Hey, Quick Question: Have Bodegas Replaced Grocery Stores as Fashion's Favorite Backdrop?

Gone are the days of models with shopping carts browsing the cereal isle — or so it seems.
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Photo: Selfridges

Photo: Selfridges

Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!

There are certain editorial themes that are clear favorites among editors and photographers, and one of the most popular for the better part of the last two decades is "models grocery shopping in off-the-runway fashion." This isn't all too surprising: Supermarkets provide a colorful, familiar backdrop for all sorts of shoots, as well as ample prop options, like shopping carts, fresh produce, bottles of laundry detergent and, for fall or winter spreads, a freezer section that's just the right temperature for fur coats and other luxe outerwear. 

Few glossy images are as indelible in my memory as Lily Donaldson smoking a cigarette with a cart full of beer wearing a Valentino dress and Ungaro turban in the October 2007 issue of Vogue Paris; Amber Valletta and Kirsty Hume making a mess of the canned and home goods isle in Steven Meisel's September 2008 Vogue U.S. editorial; Constance Jablonski feeling up a pineapple in a full-on evening gown for Vogue Mexico; or Hanne Gaby Odiele, Lindsey Wixson and co. in an Anna Dello Russo-styled market romp in Vogue Japan's September 2014 pages. Entire Pinterest boards are dedicated to this topic, and even celebrities have proven they're "just like us!" with grocery-set shoots, including Kristen Stewart's September 2014 Elle story, Gwyneth Paltrow's November 2016 Harper's Bazaar cover and Miranda Kerr's recent Vogue video, in which she ventures to Whole Foods in several looks, including a sequined skirt and a red dress with a full train.

Photo: Sebastian Faena

Photo: Sebastian Faena

While grocery stores are a universal necessity, in certain big cities like New York, residents tend to rely on smaller, locally owned bodegas for everyday purchases — sometimes hitting them up several times a day. Perhaps this is why, recently, fashion creatives have latched onto the humble bodega as their new backdrop of choice, updating the clichéd supermarket shoots to something a bit grittier, cooler and with more character. Always the trendsetter Rihanna staged her March 2017 Paper magazine shoot, styled by Farren Fucci and shot by Sebastian Faena, in an East Village bodega, complete with a refrigerator of malt liquor and a wall of lottery tickets. 

Photo: Premme

Photo: Premme

Later, Nicolette Mason and Gabi Gregg set their first lookbook for Premme in what appears to be a gas station convenience mart — a location that Alexander Wang also used for his epic Spring 2016 #Wangsquad campaign, shot in Brooklyn by Steven Klein. Elle.com profiled up-and-coming stylist Rox Brown with an original shoot back in May, with the most memorable image featuring Brown sitting on a bodega checkout counter wearing head-to-toe Gucci. And most recently, Harlem-raised ASAP Rocky opened a bodega-themed pop-up in London for his AWGE x Selfridges partnership with the goal of bringing fans his favorite things to shop in one place, from candy and lighters to hoodies and Krispy Kreme donuts.

Naturally, the trend has made its way to Instagram, too. For example, singer Halsey and her beau G-Eazy decided to make their relationship official with a steamy shot of them making out in front of a bodega's beverage refrigerator in September. Influencers and models like Sarah Snyder, Laura Love and Danielle Bernstein have all turned their regular trips to the bodega into opportunities for #content, and we expect that more publications, Insta-famous folks and creative directors for lookbooks or ad campaigns will follow suit in the months ahead. 

While your typical "bodega run" outfit probably consists of mismatched sweats and sneakers or slides — unless you're stopping in late night after a wild party or fancy event — leave it to the fashion world to turn the most laid-back and unpretentious of shopping locations into a chic, see-and-be-seen sort of destination. But even if Vogue decides to take over a bodega for a haute couture shoot starring the hottest models du jour, there's a zero percent chance you'll catch us picking up our hungover bacon, egg and cheeses, Gatorades, Diet Cokes and the like in anything more stylish than our finest athleisure.

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