Wednesday 15 May 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 15/5/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Fashion / Natalie Theodosi

Many happy returns

It has been quite the year for Gucci. Since January 2023, the brand has appointed Sabato de Sarno as its creative director, redesigned flagship boutiques around the world, introduced a new house colour – the now-unmistakable Ancora Rosso – and refreshed its aesthetic with a more pragmatic look. But people were initially sceptical about the rebrand, with fashion critics and financial analysts questioning the ambitious move. This week, however, De Sarno proved them wrong when he unveiled the house’s first cruise collection at London’s Tate Modern.

Image: Giostaiano, Stefano Masse
Image: Giostaiano, Stefano Masse
Image: Giostaiano, Stefano Masse

It was a homecoming of sorts: founder Guccio Gucci worked as a porter at The Savoy hotel in 1897, observing travellers in its burgundy-red lift and drawing inspiration for his first luggage designs. De Sarno was surely just as stimulated by the creative energy of the UK capital because his latest collection is his most confident yet. Sitting inside the Tate Modern’s Tanks, which De Sarno describes as “generators of ideas”, I was intrigued to see his first experiments with pattern (charming daisy prints on suits and silk blouses) and British styles such as gabardine jackets and tartans. De Sarno also reintroduced some of the brand’s classic designs, including horse-bit loafers, tailored pea coats and suede hobo bags reminiscent of the 1970s. As these items make their way onto the shop floor, Gucci’s parent company, Kering, as well as the vigilant financial analysts monitoring the brand’s share price, will probably start to see the rebound that they have been hoping for.

It’s admirable that De Sarno is achieving this while staying committed to his mission of finding beauty in everyday life and in the people he observes on the streets. For too long, fashion has relied on shock value. It’s time for a new look.

Natalie Theodosi is Monocle’s fashion director. To mark the show, Monocle has partnered with Gucci on a London guidebook for attendees and a takeover of The Monocle Café in London. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings


In the balance

For the first time in 20 years, Singapore will inaugurate a new prime minister. Lawrence Wong is keen to emphasise political stability and continuity during the transition period. The cabinet will remain virtually unchanged and outgoing leader Lee Hsien Loong is staying on as a senior minister, a similar role that his father, Lee Kuan Yew, adopted after stepping down as Singapore’s first prime minister in 1990. The 51-year-old Wong is being billed as a safe choice for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) ahead of the country’s next general election, which must take place by November next year. With his predecessor looking over his shoulder, Wong must now deliver a convincing election win, while satisfying growing public demand for genuine political opposition. It’s a tricky balancing act considering Wong’s other pressing task as prime minister: maintaining a stable relationship with both Beijing and Washington.

To hear more about Singapore’s new prime minister, tune in to ‘The Globalist’ from 07.00 London time.

Fruits of labour: Ai Weiwei’s Lisbon exhibition

Image: Joao Krull


Mixed heritage

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s latest show, Paradigm, opens today at Lisbon antiques gallery São Roque Too. It is his third exhibition in Portugal since he moved to the country a few years ago. Ahead of the show, the artist welcomed Monocle to his home in Montemor-o-Novo. Amid the bucolic surroundings, new works lie almost finished in his studio, an industrial-scale brick-and-wood structure. Its roof has a twist – literally. “I shifted it a degree, so that its axis is tilted,” says Weiwei. “The idea was to create a strong order and a disorder together, and show that these can coexist harmoniously. It is a good political message.”

The artist is well known for his subversive work questioning the dichotomies between East and West, and his new show continues to explore these themes. His latest work is a showcase of 17 ceramic pieces that draw from Chinese tradition. By exhibiting them in the Portuguese capital, the artist is raising thorny questions. “The Portuguese discovered Chinese porcelain centuries ago and copied it in Europe,” he says. “Now we criticise China for copying but that was started by Europeans more than 500 years ago.”

Image: Getty Images

Tourism / Hawaii

Lodging complaints

In a bid to address rising housing costs, Hawaii has passed a bill imposing more stringent regulations on the short-term rental market. The island state’s housing crisis was exacerbated last year by the wildfires on Maui; some 3,000 displaced residents are still living in hotels today. The new law will support the return of about 7,000 holiday rentals to the housing market, following months of protests demanding that government officials prioritise accommodation for residents.

But the housing crisis in Hawaii is complex and many suspect that the sudden return of oceanfront condos to the market won’t do much to solve it. Property speculation and high building costs continue to plague the state; meanwhile, holiday-rental companies warn that bans on short-term leases could result in property taxes being raised for everyone. As similar crackdowns in New York and Lisbon start to unfold, all eyes will be on whether Hawaii’s efforts succeed or fail.

Beyond the Headlines

The List / France

Going up the country

France: The Monocle Handbook, is the third instalment in our series of country guides. Across its pages, we take you on a tour of our most cherished Gallic spots, exploring the country’s hospitality scene, from urban stays in Paris to coastal inns and rural guesthouses. We also talk to the nation’s leading entrepreneurs, hoteliers and designers. Here are three things that we learned.

According to Alice Tourbier, who co-owns hotel and spa Les Sources de Cheverny in the Loire Valley, the key to great hospitality is having the right team. “My aim has always been to show guests the rural beauty of the vineyards,” she says of the need to create the right ambience.

For Amélie Huynh who, alongside her sister, turned the Bordeaux château of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec into the Château Malromé hotel, French hospitality was built on gastronomy and wine. It’s not only about fine dining but also finding pleasure in simple things such as a crunchy baguette with cheese or a glass of fine wine. “When it comes to hospitality, we share our treasures gladly and proudly,” says Huynh.

Paying attention to design is important for the success of any hotel, according to interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has specialised in hospitality since 1979. Spaces should complement their surroundings, rather than be dictated by trends. “If the hotel or restaurant is surrounded by beaches or mountains, the interior needs to reflect that to some extent,” says Rochon. “Clients need to feel as though they are in that mindset when they enter the spaces that I designed.”

For Monocle’s full guide to France, including our pick of the country’s top hotels, restaurants, retail destinations and culture spots, pick up a copy of ‘France: The Monocle Handbook’, which is out now.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle Radio / Tall Stories

Seun Sangga, Seoul

Tomás Pinheiro tells us how Seoul’s first mixed-use development came about and the challenges that it will face in the future.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00