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.
During last season’s Toronto Fashion Week, the folks at Mercedes Benz Start Up generously handed over the reins to their Twitter account to me to live tweet the finale of their inaugural, nationwide fashion design competition. Well, I must’ve done a bang up job (read: refrained from tweeting anything NSFW), because Andrew Serrano of IMG and team called me back for a second round of fun (thank you!).
This time, I was covering the backstage preparations and live runway show for the very first MBSU winner, MARTIN LIM. A Montreal-based womenswear brand designed by Danielle Martin and Pao Lim, MARTIN LIM was awarded a fully-produced and sponsored runway show at this season’s edition of World Mastercard Fashion Week as part of their MBSU prize pack.
Having seen what the duo is capable of at the MBSU finale, it came as no surprise when I saw just how good their Fall 2012 collection was upon my arrival backstage on the big day. It was all I could do to keep myself from trying on a lovely brocade jacket for size, throwing on that black and white leather top (so up my alley!), or dancing around in the gorgeous finale dress. But I managed to keep myself in check…though just barely.
When the models finally hit the runway, I did what I’d been tasked with: tweet, tweet, and tweet some more. It was an easy job for me, considering (a) I’m addicted to Twitter, and (b) immediate reactions to the collection were both numerous and unanimously positive on Twitter. With their cohesive range of edgy separates and pretty eveningwear in an eye-catching colour palette, Martin and Lim proved once again that they deserved that MBSU crown.
Congratulations to the MARTIN LIM and MBSU teams on a fantastic show! And thank you, Pao and Danielle, for lending me your stunning Spring 2012 finale dress for the occasion.
Models backstage, moments before the runway show
Bernadette Morra, Editor-in-Chief of FASHION Magazine, in MARTIN LIM Fall 2012
A model in my favourite look from MARTIN LIM’s Fall 2012 collection
Me, in MARTIN LIM Spring 2012 (with Brave Leather belt, Marni x H&M cuffs and Burberry shoes)
Image Credits: Runway photos by George Pimentel, all others by The Backseat Stylers
I was asked recently, over Twitter, to sum up 2011 in one word. I replied, “Life-changing. Does that count as one word?” It did, but let’s face it, one word or even 140 characters, just isn’t enough to describe the 365 days over which life, as we at The Backseat Stylers knew it, changed forever. So we thought we’d do better than that. A picture, as the saying goes, is worth a 1,000 words; here are 10 that represent some of the most incredible moments of our 2011.
In March, The Backseat Stylers got an invite from Paris to attend the Roger Vivier Fall/Winter 2011 presentation and meet Creative Director Bruno Frisoni and muse Inès de la Fressange. We couldn’t make it and were, of course, heartbroken. But it’s the invite that counts, and for that we were delighted.
Later that month, we signed on with Global TV to contribute to their website’s Toronto Fashion Week coverage. Not only did this largely make up for not being able to attend Paris Fashion Week, but it also really got the ball rolling here at The Backseat Stylers.
Here’s proof: a photo of me with the one and only Anna Dello Russo, Editor-at-Large for Vogue Nippon, at The Room at the Bay’s ‘When Tommy Met Anna’ shindig in April. Ask me a year ago if I thought I’d ever have the opportunity to chat with Ms. Dello Russo and I would’ve laughed at (and with) you. And yet there we are, looking all chummy.
The starstruck moments didn’t end there, thanks once again to The Room. This time, it was the boys from Proenza Schouler. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I left that particular party with more than a little crush on Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough. Talented and charming – could you blame me, really?
Unbelievably, the celebrity encounters continued. In August, on the very last day of the McQueen exhibit, T and I flew out to New York and lined up for almost 5 hours outside The Met to see Savage Beauty. At the end of our visit was an unexpected surprise even we couldn’t have dreamed up: an autograph session with Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. She even mistook me for someone who works in fashion – the stuff of dreams, I tell you!
Speaking of dreams coming true, mere days before our encounter with Ms. Wintour, the most epic email we’ve received since we signed up for our Hotmail accounts way back when landed in our inbox. It was from Sarah Casselman, Senior Fashion News Editor at FASHION Magazine, and she wanted to write a feature on us. I wish I had a video of our reactions to this news, but suffice to say we were over the moon. And still are, really. Outfitted in VAWK in our very own one-page feature in FASHION‘s November 2011 issue? I have no words, even now.
And then? More press. This time in Flare Magazine‘s ‘Wear Canada’ round-up of 22 bloggers from across the country, sporting their most prized Canadian designs. My Smythe tartan equestrian jacket and Pink Tartan trompe l’oeil blouse pairing resulted in one of my favourite ensembles of the year. It was an honour to be included the feature.
Where, pray tell, do you go from there? To Breakfast at Tiffany, apparently. On one sunny October morning, I found myself doing precisely that: chatting about handbags with Tiffany Leather designers Richard Lambertson and John Truex over lobster scrambled eggs and coffee at Tiffany & Co.’s Toronto flagship.
Continuing on with the theme of invites I never thought would land in my lap, a few days after my date at Tiffany, I found myself in yet another rather unexpected locale: model Jessica Stam‘s hotel room. I’d been invited by IMG to live tweet the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Start Up finale during Toronto Fashion Week on their behalf. Of course, my very first task as official tweeter was to cover guest judge Stam’s preparations for the show. Tough gig, right?
Finally, just when I thought the year was winding down and all its surprises already revealed, one last one arrived in the form of a tweet: a photo of a gorgeous statement necklace by TOODLEBUNNY that was inspired by yours truly. Dubbed the ‘Lady S’ by designer Trudy Winans, the necklace came home with me when we eventually met at the One of Kind Christmas Show & Sale in November, and is now one of the most beloved pieces in my jewelry box.
From an invite to a Paris Fashion Week presentation to kick off the year to a necklace named after to me to close it out, and all the fashion shows, charity galas and industry events that happened in between, 2011 turned out to be The Backseat Stylers’ most epic to date. Heartfelt thanks go out to all the readers, designers, retailers, PR companies and plain ol’ supporters who helped make our last year everything that it was!
It’s going to be tough to top all of this in 2012, but that’s a challenge we can’t wait to take on. We look forward to another incredible year, and hope you’ll come along with us for the ride!
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!
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!