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Dinner parties, "ladies' night", and unhappy children in "The Look"


BY AILEEN KWUN

"Architecture is to a building as fashion is to clothing: both may be seen as excesses to their functional roots," reads the introduction to The Look, a new book from New York-based form Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "Whereas in fashion 'architecture' is an asset, a positive term that applies to a design with distinctively strong structure and form, the term 'fashionable' in architecture is pejorative, suggesting a fleeting trend with lasting worth." Using the astutely reductive observation as grounds for their 2013 commission from the Deste Foundation – for which an artist is selected annually to curate and interpret a capsule collection of five to 10 international fashion designs produced that year – the firm conceived and art directed narrative of 18 images, photographed by artist Matthew Monteith. Originally exhibited at the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece last year, they've collected and reproduced here for the first time. Among the conceptual mix of high and low accessories spotlighted in the project: cork lace-up shoes by Maison Martin Margiela, a pearl earring necklace by Slow and Steady Wins the Race, jumbo fishnets from costume company Leg Avenue, and a Blu disposable e-cigarette. For the location of their shoot, DS+R – who cite the images for midcentury photographer Julius Schulman as an apt cross-reference for exposing unexpected alignments between architecture, fashion, and lifestyle – decided upon Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, a space that's both an icon of Modernism, yet ambiguous in time and style. The crew took a gloves-off, hands-on approach to the landmarked property as they staged a series of subversive, irreverent scenes exploring youth aging, identity, and the notion of "classic."