Our fashion stories are never fashion stories in the traditional lights-camera-action sense of the word. We rarely shoot models, there are not many fancy photo studios to be found, and for every spread that appears in the magazine there is usually a long and elaborate tale that involves our contributing style editor Mobolaji Dawodu finagaling his way in to the home/backyard/farm of a complete stranger. Issue 61, our David Byrne Icon Issue, was a little different. Byrne likes to ride his bike around New York and has a book coming out this fall called Bicycle Diaries so our creative director suggested we make our fashion story a global snapshot of cycling style, connecting us with photographers in Cairo, Rio, Rome, Portland, China and even Bangladesh. The idea was brilliant, the fashion logistics were a little more tricky–how would we get Mobolaji to style in six different places across four different continents all at once?
The answer eventually came down to lots of UPS packaging, our intern Alex (who graciously played model for the day) and an interesting game of telephone with the photographers across the world. The process of gathering clothes from showrooms in New York was pretty much the same as it’s always been, although simulating a style dummy-run in our conference room really wasn’t. It would end up being a ton of transportation in our minds to far flung places and re-creating cycling-inspired outfits for each location on intern Alex, so Mobolaji had to play the big fashion puppeteer in the sky. Most of the looks emerged quite naturally—the sturdy combat boots just seemed like a natural fit for the desert in the same way that the spiffy two-tone brogues had Rome all over them. Much to our chagrin, there were a few compromises to be made—as much as we wanted to ship these gorgeous and intensely pricey scarlett suede loafers to Dhaka the idea of having designer shoes lost in the mail in Bangladesh was a little too risky (there are pictures of Mobolaji mulling his pain over below). After shooting all the looks, we carefully put together packages for each country and images were sent to the individual photographers with strict styling instructions, like “Not too high on the head with this hat” and “Please try this look with sunnies or without.” Mobolaji generally tends to style according to the attitude of the person and the overall flavor of a place so a lot comes down to the casting, but all those decisions were literally shipped out of our hands when the UPS man came knocking. We sent email references for guidance with casting, crossed our fingers and waited. Aside from the odd styling error that needed to be corrected with a re-shoot (an undone top-button can un-do an entire look!) the hands-free styling results that came winging back to us in the mail were, we think, pretty stunning.