As I slipped the press pass around my neck and walked backstage at the Tibi show I couldn't help but think how far I had come since my very first fashion week experience. At the time I was 15 years old and my best friend and I had somehow managed to get tickets to a show in Toronto during its semi-annual fashion week. Boasting too much perfume and too little self confidence, we walked up to the doors of the show only to find a bouncer checking IDs. My best friend and I looked at each other, and I don't know whether it was our baby faces, braces or Avril Lavigne-like eyeliner, but somehow we knew we weren't going to be attending our first show that night. We went home defeated, clicking through the shows online, talking about the day when we would attend one in real life.
Fast forward a few years, a makeup lesson and a college degree later and there I was interviewing Amy Smilovic of Tibi, my most favorite designer, ever. Although I had been to some shows before this one (read: snuck into), this was my first time backstage and my first time talking to such a big name in the industry.
It's hard to articulate what it is I love about Tibi, however when I was interviewing Amy, she seemed to do that for me. She described her look as "kind of boxy and eased out and relaxed," however this season she was after waist definition. Although when prompted about the inspiration behind this collection she said "I would never use the word sexy in defining the brand," she did say; "if [my line is] sexy, it's very accidental, not forced." And that is exactly how I felt while I sat and watched her clothes come down the runway. The black corsetry showcased the female figure in a discrete way, the oversized blazers were effortless yet a bit sultry with the crop tops poking out underneath and whenever there was a sheer element it was done with a long skirt or high-neck top.
Smilovic, who had no fashion background at the time, got her start in Hong Kong where she was living as an expat. Seeing a gap in the marketplace between high end designer labels and fast fashion, she saw an opportunity to create a brand and fill a need. Her line is known for being accessible, affordable and feminine and has attracted many famous faces over the years. This year it-girls like Solange Knowles and Elena Perminova sat front row, while the rest of the seats were so packed it took fifteen minutes just to leave the venue.
Before I left the backstage chaos to take my seat, I had to ask Amy which one item every girl needs for spring. Without missing a beat she responded with "an oversized jacket," explaining that this season they did a lot of vests and big bomber jackets because it's the best way to ease out any look, even if it's super fancy.
As the lights dimmed and every iPhone came out to snap the first look, I looked across the runway only to see a young girl sitting front-row, with a sparkly purse (that was most likely empty) and heels that she (nor I) could walk in. As the show started and her eyes widened I couldn't help but smile and envy her for making it past the front door -- after all, it took me a few years.
All photos by Raydene Salinas.