The Backseat Stylers’ Year in Review – 2012 Edition!

What a year 2012 was! It started with a Toronto Fashion Week runway walk and ended with some Tiffany & Co. hardware. In between, we attended a lot of events, made some lovely new friends, celebrated our 3-year anniversary, wrote 373 blog posts, and more than doubled our reach. Not too shabby, by our measure.

Here’s a look back at our favourite moments from the past year. Thanks to all of you lovely readers, brands, PR folks and fellow blogger friends for showing us so much love. We’re excited for what 2013 will bring, and hope you’ll stick with us to find out!

S’s runway model moment for VAWKKIN at Toronto Fashion Week

The side of S’s head was on an episode of America’s Next Top Model. It was awesome.

A stylish road trip to The Somerset Collection in Troy, MI? Yes please!

T and model Irina Lazareanu, giving their best smizes.

Celebrating Three Years of Style with Style Blog, The Souls of My Shoes and our lovely readers…happy birthday to us! (Image Credit: You Just Got Spotted)

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Runways and Showrooms

Toronto Fashion Week: VAWK / VAWKKIN Spring 2013

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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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

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)

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