THE AWOL MODELS: THE REAL DEAL | Awol - THE ART OF TRAVEL

THE ART OF TRAVEL
THE AWOL MODELS: THE REAL DEAL
We live in a more visual culture than ever before. We are bombarded every second with instagram stories, images, pinterest boards, snapchat snaps, youtube, ads, and ads about ads – everyone has a platform, and they’re sometimes falling off cliffs to get more likes, followers, and instagrammable whatever.

When it comes to travel (one of the most real, unpredictable, and sometimes UNcomfortable experiences you can have), somewhere along the way (yes Instagram, I’m talking to you) we’ve lost the authenticity behind actually travelling.

What I see on Instagram over and over are perfectly posed, perfectly made up, and immaculately coiffed “travellers” somehow perfectly matching their skirt or nail polish colour against the Taj Mahal, with no one else in the image other than than maybe a fabulous hat.

Taj Mahal “travel photos”, as seen on Instagram in 2019
This is India! Where did the other billion people go?

To me, these perfectly posed, colour coordinated shots of the same-place-but-with-a-different-outfit that took hours of waiting in line to take and that are clogging up my instagram feed are misleading. They represent the love of getting Insta-likes for pretending to travel. But again, maybe that’s just me.

More “travel photos” on Instagram… Hmm….

And so, when it came time for me to think about my first photoshoot to showcase my products, which are basically functional art / design based on my travels, it was very clear to me what I WASN’T interested in. I WAS, however, very sure who my perfect spokesperson would be: someone who really truly loves to travel, who is passionate about the world, curious, interested in art,  culture & creativity, and is authentically real as he or she moves through this beautiful life.

And then realized I KNOW this person. In fact, I am surrounded by many of these persons in REAL-LIFE. I wanted THEM to be my models. Why? Because they’re genuine, passionate, inspired &  inspiring people who love the experience of not only travelling (for real), but also experiencing new things. After all,  you can’t buy authenticity.

And adding a clichéd quote like “In a world of copies, be an original” to your insta-caption, beside a carbon-copy photo of thousands of others out there does not make you original. 

The good thing that comes with the sometimes superficial perils of being the most visual generation in the history of ever, is that we are also the most discerning we’ve ever been. When we see the real thing, we recognize it.

And so, without futher ado, meet my Awol muses – they exemplify everthing Awol stands for: authenticity, creativity, curiosity, and a real, truly, genuine, love of travel and life. What follows are some backstage glimpses, perfectly imperfect, behind the scenes snapshots of our fun time on set. Because life is too short to have perfectly styled hair in a wind storm.

MEET SIMON



Super Simon modelling the Montreal-inspired silk pocket square, despite being camera shy 🙂

To see Simon’s final photographs, click here

Simon chose to model the Dreamer pocketsquare, because he IS a dreamer. Simon is one of those rare birds who has strategical left marketing brain which is perfectly in balance with his creative right brain, which is simultaneously dreaming up new ways to push creative boundaries. An entrepreneur, creative marketer, traveller and dad of two, he just showed up on set and made us, and himself laugh a lot. (And no, we didn’t co-ordinate our stripes beforehand).

To check out Simon’s pictures and looks, come visit our pocket squares here

MEET MAXIM


This was not Maxim’s first rodeo in front of a camera. Duh.

To see Maxim’s final shots, go here and here

An original Montrealer who now lives in LA, you would never know she’s a famous actress who jetsets all over the planet. She’s real, she’s honest, she’s hilarious and she’s just so effing nice. You would never know she squeezed us in in between a gazillion other commitements, a wedding and a crazy few days while on a stopover back in Mtl, just because she really loved the artwork! One of the first things she said to me when I asked her to do the shoot is: “Oh, I’d love to. But just so you know, I’m not an influencer.” Sold. How’s that for talented AND authentic?

MEET STEPH

We blasted Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”, turned up the wind machine, and just let her do her thing

To see Steph’s final shots, go here , and here

This digital strategist, account director (and yoga teacher!) is crazzzzzy bananas, in the best kind of way. I can always count on Steph to show up overflowing with energy, crazy ideas, crazy outfits, and not give a single f#%k about what people think – she would break out in dance and bust a move in the Vatican if the organ music was the right rhythm, I’m sure. In fact, she was recently in Rome, so maybe she did. Somehow though, her craziness is balanced out by a more cerebral, analytical strategical side, bringing geek chic to whole new heights.

MEET ANNIE V.


Annie brought her beautiful, serene energy and personified soothing Italian seaside breezes to perfection

To see Annie’s final shots, go here and here

Annie is a true wonder-woman. As the founder of a communications and strategic marketing agency (Performa Marketing) a mother of two, businesswoman and traveller, you would expect her to be at times frazzled and a little overwhelmed. Yet she’s probably the most serene person I’ve ever met. Last year we went to Copenhagen for a few days for creative inspiration, and I never saw a single hair out of place, even after a sleepless night. She leads with passion, surrounds herself with inspiring clients, co-workers and friends with amazing values, and is always looking to push creative boundaries and travel to inspiring destinations. A true inspiration, who also happens to look like a (blonde) Julia Roberts. Sigh.

MEET MARIE-CLAUDE


This spunky blonde brought her fun playful energy to every shot. It’s almost as if she’s worked in television before….;)

To see MC’s final shots, go here and here

MC Creative (yes that’s her facebook handle) is my go-to scarf guru. Besides being a Hermes addict and knowing every single way to tie a scarf with her eyes closed, she’s a brilliant, stylish, cultivated account director, and a bubble of fun and laughs to be around. She’s uplifting, inspiring, smart, and a lover of all things creative. She also was a pro at channeling “Titanic-esque” moments with our wind machine, taking some time out to cool off and play around in between striking a pose.

MEET ANNIE T.


Annie was FIERCE. She owned the lens, the scarves, and had everyone on set bowing down to her fabulousness.

To see Annie’s final shots, go here , here, here and here

One would think Annie was a seasoned supermodel, because the camera loves her, and she’s a natural. But she’s too busy running a Skylar Fit, a company specializing in urban travel fitness retreats, being a fitness & travel buff, a mom and a businesswoman. Besides being fiercely fierce and in crazy good shape, she’s fun, smart, real, and has amazing style, and a taste for arts, culture and creativity. And man, can she strike a pose…

MEET STACY


Stacy is a chameleon: hot and cold, soft and tough, hilarious and so so fun. Her strength, beauty and spirit are beyond.

To see Stacy’s final shots, go here and here

Stacy and I spent many magical (and sometimes very uncomfortable) weeks and moments together on a yoga teacher training in India a few years back. Our paths have been intertwined for years, since we were both starting out at SidLee over a decade ago. Now she’s a producer with Cirque du Soleil’s 45 Degrees and travels constantly, all over the globe, for insanely creative productions, from Berlin to Saudi Arabia. She brings her passion, creativity, style and fierce personality with her wherever she goes. And sometimes her nurturing side comes out too, like when she’s helping her blindfolded model friends walk across set to get to the fan, and the end of their perfect hairday 😉

MEET HELEN (AKA JUANITA)


My beautiful bff Juanita, letting her fringe go to the wind and making us laugh so hard we had to run to the loo 😉

To see Helen’s final shots, go here and here

Helen is a ridiculously talented writer, traveller, entrepreneur (owner of Les Baristocrates, a mobile espresso bar), and my sister from another mister. She’s creative, curious, a little crazy (in the best way), and she never has a hair out of place. Well, almost never. The only two times I’ve seen her perfect fringe messed up was when we thought our plane was crashing on our way back from Argentina, and on this photoshoot, thanks to the wind machine. We call each other Juanita and Juanita (again, following our Argentina and Uruguay trip), and together we are Juanita Squared. Love me my bonita Juanita :)))

MEET ANTHO & CHARLIE


These two are A LOT of energy to take first thing in the morning: extra coffee necessary to keep up!

To see Anthony’s final shots, go here , here and here
To see Charlie’s final shots, go here and here

Anthony and Charles are bff’s with a wide range of talents shared between the two of them: designer, graffiti artist, artist, digital strategist, entrepreneur, food stylist, yoga teacher and healthy chef, not to mention travellers and bromancers. Their creativity and love of life is so contagious that spending time with them is like being at a pinata party. Sometimes their energy can wear you out, but you just drink a double espresso and go back for more, because they’re that fun to be around. They are two of my favourite people, who are always up for pushing their limits and trying new things.

MEET KARIN


Can’t even deal with how cute she is, or how fab she looks in the goodies she brought in her Mary Poppins bag of surprises;)

To see Karin’s final photos, click here and here

Karin is a globe-trotting writer, who interviews amazing people for Forbes, the Coveteur, and countless other publications – epecially interesting are her articles highliting inspiring female businesswomen, personalities and entrepreneurs, from the founder of The Butcher’s Daughter to the Kardashians. A Montrealer with a New York alter-ego, Karin somehow finds time to juggle her time between Mtl, New York and LA, while also being a mom and an awesome, fun gal to hang with.

MEET ANICA


Anica is usually behind the camera, creative directing her own genius hair visions. She looked so good in front of the camera though, it was hard to let her go home.


To see Anica’s final photos, go here, here and here

Anica is a creative hair wizard, and a tour-de-force in the hair world,  repeatedly ranking among the top North American hair stylists and creative directors with national and international juries. Her hair art spills over into her reknown hair salon, ModMop, where real people are lucky enough to get her vision to touch their own heads. She’s all heart, passion, vision, and zero ego, and has travelled the globe in search for inspiration and innovative new techniques to step up her creations.  She’s a true visionary, and we were lucky to have her come in front of the camera, since she’s usually behind it directing her own photoshoots. 

MEET SOPHIE AND JF


Super chill, super zen, super hot travel couple. We wanted to give them an ice-cream… except they’d already stopped to have one before the shoot. Enough said.

To see Sophie’s final photos, go here, here, here and here
To see JF’s final photos, go here

This supercouple is literally the most chill duo you will ever meet. As parents of two young children, one of them is an agency owner and businessman, and the other is an entrepreneur, conferencier, author of the blog BB Jetlag (THE reference for travelling parents), AND she wrote a book! (Le Guide des parents voyageurs : s’inspirer, s’informer, s’équiper, 0-12 ans ) . These two are busy, but they  make the time to travel to off the beaten-track destinations with their young family, AND somehow find time to inspire others through all the things they do. So why (and how) do they look so zen on this couch? Because they had a few hours off to come to a fun photoshoot… and made time to have an icecream beforehand :)))

I’m so proud and happy to consider these amazing people my friends, colleagues, collaborators and role-models who show up every day to live their own passion and inspire others by being exactly who they are. 

Also, an especially big shoutout to the talented creatives behind the lens: the amazing photographer Elizabeth Delage, who captured the essence of these wonderful personalities perfectly @elidlage, and the stylists @catherinelaniel ,  @nancyarsenaultmakeup & @claudine_j . who enhanced their natural beauty.

I didn’t pay the models (I couldn’t). I didn’t promise them visibility, perks, fame or glory.

I didn’t promise them instagram likes of followers.  I simply asked them to show up, have some fun and just be their fabulous selves, and that they did.

Not only did they show up, they stepped up: each one bringing their amazing and unique energy, truly helping me bring my own artistic vision (the art of travel) to life .We shared an amazing experience, and we had a s#*tload of fun doing it. For real, not just for likes. 

Thank you all so much for being you, and being a part of this creative adventure. That’s a wrap.

To see a fun overview of the whole photoshoot with all the supermodels in one place, visit:

our lookbook

With love,

 

Alex

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