Touch of Fashion Changed My Life

 
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Right as I was finishing up my undergrad, I was out with friends at a local club in Toronto. I had finished my thesis successfully and was wrapping up a couple more courses. I was almost free from the student life... happy to be able to see the finish line off in the distance, but apprehensive of what would happen when I crossed it.

While I was dancing the night away to a hypnotizing beat, I bumped into one of my favourite Canadian designers: Sunny Fong, winner of the 2nd season of Project Runway Canada and owner / designer of fashion atelier VAWK. At the time, I was just a fangirl. Years later, it all makes sense as to why that happened. 

Actress Elisha Cuthbert in VAWK SS'13

Actress Elisha Cuthbert in VAWK SS'13

At this point in my life, I truly believe that nothing is accidental. The synchronicity of the Universe is something I've started paying attention to in my mid-late twenties, and it keeps delivering!

We eventually managed to meet up at his studio, where he pitched a collaboration for his upcoming womenswear collection, aimed to walk down the runway at Toronto Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2013 showing. He told me that he really liked the work I was posting on my Facebook account. I played it cool as best as I could but was dying inside that he was so complimentary of my work. 

He told me that his inspiration for the collection was strong female artists, specifically Frida Kahlo and Madonna. Right away I got excited. How could this high-profile designer want to work with me? Immediately, idea after idea sparked in my mind. The graphics were taking shape before the end of that first meeting.

As a designer, it's music to my ears when a client or collaborator says: "Do what you want, I trust you." At that age, to be given a platform to showcase my current point of view was HUGE! It didn't even feel real.

For me, I wanted to take the overarching theme of nature in Kahlo’s art, and mash it up with Madonna's message in her music: Women kicked ass. Women are nature. I went to Allan Gardens (Toronto) and took a TON of photos of the flora, hoping to get a variety of textures and bright colours to use in this collaboration.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm obsessed with colour.

I brought Madonna into the mix by thinking of her famous lyrics, like ‘Open Your Heart’, ‘Dance On Air’ (Vogue) and ‘Love Wears No Disguise’ (Into The Groove). By blending themes of feminine strength, vulnerability and love, I came up with the 3 graphics that would ultimately be part of the final collection.

I had an amazing show of support for the runway show!

I had an amazing show of support for the runway show!

Looking back at that project, after I've gone out into the world, I realize that Sunny taught me a few valuable life lessons. He showed me that no matter what we achieve in life, to always be humble. We shouldn't measure ourselves by the things that we do, but the connections we make through our art. After we worked together, I never forgot that, and have always done my best to keep that at the forefront of my mind when working with other people.

VAWK designer Sunny Fong | Photo Pulp Magazine

VAWK designer Sunny Fong | Photo Pulp Magazine

At the tender age of 24, I was showing my art, myself, on a national stage. In a world, I never thought I’d be part of. Looking back, it feels surreal that it was even a part of my life. I'm forever thankful for Sunny and how much he believed in my talent at a time when I couldn’t even see it myself.