Nineties model Tasha Tilberg’s can­did spirit sat­is­fies the zeit­geist’s crav­ing for un­var­nished sin­cer­ity.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Brief - By Is­abel B. Slone

This ’90s su­per­model walked in 11 Spring 2019 shows, but her wel­comed re­turn has noth­ing to do with nos­tal­gia or to­ken age di­ver­sity.


in a hot park­ing garage, wait­ing for a fash­ion show to be­gin. Toronto’s beau monde had gath­ered to watch the prodi­gal re­turn of Sid Neigum, a wun­derkind who left in 2016 to show­case his work in New York and Lon­don. The air was hu­mid, and the mood was rest­less and elec­tric.

A dis­tended elec­tronic beat swelled, and a severelook­ing model strode down the run­way in a pleated white col­umn dress and strict black blazer. Her hair was slicked back into a de­mure low pony, and her gait was con­fi­dent and com­mand­ing. As the iden­tity of the model dawned on me—and the oth­ers in the room—the buzz was pal­pa­ble. It was Tasha Tilberg.

Fol­low­ing our cur­rent era’s com­bined fer­vour for nos­tal­gia and nar­cis­sism, the most prom­i­nent faces of the day are su­per­model off­spring à la Kaia Ger­ber or so­cial me­dia stars like Ken­dall Jen­ner. Tilberg is nei­ther. She’s a ’90s model whose ap­peal rests on her un­var­nished sim­plic­ity. Although she wasn’t as ubiq­ui­tous as the Ha­did sis­ters, Tilberg walked in a to­tal of 11 shows for Spring 2019, from Proenza Schouler to Vic­to­ria Beck­ham. She is un­doubt­edly hav­ing a ban­ner sea­son, but when she speaks to me over the phone from her home in Pow­ell River, B.C., she chalks up her much-hyped re­turn to sim­ple avail­abil­ity. The six-year-old twins she has with her wife, Laura Wil­son, have reached school age, and, con­se­quently, she has more time to gal­li­vant around the world.

Per­haps it re­ally is that sim­ple, but the tim­ing for her re­turn couldn’t be bet­ter. To­day, Tilberg’s odd­ball DGAF spirit feels re­fresh­ingly rel­e­vant. “Her pres­ence is se­ri­ous but gen­tle; her look is tough, but she has a soft­ness,” says Neigum, who, in ad­di­tion to cast­ing Tilberg in his show, shot his en­tire Spring 2019 look book with her.

When Tilberg em­barked on her ca­reer in the mid-’90s, she didn’t quite fit in with the gi­raffe-like glama­zons or the heroin-chic waifs like Kate Moss or Jaime King. “She be­came the poster girl for a dif­fer­ent kind of look,” says Trey Tay­lor, a pop cul­ture ex­pert who pens the “Hol­ly­weird” col­umn for Pa­per Mag­a­zine. “She was to­tally gra­nola grunge.” With Tilberg’s hand-poked tat­toos, sep­tum pierc­ing and brood­ing mien, her hard-edged look was a di­rect pre­de­ces­sor to cy­ber­punk Lis­beth Sa­lan­der in The Girl with the Dragon Tat­too. “She was fresh and cute but could com­pletely trans­form,” says Tay­lor. “I think that dual­ity is what ex­cited cast­ing di­rec­tors.” Ge­orge White­side, the pho­tog­ra­pher who shot Tilberg for FASH­ION’s De­cem­ber/Jan­uary cover in 1996, re­calls her as be­ing “a lit­tle kooky.” “She whis­pered in my ear that she was a vam­pire,” he said, laugh­ing.

When she was younger, re­counts Tilberg, she was em­bar­rassed to tell any­one she was a model. “I think I had to prove to my­self that it was a wor­thy in­dus­try,” she ex­plains. To­day, she’s not con­cerned with prov­ing any­thing. “Be­fore, if I felt some­body wasn’t happy with the way I was work­ing, I would take it per­son­ally,” she re­calls. “I have no such is­sues any­more.”

At 39, Tilberg has re­placed the moody de­fi­ance with a mon­k­like sense of calm. Her cur­rent look is “re­ally nat­u­ral,” says Liz Bell, her Cana­dian agent. “I love that she has char­ac­ter lines on her face and em­braces it.” The re­turn of Tilberg isn’t about the to­ken di­ver­sity of hir­ing an “older” model or nos­tal­gia for a by­gone era. Rather, it hints at an era in which the con­cept of a “woman” isn’t pre­ceded by a pa­rade of qual­i­fiers. Tilberg projects a sense of con­tent­ment that is ir­re­sistible. Per­haps be­ing sat­is­fied and con­tent with one’s life is the ul­ti­mate as­pi­ra­tion.


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