I’ve been watching America’s Next Top Model since the very first episode of the very first cycle. I’ve daydreamed a million times about being on the show, and it never even mattered to me that the winners never went on to any sort of real modelling success. I wanted to learn to walk from Miss J, to pose from Mr. J, and to smeyes from Tyra. Over the last 17 seasons, though, I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be on ANTM.
That is, until I was. Kinda. Sorta. Episode 5 of Cycle 18, which aired this past week, saw the would-be models drop by Toronto Fashion Week. A few of the contestants were cast in the Mercedes Benz Start Up finale, and guess who was smack dab in the middle of that action? That would be yours truly, who was live tweeting on behalf of MBSU.
Except that I had no idea that ANTM was in the house. My big reality TV moment was limited to an unidentifiable (except to me!) head of black hair, face buried in my Blackberry as I dutifully tweeted live MBSU runway photos from the front row. I had to watch the footage in slow motion, on a giant screen, 67 times before I found myself (not really), but I’m there alright!
And I don’t even care that no one else can see that it’s me. I know. I was on America’s Next Top Model!! My life is now complete.
It’s no secret by now that I’m a huge fan of Sunny Fong, so it should come as no surprise that his Spring 2012 presentation for VAWK was my most highly anticipated show at LG Fashion Week. After a Fall 2011 outing that completely blew me away, I couldn’t wait to see what the Toronto-based designer had up his sleeve for his latest collection, titled ‘Insectica’. Finding beauty in creatures like beetles, moths and butterflies (that quite honestly terrify T and me), Fong designed pieces that even entomophobics like us couldn’t resist. Bugs or not, I was enamoured.
Sending both his Resort and Spring 2012 collections down the runway, Fong wowed from the stunning frocks with gold laser cut leather detailing that opened the show to the stunning blush-toned, butterfly-inspired finale dress that closed it. In between was an array of sexy swimsuits, tailored suiting and breathtaking gowns that showed a softer side to the designer than he’s shown to date. While his past work has elicited more usage of the adjective ‘fierce’ on my part than I care to admit, this collection was decidedly less so – but by design. ”I wanted (the collection) to be beautiful,” Fong said post-show. “I don’t think I’ve ever done beautiful, or pretty.” Sounds simple enough, but a look back at his last few collections reveals an aesthetic that’s been more bold and edgy than feminine and soft. The new direction was a pleasant surprise.
The Resort collection was an “experiment”, as he calls it, and clearly one gone right. “Everybody hated it,” Fong said of the gold leather he sourced. “I proved them wrong.” That he did; the gorgeous black cocktail dresses with gold laser cut leather detailing stole the show, and my heart. Having had the pleasure of trying a few of those pieces on during a recent visit to the VAWK studio, I must confess that they’re some of the most exquisite designs I’ve ever donned, even if only for the briefest of moments.
The Spring collection looks just as covetable, too. The architecturally-inspired, office-ready pieces would fit right into my work wardrobe, and would be perfect for those days when I need an ensemble that can take me straight from my day job in finance to an evening event I’m attending as my fashion-blogging alter ego. The rest of the collection requires a slightly more fabulous life than I currently lead though; the cutout bathing suits belong on an exotic island far, far away, while the gowns deserve to be on a red carpet, stat. Should an invite to the Oscars happen to arrive at my doorstep in February, I’ll be giving Mr. Fong a call.
A girl can dream, right?
Overheard on Twitter earlier this week: “I’m gonna be all @backseatstylers styles at @VAWK!” In case you didn’t know, this is officially a figure of speech now, borne of the time I went to the VAWK sample sale and famously cleaned house. It’s a phrase meant to be used only in extreme situations in which you mean business (as defined, quite rightly, by Tricia Campbell-Hall). Sample usage: “I’m lining up bright and early for Versace for H&M; as soon as they open those doors, I’m going to go all Backseat Stylers on that collection.” Easy to use, and gets the message across loud and clear. Feel free to add it to your repertoire of catch phrases.
The benefit, by the way, of being the serious shopper that I am (aka “being all Backseat Stylers styles”), is that I often snag incredible pieces at ridiculously disproportionate prices. The VAWK leather trench I wore to Sunny Fong‘s Fall 2011 show at LG Fashion Week is a prized piece in my closet and a spoil of war from last year’s sample sale. It’s a piece that’s beloved by all; R!c, who sent these photos over, captured me as I was being shot by the Toronto Star and then interviewed by CosmoTV. All this attention because of this gorgeous VAWK coat…and all I had to do was throw a few ‘bows to make sure it came home with me at that infamous sample sale.
Speaking of VAWK sample sales, Sunny Fong is throwing another one tomorrow, Saturday, Nov 19 from 11am to 1pm. Select runway samples from past collections, including Spring 2011 and Fall 2011, will be available at much-less-than-runway prices. To make an appointment or for more information, click over here. And be ready to go all Backseat Stylers on that sale!
VAWK Spring 2010 leather trench / Sea NY leather-trim silk blouse / Thakoon pants / VAWK belt / Alexander McQueen shoes / Chanel bag
Image Credits: R!c
Remember that time I met Jay Manuel? Well, we became pen pals after that, and just days before his second LG Fashion Week outing – for ATTITUDE by Jay Manuel, of course – he sent me a note inviting me backstage to witness the pre-show magic, and I accepted.
OK, I made all of that up. I was backstage before his runway presentation, but I invited myself. If not for some lovely readers of The Backseat Stylers, who happened to be the volunteers manning the dressing area and who were too nice to tell me where to go, I wouldn’t have these behind-the-scenes shots to share. So a shout out is in order (you know who you are), and I hope you get called back for the volunteer gig next season, despite me throwing you under the fashionable bus in this here post.
So why the sneaking around anyway? Well, it’s Jay Manuel, first of all, and I’m a long-time ANTM fan. Second, I’d heard that last season’s stylist, New York-based June Ambrose, had been replaced by none other than Canada’s own big name stylist, George Antonopoulos, and I wanted to see him in action. And third, the clothes! Manuel’s Fall 2011 collection featured some very covetable pieces, namely classic outerwear in vibrant colours, and I was anxious to see how he’d follow that up. The verdict? Manuel has some equally lust-worthy designs in store for Spring; the fuchsia snakeskin-print blouse, one-shoulder loose-knit sweater, and short, coral-hued jacket are all on my radar.
See complete runway show photos at Toronto Life. What’s your verdict - will you be paying Sears a visit come Spring for a piece of the ATTITUDE action too?
On October 18, I had the pleasure of updating my Facebook status to this: “Currently sitting in supermodel Jess Stam’s hotel room. For effing serious.”
That right there? Highlight of my LG Fashion Week. All thanks to the lovely folks at IMG, I have fond memories of watching The Dr. Oz Show, listening to country music, and chatting about ATTITUDE by Jay Manuel with one of my favourite models, ever. The best part is, I was on very official business. As the guest tweeter for Mercedes-Benz Start Up, it was my job to ensure that the Twitterverse knew that MB Start Up judge Jessica Stam would be wearing a Marc by Marc Jacobs dress and Lanvin for H&M bow pumps to the competition’s finale show; key information indeed, and I was more than happy to share.
Of course, Stam’s hotel room was only the first stop of my live, behind-the-scenes coverage. My guest tweeting duties also took me backstage of the LGFW tents, where up-and-coming Canadian designers Cassie Dee, Martin Lim, Travis Taddeo, Triarchy and UNTTLD were in the final stages of preparation for the runway show that would culminate in the selection of the very first MB Start Up winner. With an audience of program judges and mentors, fashion insiders, celebrities and VIPs in attendance, one very deserving finalist would be selected to receive mentoring from a hand-selected group of industry experts, an editorial feature in FASHION Magazine, as well as their own, fully produced runway show at next season’s LG Fashion Week.
Backstage, as finishing touches were being completed in hair and make-up and models were being dressed in the finalists’ Spring 2012 collections, I found myself blown away by details I may have otherwise missed on the runway: the fierce metal accessories from UNTTLD (that necklace! those shoes!), the cool, goggle-like sunglasses and medical bandage tops from Triarchy (styled by Ania Taubenfligel, one-third of the sibling team behind the brand), and the pretty feathers embellishing a dress design by Travis Taddeo.
Fast forward to the show itself. From Triarchy’s perfect-fitting premium denim to Martin Lim’s pastel-coloured feminine dresses to UNTTLD’s dark and edgy designs, the MB Start Up runway show presented five very different aesthetics (see complete runway photos at Toronto Life). The judging panel, made up of Bernadatte Morra, Editor-in-Chief of FASHION Magazine, Robert Ott of the School of Fashion at Ryerson University, Shawn Hewson of Bustle Clothing, Robin Kay of the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC), Jarrad Clark of IMG Fashion and guest judge/model Jessica Stam, had one very tough decision to make, their deliberations taking longer than expected. When Danielle Martin and Pao Lim, the duo behind Martin Lim, were finally crowned as the winners, the audience and Twitterverse approved, and so did I.
Thus came to an end my MB Start Up adventures, for this season anyway. Thanks to Andrew Serrano of IMG for bringing me along for the ride! Round 2 of the competition promises to come back bigger and better than ever, expanding to four additional semi-final cities: Halifax, Ottawa, Quebec City and Edmonton. I’ll need some time to recover from the first edition and to bask in the glow of my Stam encounter, but when the action starts up again, I’ll be there to cover it!
Holt Renfrew‘s traditional opening night show is my favourite way to kick off the LG Fashion Week festivities each season. Though this has much to do with my ongoing obsession with Smythe, the rest of the show is always a treat too, especially with Canadian fashion design heavyweights like Jeremy Laing, Denis Gagnon and Lida Baday, up-and-coming brands like Twentycluny, Denis Merotto and Naked & Famous, and menswear brand Wings + Horns rounding out this season’s line-up.
Fall is only barely upon us, but I’m already thinking ahead to next Spring. In a few months’ time, I’ll definitely need to stop by Holt Renfrew for the new items I jotted down on my wish list at the show: another Smythe blazer (because one can never have enough), any floral piece from Denis Gagnon (I want the entire collection!), and a Wings + Horns leather jacket for the Mister (because I’m feeling generous). With so much temptation packed into one store, indeed, there’s no place like Holt’s!
Check out photos of the complete runway show on Toronto Life. What’s catching your eye?
Jeremy Laing Spring/Summer 2012
Smythe Spring/Summer 2012
Lida Baday Spring/Summer 2012
Naked & Famous Spring/Summer 2012
Denis Gagnon Spring/Summer 2012
Twentycluny Spring/Summer 2012
Denis Merotto Spring/Summer 2012
Wings + Horns Spring/Summer 2012
Image Credits: Jenna Marie Wakani for Toronto Life
George Antonopoulos and me
You know that feeling of loving a new purchase so much that you want to wear it right away? I didn’t get that with my leather dress from the OBJECT for Danier line by George Antonopoulos. In fact, I adored it so much that I wanted to save its first outing for a special occasion of sorts, rather than just any ol’ day.
After sitting patiently in my closet for a month and a half, my new leather frock finally got its inaugural call to duty for none other than the opening night of this season’s LG Fashion Week. With the Spring 2012 collection from Arthur Mendonça, for whom Antonopoulos serves as Fashion Director, on the agenda, I thought it the perfect opportunity to take the dress out for a spin.
The Alexander McQueen winged booties I paired my OBJECT dress with were also a piece that had a delayed debut after I purchased them last winter. Do you save particularly beloved new purchases for special occasions too?
OBJECT for Danier leather dress / Biko Jewellery necklace / Alexander McQueen boots / Balenciaga bag
Photo Credit: Jessica Chiu
On the opening day of this season’s LG Fashion Week yesterday, Rowenta Canada revealed their latest designer collaboration – a custom-designed LGFW Spring 2012 crest by designer Evan Biddell! The crest features Biddell’s logo, stylized bursts of steam to symbolize Rowenta, and a black maple leaf to represent this season’s LGFW theme, ‘Canada Cool’.
How do you get your hands on one of these? It’s easy. LGFW’s official garment care provider has set up shop inside the tents this week with a steaming station where you can iron one of these crests on your very own souvenir tank top. Fun, right? My friend J and I did just that last night, and we each now have a lovely souvenir from this season’s shows.
But that’s not all – Rowenta wants to see how you style your freshly crested tank! Submit a street style photo featuring the crested tank top to Rowenta’s “Best Dressed Crest” Contest and you’ll be entered to win a fabulous $600+ fashion prize pack, plus the chance to have your personal style profile featured on The Backseat Stylers (you know, this here site you’re reading)!
Not heading to LGFW this season? Don’t fret. Follow The Backseat Stylers on Facebook and Twitter - we’ll be giving away crests and tank tops, so you can still participate in the contest.
Check out all the “Best Dressed Crest” contest rules on Rowenta Canada’s Facebook page and get styling your crest!
Where to affix the crest? Decisions, decisions…
Why do I look like I’ve never handled an iron before?
J, on the other hand, seems to be a pro at this ironing thing…
Voila! One-of-a-kind LG Fashion Week Spring 2012 tank top.
With LG Fashion Week officially kicking off today, we’re excited to announce that we’re teaming up with Mercedes-Benz Start Up to guest tweet the MBSU finale show from behind-the-scenes and live from the runway on Tuesday, October 18, 2011. Finalists Cassie Dee, Martin Lim, Travis Taddeo, Triarchy and UNTTLD will be presenting their respective Spring 2012 collections at 6 p.m. in front of an audience of program judges (including supermodel Jessica Stam!) and mentors, fashion insiders, celebrities and VIPs…and we’ll be there to live tweet it all!
“Produced in association with the Fashion Design Council of Canada, Mercedes-Benz Start Up is a new ongoing initiative that is intended to provide a national platform to discover and support up-and-coming Canadian designers. By connecting these gifted individuals with an experienced panel of industry insiders, the program will mentor impressive Canadian talent to help them hone a broad range of skills and elevate their profile through unique and exclusive opportunities.”
This year’s 5 MBSU finalists were selected from a cross-Canada search, and one will be chosen at the finale to receive mentoring from a hand-selected group of industry experts, an editorial feature in FASHION Magazine, as well as their own, fully produced runway show during the Fall/Winter 2012 Collections in March at LG Fashion Week. With such a talented group of finalists and covetable prizes at stake, the finale show on Tuesday is sure to be a LGFW highlight.
Follow us for live coverage of all the #MBSU action on Tuesday, October 18 on Twitter at @MBStartUp and @backseatstylers, and at Facebook.com/MBStartUp!
VAWK’s Creative Director Sunny Fong, me, and VAWK’s Business Director Ben Barry
Back in December, I snagged one of the most coveted pieces available at the VAWK sample sale, a Fall 2010 runway jacket that instantly became the fiercest piece of outerwear in my closet, taking that title from such heavyweights as a long, white belted trench by Burberry and a 3.1 Phillip Lim fur collar leather bomber. Three months then passed as my beloved jacket sat idly in my closet, waiting for its big debut.
I’d decided early on that I’d save the jacket for VAWK’s Fall 2011 show, but with it already having been so expertly styled by Tricia Campbell Hall for the Fall 2010 runway, the pressure was on to represent for VAWK but also to make the jacket my own. In the end, I paired the jacket with my most prized accessories, the Alexander McQueen Fall 2010 winged booties also making their first outing and the Chanel crocodile flap bag I’ve been carrying nonstop lately. I’m no Tricia Campbell Hall, but I think I did quite alright styling myself, wouldn’t you say? *wink*
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