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November 13, 2012

City Stardust

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Erica Minutella

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Philadelphia has a patch of night sky all its own thanks to the launch of the new fashion magazine, Stardust.
It began as an impulse. Photographer Justin-Julius Santos – who once visited Paris for a three-week trip that turned into six years – is no stranger to making decisions for the here-and-now. And so with a phone call in the middle of the night to friend and fellow photographer Sophie Cécile Xu, Stardust went from wish to reality.
The impulse led to a supernova of creative energy, as Santos and Xu worked tirelessly to release the magazine in just two months.
“We started a magazine the same way anyone would have started a fanzine 20 years ago,” Santos said. “Cut and clip. Paste. How much cash do we have? Should we have a bake sale?”
Old-fashioned tactics aside, Stardust‘s first issue, “Birth,” received an online launch. The seasonal magazine will live in print only in the final issue, which will be released as a book every winter starting the end of next year.
“The whole concept of Stardust is young,” Santos explained. “No money, extremely creative, thrifting and mixing a Prada bag for $100, mixing luxury and everything together.”
Launched on October 5, the first issue’s design is white and minimal – a decision that kept the two-month deadline within reach while keeping the theme of birth frosted throughout. Models sport pieces from affordable brands like Urban Outfitters and H & M, and local stores like Sazz Vintage – yet style glistens with a crispness and individuality that could leave you swearing off magazine stands for good.
Expect even more from the next issue, as the Stardust team plans on shoots in Paris and New York. While Philadelphia remains the focus of the magazine, the goal is to bring the wider world of fashion much closer to home.
“We call it Philadelphia International,” Santos added.
You can find the headquarters of the new magazine at Curated Goods, the Northern Liberties vintage store owned by Santos.
Stumbling into the boutique is a bit like climbing into the attic of a Victorian home and finding a treasure trove of curiosities – minus the dust.
The space may be small, but the possibilities are endless. Propped up on the couch in place of a pillow, you’ll find a copy of Karl Lagerfeld’s “Visionaire No. 23: The Emperor’s New Clothes,” tucked into its custom wooden case and tied with a copper-colored satin bow. Scattered amidst Japanese robot figurines and Elizabethan portraits, you’ll spot a pair of dark blue velvet gloves to compliment a vintage find from the clothing rack across the aisle.
You’ll even find eye candy on the walls, as the store rotates photography exhibitions every month in the hopes of promoting local artists.
“Curated Goods is anything and everything I love: from shells, to crazy wedding dresses,” Santos exlained. “I’m attracted to really obscure stuff.”
Even stronger than his passion for finding eccentric odds and ends is Santos’s admiration for the younger generation. With Stardust as an example, he hopes to see young creatives shoving fear aside in pursuit of their goals.
“Life – you don’t know where it’s going to take you. It’s long and short,” Santos said. “Whatever you want to do, do it while you’re young. It gets so much harder. Don’t be scared, try everything once, anything once, before you say no.”
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