Leaning carefully over the side of the bathtub, I splashed bleach across my new Levi’s jean jacket until white shapes began to form on the mid-tone denim. Next, I flicked and swiped shades of green and blue fabric paint across the sleeves in a distinctly Jackson Pollock-esque fashion. To complete my masterpiece, I uncapped black and gold puffy paint and carefully, in my best cursive, squeezed the words “Funky Doo Prep Crew” across the back.

I was ready to rock the ninth grade at Emery Collegiate, trust. It was the era of cliques and posses. The only problem? I didn’t have one. I was a crew of one. But when I wore that jacket to school, everyone noticed. Even kids in older grades asked me who the “FDPC” were. Sometimes I nonchalantly shrugged and said “You wouldn’t know them”; other times I laughed and admitted it was just something I wrote for fun. It’s cringeworthy, but I wish I still had that jacket as a reminder of when I started to use clothing to define and express myself—I just didn’t know who exactly that was.

In this, our spring-fashion issue, which cele­brates the biggest trends of the season, we asked our cover star Gabrielle Union to showcase the colour lilac. This spring hue is almost as fresh, playful and provocative as she is. The actress and activist told me that it also took her a long time to hit her style stride. She was 40 before she decided to wear only what excites her (like an edgy Baja East cut-out jumpsuit or a Thom Browne striped short suit) and not bend to the pressure of approval from others. In This Woman’s Work, Union says that her fashion evolution is ac­tually the product of a larger and more profound shift: a decision to be her most authentic self at all times and in all areas of her life.

Denim was a also major trend on the catwalks for spring. If you’re inspired to shop and decide to pick up a new pair of jeans or a jacket, perhaps you’ll consider stopping off at a craft store on the way home? I could use a few more members in the FDPC, 2018 edition.

This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.