When I met Peter Nygard, my shirt was stained with makeup. I had foundation tacked to my wrist, lipstick smeared down my collar, and eyeliner doodled across my thumb.
As I stood in the crowd at St. Vital Centre, I admired both the tall, picturesque models who towered over me with laser-whitened teeth and perfectly curled hair, and the clusters of other people, both men and women, most brimming with anticipation to catch a glimpse of the Winnipeg-based fashion executive.
The mall was packed, and as people examined Nygard’s new SLIMS, I was handed a microphone and put face-to-face with the man by one of his security personnel.
Two days before my encounter, I had been invited to attend the launch of INDIGO SLIMS at the Kenaston location. I left school between spares to get false eyelashes glued on, slipped into a dress that said ‘BOOM’, and touched-up my red lipstick.
It was was raining that evening, and the sky was dark and gray. As I approached the building, I could make out a blue carpet spread across the pavement as a welcome. I slipped through the doors quietly, and was met with a flood of flash.
About half a dozen videographers and photographers stood underneath a mass pyramid of mannequins and SLIMS, all constantly taking pictures. Above, a silver halo littered with blue lights illuminated the front entrance. I caught my reflection in the metallic face of a mannequin with a burgundy hat.
A server in a small black dress walked past me with a plate of appetizers and I followed. She stopped near a small crowd of people. As I managed to get my fingers around a chicken-kabob, I had a chance to properly scope-out the massive store.
Large clusters of fashionably dressed people lifted and admired clothing on the racks. Employees of Nygard were sharply dressed in the new signature SLIMS, some pairing the pants with heels and a red plain suit-jacket, others opting for a relaxed split-backed sweater. Loud, high-energy pop music mixed with people’s voices.
Some mothers held the hands of their young daughters in glittery tutus, walking throughout the crowd to find a seat for the show. Others sat with friends, admiring the different styles of SLIMS from a laminated pamphlet. The photographer in his checkered blue shirt brought a camera to his eye, signaling for the hip-hop dance crew in gold body-suits to squish together, quickly snapping a picture of their toothy smiles.
I was shown to my seat, but was promptly pushed into the back row to make room for others. I took a moment to admire the SLIMS that were given to me, lifting the bag on to my lap.
The pants were soft to the touch and stretchy. I turned over the waist band to check out the high-quality fabric, running my finger over the gold ‘NYGARD’ bar on the back pockets. When I flipped the tag, I caught a glimpse of an big S. I paused. A size small? With my massive thighs, perhaps two size smalls stitched together would make for a good fit. My face sunk and I dropped the pants in the bag.
Before I could readjust myself to watch the show, an employee appeared in a flash of blonde hair, apologized, and switched out the small SLIMS for a size of greater booty control (large). That’s when people began taking their seats, and the DJ started really blasting the music. I slid forward and stole a program from a chair in front of me.
Arial acrobats, wearing SLIMS and flesh coloured body suits, lifted themselves to the roof of the building by wide purple and red ribbon. While they spun, effortless and weightless, the announcer loudly screamed: “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOOTY”.
The commentary does not distract from the acrobatics, though. One girl loops her leg through an opening and suspends upside-down, her arms fanning out with the wide span of ribbon. Another in the background does the same, her arm extended to the crowd.
The models that walk the runway shortly after the acrobats are high-energy and poised. Nygard’s style calls for accents of fur and leather, with high-waisted SLIMS taking centre stage. Styles of blue and black knit denim, both bellbottoms and skinny jeans, make their way around the store. Models with berry-red pouts turn the corner to show off wide-brimmed sun hats and dark, round sunglasses.
But professional models weren’t the only ones walking the runway. A few of Nygard’s staff also joined the strut, showing off the SLIMS in their variety of body types. The employees smiled and waved, some dancing a little as they made their way around the store, drawing thunderous cheers and support from the audience.
The jewelry and accessories worn by the models are bold and bright, but do not distract from the clothing. In some instances, bright bling is combined with clothing, one of my favourite pieces being a blue, metallic, long-sleeved shirt with a sparkling leopard’s face on the front. This shirt in particular was paired with black denim SLIMS.
After a few songs and outfits, the announcer introduces two dance academies, both of which are dressed in different styles of slims. Some bust out hip-hop moves in leather style SLIMS. Others keep the beat in knit denim, the audience engaged and clapping as the girls make their way to all corners of the show.
Soon, the models resume, introducing more sleek styles. Hints of lace and animal print were littered throughout the clothing. Modern zipper details played up basic pieces, giving them more of an edge. Gold accents were also popular for both the jewelry, and outerwear.
As the show wound down, the music picked up, and a burst of confetti covered the audience. I slid through the throngs of people to talk to Nygard himself, but soon realized the mass calamity would stop me. Security was present as people snapped photos with the designer, the crowd so densely packed that I found myself getting claustrophobic. I caught my reflection in the metallic face of a mannequin with a fur-lined hat.
Two days later, I found myself scrambling to get to another Nygard show after work. This time it was at St. Vital Centre, the location of a small mall tour Nygard was doing which included Polo Park the day before.
I didn’t have time to change or touch-up my makeup, so I ran to centre court in turquoise floral socks and brown leather loafers.
As I stood to the sidelines, my face red from rushing, hands clammy from nerves, I watched as people posed with the man, camera flashes erupting as he smiled, his hand a blur as he signed his name to pamphlets.
I was taken past the line, and waited as a man who claimed he was a childhood friend of Nygard snapped a photo with him. I readied my voice recorder and questions on my phone, but it was taken out of my hands by Nygard’s security. Instead it was replaced with a microphone.
Before I had a chance to react, I was face-to-face with Peter Nygard. The cameras in front of us buzzed. I thought for a moment before opening my lipstick-smudged mouth to ask him questions about his new SLIMS.
Nygard told me that a key area they wanted to tackle was the butt- specifically, lifting and shaping the butt. “To us, the butt is like Victoria’s Secret with the bust. She does the bust, we do the butt,” said Nygard.
The second part of the design for the pants was to make the wearer seem taller. Because the pants are high-waisted and form-fitting, they’re styled to fit comfortably like a second skin.
Nygard also explained that the evolution of knit fabric was another challenge he had to overcome. Knits from fabric like ponte roma are starting to become really popular, and Nygard admits that he “screwed up” with that when he first started in the business 47 years ago.
As for SLIM reception? Well, it’s been stellar. Nygard said that they can’t keep the pants in store, claiming that there are people looking to copy the style now. “It really is the biggest product in the market place today,” said Nygard.
For me? SLIMS are the the definition of cheating on denim, and Nygard agrees.
“You are cheating on jeans! We do everything with a knit denim, we do everything a jean does, but we also make it compressed and comfortable,” said Nygard. “We can do with this fabric we do everything jeans cannot do.”
So, at the end of the day, what do other people think of my butt in Nygard SLIMS?
* The quotes used in this piece were not directly transcribed by the author.