First, some background: My last gig as a model was as a teenager, when I walked the runway of a Midwestern department store called Bressmer’s in a yellow and white checked, A-line dress and pumps with lucite heels. So cool! To this day, I wish my Mom had let me keep the shoes. The year was 1970.
Fast forward to last year’s “City Style” fashion show presented at the Interbike bicycle industry trade show in Las Vegas by Momentum Magazine. As a contributor to Momentum, publisher of a website that often focuses on cycling style — and with my shelf life as a model frankly nearing its expiration date — I volunteered for Interbike fashion show catwalk duty.
Editor’s note: We’re in Las Vegas this week for Interbike. Follow our coverage of new products and accessories for city cycling here, and on twitter and Instagram @velojoy!
Viewed through the flattering gauze of memory, I had owned that department store runway as a 13-year-old. Surely I had strutted with the poise and nonchalance of today’s Karlie Kloss. With “City Style,” I would learn that the reality had likely been quite different. But just as in other stressful moments of my life, a bicycle would save the day.
In preparation for the show, I looked online at the photos from the previous year’s program. Men and women in exuberantly styled, cycling-specific clothing and accessories posed with city bicycles. It looked pretty easy, but for this oversight: The photographs were static. In fact, this modeling assignment requires the fashion equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time. It’s about modeling clothes while managing a bicycle on the runway, then riding around an oval track among spectators.
I raced blindly through my stage debut during the first run-through with style editor Molly Millar and the cast, a vibrant ensemble of bicycle-loving women and men from all over North America.
“Stretch it out for at least 20 seconds onstage,” advised Momentum editor in chief Mia Kohout, who also served as commentator for the show. “Put down the kickstand. Walk around the bike, pose in front, give photographers a chance to get a shot.”
Twenty seconds seemed like an eternity! The bike wheeled in one direction, my hands and hips wandered in another. I was a gangly octopus who had lost control of her tentacles. It began to dawn on me that I probably hadn’t been Karlie Kloss at all on that runway at Bressmer’s. I had been as ungainly and nervous as I was now.
The next day, after practicing in my hotel room, I walked onto the stage set up in the Urban Yard section of the Interbike show floor gripping the bars of the bicycle that had been assigned to me. Now there were lights, a DJ and a large audience. I was terrified. Kickstand down. Pose left. Step right.
And then I mounted my bicycle (above right), and even for that short ride around the oval runway track, I achieved a familiar comfort and grace. And everything was all right.
Runway photo, above right, pathlesspedaled.com