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
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, FashionMagazine.com
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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Sunny Fong was the very last Canadian designer on the World Mastercard Fashion Week calendar this season. With the 8pm timeslot on a Friday night, one might worry that the burnt out fashion week crowd might give in to the temptation to skip out on the closing night shows and hit the bar instead, but they didn’t. Instead, they came out in droves – as they have every season since Fong’s line VAWK was reborn after his Project Runway Canada win – to see what is always one of the best collections of the week, and he made it more than worth their while.
Fong showed two collections, his lower-priced contemporary line, VAWKKIN, followed by his main line, VAWK. The former had debuted last season (remember that time I was a model for an afternoon?) with chic office-ready garb for the Bay Street crowd, and Fong continued in that direction for spring with a largely black-and-white stream of day-to-night dresses and separates. These were sophisticated looks with which the accountant in me would happily fill my work wardrobe. The white collared blouse with sheer black sleeves and skirt to match was a standout.
The second collection was much less practical, and delightfully so. The 13-look line-up was everything Fong’s fans, including Katy Perry and Elisha Cuthbert, love about VAWK: bold, sexy and dramatic. From the moment model Rochelle ten Holder opened the show in a jaw-droppingly stunning sheer black dress to when the final fringed eggplant purple gown turned out of sight, I was completely enamoured. It was one red carpet-worthy number after another, styled impeccably by Tricia Hall. The Niki & Lola-designed jewelry, including that Madonna-esque cone bra that had Twitter abuzz, perfectly complemented Fong’s strong collection.
Even tentative models who strutted only halfway down the runway, thanks to a super slick catwalk, couldn’t distract from the gorgeous designs. In fact, it was my favourite spring collection from VAWK to date, and a very high note on which to close Toronto Fashion Week for the season.
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On September 22, Canada’s Walk of Fame held its annual gala in honour of this year’s inductees. As Team Canada 1972, musician Randy Bachman, the late actor Phil Hartman, CFL star Russ Jackson, singer Sarah McLachlan and ballet dancer Sonia Rodriguez received their shiny new stars, yours truly diligently captured the evening’s most stylish.
From the inductees themselves, like the elegant Sonia Rodriguez in a blush-coloured gown and on the arm of husband Kurt Browning, to gala attendees, including actress Jill Hennessy in a LBD from Cynthia Rowley’s Resort 2013 collection and TV host Liza Fromer in a draped violet creation by Greta Constantine, the Canada’s Walk of Fame red carpet never looked so stylish.
2012 Canada’s Walk of Fame inductee Sonia Rodriguez
Television host Liza Fromer in Greta Constantine
Actress Jill Hennessy in Cynthia Rowley Resort 2013
Me in VAWK Resort 2012
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Katy Perry in VAWK
Tonight’s Much Music Video Awards red carpet brought a few pleasant surprises in the form of black, black and more black. I shrieked aloud when I spotted Katy Perry in a stunning gown from VAWK‘s Resort 2012 collection, and then again when I recognized Nelly Furtado‘s to-die-for dress from Lucian Matis‘ Fall 2012 runway show. What a great night for Canadian fashion! Rounding out our best dressed list is Carly Rae Jepsen, who donned a sexy double-slit dress and Dannijo statement necklace.
Did you watch the MMVAs? Who else has “Call Me Maybe” stuck in their head for the 17th day in a row?
Nelly Furtado in Lucian Matis
Carly Rae Jepsen
Images via Just Jared, Bell Media
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!
On Day 2 of World Mastercard Fashion Week, I pulled an ADR. I arrived at the fashion week tents in this outfit and left at the end of the night in this here ensemble. Soia & Kyo had sent over their lush leather ‘Remi’ jacket for me to sport at my front row perch next to Kreesha Turner at their Fall 2012 runway show, so I had to pull a quick change behind some clothing racks backstage in between shows. I have no shame.
Indecencies aside, I managed to redeem myself with a very patriotic outfit. I styled my brand spanking new Soia & Kyo jacket with my trusty orange OBJECT for Danier clutch and my most favourite VAWK skirt. Canadian from head to toe, almost. The shoes weren’t, but they’re McQueen and, well, that’s kind of all that matters.
If you’ve been digging my VAWK duds of late, by the way, you should head to the brand’s sample sale this weekend. You know I’ll be there bright and early, cash at the ready. See you there?
Soia & Kyo leather jacket (gifted) / Zara blouse / VAWK skirt / Alexander McQueen shoes / OBJECT for Danier clutch
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.
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
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.
That’s yours truly on FLARE.com, killing two birds with one fierce (if I may say so myself) outfit.
Day 3 of World Mastercard Fashion Week was dubbed Wear Canada Day by the lovely folks over at FLARE. It also happened to be the day of VAWK‘s Fall 2012 runway show. Wanting to support both, I rocked some VAWK, naturally.
I paired a sheer blouse (that leather bib!) with turquoise trousers (the colour! the fit!), both Fall 2011 runway pieces I was incredibly lucky to nab at VAWK’s last sample sale. The shopping gods (and a certain designer named Sunny and partner-in-crime named J) sure were looking out for me on these finds.
My oversized, croc-embossed clutch (which I’m obsessed with, in every colourway) was Canadian too. It’s a very recent acquisition from the Spring 2012 collection of OBJECT for Danier, by George Antonopoulos. I failed on the Canadian footwear front…but can you really call silver Alexander Wang tasseled pumps a failure?
Hair and make-up, a very different look pour moi, were courtesy of Redken Canada and Maybelline Canada. But that’s a (jaw-dropping!) story for another day. Stay tuned…