I’ve been an America’s Next Top Model follower since before Cycle 1 winner Adrianne Curry married the dad from The Brady Bunch and before seasons were dubbed ‘cycles’ by the one name wonder Tyra. When a Canadian version was created and ANTM‘s photo shoot director Jay Manuel, one of my favourite ANTM personalities, took over in Season 2, I became hooked on that show too. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Jay, so when it was announced that he’d signed a multi-year deal with Sears Canada to become the Creative Director of their private line, ATTITUDE, my interest in the department store chain was piqued for the first time in…well, ever.
Manuel’s first collection for ATTITUDE, for Fall 2011, was presented during LG Fashion Week. The hype that built up in the days leading up to the show, fueled by (false) rumours of appearances by Tyra Banks and Gwen Stefani, led to a runway room filled to the rafters. By the time the show started an hour late with an oversized Jay Manuel photo as the backdrop and a video montage of the man himself busily working on the collection, most audience members, including myself, had lost all patience. When a stunning Yasmin Warsame rounded the corner in a white pant suit, however, all was forgiven; she looked incredible (so much so that I temporarily forgot to take photos and missed snapping the opening look). From then on, a stream of Top Model alumni, including past ANTM winners Danielle Evans and McKey Sullivan and CNTM winners Rebecca Hardy and Meaghan Waller, walked the runway in an impressive array of colourful winter outerwear, chic office-ready separates and fun evening pieces.
So has Jay Manuel done what I thought was impossible and made Sears a legitimate destination for cool clothing and accessories for the fashion conscious? As I tweeted that evening, a big question mark remains until the collection hits stores this August. Jay Manuel fan or not, until I can actually feel the fabrics and assess the quality and fit in person, the verdict is out on whether these pieces will be worth the $12.97 to $139.99 price points Sears will be charging. If it passes the test though, I look forward to adding a certain blue military-inspired coat to my Fall wardrobe!