Screen shot 2017 09 12 at 11.50.47 am bz4axp

Two of Holly Andres's behind-the-scenes snaps in New Orleans.

It’s no secret we think Holly Andres is amazing. The Portland photographer, well-known for her evocative storytelling pieces, has shot some certified Portland Monthly gems, including our award-winning fashion tribute to The Shining, a grand diva collection of vogue dancers at the Pittock Mansion, and a gorgeous, color-filled spring editorial. So it’s no surprise to us that New York Magazine would hire her for the most adventurous fashion shoot we’ve ever seen.

Andres teamed up with another longtime contributor, hair and makeup artist Sheri Mendes. By day, Mendes drove their van, stocked with up to $200,000 worth of high-end designer clothing, while they hustled to find real-life subjects at their next stop, establish a location, and, y'know, find a place to sleep.

The project aimed to find diverse women, and the pair tracked down everyone from an Al Jazeera journalist in DC to an ice cream scooper in Indiana. Once they arrived, they’d truck in all the clothing and equipment, invite the subject to get glammed up, and go out and shoot all evening. They'd be on the road again by the next day. Andres, a victim of terrible car sickness, downed dose after dose of Dramamine so she could edit photos to send to her editors while Mendes drove seven to 12 hours a day.

“I was just hoping the whole time my body could keep up with my will," says Andres. "It was really, really fun, and really stimulating, and every single mile I was exposed to a vision that I'd never seen before because I'd never had the opportunity to travel cross country. I was able to propose the route based on places I'd never been before and wanted to see, or where I had family and could monopolize on resources they might have there.”

Every third city, New York Magazine assistant fashion editor Indya Brown flew out from New York with a new shipment of designer clothing, meeting them to take away the looks they’d already shot and bring new pieces that matched Andres's mood board for the next cities. For a portion of the tri,p a second stylist, Regan Fykes, flew out to aid the pair.

Asked what her favorite stop was, Andres said she fell in love with many places she'd never been before.

Detroit definitely stands out, it is such a visual marvel," she says. "It’s a city that at one point had so much wealth, the architecture is exquisite, but the dilapidation [is] based on the automobile industry being gutted. It’s perfectly set up for all these people to live there and they don’t, but it felt really promising there. I felt a lot of momentum and energy there despite how much of it is still abandoned.” 

Check out the final project with The Cut’s interviews with each subject and all the fancy photos—and then dig deeper in to the team's detailed travel blog cataloging experiences from each city

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