My first time working with our cover model, Cat McNeil, we had a conversation about her features and how perfect they are for beauty. Her look is so gorgeous and mysterious and feline-esque. She said I even look like a cat! I told her a story about a similar conversation I had with Crystal Renn, another other-worldly musel, and how she loves crystals, and connects so deeply with the energy of crystals, which makes her name perfect for her. After that shoot with Cat, I always said in a humorous way that when It comes to beauty or just being a rad person in general CatMcneil is my spirit animal!


While casting for the Documentary Beauty 003 cover story, Kayla and I we were discussing models that would be as inspirational and majestic as the spirit animals we were dreaming about. Someone that could take on the role of having a spiritual connection with the animals. Kayla made the best description of the concept: she said imagine you’re experiencing DMT and having an out-of-body experience and spiritual connection with the soul of the animal. I said you know who I’ve always said is my supermodel spirit animal, Cat McNeil! I could totally imagine her being free and wild in the woods and having a religious experience with nature, at that moment it all just clicked and I knew Cat had to be our spirit animal for this story.


So what is a spirit animal? To me, a spirit animal is something that inspires me, something I see a little bit of myself in, someone I can relate to or admire, or someone or something I can have a spiritual connection with. To others it may be a totem, a person or object to help guide or protect them, or an otherworldly guide to offer love, healing, and support during difficult times.


My spirit animal has always been in the form of a bird. As a kid I used to birdwatch with my grandfather in Texas, he had a huge bird hotel in the backyard, and every spring the Sparrows and Grackles would fight for occupancy. We also had a hummingbird feeder, I was mesmerised by these tiny birds and how quickly they moved, as if they were just floating in air. I always felt from a young age even tho I didn’t know how to put it in words that the hummingbird’s were my spirit animal.


I have a falcon tattoo on my wrist and the word Peregrine for the peregrine falcon. On an editorial shoot in Malta a few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity of meeting a Maltese falcon one of the only few left in that region. I also got to meet a stunning all white barn owl, this owl had such strong energy it made my heart rate go up a little bit, I might have been a tiny bit scared of him for being so wild. Which brings me to the owl in our Spirit Animal story.


Kayla and I both thought that owls are not only beautiful but have such intense energy. An owl would provide that spiritual connection with nature and possess an other worldly vibe we wanted to come through in the images. We connected with an amazing agency that works with a lot of photographers in fashion to provide a safe and healthy life for its animals, and through them we found our spirit animal. He lives just a few hours north of NYC in the Hudson Valley, my happy place, and one of the most beautiful regions in eastern United States.


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Kayla has a deep and meaningful connection with butterflies, so we wanted to incorporate butterflies into the story and of course a cat to represent Cat’s beauty and her namesake. It wasn't until I dove further into my butterfly research that I found one particular butterfly and the entire beauty concept just clicked for me. At first the colors of butterflies were my inspiration for the makeup design,  there were so many possibilities to have a major color moment inspired by the patterns and metallics of the wings. Surprisingly, it was a butterfly called the Owl Butterfly, or Caligo meaning darkness, it blew my mind wide open. It wasn't colorful at all in fact it looked more like a moth. The owl butterflies, are known for their huge eyespots which resemble owl’s eyes. They only fly a few meters at a time, at dusk, and when they hang side by side together in there resting place they look like an owl’s eyes to scare off predators. It was then I realized that the eyes on all the animals for this story were the connection, bringing them all together as one spirit animal.

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Our Documentary Beauty 003 cover image was the exact moment when everything came together visually and spiritually, she became one with the owl and butterflies, manifesting her beauty and spirit animal within. It was the moment we had dreamed of as far as representing the connection between Cat and the animals, as well as the symbolism of the eyes throughout the shoot. This was a dream come true for me to be able to incorporate beauty and a living spirit animal in such a meaningful way, the inspiration and entire process came from a very special place in my heart. I hope our spirit animal story inducess a dream state, inspiring you to search for something other wordly, something magical, something spiritual and unexplainable.