Runways and Showrooms

Toronto Fashion Week: VAWKKIN Fall 2012

One rather uneventful day last month, Septembre tweeted at me about a ‘real women’ model casting call for the inaugural runway show for VAWKKIN, the brand-spanking new sister label of VAWK. At a mere 5’3.5, the chances of me walking in the show were slim to none in my mind, but my dear friend declared, “I think you are the quintessential VAWK/VAWKKIN woman and my vote goes to you”.

Twenty-six days, 4 hours of model bootcamp and 1 fitting session later, I found myself dressed in VAWKKIN and lined up with 15 other would-be models, moments away from making my runway debut at World Mastercard Fashion Week. What had Septembre gotten me into?

My very own Carrie Bradshaw moment, apparently, minus the bedazzled Dolce & Gabbana underwear, and also minus – I prayed daily to the runway gods on this one – the epic catwalk fall. My prayers were answered in the form of boot camp sessions with Liis Windischmann and Ben Barry of Ben Barry Agency, who taught us 16 ‘real women’, representing the whole spectrum of shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds, how to walk, walk fashion baby.

Chin up! Shoulders back! Move both arms! But not too much! All helpful tips offered in the most positive, encouraging manner – no snark or sarcasm like the kind J. Alexander doles out on America’s Next Top Model. Combining everything I learned from Liis and Ben with my years of experience as a veteran arm chair model (with 17 cycles of ANTM, 2 cycles of CNTM and even a season of Make Me A Supermodel under my belt), I was as ready as I’d ever be for my big runway debut.

Well, almost. I needed some clothes. Hence, a Saturday afternoon fitting, during which I got to try on the entire VAWKKIN collection for stylist Tricia Hall, and some of the VAWK pieces, too, just for kicks. Most fun ever? Quite possibly. I’d have happily carted all 16 VAWKKIN looks home with me.

Over the next few days, the suspense nearly killed me, as I impatiently waited to find out what I’d be wearing in the show. When I finally laid eyes on my assigned look mere hours before showtime, I was excited to find that the reptile print blouse, denim pants and draped jacket with PVC trim I’d be rocking were very me.

Next up? Hair and make-up. How the Redken hairstylist managed to make a bun out of my thin, fine hair or how the Maybelline make-up artist managed to give me cheekbones I never knew I had will always be mysteries to me, but boy do I wish I had the pleasure of their services every single day of my life.

After 3 hours of getting all dolled up, plus a single run-through on the catwalk, it was time to unveil the very first VAWKKIN collection to the world, and we models couldn’t wait.

Tammy, VAWK Design Assistant

Much of what happened next is, quite frankly, a bit of a blur. I remember feeling slightly panicked when I saw on the screen backstage that the runway room was a packed house. I recall being encouraged to “sell clothes for Sunny!” as I anxiously awaited my cue.

Once on the runway, I remember being surprised that I wasn’t as sure-footed as I’d expected, that I was a bit wobbly on my feet. I remember thinking how quiet it seemed in the runway environment, despite the loud music the DJ was playing. And I recall, quite clearly actually, letting out a boisterous cheer (a mix of exhilaration and relief) when I turned the corner out of sight of the audience.

That’s me!

Post-show, after we’d all reluctantly relinquished our fabulous VAWKKIN looks, I returned to the role of fashion blogger and interviewed Fong backstage. Still in overdrive, I asked him about the new line. “With VAWKKIN, [we’re translating] what we do for VAWK in a more accessible way,” he explained. “How do I dress you to the office?” he motioned at me and then stopped. “Actually, you wear a lot of VAWK to the office.”

It’s true; I do sport quite a bit of VAWK to the office, to industry events – everywhere really. But not to worry, Sunny – I’ve also got plenty of room in my closet for VAWKKIN too, starting with the look I rocked! And the tweed peplum jacket that opened the show. Oh, and the finale dress, too…

Claire, Public Servant

And just like that, in but a blink of an eye, my 15 minutes of catwalk fame were over. Huge thanks to Sunny, Jentzen, Tricia and the rest of the VAWK team, the best runway coaches a girl could ask for, Liis and Ben, and, of course, my fellow VAWKKIN catwalkers for an incredible experience I won’t soon forget. A shout out to Septembre, too, whose clever idea it was in the first place.

In case you missed it, watch the complete VAWKKIN runway presentation here (starting at the 6:30 mark), and check out coverage of the show on FASHION Magazine’s site and on CTV’s evening news.

T, Sunny Fong and me (in VAWK, of course) backstage after the show

xx, S

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