HTC One Free Fall Fashion Shoot | Fashion by Hayley Atkin

HTC Commercial Roberta Mancino

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Roberta Mancino flies through the air for HTC Free Fall Fashion Shoot

Toronto-born stylist Hayley Atkin, Fashion Editor of the LA Times Magazine, says she’s never had to work on a shoot so technically challenging. We catch up with her on the set of HTC One Free Fall Fashion Shoot in Arizona.

She’s styled leading ladies such as Mila KunisMilla JovovichViola DavisEmily BluntChristina Hendricks and leading man George Clooney, so putting something together for the world champion skydiving model Roberta Mancino should be a breeze, right? No. It’s a fashion shoot at 14,000 ft and gusting winds of over a hundred miles an hour and then the model jumps out of a plane.

The brief was for high fashion, one-of-a-kind look that would stand up to 200 mph winds and not pose any safety threat to the model who is skydiving in it from dawn to dusk. With winds that fast and making sure Roberta could pull her parachute, Spiderman costume designer Martin Izquierdo and Stylist Hayley Atkin had to come up with something amazing.

So we ask Hayley what’s so tough about this shoot?

I have never done anything like this, it’s totally one-of-a-kind. When I read the treatment I was so excited but I was so naive, it was like a costume designer’s dream come true. Really, I get to work on a costume that is going to go up in the air, have wings, floaty fabric and all of that? It was like a dream come true. A little fantasy of mine.

When I started speaking to Norman Kent, the Cameraman and Stunt Director and Sara Dunlopthe Ad Director, we thought, well, wait a second, the model’s going to be free-falling in the sky and any sort of fabric is just going to blow straight up in her face. So I realised the new challenges were going to be as different as night and day. Basically, we wanted something that is really high fashion and with the wind, a great piece of fabric we would create a breathtaking look.  But when we realised we couldn’t do it that way, we had to create something more static and we started looking for a more futuristic element. I started doing a lot of research into Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, so I  could get more of a geometric structure that will fly. We still didn’t know the materials, how it was actually going to work and  how to make it functional. The model had to able to put the parachute on, move her body and there are so many safety issues involved.

So to create the final look we went through different sketches and concepts and by the fifth one we decided to test it. It was a costume similar to the one we have now – it was made of long feathers and a shawl over a totally embellished body suit. We tested the suit out of the plane at the base in Arizona and all of the pieces that were sewn on came off, the feathers flew back so much that they looked like her hair blowing in the wind. On the ground it looked amazing but in the air had zero effect. We had to create something much more structured so that as it moved around in the air it still kept its form.

Roberta Mancino

Roberta Mancino

So the final look is a metallic body suit with over 75 pieces of hand-cut plexiglass that are strategically placed in a pattern to show the female figure. Each glass is hand-sewn on and catches and reflects the light in a different way, some are green or yellow.

HTC Commercial Outfit

Silver Flying Suit

Hayley Atkin for HTC

Hayley Atkin, Fashion Editor

Metallic Gloves

There’s a feathered tuxedo coat that goes over the suit which is made from over 200 ‘oil-slick’ black feathers, again individually hand-sewn.The jacket has really exaggerated shoulders and collar and is worn with a matching feathered mohawk cap, very like a Gaultier. Silver gloves finish off the look.Hayley says Roberta looks like a futuristic bird, with an element of romance about her.

‘It’s very dramatic but we didn’t want it to be a colour blast in the sky – that’s too obvious. We went for something more subtle.’

What about the shoes?

Giuseppe Zanotti SS 12

Giuseppe Zanotti SS 12

We have the most amazing shoes that have no heel. Norman Kent said that the shoes are difficult to land in and he’s seen Roberta take them off and hold them with the straps in her mouth by the time she lands.  The shoes are by Giuseppe Zanotti who also shoed Nicki Minaj for the 54th Grammy Awards. The metallic silver shoes are from the Spring Summer 2012 collection and are space-age, ankle boots without a heel, a platform in the front, that give them that futuristic, Lady Gaga look.

Kristine Karnaky

Kristine Karnaky for HTC

So we leave Hayley and her team, including costume stylist is Kristine Karnaky – known as Miss KK –  in the trailer, on set in the middle of the desert.   It takes three days with four people to make each outfit and they have to make ten more outfits because each time one comes down it’s quite mangled and has to go up looking brand new. So needles and glue guns out. That’s a lot of feathers to sew back in.

Roberta Mancino told us why she loved the outfit so much.

She says ‘I had so many dreams since I started to fly, and for many years I had an idea for fashion pictures in the air with a suit that looks like a black swan. When I saw the outfit I was amazed how close it was to what I would like to be as a  ‘bird woman’. Hayley Atkin did an incredible job to make the suit so beautiful but also not dangerous in the sky. We had to change a few things because of the parachute.  The jacket couldn’t go on top, but had to be just under,  otherwise I wouldn’t be able to open my parachute. Everything had to be sewn on strongly since I was  flying at  160 mph sometimes. We figured out all those things together before the 1st day of jumping it was a fun preparation. Usually when you do modeling job it’s rare to give opinions or suggestions to the stylist, but this time they really had to do it with me since a lot was about safety. I had to say it was the most incredible, stunning outfit but not so easy to fly in – especially with the high heels it was a challenge for me. Now, I kind of miss waking up at 3.30 am every day and transforming into a space black swan. I loved it. I just can’t wait to see the commercial!’

Nor can we.

The HTC One Free Fall Fashion Shoot airs globally Spring 2012.

Read about the commercial here and the make-up here. This is the new HTC One X here.


  1. […] can read our interview with Hayley Atkin here and with Adam Breuchaud here. Also read Alan Greenhalgh’s day on set in Arizona. Share […]

  2. […] more about the new smart phone HTC One here. And the make-up on the shoot here, and the fashion here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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