"Photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places."

Fleur Cowles with Cecil Beaton at a New Year's party, on Park Avenue, New York. (1952).

Katherine Hepburn with Irene Mayer Selznick at Montego Bay, Jamaica. (1953).

Christina and Alexander Onassis at Monte Carlo Beach Club. (1958).

The mantra of Slim Aaron.

When Truman Capote and Noel Coward recorded the world of luxury with words, Aaron did it with photographs.

a woman after my own heart

Alice T. Friendman's American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture.

Read The New York Times Q&A.

"My goal was to link a group of disparate architectural works and explain why they looked the way they did, and in the process reveal the complexity in the definition of modern architecture. It’s not just rational problem-solving and engineering-based. It’s much more about stories, pleasure and mystery."


Abstract (revised)

An architectural education develops a strong appreciation for fine craftsmanship, innovation, and quality of materials. The three principles of architecture established by the Roman architect Vitruvius – firmitas (durability), utilitas (utility), venustas (delight) – make it clear the discipline of architecture emphasizes beauty and comfort beyond the basic demands of shelter. Inherently, architecture and luxury have a convincing relationship. Luxury is all pleasure and comfort beyond necessity. Indulgent and desirable, luxury both boasts and seduces. Luxury is an elaboration on the essential, manifest in forms of etiquette and exclusivity based on social and economic rank. It is shifting to a more prescriptive, mockingly democratic process of collecting coveted objects. Spaces and cities have become part of the collectibles as well. There is little attention paid as to why these areas and items have gathered cachet, though there is plenty of evidence.

Films index both reality and society’s fantasies. They reflect, denounce, and exaggerate paradigms contemporary to its production, making them invaluable resources for cultural episodes. Post-World War Two, the ease of air travel, mass production of goods, and foreign influence changed the face of luxury. By examining the films To Catch a Thief (1955), La Dolce Vita (1960), and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – all three from the era of this shift in luxury – the thesis interprets the causes of this change by a detailed examination of the narrative, objects, and architecture of selected scenes.


It's been a while since the last post.

The thesis is with an external editor right now, Sean Irwin. Thank you, thank you!!