WE ONLY LIVE ONCE
You will never meet anyone similar to Alexandre. His passion for travelling, determination and courage are just unique. His smile and positive energy are contagious, and his ability to talk to people from different cultures and engage them in spontaneous photoshoots, is just phenomenal. I had an opportunity to meet Alex in Cambodia and watch him taking photos many times. He has a really precious gift of making friends with everyone he meets and seems to attract people like a magnet.
Some time ago he decided to choose his own path and started travelling around the world. His "timeless journey" took him through almost every single country in Asia, often far away from the beaten track. What he had, was a backpack, a camera and an endless enthusiasm to discover new cultures and experience an adventure of a lifetime that many only dream about.
In an exclusive interview for the Fashion Studio, Alex reveals some interesting details behind his photography, life and travelling, and shares his fashionable spots in Lisbon. He explains why exploring the world is so addictive and why we should never grow old...
"After many trips in places around the world, I decided to do the step forward and go backpacking in Asia without a return ticket." - Alexandre
On the movie set in India
Occupation: Travel Photographer
City: Lisbon, Portugal & all over the world
FASHION STUDIO: How did you start photography?
ALEX: In 1992 I went on vacation to Lagos, a summer place on the south of Portugal and found that the rock formations around the beach were very scenic. I wanted to capture its beauty so I purchase the old Kodak camera. That was the starting point of the my photography world. Besides that the President of Portuguese Art Photography was an important person during my child education.
Chinese New Year celebrations, Georgetown, Malaysia
FASHION STUDIO: Alex, your way of living is quite unique. What inspired you to start travelling and documenting your journeys at the same time?
ALEX: I always had the passion for travelling but it had always to be a work vacation. It was in 2009 when I went on vacation to Thailand and over there decided to do this trip and share it with others. As the trip began I wanted to have much more than just a trip: I wanted to do a timeless journey that would allow me to capture the beauty of the world.
FASHION STUDIO: What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?
ALEX: It was to leave everything behind! A career, apartment and friends - all to pursue my eternal dream. That hard decision surpass all the incredible adventures I have lived so far during this journey.
FASHION STUDIO: What are the main challenges in your everyday life when you travel?
ALEX: First of all the language barrier, then the country entry difficulties and theft. But the biggest challenge turned out to be: endure! Travelling on a shoestring means always going the hard way to sleep, eat and travel. Sometimes it just gets too hard to go on like this all the time. Also many times the hassle from the hawkers is simply overwhelming. Dealing with it on a daily basis, is no walk in the park.
FASHION STUDIO: How would you define fashion? What is unique about fashion in your home town - Lisbon?
ALEX: Fashion for me its the self-expression of beauty and sensuality through outfits and movement. And a fashionable person is a person who attempts to highlight their features in that sense. It might look like a very technical definition, but I think it says it all. And it also means that I see fashion as a form of creativity that goes beyond a simple selection of what clothes one should wear.
Portugal started out with being just a consumer of international fashion. But in the last decades the fashion designers multiplied, became more bold and started looking for a way to provide their customers with something unique. However, the Portuguese fashion is still highly inspired by the international western trends.
FASHION STUDIO: Best shopping spots in the city...
FASHION STUDIO: What is the most stylish place in Lisbon?
FASHION STUDIO: Your favourite supermodel...
FASHION STUDIO: Who is you favourite clothing designer and why?
FASHION STUDIO: Who is your style icon?
FASHION STUDIO: What is your recipe for a happy and fulfilling life?
FASHION STUDIO: Why travelling is so addictive?
ALEX: With the massive growth of high-end shopping malls in Lisbon, most of the people go shopping for clothes and accessories to the malls. The biggest ones are: Colombo and Vasco da Gama. But if you are looking for something more exquisite: Lisbon Downtown for classical fashion. And for modern, creative and bold designs the place to go is "Bairro Alto" and Chiado.
ALEX: Portuguese women love to dress up when they go out, specially to the shopping malls. They also pay a lot of attention to accessories. Besides the malls, during the day it's the place like "Bairro Alto" and Chiado where style is a must. And at night, the club called "Lux" is probably one of the venues with most fashionable people.
FASHION STUDIO: How about other countries that you travelled to - which has the most stylish, best dressed people in your opinion?
ALEX: In general in Western Europe to be "in fashion" is a major concern for many people. It is hard to define which European country is most fashionable, but if I had to choose: Sweden would be my pick. Especially in Stockholm downtown, style seems to me to be a tremendous concern. Sometimes even when the very cold temperature doesn't permit certain kind of outfits.
Outside Europe, I observed that in China many women try to "copy" the Western models, and in some bigger cities fashion and style have been a major concern among Chinese woman, especially the teenagers.
Vang Vieng, Laos
FASHION STUDIO: You have just came back from India. How would you describe fashion market and the street style over there?
ALEX: Unlike Portugal, which has seen a tremendous growth of fashion in the last decades (I was born and grew up in "Bairro Alto", which went from a small neighborhood to a place where it's all about style) - in India the fashion its still very conservative. In most places in India, the common dress for a woman is still the traditional colorful sari, and for men it is a simple shirt and trousers. However, Indian women take great pride in accessories especially jewellery...
The exceptions are some places in Delhi and Mumbai. And even in those major cities, it is mostly in the shopping malls and in some modern nightlife venues. Downtown areas of those cities are pretty much like all other cities of India. I guess that in some residential neighbourhoods of those and other big cities, outfits are more modern and style has a different meaning.
The last time I was in Delhi, I went to Hans Kans Village which is a modern residential neighborhood with quite a few stylish cafes, restaurants and bars. Otherwise, it is hard to observe it as a tourist, since in the touristy places locals still wear the traditional outfits.
FASHION STUDIO: Tell us a little bit more about the movie project that you took part in India. How did it all happen?
ALEX: When I was in Gokarna in India, I met a movie director from Sardinia that was doing a fictional documentary that highlighted how children could save the world from wars and other conflicts. He asked me to participate and I found the proposal pretty amazing. During the movie shooting I found myself thinking that one year ago I was a software engineer and now I was a movie actor.
Red Songkran festival in Bangkok, Thailand
FASHION STUDIO: Your favourite supermodel...
ALEX: Although she is now a bit outdated: When Cindy Crawford initially appeared in Revlon ads, she was simply breathtaking. Currently I don't have any favourite models, since during my journey I saw plenty of terrifically beautiful women that would surpass any supermodel.
ALEX: At the international level it's Armani, because he brought sensuality to the classic man's suit. In Portugal there are plenty of designers like Augusto, Fatima Lopes, João Rolo, Miguel Vieira, Dino Alves or José Antonio Tenente. It is hard to pick one, but I like the boldness of Fatima Lopes. She has some quite sensual outfits.
ALEX: Currently I don't have any icons, but I remember that few decades ago, James Dean was one of the most stylish movie actors.
FASHION STUDIO: Your life philosophy...
ALEX: Never grow old: always dream, live many adventures and search for the beauty of life and of the world.
Festival of Colours, Udaipur, India
ALEX: An Indian girl once told me: dream, believe and receive. I believe that dreams can come true, as long as they are real, we fight for them and we apply appropriate planning. I feel an indescribable happiness when a dream comes true.
FASHION STUDIO: What other countries have you got on your destination list?
ALEX: I would like to revisit countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. For this trip I also want to go to Korea, Mongolia, Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal and Borneo (Malaysia). Other countries might also pop up on my list later on...
FASHION STUDIO: Why travelling is so addictive?
ALEX: In a nutshell: i's not monotonous. We are always meeting new people, seeing new places, but most of all - living new adventures. Moreover, it is like a virus: we stay in one place until it's all seen and then move to another place to renew the expectations.
FASHION STUDIO: What are your future plans? Where do you see yourself in a couple of years time?
ALEX: Before this journey the future was very clear: to continue my career as a software engineer. Now my future is very blur, and it's actually the beauty of it. Now the world is an open shell. Anything may happen. There are so many options; it is hard to see myself doing the same thing as in the past. But my goal will be to raise money to do another trip to South and Central America.
FASHION STUDIO: Thank you and good luck with all your plans. We can't wait to follow the second part of your "timeless journey"!
Website: Alexandre Bento Freire