We’re on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at The Mark Hotel on one very early spring morning, but today we’re referring to it as “Hotel Beyond.” That’s because Sophia Macks, founder of Beyond The Mag and curator of Instagram’s most fascinating fashion and photo talent, is at the helm of a takeover mission focused on highlighting her current adoration of Pierre Hardy shoes. Her rule-breaking style makes it hard to put the digital influencer and creative entrepreneur into a box, so instead, we’ve given her the title of hotelier for the day along with free rein of the entire hotel.
When you step into Sophia’s world, a few things are clear: Details are to be obsessed over, composition is everything, and beauty is not without humor. The same could be said for Pierre Hardy’s ode to American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and his Oh Roy eye sandals, which Sophia paired with matching nail art.
“Be it a wildly colorful image, minimalistic setting, or even an eccentric shoe, relative balance is always my aesthetic’s common denominator,” Sophia says of her creative direction. “Visually and personally, it all comes down to my perception of balance.”
“The idea of putting myself as a live figure inside these set compositions was interesting to me because the focus is on the space and the shoes—and not on me, the model. It’s almost like an intruder trespassing on a still life set design. There’s a bit of an absurdity to it that’s wonderfully off kilter.”
Playing the role of creative director/hotelier for this shoot, Sophia assembled a team including photographer James Tolich, known for his crisp lighting arrangements and clever compositions to capture the Pierre Hardy story. She jumps in and out her shots, taking note of the way her body is angled, consulting with the photographer, making sure the shoes and space around her take center stage. She flitters around keeping the pace of two people: observer and the observed. This says a lot about her character in general—she’s always looking to learn and grow. She seems to relish in the process and evolve with each shot.
Sophia says she’s drawn to Pierre Hardy’s designs because she shares a sort of kinship with the designer. “He makes no apologies for being exactly who he is, and he isn’t different just for the sake of being different.” Looking down at her unbatting toenail eyes, she continues, “I relate to Pierre Hardy in that I’m perfectly comfortable with being divergent in this industry.”
“Despite these transformative times in fashion, people are still tempted to put you in a box. And isn’t it fitting? That’s what this project is all about, and what Pierre Hardy embraces. In fact, he uses a surreal flattened cube inside which nothing can fit as one of his reoccurring, staple shapes,” she observes of the current Pixie slingbacks embellished with the house’s signature bronzetone metal cubes. “It’s almost like saying, ‘don’t even try boxing me in. You’ll fail miserably.'”