Runways and Showrooms

Toronto Fashion Week: VAWK Spring 2012 “Insectica”

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?

xx, S


Spotted from the Backseat: P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards 2011 Edition

Randi Bergman and Paige Dzenis of FASHION Magazine

On November 1, the 2011 edition of the Canadian P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards were held in Toronto, hosted by actress Kim Cattrall. Celebrating our country’s best editorial content and brightest creative talents in beauty, grooming and fashion, the Awards brought together the faces behind the credits of our favourite Canadian print and online publications. From the prolific Jeanne Beker to singer Jully Black, Editors-in-Chief Lisa Tant (Flare) and Bernadette Morra (FASHION) to top Canadian designers Sunny Fong (VAWK), Stephen Wong and Kirk Pickersgill (Greta Constantine), the industry’s biggest names descended on the Carlu to recognize the year’s best work in 19 categories.

Congratulations to all the winners!

  1. Best Magazine Cover – Clin d’oeil, Marianne Thornton (Editor-in-Chief), July 2011
  2. Best Beauty Editor(s) of a Magazine – Kristen Vinakmens and Wing Sze Tang; Flare
  3. Best Scientific Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Kate Rae; Glow, Vampire Weekend
  4. Best Scientific Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (French) – Micheline Lortie and Sophie St-Laurent; Châtelaine, Les années beauté
  5. Best Creative Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Tania Kwong; Glow, Dark Angel
  6. Best Creative Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (French) – Sophie St-Laurent; Châtelaine, Sillages gourmands
  7. Best Fashion Editor of a Magazine – Susie Sheffman; FASHION
  8. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper – Elio Iannacci; Maclean’s, The New Transsexual Chic
  9. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper (French) – Stéphane Le Duc; Dress to Kill, Jean Paul Gaultier, Génie de la mode
  10. Best Fashion or Beauty Blog – Michelle Mullins;
  11. Best Fashion or Beauty Blog (French) – Anik Lacasse-Richard;
  12. Best Male Grooming Feature – Leo Petaccia; Sharp, How a Man Should Groom
  13. Best Male Grooming Feature (French) – Sylvie Michelon; Clin d’oeil, Mad mâle
  14. Best Male Fashion Feature – Greg Hudson; Sharp, Heroes of Menswear
  15. Best Fashion or Beauty Website – Randi Bergman,
  16. Best New Face – Sarah Jordan, Specs Models
  17. Photographer of the Year – Chris Nicholls
  18. Hair Stylist of the Year – Anna Barseghian
  19. Make-up Artist of the Year – Sabrina Rinaldi
A special shout out to Anya Georgijevic, a finalist in the Best Fashion or Beauty Blog category for I’m The It Girl, and her to-die-for Nicholas Kirkwood laser-cut booties. Because while everyone else in attendance had their eye on the prize (a P&G Beauty & Grooming Award trophy, that is), I was ogling the swanky shoes on their feet. And on that note, check out the gallery below for photos of some of the evening’s chicest looks.

Actress and host Kim Cattrall 

Carly Stojsic of WGSN and Lisa Tant of FLARE Magazine

Nicholas Mellamphy of The Room at the Bay and Anya Georgijevic of I’m The It Girl

Designers Evan Biddell and Sunny Fong

Patricia Gajo, Bernadette Morra and Susie Sheffman of FASHION Magazine

xx, S

Runways and Showrooms

A VAWK Down Memory Lane

FASHION Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Bernadette Morra in VAWK at the Spring 2011 collection launch at The Room

If you’re a VAWK fan, then you’ve likely seen the work of Toronto-based photographer Spencer Xiong. Spencer has been the label’s official photographer since it’s re-launch, shooting all the action backstage, in the audience, and on the runway at VAWK’s shows. He does a much better job of it than I do, too. When Spencer recently sent me a link to his portfolio, I was blown away, and instantly wanted to share my favourite shots with all of you.

Check out Spencer Xiong’s stunning VAWK portfolio in its entirety here. If you do, you might just catch a glimpse or two of yours truly – sitting back row at my very first VAWK show, interviewing VAWK Creative Director Sunny Fong, or chatting up VAWK Business Director Ben Barry for the first time. Thank you, Spencer, for capturing some of my most memorable VAWK moments to date, without me even realizing it.

VAWK Creative Director Sunny Fong at his studio

VAWK Business Director Ben Barry in the coolest blazer ever. Period.

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Street Style

Stylin’ from the Backseat: Rockin’ the VAWK

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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“When Tommy Met Anna”: Tommy Ton & Anna Dello Russo Feted at The Room at the Bay in Toronto

Me and Vogue Nippon Editor-at-Large Anna Dello Russo

The Room at the Bay announced recently that they would be hosting “When Tommy Met Anna”, an exhibit of photographs of Vogue Nippon Editor-at-Large and street style heroine Anna Dello Russo by Toronto-based, world-renowned street style photographer Tommy Ton. When the news first broke, the first question on mine and most other lips in the city was, “Does that mean ADR is coming to Toronto?!” When confirmation came via a tweet from The Hudson’s Bay Company that, indeed, the inimitable Dello Russo would be gracing our city with her perennially overdressed presence, the excitement in the Toronto fashion community’s little corner of the Twitterverse was palpable. Not only was ADR coming to town, but she was also bringing with her a fabulous excuse for The Room at the Bay to break out the fancy schmancy hors d’oeuvres and bottles of champagne again. In the year and a half since The Room was relaunched, it’s garnered quite the reputation for throwing some of the best industry shindigs around (see here, here and here for the evidence).

ADR in a Giles Deacon Spring 2011 bandage print dress and Brian Atwood pumps with a gaggle of her biggest fans

Of course, delicious mini burgers and open-bar aside, the evening was about Anna Dello Russo and Tommy Ton, and boy was it ever. True to what we’ve come to expect of Dello Russo and her multiple outfit changes during each day of Fashion Month, the guest of honour kicked off the evening in a lovely pink bandage print Giles Deacon dress and matching Brian Atwood pumps, and then slipped away briefly at one point to don a new ensemble, returning in the standout yellow and blue lampshade dress from Mary Katrantzou’s Spring 2011 runway show. Not to be outdone, Ton kept up with a mid-party outfit swap of his own. This man, who brings us images of the most fabulous footwear from the streets of the world’s fashion capitals, has serious shoe game himself.

Toronto’s fashion set also did not disappoint, showing up at The Room’s invite-only soiree in amped up getups clearly inspired by ADR’s own outrageous looks over the past few years. There was colour, bling, and a sense of sartorial adventure in the air. The Room looked its best too, with over-sized street style snaps of Dello Russo by Ton, new Spring 2011 designer arrivals and inspired visual displays galore. The Bay demonstrated once again that they know how to throw a party, which was abundantly clear when, as the evening drew to a close, I spotted the guests of honour grooving with guests on the makeshift dance floor - Dello Russo in the DJ booth and Ton posing with the most glammed out transvestite I’ve ever laid eyes on. In a word? Epic.

Tommy Ton and his date *wink*

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Runways and Showrooms

Toronto Fashion Week: VAWK Fall 2011 “Lhasa Row”

VAWK Creative Director Sunny Fong and model Tori Leach

The first VAWK show I ever attended was back in October 2009; I had just gotten into the fashion blogging business and remember feeling elated when my request to cover the show was granted by the powers that be at VAWK. It was the first collection review I ever wrote for The Backseat Stylers. That show was a beginning of sorts not only for me, but for VAWK’s Creative Director Sunny Fong as well. Hot off the heels of a Project Runway Canada win that breathed new life into his VAWK label, Fong showed his first post-reality TV mini collection in front of an intimate crowd at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Fast forward a few seasons and I find myself at VAWK’s Fall 2011 show, and the scene is quite different. Fong and VAWK Partner and Business Director Ben Barry have decided to show as part of the official LG Fashion Week calendar in a venue that can house 1,000+ guests. Since VAWK’s relaunch, Fong has kept his post-PRC buzz going; his Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 collections were strong and were picked up exclusively by The Room at the Bay. As a result, VAWK is one of the most anticipated shows of the week and the runway room is filled to capacity the night of the show. The usual industry faces are there, but Fong’s fans, like me, have also come out in droves to support him.

Having been granted the privilege once again this season to photo-document the pre-show preparations backstage, my first glimpse of the new collection is up close and personal, and I am utterly blown away. This season’s collection is inspired by the menswear silhouette of Savile Row and the textures of a Himalayan mountain climber, and the intricate details – what Fong is known for – come in the form of knitted collars, sleeves and embellishments. Standing amidst the racks of clothes, just before the models arrive from hair and makeup, I find myself in complete awe. My uneducated fashion mind can’t wrap my head around this special technique; I am certain the only plausible explanation is magical knitting elves. Or unicorns, maybe.

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PROM: Into the Wild at the Royal Ontario Museum – March 26, 2011

Mention the word ‘prom’ and I automatically pull a face - and it’s not just the horribly tacky dresses associated with the high school tradition. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I now know that my first go at prom was rather tragic – the dress was nothing to write home about, the accessories were too matchy-matchy, the hair and makeup I’d rather not discuss, and the guy whose arm I was on was just plain wrong. Well, this Saturday, March 26, 2011, at PROM: Into the Wild, presented by BCBGMAXAZRIA, at the Royal Ontario Museum, I finally get another chance at prom. This time, I daresay, I’m going to get it right!

“Discover the wild side of the ROM at PROM: Into the Wild, presented by BCBGMAXAZRIA. Experience an exciting and entertaining night inspired by the beauty of life on Earth and the Museum’s breathtaking natural history collections. Hundreds of…guests will flock to the ROM for a wild night of live entertainment, dancing, exotic cocktails and a fabulous feast for the senses. Prowl your way through the Museum and see it transformed into a glorious oasis of lush lounges, tempting territories and hidden hideaways. Mingle with friends at the watering hole or dance the night away with party guests camouflaged in feathered masks, faux fur and bold prints.”

Care to join me? Tickets are available here. As for what to wear to such an affair, guests are encouraged to “ignite (their) imagination with inspiration from the natural world.” My imagination has indeed been ignited; in fact, it’s running wild because I’m now daydreaming about gorgeous gowns with 4-digit price tags.

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VAWK Spring 2011 Launch at The Room at The Bay

VAWK Partner & Business Director Ben Barry, Jessica Chiu, me and VAWK Partner & Creative Director Sunny Fong

To my dismay, by the time I discovered that The Room at The Bay had started stocking VAWK last season, most of the Fall 2010 collection had already been scooped up by those more in the know. Since then, I’ve been waiting ever so patiently for the new season to hit the sales floor, so when I was invited to attend the launch of the Spring 2011 collection at The Room on Feb 24th, I was utterly delighted.

FASHION Magazine Editor-in-Chief Bernadette Morra, in a VAWK jacket and pants, interviewing VAWK’s Sunny Fong

An event exclusive to VAWK customers and the Friends of TFI, a volunteer-led chapter of the Toronto Fashion Incubator, it was an evening of cocktails and shopping, topped off by an interview of VAWK Creative Director Sunny Fong by FASHION Magazine‘s Editor-in-Chief Bernadette Morra. Morra and Fong chatted about the challenges of being a fashion designer in Canada, VAWK’s commitment to casting models of all shapes and sizes for their runway shows, as well as the inspiration behind his Spring collection, Toro Safari. Customers were then given the chance to make custom orders from the collection – a very rare and special opportunity indeed!

Me trying on a VAWK leather bolero and leather tank top (with my pants from the VAWK sample sale)

As for me, the straight-off-the-runway designs were all too enticing for me not to bring a piece home with me. After playing dress-up with Fong, VAWK Business Director Ben Barry, and my usual partner-in-crime J, I left The Bay with a lovely camel leather tank top that’s sure to become a year-round wardrobe staple. I’ve got my eye on a few other pieces too – I’ll be heading back to The Room for them before they sell out on me again!

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The Backseat Stylers’ Year in Review – 2010

T and I started The Backseat Stylers back in 2009, but it was really in 2010 that things picked up on this little here site. There were so many exciting firsts and fun moments that I decided to round up my most coveted blog memories from the past year. I love year-end Top 10 lists, so I had a lot of fun putting together The Backseat Stylers’ 2010 edition. Let’s begin!

10. The Backseat Stylers shop like there’s no 2011

I’m a shopaholic. I could make a whole Top 10 list of wardrobe additions this year, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll include them all as one massive #10 entry on this listing. Where to begin? Let’s see…well, I cheated on Karl and Chanel and bought myself my first Balenciaga bag – an anthracite (bluey-grey) Work with giant gold hardware. I strategically waited over half a year for my dream Alexander McQueen Fall 2010 winged booties (pictured) to go on sale before finally snagging them at 50% off from Net-a-porter. I ordered the extremely limited Valentino for Gap ruffled bolero I so coveted from Colette Paris, on the other side of the pond. And I discovered and fell madly in love with Toodlebunny. The shopping gods certainly looked favourably upon me this year!

Read on for the rest of our top 10 moments of 2010…

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Retail Therapy

VAWK Sample Sale – Dec 18, 2010

Even with the bitter cold temperatures we’ve been getting in Toronto this week, nothing warms my shopaholic heart quite as fast as the words “sample” and “sale” strung together. This Saturday, Dec 18, 2010, VAWK is doing their part to bring some holiday cheer to Toronto’s fashion set with a 2-hour sample sale. I’ve been dying for some VAWK in my life since I watched designer Sunny Fong win Project Runway Canada, and now I finally have my chance…and so do you!

The sale is being held at an undisclosed downtown Toronto location and is by appointment only. Sale details can be found on the VAWK website and through e-mail at Pieces that will be included in the sale are identified in the photos (after the jump) via pink arrows and are from the Spring 2010 and Fall 2010 runway shows. See our reviews of both collections here and here.

Everything’s bound to sell fast, so I’ve set up my appointment already. I suggest you do the same! Can’t make it to the sale? Not to worry – you can also find VAWK at The Room at the Bay, where a fabulous designer sale is currently underway.

Photos of the sample sale selection after the jump!

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