Friday 1 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 1/3/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Man in luxe: Bernard Arnault

Image: Shutterstock

Business / Ed Stocker

Word to the wise

It’s not easy to keep up with the brands in the LVMH stable. The French luxury behemoth owns household names such as Fendi, Celine and Bulgari but they’re only part of the story. While the company is famous for having a foothold in everything from watches to luxury travel, there’s also a lesser-known side to the business: media. And this operation might be about to grow. LVMH already owns Paris-focused tabloid Le Parisien and business-news daily Les Echos; now it is reportedly holding talks with publishing group Lagardère over the purchase of its storied weekly Paris Match for an undisclosed fee.

The potential sale might not be a huge surprise to everyone: after all, LVMH’s chairman and CEO, Bernard Arnault, has a long history with Lagardère. Nonetheless, it would mark a significant change in the media landscape. While the heyday of weeklies such as Paris Match might have passed, it’s easy to see why LVMH would want a slice of a brand that conjures up a sense of nostalgia and images of sun-kissed high-society shenanigans. I can still remember flicking through its pages on childhood summer holidays in France; its red, white and black logo is impossible to forget.

Deep-pocketed benefactors stepping in to fund (and potentially reinvigorate) heritage titles is something to be applauded. It’s certainly one way to secure the future of print media – an approach that has been pioneered by the likes of Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post for $250m (€230m) in 2013. But owners also need to ensure that they stay away from the news and allow journalists to get on with their jobs. LVMH has been guilty of blurring the lines in the past. Staff at Les Echos went on strike last year over alleged editorial interference by its owner and Le Parisien has also raised similar concerns about Bernard Arnault’s involvement. Whether the deal goes through or not, LVMH should see the potential acquisition of Paris Match as a fresh opportunity to be decidedly hands-off.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor at large. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Society / USA

Hold the phone

The first law passed by an American state to regulate social-media use among children comes into effect today. Utah’s Social Media Protection Act requires under-18s to obtain parental permission to open a social-media account, imposes a curfew on the platforms between 10.30 and 06.30, and blocks technology companies from targeting minors’ accounts with addictive designs and features.

Some have criticised the law as an attack on freedom of speech and have raised concerns about the effect that it could have on those seeking refuge in online communities, particularly LGBT+ teens. The passage of the bills through the majority-Republican legislature reflects how politicians’ perceptions of social-media and technology companies are changing – and other states are beginning to follow suit, including Connecticut, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana, which have all proposed similar measures.

Image: Oaken Lab

Style / Indonesia

Smell of success

Wary of how mass-market aftershaves and deodorants affected his skin, Chris Kerrigan co-founded Indonesian perfume brand Oaken Lab in 2018 with his wife and business partner, Cynthia Wirjono. The brand emphasises its Indonesian roots with products such as Batavia Barber, a scent named after a historic barbershop in Jakarta’s Old City. The fragrance also features vetiver from Java and patchouli from Sumatra. “We started small,” says Wirjono. “We still always listen to responses from the first people who adopted the brand. They made us realise that we do have a place in the market and that it’s very underserved.”

Oaken Lab now supplies its products to restaurants, retailers and hotels. In 2023 it opened three bricks-and-mortar shops: one in Bali, one in Jakarta’s Indonesia Design District and a larger outpost in south Jakarta. “We were waiting to find these perfect little spots,” says Wirjono. “We don’t want to over-expand. We want every location to be meaningful.”

For more on Oaken Lab and other agenda-setting stories on business and entrepreneurship, pick up a copy of Monocle’s March issue, which is out now.

Image: Dior

Fashion / Geneva

Cut above

This week, Dior unveiled its flagship Geneva boutique, designed by French Pritzker-prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc. Located on rue du Rhône, the shop stands out for its striking façade, which is covered in curved, interwoven structures that resemble petals (a reference to founder Christian Dior’s fascination with flowers).

Inside, consoles made by Stefan Leo Atelier sit alongside tables by London-based interior designer Hamrei. On the walls you’ll find archival Dior sketches, accompanied by Brigitte Niedermair photos and art by Pamela Rosenkranz and Martin Kline – a homage to the founding couturier who was also a gallerist and collector. It’s an ambitious opening that highlights the importance of flagship boutiques in telling a brand’s story.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Getty Images

Photo of the week / Brilliant Jump

Up in smoke

A UK soldier emerges from the smoke of coloured flares during this week’s Brilliant Jump military exercise in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland.

The drills, which are part of Nato’s Steadfast Defender series and involve training some 90,000 troops across Europe, brought together allied forces from the UK, Poland, Spain, Albania and Turkey.

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Urban revitalisation

We explore two projects redefining urban areas, from a mega-development in an often overlooked area of London to a collection of groundbreaking projects in the suburbs of Helsinki.


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