Once upon a time I had never seen Saguaro Cactus before. Little did I know how strange, elusive, and gigantic there actually were. You never quite get the sense from photos of them, but these fellas (the ones hunted down) were up to 25 feet tall. And they don’t even grow their first arm until their 100 years old. So you can imagine the kind of terrain and time these wild things must grow in. The first time I saw one of the iconic Saguaros, it was sort of the feeling you’d get if you saw an alien for the first time. I couldn’t stop yelling out how strange they were, scattered across the rocky canyons like long fingers against the sky. I began to feel like I was on another planet.
While designing the Gypsetter shirt with my good friend Melanie, who works beside me constantly for the RGG designs and illustrations, I kept thinking of what represents the Gypset life. I was preparing to head west about the time we started working on the design, and I kept thinking about the rare and iconic symbol of the west, the Saguaro Cactus. I asked Melanie to create a design including one and some cactus blooms, and she came up with the cutest illustration. We drafted a few different versions and finally landed on one we both loved, bringing all the elements of the desert together. She hand drew the design and the font, making it 100% unique to fitting the style of the RGG blog.
What sparked the idea of creating the Gypsetter shirt came from, well lots of inspiring clothing seen over many seasons and brands, but mainly my desire to create the perfect tank that I want to wear every day. I usually lean towards throwing on something ultra soft and comfortable, especially for the countless hours of road tripping. It had to be great for hot weather, but perfect for layering up in each season. Whites are my go-to when wearing what I love, so that was only natural we chose to put the design on a white shirt.
I wanted to expand my horizons and work with brands in a different way. Weekend Society has always been awesome, and I had collaborated with them for a couple years now, even before the birth of Ready Gypset Go when I was a fashion photographer. The guys behind the brand are so awesome and chill, always inspired by adventure, and they put that vibe into their shirts. I searched around for different brands to bring my shirt concept to, but it was a natural fit with Wknd Society, as we both are driven by wanderlust. And so the production began.
They really brought the concept to life with their awesome ways, and when I was sent the first shirt I was just so stoked. I wanted to wear it every single day, but instead had to admire it hanging in the airstream until I could shoot it. (I tend to get dirty out in the desert, so rules must be followed!) We decided the shirt HAD to be shot amidst the Saguaro, since that was the beginning of it all. And thus the search began.
The landscape, the light, and the cactus all had to fit perfectly. You’d be surprised how far you have to go to reach these cacti, and how long you must search for one that’s not on top of a scraggly rock face, or down in a snake infested ravine. We drove often, location scouting for the perfect spot, and it seemed impossible to get close to these guys. But then we found one. A giant. And from the road we didn’t realize. But upon hiking up to it for the shoot, we realized this one had to be 25 feet tall. Not 9 feet like I imagined from a distance. Well that threw off our plans a little, but I clambered around in heels, avoiding the prickly pears that were everywhere, and balanced on a rock to get the proper angle and view. You wouldn’t know from the photos, but dangerous spots tend to be where I always end up for the perfect shot.
We explored the mountain tops and continued to shoot long into sunset, and the sky turned rich purple, the rocks glowing a red hue. Large bulls roamed free range here, so we weren’t alone during our shoot. It was odd to see the cattle climbing the rocky cliffs better than us, and I wondered just how they managed to get in some of the places they were in, surrounded by cactus.
The amber light danced off the mountains and in the distance large monsoon clouds threatened with intense strikes of lightning. We watched the sun set out across the mountain peaks, just taking a breath at the end of our shoot and taking it all in. It really was magnificent. The desert always amazes me, and intrigues me. I learn something new with every adventure into the rough terrain, and somehow it hasn’t scared me away yet. Somehow I love the rugged beauty that is the southwest desert land.
Gypsetter Shirt: Ready Gypset Go x Wknd Society
Crochet Shorts: Feared & Flawless
Bag: Rossio Roos
Belt: Love Strength
Necklace: Free People
Heels: Free Bird
Kimono: Arnhem via Beach Chain Girl
Matador Hat: Free People
Josh’s Boots: J Shoes
Josh’s Small Hat: Fallen Broken Street
Josh’s Mala Necklace: Katie Dean