Summer Rayne Oakes, the model, activist and entrepreneur, usually looks quite professional when I see her, dressed in eco fashions and attending parties and speaking on panels. But there’s another side to the glamazon. Though she’s based in New York City, she spends tons of time on the road, flying to Mozambique regularly for a project there, and when she’s on the road, she’s just doing what we all do – try to keep comfy and travel light.
I met with Summer at Brooklyn’s Blackbird Cafe (her choice) and she appeared wearing a simple black dress and some insect-motif jewelry (Oakes unabashedly loves bugs!). But where does she love to go when she’s not channelling Brooklyn chic, and what does she wear?
Summer as Tomb Raider!
Mozambique is a favorite destination and which, she laughs, is a “huge place”! She discusses Mozambique with such wonderment and detail, it’s as if she never left after her last trip. She loves the Inhambane, south of Mozambique, where both the Barra Reef and Tofu Beach are located. She told me that you can swim with white sharks and admire the “lazy beaches.” The towns are often empty, peopled by locals, and not tourists. She prefers that to resorts or “postcard” places, which Summer Rayne’s not a fan of, explaining, “They’re too neutered”. Just north is the Parque Nacional do Limpopo, where Summer has done work with Greg Car, and if one keeps going north to IIha de (Island of) Mozambique, this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site can be explored.
Travel for Summer isn’t just about a beach and sun, but about being immersed in nature and local culture. When she traveled to the Dominican Republic she hiked Pico Duarte (the highest point in the Caribbean), finding herself literally immersed in the clouds, surrounded by “… a mix of pink, orange, and sorbet [like] clouds.” I interrupt her here, not to stop this rather magnificent illustration, but to wonder aloud, how difficult it must be to see first hand the destruction and poverty in these places. Summer nods. “You see what needs to be protected and what you don’t want lost.”
Some of Summer’s essential travel gear.
Summer likes the sense of visiting places consistently; she only wishes she knew more languages, which is her 2012 working resolution. She’s a low maintenance traveler, anti wristband. Unless attending events she travels with few things, stating, “Frugality comes with the type of travel I do.” Often she returns lighter than she left, giving away her shoes at the ends of trips. Her travel hairstyle is keeping her hair in a braid and smiling while she says it, tells me she doesn’t shower every day. “When I travel I like to feel like I’m creating and giving. I’m not on the phone, so I like the change of mode that traveling produces. I like doing something tangible, it feels potent.” Summer calls her frequent trips to places like Mozambique and Madagascar, (which she’ll travel to for the first time this October), “high impact trips.”