Putting the fun in functional: will Arket revitalise the high street?

Rather than fighting online retail, bricks-and-mortar stores are try to bring shopping to life – and H&M’s new brand is leading the way with a Nordic cafe and a haberdashery department Walk through the door of Arket, the hotly anticipated fashion-and-lifestyle brand that opens its first store on Regent Street in London this Friday, and the first thing that strikes you is the generous expanse of empty space. The tables are laid with individual items, rather than stacked with teetering piles. (Further available colours are stacked unobtrusively in cubes, labelled by size.) The flecked floor resembles cobbles or gravel, while the cabinets and paintwork are in a soft cloud-grey that makes the building feel almost invisible from within. The effect is more like wandering through an open-air market than a fast-fashion hothouse. Arket calls itself “a modern-day market”. This is not a reference only to the mix of clothes and homeware, of decorative and functional (department stores have been doing that for centuries), but also to the spirit of market shopping. No longer demoralised by the rise of online retail, the high street is on a mission to bring back the joys of the shopping trip. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

India’s Partition: The Forgotten Story review – Gurinder Chadha attempts to pin down a complex story

The film-maker’s short and personal investigation cannot begin to cover the necessary ground to make convincing arguments for how the partition of India came to be Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha faced some criticism when her most recent film, Viceroy’s House, was released in March. It told the story of Indian partition, set in and around the palace of the final viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, partly, Chadha has said, to ensure this chapter of history was remembered in Britain. But the film’s version of that historical divide was controversial. In this paper, the writer Fatima Bhutto called it a “servile pantomime of partition”, while Ian Jack wrote that the film takes “a breathtaking liberty with the historical record”. Chadha was defensive, of course, and issued a firm denial of any perceived anti-Muslim bias, stating her sadness that “a film about reconciliation should be so wilfully misrepresented as anti-Muslim or anti-Pakistan”. The Hindi dubbed version, Partition: 1947, meanwhile, has just been banned in Pakistan. It is against this backdrop that India’s Partition: The Forgotten Story (BBC2) emerges, and one suspects that this documentary about Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan has been made carefully, if not as a rebuttal to further criticism, then at least with that in mind. Chadha’s take on the story here is personal and, therefore, she points out, only one version of it. “What really happened 70 years ago?” she asks at the beginning, where she is careful to point out that the answer will depend on who is telling the story. At school, she recalls, it was attributed to the inability of religious groups to get along, while her mother tells her that’s not how she remembers it at all. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Wednesday’s best TV: No More Boys and Girls; Location, Location, Location

The gender experiment concludes. Plus: Phil and Kirsty try to find perfect pads by the sea Dr Javid Abdelmoneim concludes his experimental quest to banish the pinks and blues that pigeonhole kids by gender. Tonight there’s extrapolation of the meanings lurking behind the likes of “Little Princess” and “Little Rascal” T-shirts – notice how easily anyone can differentiate boys’ and girls’ clothing sections? With the term-long experiment over, will results show a levelling of behavioural differences? Mark Gibbings-Jones Continue reading… [hmp_player]