P&G and Christina Hendricks Celebrate Top Canadian Talent at Beauty & Grooming Awards 2013

Yours truly with Christina Hendricks and Glen Baxter

On December 2, P&G held its 5th annual P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards at The Carlu in Toronto, bringing together Canada’s top talent in the beauty, grooming and fashion industries. Hosted by Mad Men star and bonafide bombshell Christina Hendricks, the evening honoured the year’s best print and online content in 20 categories.

“I’ve always loved Canada, and I feel honoured to be a part of such an important event, highlighting the incredible talent in this country,” said Hendricks. “My work regularly exposes me to the stylists, editors, photographers and artists who work diligently behind the scenes, and I know how truly deserving they are of recognition.”

A bevy of bold-faced names assisted Hendricks in the doling out of the Tiffany & Co. crystal trophies, including fashion icon Jeanne Beker, TV journalist Glen Baxter, R&B singer (and ever charming) Jully Black, Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, and designer Jeremy Laing. And without further ado, here’s the complete list of winners from the 2013 edition of the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards:

1. Best Art Direction: Mark Reynolds, MONTECRISTO Magazine
2. Best Next Face – Presented by Olay: Dauphine McKee – Elmer Olsen Models
3. Best Beauty Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online – Trend or Profile (English): Olivia Stren, FASHION Magazine, Shear Force
4. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine, Newspaper or Online – Trend or Profile (French): Mélanie Frappa, ELLE Québec, Tendances phares: printemps-été 2013
5. Best Beauty Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online – Scientific or Technical (English): Ellen Himelfarb, FLARE, Tug of War
6. Best Beauty Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online – Scientific or Technical (French): Émilie Villeneuve, ELLE Québec, La beauté responsable
7. Best Beauty Editor of a Magazine: Vanessa Craft, ELLE Canada
8. Best Male Grooming Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online: Heidi Sopinka, FLARE, Clean Cut
9. Hair Stylist of the Year – Presented by Pantene: Nicolas Blanchet
10. Best Fashion Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online (English): Angela Murrills, NUVO, Stich by Stich
11. Best Fashion Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online (French): Andrée-Anne Léonard, ELLE Québec, Peut-on encore porter de la fourrure?
12. Best Fashion Editor of a Magazine: George Antonopoulos, FASHION Magazine
13. Best Male Fashion Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online (English): Patricia Gajo, NUVO, Down to Business
14. Best Male Fashion Feature, Magazine, Newspaper or Online (French): Jessica Dostie, Journal Métro, Des jeans dans le mile end
15. Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (English): Sharon Ng Hayes, The Backseat Stylers
16. Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (French): Josiane Stratis, Ton Petit Look
17. Best Beauty or Fashion Website: Randi Bergman,
18. Photographer of the Year: Richard Bernardin
19. Make-up Artist of the Year – Presented by COVERGIRL: Blair Petty
20. Best Magazine Cover: Sylvain Blais, Dress to Kill (Spring 2013)

Congrats to all the winners! We’d like to briefly bring your attention to category #15, Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (English), because WOOT WOOT that’s us!!! To be named a finalist alongside our amazing fellow bloggers Janine Falcon of beautygeeks and (our blogger BFF) Kimberly Lyn of The Souls of My Shoes was already an incredible honour, but to pull off the win? We’re absolutely speechless. Thank you P&G, esteemed judges, lovely readers, and supporters of this here blog – we promise to strive for an even bigger and better Backseat Stylers in 2014!

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled program: le fashion. Check out the gallery below for 29 party snaps from the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards 2013, including lots of Canadian fashion representation with Jully Black in Pink Tartan, FLARE‘s Miranda Purves in Horses Atelier, and FASHION Magazine‘s Zeina Esmail in Lucian Matis.

Christina Hendricks with P&G Beauty and Grooming Awards 2013 winners

Jully Black

David Dixon, Suzanne Rogers and Glenn Dixon

Jeanne Beker

FASHION Magazine’s Zeina Esmail and Bernadette Morra

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Retail Therapy

VAWK and eBay Team Up on a Second Capsule Collection for Holiday 2013

Following the success of their partnership this past summer, VAWK and eBay have announced a second capsule collection, due to hit the online auction site just in time for the holidays. “Instead of just bringing back the items we created from the last collection, I spiced them up for the holidays,” says VAWK creative director Sunny Fong. And that he did.

The limited edition line-up with feature 9 familiar styles that have been amped up with sequins, leather studs and fox fur. If you missed them the first time around, you won’t want to make that mistake again: the party-ready Manta dress, Manta caplet, studded accessories and printed silks are sure to sell out faster than you can say “buy-it-now”. Available from Dec 2nd to 8th, the collection will be sold at auction (starting at $99 for the Manta dress) and at buy-it-now prices ranging from $59 for an embossed leather cuff to $105 for a zebra-print scarf.

The pièce de résistance, the stunning, one-of-a-kind white Manta gown, will be auctioned off at a starting bid of $0.99, with proceeds to benefit Kids Help Phone. It’s designed to fit sizes 2 to 8, and destined for a bidding war. If you’re eyeing the gown, be warned: S wants it, and she’s officially throwing down the gauntlet. All for a great cause, right?

Images courtesy of eBay

Fashion News

VAWK for eBay Limited Edition Collaboration to Launch in August

It’s no secret by now that we here at The Backseat Stylers are huge fans of Toronto-based designer Sunny Fong and his label VAWK. There’d be even more VAWK in our joint closet if our bank accounts allowed for it, so we’re very excited about Sunny’s latest venture: an extremely pocketbook-friendly collaboration with eBay Canada.

Sunny has designed a limited edition, 7-piece collection of clothing and accessories to be sold exclusively on eBay. Each piece is being created by hand and with fabrics and materials used in VAWK’s main line. From $59 for a lizard-embossed leather cuff with fox fur to $119 for a chic black shift dress, all items will be sold at fixed Buy It Now! prices with free shipping in Canada. In short, the collection is a STEAL and we’re dying for every single piece, especially that leather skinny tie.

Check out the gallery below for the complete VAWK for eBay line-up, and mark your calendars for the launch on August 12! The designs will be produced in very limited quantities, and you won’t want to miss out on the chance to snag some gorgeous VAWK pieces at such incredible prices.

Images courtesy of eBay


Spotted from the Backseat: P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards 2012 Edition

Yours truly with presenters Glen Baxter and Hans Koechling and host Rob Lowe

On November 19, the 2012 edition of the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards were held at The Carlu in Toronto. Hosted by the extremely handsome actor and Brat Pack member Rob Lowe, the Awards brought together the biggest names in the Canadian beauty, grooming and fashion industries to honour the year’s best print and online content in 19 categories.

Stacey McKenzie and Jully Black

Assisting Lowe (who was kissed on by all the ladies who graced the stage and was a good sport about it) in presenting the Tiffany & Co. crystal trophies were familiar faces like the iconic Jeanne Beker, Greta Constantine-clad singer Jully Black, supermodel Stacey McKenzie and boxer Mary Spencer.

And the winners are…

1. Best Art Direction: Tanya Watt, FLARE
2. Best New Face: Jenna Earle, Next Models
3. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Trend/Profile (English): Adriana Ermter; FLARE, Back by Popular Demand
4. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Trend/Profile (French): Sophie St-Laurent; Châtelaine, BB La crème a tout faire
5. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Scientific/Technical (English): Michelle Villett; FLARE, Best Beauty Innovations of 2011
6. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Scientific/Technical (French): Micheline Lortie; Châtelaine, La nature en pot
7. Best Beauty Editor of a Magazine: Lesa Hannah; FASHION Magazine
8. Best Male Grooming Feature: Greg Hudson; Sharp Magazine, The Sharp Guide to Grooming: Stepping it Up
9. Hair Stylist of the Year: Justin German
10. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (English): Sarah Nicole Prickett; FASHION Magazine, Bro Code
11. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (French): Elsa Vecchi; Dress to Kill, Spécial Design: Rad Hourani
12. Best Fashion Editor of a Magazine: George Antonopoulos, FASHION Magazine
13. Best Male Fashion Feature: Yang Goh; Sharp Magazine, Style Manual
14. Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (English): Sharon Ng Hayes; The Backseat Stylers
15. Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (French): Anik Lacasse-Richard; Montreal in Style
16. Best Beauty or Fashion Website: Randi Bergman,
17. Photographer of the Year: Malina Corpadean
18. Make-up Artist of the Year: Nicolas Blanchet
19. Best Magazine Cover: Dress to Kill, Stéphane Le Duc, Winter 2011

With Kimberly Lyn in Arthur Mendonça (left) and Nelia Belkova in Lanvin x H&M (right)

You may have noticed a familiar name in there for winner of the Best Beauty or Fashion Blog (English) category: The Backseat Stylers. WOOHOO! What an incredible honour it was for us to be named finalists alongside our blogger friends Nelia Belkova of Style Blog and Lolitta Dandoy of Fashion Is Everywhere, but to win?

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Spotted from the Backseat: DX Intersection 2012 Edition

Jenna Naumovich

On November 16, the Design Exchange held the inaugural DX INTERSECTION, a fundraising party in support of the Toronto design museum’s youth education and design preservation initiatives. Hundreds of attendees were treated to everything from a silent auction featuring one-of-a-kind, customized IKEA items to a Food Dudes food truck serving breakfast (genius!), and much, much more. Every corner of the museum offered something new to see, do, eat. A contender for art party of the year? Most definitely.

Toronto’s fashion set, including blogger Anita Clarke, fashion director Liz Cabral (in that Margiela x H&M trompe l’oeil bra top!) and accessories designer Jenny Bird, showed up in full force to support the DX and have a little design fun. They had the opportunity to meet author and artist Douglas Coupland, winner of the DX’s very first Gamechanger award, DIY their very own fascinators at the FLARE x Milk Glass Co. booth (how fun is that?!), and stuff their faces at the late night food market (oh wait, that was me).

I sadly didn’t get a chance to check out all that the evening had to offer (in hindsight, maybe I should have spent less time munching on those to-die-for risotto balls), but I’ve certainly learned my lesson. Next year, I’m going to be the first in the door and the last one out. DX INTERSECTION just officially became one of my favourite fundraising parties of the year, and I don’t want to miss a second of the next one.

Kevin O’Neill and Liz Cabral

Anita Clarke

Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong of Greta Constantine

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Parlez-Vous Fashion?

Dropping by the Backseat: VAWK Creative Director Sunny Fong

After 6 seasons of covering VAWK collections during Toronto Fashion Week, it’s become a tradition: I’m always the last to interview designer Sunny Fong after the show.

The first time it happened, after VAWK’s Spring 2010 show, it was because I was nervous as all hell; I’d never interviewed anyone before, much less a designer I’d become a huge fan of after having watched season 2 of Project Runway Canada religiously for several months. This past fashion week I was delayed for yet another nerve-wracking reason: I’d just walked in the runway show for Sunny’s new line, VAWKKIN.

It should come as no surprise then, really, that many of my most burning questions have thus far gone unasked. To finally get some answers – and kick off The Backseat Stylers’ new blog series Dropping by the Backseat - I stopped by Sunny’s studio recently for a long overdue tête-à-tête.

The Backseat Stylers: What’s your earliest fashion memory?
Sunny Fong: Do you know [Hong Kong-based pop star] Paula Tsui? I remember going to her concert once at Roy Thomson Hall, and she had these huge gowns and 3 or 4 costume changes. It was so incredible. I was like, “That’s what I should be doing!” I was probably 10 [years old]. I’ve always wanted to design clothing.

What else is on your bucket list?
I want VAWK to be a household name and a significant label, and then to grow from there. One thing I know I want to [accomplish in life] is something that’s very significant and non-fashion related. Something charitable, like Oprah.

You’ve known a long time that fashion design was what you wanted to do. What’s the best part of your job?
Making stuff and having people try it on – that’s the best part. When I do fittings, when I meet with clients or buyers, or when my friends come over and try [my designs] on, I get to see how things look on. Then I know whether or not something fits, if it looks good, if it’s realistic. It brings that reality to a concept.

What’s the worst fashion faux pas you’ve committed?
I went to the [Royal Ontario Museum] for a semi-formal event, and I wasn’t told that I was supposed to dress up. I had my jeans, a v-neck t-shirt and a scarf on, and I was the least dressed up out of everybody. Luckily, this was the same year that I won Project Runway. Thank God I was on the show, because that was my cover: “I’m trying to look like myself on the show…this is my uniform!”

Ever since then I’ve known to always dress up. You can never be overdressed.

Where is your favourite place to shop for yourself?
I love Hong Kong. They have everything, from the cheapest to the most expensive. I love seeing runway [designs] there.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I love my fried chicken – anything deep fried. I also love going out dancing. The music we play on the runway is what I listen to when I design and also what I dance to. I visualize models on the runway while I’m on the dance floor!

If you were throwing a fashionable dance party, who would your three guests of honour be?
FLARE‘s Editor-in-Chief Lisa Tant, ELLE Canada‘s Editor-in-Chief Noreen Flanagan and FASHION‘s Editor-in-Chief Bernadette Morra. I’d want to see how they party!

xx, S

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

Runways and Showrooms

Toronto Fashion Week: VAWK Fall 2012 ‘Sci-Fi Samurai’

When VAWK announced earlier this year that the brand would be launching a lower-priced, office-ready sister label, VAWKKIN, creative director Sunny Fong promised a tighter collection for the main line for Fall 2012. “VAWK is very fantasy-based, very exclusive, very luxurious,” he explained. “We thought, ‘let’s focus on each piece [and] make sure that each piece is special’. There’s no filler.”

Without question, Fong delivered. The 13 looks presented on the VAWK runway at World Mastercard Fashion Week, dubbed ‘Sci-Fi Samurai’, encapsulated everything the brand’s clientele have come to love about Fong’s designs.

Separates and cocktail dresses were anything but understated – that is, after all, what VAWKKIN is for now. Instead, a pencil skirt was made in attention-grabbing bronze leather – a piece I never knew I needed until the very moment I spotted it hanging on a rack backstage pre-show – and a LBD was furnished with an edgy snake-embossed leather hem.

Outerwear came in the form of fierce leather, wool and fur concoctions I’d die to get my hands on. Never mind that I already have an earlier generation in my closet; one can never have too many VAWK jackets. Eveningwear looks closed the short (but to the point!) show with a bang, as a gorgeous, floor-length aubergine dress and a stunning gold sequin number, both with bronze leather samurai belts at the waist, vied for top spot on my red carpet fantasy list.

“You’re putting your shopping list together right now, aren’t you?” VAWK’s stylist Tricia Hall had accused me, half-jokingly (or perhaps not at all), as I’d rifled through the to-die-for collection a few days before the show. I’d denied it at the time, but let’s be real: when it comes to VAWK, I always have a wish list going, and right now it’s mighty long.


xx, S

Fashion News

VAWK to Launch Lower-Priced Line VAWKKIN for Fall 2012

Exciting news on the Canadian fashion scene today: VAWK is expanding. The brand’s founder and Creative Director Sunny Fong announced this morning the launch of a lower-priced sister line, VAWKKIN, which will target the “young professional fashion forward female”. That, my fellow VAWK fans, sounds a lot like me and you!

VAWKKIN will feature office-ready pieces that aim to make the transition from work to play seamless. “The main thing about creating VAWKKIN is that even though the price point is more attainable, it still has the same design philosophy as VAWK, but for everyday wear”, explains Fong. Price tags on the new line are expected to place it comfortably in the contemporary space.

The introduction of the new line will also allow Fong to up the glam factor of his main line, VAWK, and give more focus to evening wear. Will this mean more red carpet appearances for VAWK, like Elisha Cuthbert’s stunning Resort 2012 gown at the People’s Choice Awards? We’re betting it will.

xx, S

Image Credit: Jenna Marie Wakani (via Toronto Life)

Red Carpet

Admiring from the Backseat: Elisha Cuthbert in VAWK at People’s Choice Awards

I was half-watching the People’s Choice Awards last night when a familiar looking dress made me do a double-take. I gasped, rewound, and screamed (so loudly that the Mister was alarmed) when I realized that Elisha Cuthbert was indeed wearing a gown from VAWK‘s stunning Resort 2012 collection.

“When it came to selecting my look for the People’s Choice Awards, I looked at a few of the VAWK pieces and fell in love with the gold detailing on this dress,” the actress said in a press release. “I knew I wanted to wear it.” And I don’t blame her. The last time I saw this dress was backstage of VAWK’s Spring 2012 runway show at Toronto Fashion Week, where it quite literally took my breath away.

Seeing the gown again on my television screen, on such a big stage no less, was a proud moment. Congrats to VAWK’s Creative Director Sunny Fong! And kudos to Elisha for what will hopefully be the start of more Canadian fashion on international red carpets.

xx, S

Image Credits: Getty (via Just JaredCelebrity Gossip), Jenna Marie Wakani (via FASHION)

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