translated into the Aspen shop through plush green carpets, deep-red velvet armchairs and wood-panelled details. With such an enticing offering, it would be rude not to step in from the cold and stock up on some Gucci for your loved ones.
The prop master is a grievously undervalued member of any hit show’s crew (writes Andrew Mueller). A well-chosen prop communicates a sense of time, place or character as much as the pithiest line of a screenwriter’s dialogue or the deftest arching of an actor’s eyebrow. When the final season is wrapped, producers of especially adored programmes therefore have quite the garage sale ready to go. Just such a bonanza is being offered to ardent fans of HBO series Succession – and it often feels difficult, in these times, to go 10 minutes without encountering someone who meets that description and wishes to tell you all about it in detail. Heritage Auctions’ sale of 236 Succession-related lots closes on 13 January.
The good news is that items rarely arrive on set with any inherent value, lest a clumsy actor drop them. Accordingly, there are some relative bargains. Even the biggest-ticket item, Logan Roy’s set of office glasses and decanters, is estimated to fetch just a few thousand euros. At the other end of the scale, assorted Waystar Studios merchandise will probably not even fetch three figures. The real prizes might be those incidental but telling accoutrements that add up to a compelling character. Other lots on offer include Tom Wambsgans’ and Greg Hirsch’s wristwatches, Roy’s medals and bookshelf ornaments and enough of Kendall Roy’s wardrobe to dress more or less perpetually as Kendall Roy – ideal purchases for the up-and-coming corporate go-getter who is vaguely worried that people don’t hate him enough.