$200,000 of High-End Designer Duds, Doses of Dramamine, & An Unforgettable Story of Women and Their Americas
From one of the furthest tips of the Pacific Northwest in Oregon, across New Mexico and right back to handsome Montana, comes more than just an enduring road trip for Portland photographer Holly Andres and makeup artist Sheri Mendes. The duo set out on an incredible journey recruiting and capturing stunning real-life subjects in their natural surroundings, from a stay-at-home Mom based in Indiana to an actress/retail associate from Las Vegas. Not only through the series of photographs, but throughout the beautifully articulated article, the individual women dictated their own narrative through their personal anecdotes – overall, shaping the arc of the 43-Day Road Trip.
The experiences of women are often plagued with a cacophony of bias & agenda setting through the sources of media we encounter. Ultimately, women fall into a calamity of single-story narratives. This 43-Day Road Trip offers the subtle yet effective uppercut to defy these systematic notions that blanket our individual complexities. Stories include grappling with identity, gentrification & displacement, racialization, and motherhood. Metaphorically, guiding the reader along the road trip is re-imagining the heartland of American soil and the stuff of its roots as beautifully diverse & individualized – all with its intricacies, nonetheless.
With a van stocked of nearly thousands of dollars of the finest strung off the international runways, Andres and Mendes endure speed-bumps along the way, such as fighting off terrible motion sickness while downing Dramamine as remedy to impromptu hotels for those overnight, sleepy-eyed journeys. Coming with no shortages, precious cargo included an opulent faded rose silk Gucci gown and a marigold Bluemarine blouse and skirt combo, as these are just some of the glamorous pieces featured in this spread. Their journeys have led them to the most mystifying marvels, all which has constituted an unforgettable story.
The photographs are evocative and haunting – adding to its mesmeric value. Photographs are embedded with meaning, as they elicit personal narratives and amplify emotions, though subjected to interpretation. In this editorial, private stories and public meanings are fused together. Thus, taking to task current dominant ideologies of female identity and more so, America. Though sometimes photography can elicit tragic mementos from collective understanding, it speaks for truth. As stated by Muslim Al-Jazeera journalist Malika Bilal, “[though] sometimes I feel conspicuous being Muslim…this is the United States, founded on religious freedom, and this is as much my country as anyone else’s” (The Cut, 2017).
This Gothic & poetic tale of identity formation is tied together through fashionable dressing – despite the women’s differences of religion, occupancy, age, & race. As the women are banded together despite variances, Andres and Ramsey articulate the importance of humility, individuality, and civility in a chaotic, divisive world in their masterpiece. Through the voices and storytelling of these selected women, this 43-Day Fashion Road Trip is an autobiographical account of America.
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