Beyond

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L’Empire de la Mort

· Inspiration, Travel & Culture · , , , , ,

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Things began to change in Paris during the late 10th century. As many inhabitants began to move to the Right Bank, mass cemeteries in the city centers started to pollute the region. Eventually, due to famine, plague, war, and other factors, the graves became excessively overcrowded. As a result, city officials exhumed and relocated the bodies of the dead, stacking skulls upon femurs with eery precision in a long series of tunnels in the Left Bank, now known as The Catacombs.

Today, visitors can venture to Paris’ Denfert Rochereau neighborhood and explore the maze of the mort on their own. Dark and grim, The Catacombs present a spooky look into Paris’ past, while there’s an undeniably enticing element that comes with these expansive tombs.

All photos by Scott Shapiro

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Joyeux Noël

· Inspiration, Travel & Culture · , , , , , ,

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The City of Lights lights up

from the Grand Palais

to Rue Saint Honoré

with the spirit of the holiday.

Pleine de couleurs.

De nombreux fleurs.

Avenue Montaigne, Place de Vendôme,

red, green, and gold.

The crisp, cold air feels warmer,

and when you thought it couldn’t get more magical than the former,

The City of Lights lights up.

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As if Paris wasn’t already beautiful enough, every corner and cobblestone gets enhanced with captivating details during the holiday season. Whether it’s the festive Prada window displays that light up Printemps or the serene blue and white orbs that garnish the Champs Élysées, the ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde or the little bursts of vitality that line every street, the city truly comes to life. There’s no escaping the holiday spirit or the magic that comes with it.

Joyeux Noël et Joyeuses fêtes.

All photos by Scott Shapiro

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Paris, je t’aime

· Inspiration, Thoughts, Travel & Culture · , , , ,

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It’s kind of funny. I’ve been in Paris for over 3 months, and even though I’ll still be here until the end of January, I’m starting to get a bit of that excruciating nostalgia that accompanies the  finale of every great journey. All of the editorial piecesParis Fashion Week coverage, and other projects wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t come here, but I feel like I need to take a moment to step away from the professionalism and get a little personal.

The first time seeing the Eiffel Tower could be best described as an emotional experience, and if that doesn’t do it for you, just wait until it sparkles at night. The same beautiful lights outline every avenue and boulevard, from the iconic Champs Élysées to the unbelievably chic Saint Germain. While navigating through crowds of immaculately put-together Parisians, you could probably collect enough immaculately crafted sculptures and architectural details to put in a museum. But why do that when the real museums present endless resources to explore unlimited subject matter? Although Paris’ typical smells might not always be the best, every taste of every meal is a reminder that there is such a thing as culinary artwork.

No matter how many books, films, or anecdotes describe Paris as the most magical place on Earth, it’s difficult to adequately convey how indescribably incredible it feels to be here. Nowhere else could truly embody the idea of “giving me life”; I’ve never been in a place where I consider nearly everything beautiful, where there’s so much history and culture in every crevice.

Stepping completely out of my comfort zone, I have never felt more inspired, motivated, or genuinely happy as I do while in Paris. The only thing I’m more thankful for than the experience I’ve had so far is the fact that this amazing dream is not yet finished.

Although no photo could every completely do this real-life fantasy justice, here’s a selection of some I’ve taken so far.
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All photos by Scott Shapiro

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Genève

· Editorial, Travel & Culture · , , , , ,

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Let’s be real, when you think of the craziest, most exhilarating European destinations, it’s likely that Geneva is nowhere on that list. Before being convinced to go, I’ll admit that I wasn’t particularly interested in the Swiss city whatsoever. But nowhere has embodied the concept of a “pleasant surprise” more than Geneva.

An insanely small city – I may or may not have seen everything in one day – Geneva still has its own appeal. It’s slightly relaxed yet totally luxurious, as if the streets are paved with Rolex and Cartier. Well, maybe not paved, but there are actually luxury timepieces on every corner, which are paired with limitless designer boutiques to inform the extremely impressive Swiss street style. If that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the international politicians in their dream-worthy sports cars will tickle your fancy. At the end of the day, everyone loves a little luxury, and that’s definitely Geneva’s middle name.

Aside from all of that, the city is absolutely beautiful. Presenting a peaceful combination of Paris and Amsterdam, the friendly Genevans make guests feel totally at home, even for just two short days. Painfully scenic mountains cradle the pristine Lac Genève, while the Jet d’eau dramatically shoots upwards towards the heavens. Yet somehow, the best word to describe Geneva would be refreshing.

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All photos by me

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Barça

· Editorial, Travel & Culture · , , , , ,

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Every city has its own energy. It’s something you feel as soon as you step off the plane and breathe in the air in a transient yet everlasting environment. Barcelona is all about that energy; whether conveyed through the charming buildings constructed by history, the ubiquitous and unique artwork by Anton Gaudi, or the nonstop nightlife, there’s something extremely enticing about this southern Spanish hotspot. It doesn’t hurt that I got to experience all of this magic for the first time in the midst of all of the Halloween festivities. Somehow, the occasion enhanced the already spectacular beaches, architecture, and events. Check out a bit of my brief visit to Barcelona below!

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All photos by me

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A Weekend in Amsterdam

· Editorial, Travel & Culture · , , , ,

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As I finished my exams and headed to Charles de Gaulle airport to depart on a week long break from school and work, it dawned on me that Paris’ insane accessibility to the rest of Europe meant I’d be doing a lot of traveling. And a lot of traveling means a lot of content to share. No, this isn’t suddenly becoming a travel blog, but why neglect the immense beauty of the world?

First on my list of places to experience was Amsterdam, a place I’ve been to a few times before (and will probably return to in the near future). From the stunning pieces in the Van Gogh museum to the ubiquitous canals, the Dutch city has an undeniable charm. While the language itself poses a bit of a challenge, the magical appeal of Amsterdam makes up for all of that. In just two short days, I was reminded of its refreshing atmosphere amongst friends and the many strangers who flock to the bicycle-heavy streets. Take a look at my weekend in Amsterdam!

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All photos by me, with select photos from Instagram

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À Paris

· Inspiration, Travel & Culture · , ,

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Never mind my awful visa photo, one of the greatest experiences of my life is finally unfolding: I will be spending the next four months studying, interning, and working on several other projects in Paris! As I completely immerse myself in Parisian culture, I’m so indescribably excited about all of the opportunities that I can’t wait to take advantage of. From art to nightlife to (of course) fashion, Paris is the best of the best.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to post as frequently, as I’ll definitely be pretty occupied with the unlimited resources that Paris has to offer. But you can expect to see some great projects from the amazing things I witness throughout the duration of my trip; whether editorial spreads featuring the incredible fashion and scenery in Paris, fashion week coverage, or any other reports on this goldmine of inspiration, great things are on the horizon. I hope to use this journey not only to expand Des Phosphènes, but to also develop myself on a professional and spiritual level.

As always, your support is greatly appreciated, and any collaboration is always welcome; Contact me if you’d like to work together in Paris! Finally, as this exciting new chapter in my life unfolds, I couldn’t be happier to share this amazing journey with all of you.

Je sens que je vais rêver!

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Kenya

· Editorial, Inspiration, Travel & Culture · , , , , ,

From the booming downtown Nairobi to the breathtaking savannah teeming with wildlife in Amboseli, Kenya has quite a lot to offer. Initially a trip to work for and learn from a unique fashion brand, my two week stay in Kenya left an imprint on my heart, mind, and soul with some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Of course, I always look at things from a fashion standpoint, hence the editorial style in which the images have been arranged. However, this is the type of indescribable experience that transcends any sort of predispositions. Take a look at just a few of the stunning moments I witnessed while in Kenya. Enjoy!

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All photos by me.

This story features pieces from H&M, Zara, Topman Lux, Lanvin, Kenzo, Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, Dries van Noten, and more; Contact for more information.

Ethical

· Inspiration, Thoughts, Travel & Culture · , , , , , , ,

One of the most incredible attributes of my time in Kenya was definitely having the chance to witness an amazing company in action. I’ve already mentioned all of the great work being done at Matonyok, but seeing everything firsthand gave me even more respect for the unique and magnanimous brand. Coincidentally, Matonyok has recently teamed up with Ethical Fashion Africa, an organization of fashion entities that provide sustainable development through their involvement in the astronomical industry. Joining the likes of Sass & Bide, Stella McCartney, and Vivienne Westwood, Matonyok truly defines the concept of “ethical fashion.”

Before jumping to conclusions, as many people do when considering Africa, Matonyok is not a charity. A huge sum of proceeds is set aside to help women in the Maasai community obtain stable healthcare and education, but the crafty ladies use their exceptional beading skills to perform to the best of their abilities just like at any other job. Meanwhile, co-owner of Matonyok, Mary Argimon ensures that her employees are properly trained and paid. There aren’t any handouts, as everyone earns their compensation through quality work, and the conditions are held at a high standard of comfort and respect for the women.

We live in such a globalized world, especially when it comes to the fashion industry. So, why is it that so few designers or companies would do more than simply create a “Maasai-inspired” collection?

It’s refreshing and inspiring to see an impressive fashion line have such a large understanding and practice of social responsibility while still maintaining a professional balance. Going behind the scenes at Matonyok was certainly an eye-opening experience to an ideal part of the fashion world.

Some leather samples used for Matonyok.

Some leather samples used for Matonyok.

Co-owner of Matonyok, Mary Argimon discusses business plans with a Maasai tribe near Amboseli, Kenya.

Co-owner of Matonyok, Mary Argimon discusses business plans with a Maasai village near Amboseli, Kenya.

One of the many leather studios providing resources for Matonyok's pieces.

One of the many leather studios providing resources for Matonyok’s pieces.

Mary Argimon explains certain design concepts and quality control to a women's village outside of Nairobi.

Mary Argimon explains certain design concepts and quality control to a women’s village outside of Nairobi.

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Maasai Fashion

· Inspiration, Style, Thoughts, Travel & Culture · , , , , ,

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Long before today’s fashion, Maasai women mastered the medium of couture quality craftsmanship and one-of-a-kind designs. Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of intricately beaded jewelry and an unlimited spectrum of adornments, it’s impossible to deny the abundance of skills and style in a Maasai village. Every bracelet, necklace, and collar is hand-beaded in unique shapes and patterns, showing more precision than many haute joaillerie items. And if you think the Maasai are only gifted in the accessories department, you’d be extremely wrong. The same type of dapper draping that seasonally parades down Paris’ runways is another element of “Maasai chic,” noted by made-to-measure shukas. Said shukas often appear in juxtaposed reds and blues, proving to be even more aesthetically appealing.

However, the regal ensembles amongst the Maasai aren’t intentional fashion statements, but instead deeper cultural elements. For example, different colors of the beads used in the jewelry represent pivotal concepts; red signifies blood, blue corresponds to the heavens, and green symbolizes prosperity, fertility, and peace. Possibly even more impressive than the immaculate Maasai savoir-faire is the tribe’s persistent strength in their traditions, especially in the face of modernity and Westernization.

The Maasai’s captivatingly diligent spirit highlights their astonishing handwork, and although fashion might not be the motive, it’s impossible to find their ensembles any less than beautiful. If they haven’t already, designers and couturiers should take note of the generations of Maasai mastery. This is real, organic high fashion.

Check out some more detailed images of Maasai beadwork that I took during my recent stay in Kenya!

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