When fashion reporter Joan Braun Truscio was a teenager competing in swim meets at the Flushing YMCA in Queens, N.Y., in the 1970s and '80s, the fashion fad making waves in pools across the nation was the Belgrad, a funky, fluorescently hued one-piece swimsuit with a strip of meshed fabric along the spine. "I hate to admit it, but I never even owned a Belgrad," says the 29-year-old Truscio, who signed on as assistant to swimsuit issue senior editor Jule Campbell last April. "For years I stuck with the standard Speedo. In those days I knew absolutely nothing about fashion. Now it's my job."
For five years Truscio was my executive assistant, but when the opportunity to help coordinate seaside wardrobes for the likes of Vendela, Cheryl Tiegs, Judit Masco, Stacey Williams and Ashley Richardson came along, she decided to immerse herself in the world of designer swimwear.
Her work on this year's 42-page swimsuit pictorial (page 70) began last April, when she helped Campbell research locations by studying travel guides and atlases. In June they scouted venues in Costa Rica for two weeks. Following Campbell's solo expedition to Bermuda a month later, the two surveyed the latest in swimwear at a show in Miami and pored over other collections in designer showrooms in New York. By August, Truscio and Campbell were swimming in the nearly 1,000 suits they had chosen for possible inclusion in this issue. "It must have taken Joan two weeks to unpack them," Campbell remembers. "On the swimsuit beat, that's probably the hardest part of the job."
In mid-September, Campbell, Truscio and 300 suits were off to Bermuda for the first shoot. With so many supermodels towering over her, the 5'3" Truscio couldn't help feeling that she was in over her head. "Ashley, who's six-one, showed up for dinner the first night and had taken it upon herself to wear three-inch heels," Truscio recalls with amusement. "I told her I didn't want to see her wearing those shoes for the rest of the trip."
Truscio's new job isn't all sunglasses and tanning lotion. She estimates she spent a total of 12 weeks on the road, away from her husband, Ed, SI's associate art director. After 29 days in Bermuda—where Truscio, Campbell, the models, photographers and assistants survived a near hurricane that knocked out most of the island's power for 24 hours—everyone packed up for Costa Rica. There it rained for two weeks straight. "We were pretty worried it would be a washout," says Truscio. "In fact, Stacey was leaving for home when the sun finally came out. I had to call the airport and have her come back."
Long trips and brushes with catastrophe aside, Truscio is happy in her new position. The job is challenging and takes her to exotic places. Just as important, it has helped her conquer her fear of flying. "When we were in Costa Rica, we took off in a single-engine plane from a cow field—complete with cow," she says. "When I survived that, I knew I'd beaten it."