by Agnes Rivera
With over a decade in the fashion industry, this dream team has created a visual masterpiece that flirts with Peruvian creatives and seduces the gaze of the international fashion world.
This article was originally published in the June issue of An Extra Shot. To enjoy the entire issue for free, download your e-version here.
Deep in a residential neighborhood of northern Lima, shots go off on a weekday afternoon.
Lights flash momentarily, and a lithe body is surrounded by helping hands.
Somehow I've wandered (okay, I asked to be invited) onto the set of Gerardo Larrea and Antonio Choy Kay's photo session for the fourth edition of their flawless fashion editorial, SKIN. Hanging back, yet with a full view of the action, I'm as entranced by the fashion shoot as if it were a crime scene.
Larrea and Choy Kay have been working side by side for over 15 years, offering (and scouted for) their talents in art direction and styling in Peru and abroad. You've probably seen beautiful spreads in, and covers of, magazines like El Comercio_'s _Somos and Cosas thanks to the dynamic duo; fashionable fantasies that have come to life only to be captured within seconds and printed on glossy paper.
But for some time the two had been keeping a secret, until finally, in 2014, it was revealed: the first issue of what would become a biannual fashion editorial, completely unlike anything, as far as content and design, available on news racks in Peru then and to this day.
'We began to work in secret, nobody knew,' says Antonio, gleaming like a proud father reminiscing of his first born. 'But it was 'easy' [to keep it secret] because it was just the two of us.'
And in many ways it still is. Each issue of SKIN has a roster of contributors, from talented writers to recognized photographers, each of whom help to uphold the identity of the magazine; and yet, it remains clear just who is responsible for creating that identity.
'Many of the magazines here in Peru don't focus on the local [and national] scene they tend to look to the outside,' points out Gerardo, as he sits with legs apart, leaning forward as if his cat-like eyes needed any help getting noticed. 'We prefer to have a mix, showcasing newcomers who might not have a window to show what they do, whether its models, photographers, designers. SKIN is a window to demonstrate what [Peru] can do.'
Every issue has an overarching theme (previous themes were Nouveau; Noir; Desnudo). With visual seduction and impeccable attention to detail, each page conducts a visual command to the reader: Look at me. Touch me. Flip me.
But what do two stylists, albeit successful ones, know about starting their own magazine?
Moments after the photo shoot wraps, I continue to be surprised.
'Neither one of us studied fashion,' Gerardo coolly tells me. 'I'm a graphic designer and he's a publicist.' Perhaps ironically, the two currently teach at MAD, a fashion institute in Lima.
Whether you're a Maybelline girl, or a couple of successful entrepreneurs in and out of the fashion world, sometimes, you really are just born with it.