The unique qualities and connotations of concrete are the starting point for photographer Benoit Pailley and fashion editor Inès Fendri in the current issue of top Hungarian magazine The Room. In their story ‘Concrete Project No.1’ in issue 12, they take the quintessential building material and come up with what is effectively a very clever accessory and jewellery story.
Drawing on the full range of associations with the material, such as its historical connection with famous modernist architects, eastern bloc public architecture or its use as an iconic sculptural material by minimalist sculptors, in their hands it becomes the basis for a series of tableaux that are themselves not unlike sculptures. In the case of ‘Concrete Project No.1’ however, each incorporates a luxurious object of desire; a Christian Laboutin shoe, a bag by Sonia Rykiel or even a tiara by John Galliano.
Quite aside from the clever games -the visual puns that operate very much in the way that many contemporary art objects do- one of the most notable things about the story is just how good this humble material makes the items in question look. Perhaps it’s the contrast, but each of these tempting goodies looks somehow, brighter, shinier and even more sumptuous. Perhaps more cautious creatives would have shied away from the idea, worrying that the combination might not provide a sufficiently rich context for the luxury items. No such fear at The Room though, a title that has repeatedly shown that it is able to navigate simplicity and luxury.
Another rewarding aspect of the shoot is that one realises that this is a situation in which fashion creatives have had to work outside of the safety of the traditional discipline, literally working more like artists in constructing the sculptural concrete structures in a makeshift studio in southern France. So it’s something of a story about handmade craft in more ways than one.