Sunday 13 March 2022 – The Monocle Minute

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brule

Hot spots

Good morning! Good morning! We have a lot of ground to cover today (most of it in Portugal, some of it in the Alps with a side-order of flat terrain in Paris), so pull on your spongiest socks, lace up your Vejas (they now do a nice trail-running style by the way) and don’t you dare don any strange athleisure, as we need to look presentable and put-together whenever we venture beyond the front door. Off we go.

Lisbon, a rooftop restaurant, Sunday evening. We’re dining with a few French friends and the room is packed. Nearby we have some men from Luanda meeting a lanky, shifty British chap. There’s some kind of deal being done but what sort? Has he been dispatched from the Foreign Office to source a fresh energy supply from the former Portuguese colony? Or is he brokering a deal to sell off another football club? Behind us a tubby, slightly scary-looking man who might be from somewhere like Irkutsk is shown to his table by him. He’s accompanied by six young women who are all leggy and under 20. They’re most definitely not his daughters or nieces de él and he’s not doing a casting for a sunny version of Siberia’s Got Talent, so who is he and why has he been shown to a private nook behind curtains? Should I introduce him to the British broker across the way? Perhaps he has a football club he wants to offload.

Porto, the studio of a fashion distributor. We’re assembled around a table heaped with sweatshirt and underwear samples. Yes, Monocle is expanding its range and we’re looking at cuts, colors and fabric quality with some of our team, representatives from a factory, a production pro and my friend André, who is running the process. When we get to discussing delivery lead times, the pair from the factory start beaming. “We are so busy,” says one. “We’ve never been busier!” says the other. “It’s incredible how much production is coming back to Europe and so much of it is happening in Portugal.” This makes me happy too: China has behaved appallingly throughout the pandemic (let us never forget how unco-operative Beijing has been about getting to the bottom of the origin of coronavirus), is playing an equally irresponsible role in the Ukraine conflict and deserves to lose its status as the world’s factory. Portugal!

I’ve said it before but in case you missed it, this city could become Europe’s Honolulu – in a good way.

The Foz district of Porto, lunchtime, a cozy restaurant. Andre is in charge of the orders. This is a super-local establishment and the regular diners have probably been sitting down for hearty lunches as long as the waiters have been serving up tasty fishy and beefy dishes. The waiters are all in matching striped shirts and denim; some gentlemen from the local university are in matching blazers and ties. It’s a mature, well-run operation and if you ask politely I’ll tell you the name of said establishment. You’ll find me at tb@monocle.com.

Madeira, a sleepy side street in the center of Funchal. There are many empty shopfronts. I’ve said it before but in case you missed it, this city could become Europe’s Honolulu – in a good way. Or maybe the new Palma? The architecture is outstanding, the orange-glass light fixtures along the streets offer a warm glow (the city needs to kill the white lights that they’re allowing to creep into the urban landscape) and the visitors might even be getting a bit younger. It’s time to take a look if you’ve not been. Also, the Atlantic was a perfect 19C at the time of penning this column.

London, Chiltern Street, Saturday 19 March. You’re having your first flat white of the day while touring our new shop on Chiltern Street, meeting your favorite editors and checking out the fresh duds at Trunk. The day gets rolling at 10.00.

St Moritz, 1 April, early eve. You’re enjoying a little apéro with the Monocle crew for our first Weekender of 2022. Later, you’ll enjoy a reading by author Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer from his new book, Grand Hotel Europe, a preview of our spring collection, fine drinks and an evening on the dancefloor at Dracula. For tickets, sign up here and all questions can go to Hannah Grundy at hg@monocle.com.

Paris, June 3. Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference 2022 is underway at Le19M, home to some of Chanel’s ateliers and their devoted craftsmanship in pleating, millinery, and jewelery design and production. Reserve your spot now for the full event, which runs from the evening of Thursday 2 June to the morning of Saturday 4 June.

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