High vaultage: Mondo Duplantis and Desiré Inglander are sport's new power couple

By Clare McInerney

Credits below. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

What goes up must come down. But for gravity-defying champion pole vaulter Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis, the falls are triumphant, well-cushioned, and met by cheering crowds. Coming into the Summer Olympics in a league of his own, the Swedish-American star athlete is inherently solo when it comes to sport. However, away from the arena, Duplantis forms one half of a powerhouse partnership with girlfriend and social media star Desiré Inglander. We capture the steamy duo at great heights for their Vogue debut

“Will he fly? Will he soar? Was it ever in doubt?”, a broadcast commentator reels effusively as champion pole vaulter Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis slingshots himself, with weightless vigour and unswerving precision, over the zenith of the crossbar. It’s the 2024 World Indoor Championships in Glasgow and the Louisiana-born, Swedish-representing 24-year-old has – once again – successfully safeguarded his title as reigning world champion.

Five days later, Duplantis is still feeling on top of the world as he stands, fittingly, on top of Stockholm. It’s a dazzling blue-skied day, with unobscured views across the capital taken in from the vantage point of a penthouse terrace. In place of his well-documented yellow and blue singlet, Duplantis is bare-chested under a fitted ivory Louis Vuitton suit. Freed of the fibreglass pole, the Swedish-American athlete’s hands affectionately hold those of his girlfriend, 22-year-old model and content creator Desiré Inglander, as they share the camera’s lens.

Swedish-American Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis, 24, holds the world record for pole vault. At the time of writing, his world record stands at 6.23m. Single-breasted suit jacket, Wool and cotton trouser, €1,100, Sailor hat, €610, Leather boots. All Louis Vuitton. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

This sultry rooftop shoot for Vogue Scandinavia has brought the couple back to the city they call home – for around six months of every year, anyway. When they’re not in the USA for Duplantis’ training, the pair share an apartment on the island of Kungsholmen, within walking distance of several of Inglander’s family members who also reside in the neighbourhood. “I love the pulse of Stockholm. The city itself is so beautiful. Definitely a lot more so than Louisiana,” says Duplantis, before quickly calling out the plus-sides of his American birthplace. “That’s where I go for downtime, to chill out with family and focus on training.”

While Duplantis holds unquestionable star power across Sweden, the level of recognition is “not really the same” in Louisiana. “In the States, it’s like I am an urban myth. They know of the person that does the weird sport of pole vault, they’ve heard there’s some guy, but they don’t know anything about it,” he says – perhaps with some humble exaggeration. From Duplantis’ perspective, it reflects the patriotic nature of the sport’s spectators. “I kind of handed in my American card when I decided to compete for Sweden,” he says. “And I feel comfortable with that, I don’t regret it at all.”

Born in Louisiana, Mondo, whose mother is Swedish, signed up for track and field in Sweden in his youth and never looked back. Today he competes for Sweden and has, as he put it “handed in his American card”. Leather coat. Max Mara. Cotton tank top, €195, Cotton shorts, €150, Both Sean Suen. Leather boots. Louis Vuitton. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Desiré Inglander, a 22-year-old Swedish model and content creator, has been together with Mondo for four years. Suede coat, Cashmere polo jumper, €1,850, Cashmere v-neck jumper, €1,650, Swim trunks, €650. All Miu. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

He may have surrendered his American card, but Duplantis has made up for it with a loyal Swedish fan cohort, earned not just through his peerless pole vault prowess but his noted efforts to assimilate to local culture. Having learned the language in recent years (to a fluent level he modestly refers to as “survival Swedish”), Duplantis speaks Swedish comfortably in interviews, drives Polestar and Volvo vehicles, and has been together with Stockholm-born Inglander since 2020. Uninhibited shows of affection during live competition broadcasts have cemented their relationship in the public eye.

While Duplantis and Inglander are quickly emerging as a steadfast power couple in the circles of elite sporting and celebrity, it took some of Duplantis’ signature determination to get the relationship into gear. Their first meeting was at a Midsummer party in Stockholm four years ago, when Inglander was, in her words, “very single and not ready to mingle”. “I had just graduated high school,” she says with a soft southern American twang – an affectation picked up from Duplantis. “And I was in the mood of, ‘I’m going to do my own thing, nobody can stop me’.” But this didn’t stop Duplantis trying when he encountered her at the tail end of a party-heavy evening. “The problem was, people flirt in a very different way in Sweden than where I’m from,” he says.“[Where I’m from] there’s a lot more talking – you talk for a long time. So at the party, I was just trying to talk to Desiré, like ‘Hey, what’s up, I’m Mondo...’ but she didn’t want anything to do with it or me. She just wanted to dance.”

While the couple are now inseparable, it wasn’t love at first sight. After they met at a midsummer party, it took some persistence on Mondo’s end to get Desiré to agree to a date. . Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Duplantis’ conversational southern chivalry didn’t get far that night, but he managed to secure a Snapchat connection with Inglander. Months of unsuccessful attempts to take her on a date ensued. “I was 19, I’d never been on a date and I couldn’t imagine anything worse than eating with a person that I didn’t know. And in English,” she says, smiling (back then, both Inglander and Duplantis were limited when it came to each other’s languages). “Finally,” Duplantis says, “I just sent her a message more or less saying, ‘I leave in a few weeks for the United States. Let me take you on a date. Just say yes’.”

Inglander finally accepted and the pair have been inseparable ever since. She now juggles her schedule of model bookings and social media partnerships with brands such as Intimissimi, L’Oreal and sportswear brand Aim’n (as well as budding plans of her very own brand venture), with her counterpart’s international programme of training, competitions and sponsorship commitments with the likes of Omega and Red Bull. For Inglander, making her Vogue debut is a surreal career milestone. “As a kid, my mum used to buy Vogue magazines and I would sit next to her while she flipped the pages, dreaming of being in there one day,” she says. “It like I’ve made little Desiré very proud.”

Mondo is used to being high, so high heels were a piece of cake. Crêpe jumpsuit. Isabel Marant. Calf leather pumps. Acne Studios. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Desiré is Mondo’s biggest supporter, travelling with him to competitions and cheering him on from the sidelines. Draped metallic dress, €910. Nicklas Skovgaard. ‘Constellation’ 34 mm steel watch, €7,800. Omega. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Keeping up with her own work commitments amid Duplantis’ jet-setting is demanding, but Inglander considers the opportunity to travel alongside him as “a privilege”. “The only crazy part is the planning aspect, it can be so impossible to plan everything out. But I also kind of love that,” she says. “And I don’t plan anything,” Duplantis interjects. “Yes, I’m the planning freak,” Inglander agrees. “And Mondo is the complete opposite. But he’s taught me to just let it happen, let it flow. He brings me down to earth.” Duplantis finds a sense of equilibrium in their partnership too. “Desiré brings me such a great balance in life,” he says. “It’s so nice to be able to come home and escape into a completely different world, absorb ourselves in each other and whatever we’re doing. She’s a great travel buddy.” As he speaks, the couple’s eye contact unbroken across the table where we’re sitting.

At the time of our conversation, Duplantis’ world record is the heady height of 6.23m, superseded later by his current 6.24m as conquered at the 2024 Wanda Diamond League in China – marking his eighth world record in a row. Being crowned best in class at a solo sport, your most formidable opponent is yourself. But this is something Duplantis has been accustomed to since a young age, with an intrinsic, self-initiated drive pushing him forward. “Naturally, the sport is more of a competition within yourself than anything else, and it’s always been like that – even before I was the best in the world, even when I was just seven years old,” he says. “You’re really just competing against the crossbar and against the person who you were yesterday.”

Mondo’s father, Greg Duplantis, is also an elite pole vaulter. His father and mother, Helene, have both coached Mondo throughout his career. Cotton tank top, €295, Denim trousers, €295, Leather sandals, €395. All Isabel Marant. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Proving a prodigy from day one, Duplantis was heir to the throne of his elite pole vaulting father, Greg Duplantis, inheriting both his skill and his love for the sport. “My father is genuinely obsessed with pole vaulting. He actually just called me – we talk about pole vault all the time,” he says. “It’s rarely ever about me, it’s about everybody else. We just talk for hours about what’s going on in the world of pole vault.” His father, together with his Swedish-born mother, Helene (a dietician and former heptathlete and volleyball player) have coached him throughout his career. But Duplantis stresses that nothing about pole vault was ever forced upon him. “They just love track and field... and the love rubbed off on me,” he says. “We do quite a good job of finding the balance between family and the father-coach, mother-coach combination. But I also think it works so well because I’m pretty self-motivated and I want to be the best in the world. I’ve wanted that since I was a kid.”

Leather dress, €2,590. Isabel Marant. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Photo: Johanna Nyholm

To that end, there’s video evidence that Duplantis has recently uncovered, in which he is clearing vault jumps at a preschool age. The tapes also confirmed how long his well-established ‘Mondo’ nickname (as coined by Duplantis’ godfather) has been in play. “I was watching some home videos where I am just four years old doing jumps, and my family are calling me ‘Mondo Man’. I can’t remember ever not being ‘Mondo’, but I took the ‘Man’ off when I was older,” he says. From there, the nickname stuck. That is, with everyone except for Duplantis’ Swedish maternal grandmother who adamantly calls him Armand to this day.

While he and his family always had, in his words, “strong Swedish roots” courtesy of his mother, it was the country’s “rich culture of track and field” that saw him sign up for youth competitions in Sweden as a teenager. “The opportunity came up, and I was like ‘I like Sweden, I go there in the summer, it seems cool – let’s do it!’,” Duplantis recalls. “I think my parents understood it could be a good move for the future, but for me, it wasn’t really much more than that, and it worked out way better than I could ever imagine.”

While Desiré currently juggles partnership with brands such as L’Oreal and Intimissi with Mondo’s international programme of training and competitions, she has budding plans to launch a brand of her own. Asymmetric silk top, €2,300, Cotton gabardine bermuda shorts, €1,500, Brass choker, €2,790, Deconstructed grosgrain boots, €1,950. All Dior. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Photo: Johanna Nyholm

With Duplantis’ career being an inherently solo one, you can tell that he relishes the team-like dynamic of his relationship with Inglander. Vaulting videos of Duplantis on social media are more often than not filmed by Inglander as she supports from the sidelines – when she can take the pressure, that is. “It’s a secret, but I walked away,” she says, recalling the moment of highest tension at the Glasgow championships the week prior. “I walked to the bathroom. It was the third [and final] attempt, and I was like, I can’t watch this,” she laughs. Meanwhile, Duplantis is often wielding the camera that snaps Inglander’s social media content that rakes in thousands of likes and has garnered her followers in the six-figure count. Posts on their respective TikTok and Instagram accounts also offer a glimpse of their life behind the scenes of the biggest events and championships. The young, clean-cut athlete’s trick to getting into the zone? Headphones on, listening to “something vulgar to get that crazy mindset going”.

Mondo and Desiré have become a bona fide It couple here in Sweden, unabashedly showing affection during live competition broadcasts and walking red carpets hand in hand. Mondo wears: Tank top. Stylist’s own. Wool suit trousers, €950, Logo necklace, €420. Both Versace. Desiré wears: Leather jacket, €5,300, Leather pencil midi skirt, €1,950. Both Versace. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Crewneck long-sleeved top, Neoprene pencil skirt, €445, Organza arm belt bag, €109, Mesh velcro belt, Nappa leather thong boots, €1,155. All Sportmax. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Duplantis will be cueing up another vulgar playlist when he and Inglander descend on Paris this summer for his second Olympic Games, an experience they will take on together as a couple (though the athlete will be restricted to the Olympic Village for much of it). All eyes will be on the jumping area of the Stade de France as the champion takes on the crossbar, in an outdoor environment that Duplantis relishes. “I like when the lights are the brightest. I like when it’s the most pressure. I like when it’s the most intense,” he says, calling to mind how he managed to set his most recent record while squinting into the glaring sunshine.

Duplantis has a seasoned, beyond-his-age wisdom and composure that comes across most clearly as he discusses the upcoming Games. “Ever since the last Olympics in Tokyo, I have been a lot more free, both mentally and in my way of jumping,” he says. “It’s such a nice feeling to already have one gold in my back pocket, so I think going into this one, the weight is off my shoulders. Everything else is just a bonus.” Regardless of the outcome in Paris, Duplantis and Inglander will make a point of savouring the moment. “He always allows himself that time, to enjoy himself, to celebrate,” Inglander says. “You have to,” Duplantis chimes in. “This could all be over just as quickly as it started. So I’m enjoying it while it’s happening as much as I can.”

It felt exactly right to capture Mondo and Desiré way up high, on a rooftop terrace overlooking their hometown. Silk blouse, €690, Silk skirt, €750. Both Acne Studios. Suede slingback pumps, €1,090. The Attico. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Crêpe jumpsuit. Isabel Marant. Photo: Johanna Nyholm

Photographer: Johanna Nyholm
Stylist: Veton Metaj
Talents: Mondo Duplantis, Desiré Inglander
Hair Stylist & Make-up Artist: Sandra Wannerstedt
Set Designer: Johan Svenson
Photographer Assistant: Rasmus Signeul Punsvik
Stylist Assistant: Elise Haugslett
Production: Lomo Mgmt

Special thanks to Hotel At Six

Header image credits: Double-breasted wool blazer, €690. CMMN Sweden. Cotton shirt, €350. Gant x 240 Mulberry Street. Pleated wool shorts, €325. CMMN Sweden. Wool tie. Stylist’s own. ‘Seamaster aqua terra 150 M’ steel on rubber strap watch, €10,900. Omega. Nylon socks. Stylist’s own. Leather derby shoes. Louis Vuitton. Desiré wears: Crewneck long-sleeved top, Neoprene pencil skirt, €445, Organza arm belt bag, €109, Mesh velcro belt. All Sportmax