Monday 26 February 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 26/2/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Fashion / Natalie Theodosi

Old but gold

Fashion brands have been putting on show after show since the beginning of the year. This month I have attended womenswear showcases in London and Milan, and will soon head to Paris. Every city has its strengths and every brand has its own story to tell but common themes inevitably emerge. This season’s overarching conversation wasn’t about a new colour or hem length. It was about the concept of time – and clothes with longevity.

Runway success: Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons

The Prada autumn/winter 2024 collection

To achieve this, brands have turned to the history books. Fashion houses are embracing the elegance and formality of their past, which, until recently, had been all but forgotten. For too long, designers had been caught between formal and casual wear, trying to design for a hybrid world that they barely understood. Now the silent agreement within the industry is that it’s time to course correct and celebrate fashion’s essence: creativity, luxury and the power of dressing up. This shift has renewed the industry’s interest in many of the legacy brands that it used to overlook.

The conversation reached a crescendo during last week’s Prada show, when designers Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons showcased the brand’s new collection of 1950s-inspired cocktail dresses, bows and velvet hats. In a backstage conversation with reporters, Prada told us that she disliked nostalgia but still thought that it was important to learn from history. “We took elements from the past and tried to liberate them from their cages,” she said of Prada’s autumn/winter 2024/2025 collection. There was plenty to take away from her enigmatic post-show remarks: namely, that the best ideas aren’t always new and that looking back and learning from the past can help us move forward. Perhaps it’s her way of using fashion’s soft power to send a wider message to the world.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Image: Reuters

Society / France

Fields of plenty

The world’s largest food and farming show, is taking place at Paris’s Expo Porte de Versailles until Sunday. The 2024 Salon d’Agriculture has turned seven gigantic exhibition halls into fields to celebrate France’s agrarian heritage. As with previous iterations, the programme features seminars, presentations of machinery and livestock competitions involving farmers from all over the country.

Numerous senior political figures have already attended, including Emmanuel Macron, who opened the show. Macron’s visit comes a month after farmers dumped manure in front of government buildings in Toulouse to protest against rising taxes and farming costs. Though France’s prime minister, Gabriel Attal, endeavoured to quell tensions earlier this week, Macron might still feel a little sheepish.

For more on this year’s Salon d’Agriculture, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio from 07.00 London time.

Defence / China, Thailand & USA

Ready and willing

The Cobra Gold military exercises, which are held annually in the Indo-Pacific, will begin tomorrow. The drills, which are in their 43rd year, are co-sponsored by Thailand and the US, and will be made up of more than 10,000 troops from more than 30 nations, including Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. As part of the manoeuvres, the US and Thai navies are planning to salvage a US-made corvette that sank in the Gulf of Thailand in December 2022. This is the world’s longest-running multilateral military training programme and one of the Indo-Pacific’s largest combined exercises, so eyebrows will probably be raised across the water in China. The exercises follow a meeting in Bangkok between US national security advisor Jake Sullivan and China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, with a view to ease tensions between the two nations. Though China will not participate in the combat drills, it will join civic-action missions to promote the exchange of experience and practices in rescue and disaster relief.

Retail / Austria

On the right tracht

The Trachten on display at the biannual Fesch trade fair, which ended this Sunday in Salzburg, showed that there’s more to national dress than just a penchant for nostalgia. Originally a rural getup sported by 16th-century peasants in Bavaria, Austria and South Tyrol, today the costume has an urban alter ego. “In the streets of Munich, it’s not unusual to see Bavarian jackets on dress-down Fridays,” Sebastian Haufellner, head of buying at luxury German department store Lodenfrey tells The Monocle Minute.

Image: Anna Aicher
Image: Anna Aicher

Some 1,500 visitors and 200 brands at the Brandboxx conference centre were seen sporting the attire subtly influenced by their alpine ancestors. Contemporary iterations of the Tracht saw iron-friendly chiffon blouses replace their cotton counterparts. The modern wearer might even choose more elaborate garments, with puffed sleeves, lace or embroidery. All that’s needed is a stein of Stiegl and memories of the rolling hills of 16th-century Bavaria will come flooding back.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 171

Colour one’s view

Monocle travels to Palma de Mallorca to investigate how good developments can transform an area. Take Plaza Gomila, where brightly hued buildings are bringing back the area’s former glories.

Colour-coded streetscape and Brutus restaurant

Image: Anthony Pérez

Office for Gras Reynés Arquitectos and a reformed brutalist building

Image: Anthony Pérez

Subscribe to read the full article or log in to your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Image: Silver Mikiver

Monocle Radio / Eureka

Estonia Piano

Monocle’s Petri Burtsoff meets Indrek Laul, CEO of Estonia Piano, a company known for blending traditional craftsmanship with modern techniques to create instruments with exceptional sound. Laul discusses the brand’s commitment to excellence, as well as how it combines heritage with innovation to create some of the world’s best handmade pianos.


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