Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 will go down in history as one of my favourite days of life. We all have goals, dreams, things we woulda/coulda/shoulda done, and aspirations that hold value for us even if they mean nothing to anyone else. This past Wednesday, I was able to fulfill one of those aspirations when I hit the runway for the VAWKKIN show at Toronto Fashion Week!
I'll give y'all a little background. When I was young, I was obsessed with all things beautiful, glamorous, and luxurious (a typical Taurus). While my classmates were spending weeknights at Girl Guides and weekends at gymnastics tournaments, I watched Jeanne Beker every Sunday on Fashion Television and spent afternoons perfecting my model walk. First, my mom got me involved in weekend acting classes, then she started researching modeling schools and agencies on our hometown. I can't even begin to tell you how many Saturdays we spent at mass casting calls and sitting in agency waiting rooms...my parents paid a lot of money, we learned a wealth of information, and I was fed a ton of empty promises. Getting caught up in scams and dead ends discouraged me from my dream of modeling, and while I didn't give up, I set it aside for a bit.
With a move to Toronto, I figured I'd have a much easier time breaking into the industry. I met a few agencies, did a few photo shoots and shows, then life got in the way and modeling took another backseat. So, how did I go from that to strutting my stuff for the movers and shakers at Toronto Fashion Week? Well, check here for my initial post. And now I'll tell you how the day went! Consider this your backstage pass!
Call time was 1pm - I headed out of work and down to King St. West to David Pecault Square, where the Fashion Week tent was erected. The fashionista in me was drooling at the runway show happening outside the tent - everyone came dressed to impress, and I realized this wasn't a damn game.
I headed inside, checked in, and found my other VAWKKIN ladies ready and waiting for hair and makeup. As Fashion Week staff dashed left and right, I was constantly stopped and asked, "Are you a real model or a real woman?" I didn't even know how to answer that. Turns out that for the sake of clarity, the staff had designated the VAWK show models (who were the agency pros) as the "real models", and us VAWKKIN show models as the "real women." A million thoughts went through my head. First: They think I'm a real model! Then: Are real models not also real women? Followed by: Sheeeit. I may not be with an agency, but today I'm a real model, dammit! Anyways, I obliged and told them I was a "real woman" and was carted off to my designated area to prep for hair. Here's where it got funny.
We were instructed to show up with blowdried hair sans product, and zero makeup. When the head stylist (hair was sponsored by Redken) asked me to take my hair out of its loose bun, it pretty much exploded off my head. His facial expression pretty much said, "Yeeeeeah. Not sure what we're doing with YOU." The look for the hair was pretty simple - side part and slicked back into a low bun, but I could tell my lioness mane was a bit overwhelming. I saw a few of the other Black models getting done up with varying success, and I just hoped and prayed I'd get someone who could handle my 'do without damaging it. Enter Kiki from Koi Salon in Brampton.
Kiki took my hair and handled it like a pro! She said to me "Girl, I've gotta make the curly girls look just as good as everyone else!" and that she did. Kiki and her hubby brushed and sprayed and gelled and pinned my hair into the required style, and I thanked all possible deities that she was my hair stylist.
While I was getting my hurr did, I heard a voice to my left say "Hello, pretty lady!" I turned and saw a CTV microphone, cameraman, and Andria Case right in my face! I was a bit star struck, then had to pull it together for an impromptu interview. I love Andria Case - it's a good feeling to see representation of someone who looks like me on the nightly news, so it was an honour to have her pick me of all people to interview!
Once hair was done, it was time for makeup - Vanessa from Maybelline (who reminded me of a darker haired Taylor Swift) beat my face to the GAWDS, hunty! She had me slaying effortlessly with my smoky eye, flushed cheek, and nude lip. We had a laugh when she came at my eye with the eyelash curler, and I was like - "whatchu gon' do with that?" I loves the makeups but I keep my tools to a minimum...like, I use my fingers to apply eyeshadow. That's how minimum. Lol.
Hair was finished, makeup was done. I had gotten a manicure from a sweet girl who was running around backstage with bottles of polish in a fanny pack, and I took a minute to take it all in while the paint dried. I felt exhilarated to be a part of all the madness! So many creative people in one area gave me an energy jolt, and yet so many contrived people reminded me to always walk with sincerity. Luckily, I have to say that most folk I encountered were friendly and funny, which made me enjoy the day even more. A big part of me felt totally in my element, and I could just imagine the younger me being thoroughly in love with the entire moment.
Next thing I know, it was almost show time! We met the show producers, had a quick run through of our walk, then met with our stylists to get dressed. Let me just say I loved ALL of the pieces in the VAWWKIN collection - clean cuts, smooth fabrics, and accomplishes Sunny Fong's goal of creating a line that can go from the office to the happy hour spot. Getting dressed was the first time I laid my eyes on my outfit - a sexy fitted black trench and pencil skirt, with black tights, heels, and hot teal leather gloves to finish the look. I was ready for the runway!
As I mentioned before, Sunny Fong showed two lines: VAWK, which is a high-end, super sexy line, and VAWKKIN, the more accessible and versatile line. For the VAWK line, Sunny hired professional models who did the damn thing. We all watched backstage on a flat screen as they went out and started the show...and realized this was really real. The house was PACKED. And we were up next. In the blink of an eye, the VAWK session was over, and we were treated to a short video that showed Sunny introducing the VAWKKIN line. Next thing I know, Liz the backstage producer said, "Ok Bee...GO!"
And go I did! I remembered all of the key runway tips: stay centred, shoulders back, don't swing arms too much, look dead straight, smile with the eyes, give a lil sexiness with the hips, don't be too posy, stay at the end long enough for a good shot but not too long, don't slide, don't trip, don't fall...then it was over. Next thing I know, I was backstage getting ready for the finale walk. I wanted to go again! I wanted another outfit! I wanted more of the limelight! I don't know what happened while I was out on that stage, but I felt GREAT. Not one person could tell me a damn thing - in that moment, I was the ultimate sh*t. No room for discussion or contradiction. Lol! It was such a rush, and I loved it.
It felt amazing to put myself out there and live my modeling dream for a day. I loved adding to the diversity of the event, and shaking things up a bit by being a "regular woman" (even though I never feel regular) out on the runway! Many, many, many thanks to Sunny Fong, Jentzen and the whole VAWK/VAWKKIN crew - Ben Barry and Liis Windischmann of Ben Barry Agency - stylist extraordinaire Tricia Campbell Hall - Kiki, Vanessa, Jen (the best dresser ever), Liz, the 2 photog sistas backstage, and all of the other VAWKKIN models. I was a happy girl :)
Before I end this hella-long post (thanks for making it this far!), I'll leave y'all with the video clip of my chat with Andria Case - you'll get to see me with absolutely no makeup, me on the catwalk, and a couple of the other awesome VAWKKIN models!
And here is the full show!
So, that was my experience! Have any of you been to Fashion Week (Toronto or elsewhere) or modeled before? I'm keeping my fingers crossed and phone close waiting for the call to be shipped off to Europe for a Maison Martin Margiela show or something...I'm about to blowuptuate (word to Jamie Foxx)!