Blanche Macdonald

Grad Success


Blanche Macdonald's inaugural Alumni Show at Vancouver Fashion Week!


This year at Vancouver Fashion Week, there was a runway platform unlike any other: The first-ever collaborative show between Blanche Macdonald and the city’s top-trending sartorial event unfolded under the eyes of the city’s fashion and media industry elite. 

From the moment the models began to emerge, it was clear that this showcase was a showstopper. Ten carefully curated Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design alumni from all over the world revealed three looks each to a packed forum of wall-to-runway journalists, bloggers, photographers, industry professionals, and fashion fans.

The audience found themselves whisked from one delight of to the next – first transported to the lively and eccentric world of Alex S. Yu; then to the fabulous collection of Evan Clayton’s magical-girl couturiere; then awed by the hand-formed and dyed wool of Garret Alexander Elphee’s singularly unique creations; then tantalized by the glittering animal prints and feathers put to use by Maryam Asgari. The startling range of stories, aesthetics and influences displayed by this prodigious international set of designers elicited the standing ovation that capped off the inaugural BMC x VFW show.

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Stylist and Fashion Marketing Grad Jessica Clark Creates Stories with Clothes

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jessica Clark

Think working as a wardrobe stylist means a never-ending stream of free clothes and cutting edge looks? For Blanche Macdonald Fashion Marketing graduate and Cross-Canadian stylist Jessica Clark the reality is a little different.

“As a stylist people think you’re always working with high fashion. But on commercial jobs I need to make people look real. That’s what my job is a lot of the time. My clients are trying to sell a product, so I’m trying to meet the creative vision of the ad agencies and art directors. How can I make this actor or model look like they own this product? How can I make them look like the target market?” 

Jessica is adept at answering those questions. Regularly travelling across Canada, from her native Alberta to Vancouver to Toronto and beyond, she’s styled for household name brands like Revlon, Maison Simons, Honda, Adidas, Kate Spade, Vince Camuto, Poppy Barley and American Crew. Her portfolio is understandably full of high end looks for magazines, designers and modelling agencies, but Jessica is acutely aware that being a successful stylist requires more than surfing the wave of the latest trends.

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jessica Clark

“I was recently flown to Toronto to work on an ad for an agricultural supply company,” she continues. “It doesn’t sound glamorous but it was an amazing campaign. A young farmer is proudly looking over the fields thinking ‘This is all going to be mine some day.’ If you’re working on a farm, you’re probably not going to be wearing an expensive jacket. I needed to make the clothing look like it had been worn for decades. The images are telling the story, so those images need to be believable. For a job like that I make mood boards so everybody is on the same page. We’re a team, so I’m in constant communication with the clients and photographers. I want to be sure what I’m providing is what the clients want. And if they don’t like my first choice, I have five other outfits on hand ready to go.”

Professionalism comes naturally to Jessica. Her father is a commercial photographer and he provided the teenage Jessica with an introduction to the world of advertising, opening doors as she began a brief modelling career. It was on one of those modelling gigs where Jessica had her first encounter with the world of professional styling.

“Stylists weren’t common growing up in Alberta, so when this guy started putting my belt on backwards, telling me to put my dress on backwards and throwing another dress over the top I thought it was so weird, even though I understand what he was doing now. I asked him what he did, and he said he was a stylist. I thought, that sounds like a fun job. I like putting outfits together.”

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Blanche Macdonald Dominates the Podium at Vancouver IMATS 2016!

Blanche Macdonald dominates the podium at IMATS Vancouver 2016!

What a weekend! The 2016 edition of the Vancouver International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) was the best yet, as thousands of Makeup Artists, ranging from the professional to recreational, descended on the Vancouver Convention Centre to stock up on product and inspiration. 

Both were in plentiful supply on the Blanche Macdonald/CurliQue Beauty stand, which drew large crowds as Makeup Program Director and industry legend Todd McIntosh demonstrated his prosthetics wizardry over the course of a Sunday afternoon. Proving that the possibilities of Makeup are indeed limitless, Todd created a realistic alien in a matter of hours – using discarded prosthetics pieces he retrieved from the bottom of a cupboard in his studio!

Emmy Award-winning Makeup Artist Todd McIntosh's live demo at the Blanche Macdonald IMATS Vancouver booth!

It wasn’t just industry veterans creating magic. In the Battle of the Brushes, the ultimate competition for new Makeup Artists, Blanche Macdonald students shone, taking a superb second in the Beauty/Fantasy category, and filling the podium – taking first, second and third – in a hotly contested Prosthetics competition, crafting aliens on the theme of Four Decades of Star Wars.

For Prosthetics first place winner Devon Burbank, her victory was a triumph of tenacity over setbacks.

“My airbrush broke a few days ago so I bought a new airbrush and that broke too,” she revealed, minutes after her victory. “We fixed it yesterday and today it broke again. So today’s paint job was sponges and q-tips. Today’s been a flux of emotions. It was an incredible experience and an amazing opportunity to be part of this event. I’m filled with joy. When they said my name I thought I was going to hit the floor. But I didn’t!”

Blanche Macdonald Makeup student Devon Burbank wins First Place at IMATS Vancouver 2016, Character/Prosthetics Student Competition!

The Battle of the Brushes Prosthetics Competition is the ultimate mix of preparation and inspiration. With prosthetics pieces handed out at random 20 minutes before the contest begin, an artist’s ability to instantly harness creativity is invaluable.

“I was excited to have random prosthetics thrown at me,” continued Devon, “Because I love creating on the spot. I like doing makeup on the spur of the moment. That’s when I feel my heart is into it. I was going to use a bald cap but that was all I knew. I was given two eyebrow pieces, a chin piece and two cheek pieces. The cheeks didn’t fit well or look right, so I flipped them and added them to my model’s collarbones, which made them look so defined.”

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#BMCSOCIALSAYERS: Fashion Marketing Graduate Talya Lee

Public Relations maven Talya Lee is where effortless street style and old-school hustle come together. Following her love of the arts and honoring her wanderlust roots, she circled the globe after graduating from Blanche Macdonald’s Global Fashion Marketing Program, dipping her toes in the most exotic of locales. Today, with her feet firmly planted in Toronto’s bustling creative community and PR circles, Talya’s days are a whirlwind of fashion, events, travel, and collaboration amid Canada’s epicenter for the arts.

Streaming in via Skype from Toronto on a chilly afternoon, Talya’s signature mass of dark brown curls vie for a majority the screen as her metal, minimalist accessories glint in the sunlight that haloes her head and shoulders. Everything about Talya—from her posture to her grin—speak volumes about this genuinely cool and humble social media maven. Leaning in eagerly towards the screen, Talya offers greetings and kind words from her bare-lipped smile that immediately sets a tone of old friends catching up rather than a cross-country Skype call. Talking New York Fashion Week, Canada’s national treasure (hint: you probably know her too!), girl power and Toronto’s artistic renaissance, here’s Talya giving us an insight to her self-made, ultra-chic and creatively centered world.

#BMCSOCIALSAYERS: Fashion Marketing Graduate Talya Lee

Blanche Macdonald: A quick glance at your social media platforms tells us that you do a lot, but your main gig is PR.

Talya Lee: PR is my bread and butter and my outlet. The reality is that if you want to be doing something creative, it can be hard to make money. I found that with my role at Langton PR, it was a really great spot for me to be and I’m actually good at it! But because I have a great day job, I can be a bit pickier about the other projects I take on. Those vary from creative direction to styling to branding awareness and strategy; basically, whatever is needed visually. I’m very familiar with all kinds of art so I can connect to it in a lot of different ways. PR helps me translate the visual aspect into branding strategy.


BMC: Tell us about the PR work you do with Langton. What kind of events do you go to? What types of clients do you work with?

TL: Working at Langton has been a great learning experience. We focus largely on beauty and lifestyle brands and build multi-tiered initiatives. I myself get to straddle a couple of different roles such as Account Management as well as Social Media Strategies. Every day is completely different. Some days I’m planning a big event for a new product launch for key VIP media and other days it’s about driving a new social media campaign with influencers. We have been really lucky and worked over the years as a team and as individuals to build great initiatives around brands like Joico, Elizabeth Arden, Vita Liberata, and so many more. I think one very important lesson for all of us has been in learning the power of being a great team—working as a unit and not being afraid to get our hands dirty because the road to success isn’t always glamorous. 

#BMCSOCIALSAYERS: Fashion Marketing Graduate Talya Lee

BMC: You must have made a lot of great connections so far in Toronto.

TL: It was a lot of pounding the pavement, but social media was really great for making connections and networking too. You can see someone’s gallery, for example, and you can immediately understand their hustle. I met a lot of people who I love to work with now just by reaching out over social media. The thing is, in this city everybody is a mover and a shaker, so it’s not weird to reach out to someone and say, ‘Hey, I love what you do. Can we connect?’ But I also did a lot of collaborations for free. As people started moving up in the world, they started taking me with them.

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Yupin Tsai

初次見到Yupin Tsai的人,都會立刻被她輕柔又有些害羞說話方式所吸引。這樣內斂的性格,却藏在她一頭紫紅色挑染短髮和高於眉梢的齊瀏海造型下,极具反差。 Yupin有著一顆樂於冒險,不安於現狀的心。她簡單又實事求是的處世以及學習態度,讓她成為深受老師喜愛的學生。

“在Blanche Macdonald,每個人都在為了成功而奮鬥著。”


“我聽說有個朋友在這裡學習國際市場營銷的專業後,毅然決定來到Blanche Macdonald學習。其實Blanche Macdonald在台灣非常有名!”

來到一座新的城市生活,對於一個國際學生來說,最大的挑戰就是語言。每天放學後,Yupin都會專門留下和時尚營銷專業的系主任還有任課老師, Donna和Peggy 一同再復習一遍學習資料。這也讓她感受到學校的老師們對於學生非常的關心和負責。


Yupin Tsai


“我變得越來越獨立。以前我屬於那種‘媽寶’型的孩子,” 她一邊回憶,一邊不由笑了起來。“自從來到這裡生活,現在的我學會了如果做飯,如何在新的地方不迷路。”

畢業回到台灣後,Yupin很快就發現曾經在課堂里學到的知識,在她離開溫哥華後對她產生了很大影響和幫助。在BMC國際時尚營銷專業的學習給了她創業的自信,並且這影響著她每一天在自己創辦的電商公司 Nine to Night上的決策。憑藉著對台灣時尚文化的敏銳嗅覺和分析,她能夠有針對性的不斷滿足客戶們的需求。Yupin主要穿梭往返於泰國以及韓國兩地進行採購,並且通過社交媒體渠道建立與客戶們的聯繫,提升客戶忠誠度。在短短一個月之內,她就已經收穫超過3500個“贊”,並且這個數字還在不斷增長。




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Top Fashion Design Graduate and Instructor Sara Armstrong

The rain-heavy clouds have only just swept past this city block and a crisp beam of winter sunlight now rays down upon the shop front of Vancouver’s Greenhorn Cafe. Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design graduate-turned-instructor and eponymous label owner Sara Armstrong ambles up the sidewalk, folded in to the dark cocoon of her coat, and we pause together to marvel at the timely turn of the weather. As we upright a couple of chairs outside, brushing off a few errant drops of water, our conversation turns to the magnificent line and craftsmanship of her jacket. 

“I finished it just now, actually. I’d been feeling a cape, but I think I might stick with this,” Sara says with a humble shrug. Her shoulders are framed in angled raglan seams, sloping and structured all at once. 

When she speaks, it’s with dream-like deliberation; every word—the right word—matters, her sentences themselves like sharp garments patterned and sewn with precision. “My style is a strange combination of fashion and sculpture,” she says, “though I actually feel that combination should be more common. It’s about transforming a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional form. I reference this a lot in my architectural seams. My background in sculpture has also been helpful in being a bit more fearless with materials.”

Top Fashion Design Graduate and Instructor Sara Armstrong

Sara received her B.F.A in Intermedia & Sculpture from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, the province she calls home and the city where her foray into art-as-career first began. Though she ultimately decided that sculpture wasn’t the medium for her, her studies became the lens through which she developed her fashion aesthetic: Dynamically arching lines and intriguingly formulated silhouettes that have garnered international acclaim. 

“When I was doing my degree,” Sara says, “I was focusing mainly on public sculpture. I thought, ‘Well, what do you do – work on one project for five years? How do you stay inspired through that?’” She smiles. “Fashion design is my own kind of public sculpture, I suppose. Everyone can take a piece, and what I want people to do is to make their own stories and life around them. I don’t think of them as these trendy one-season pieces. I want the people who own them to incorporate them into their lives.”

It’s no secret that inspiration works differently for every artist, so as I sip the foam off my latte I wonder aloud how Sara goes about conceptualizing, building and showing a collection. “Silhouette, shape and form always come first when I’m thinking of a theme,” she begins after careful consideration. “Then I think about what it sounds like or what kind of scene it would be in. From there it runs into runway, music, and video. All of those things together make a collection. I can’t say that I’d be interested in showing a collection if I didn’t have them all because they’re what bring it to life. It’s completely holistic.”

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Steven Carty Creates Fierce Beauty Dialogue as Drag Queen Raye Sunshine and Director of Education At Studio F/X!

Top Makeup School Graduate Steven Carty

As a child actor seeking stardom from the pastoral settings of Mission, BC, Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate Steven Carty quite nearly had his break. Having been offered the role of Pugsley in macabre kin favourite, The Addams Family, Steven probably wouldn’t have been sitting here today, had it not been for his parents’ reluctance at the prerequisite husking up. As Steven put it, “being young and gay in Mission – you don’t need any more hardships.”

But when one door closes another opens, as the saying goes. And for Steven, calling scene on set life would lead him to spot lights worldwide.

“Watching the Hair and Makeup Artists work on transforming people like John Travolta and Kirstie Alley into their characters was so neat and it just stuck with me. When I was in hair and makeup it would be the best half hour of my life.

“In Grade 11 we did this big production of Stoker’s Dracula, and I got to create the dead Lucy and a vampire. That’s what sparked the thought of going to Makeup School and then meeting [Blanche Macdonald Admissions Director] Jill Wyness during my tour at 16 sealed the deal. I didn’t go to any school interviews after that and started right after graduation.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Steven Carty

Steven was met with a level of support and creative calibre that he remembers to this day. It wasn’t long after his first weeks that he realized the scope of professional opportunity now open to him.

“When I had the chance to see the work that my instructor, Michelle, was doing outside of the classroom, it really created a bond of respect. These are your teachers, but this isn’t just college, not just beauty school. When you graduate, these people can become your coworkers. You get the chance to grow with these teachers and if you are really pushing yourself and really want to learn more, you can. You have to connect and go a little bit further than just ‘Here’s my assignment.’

“I would be running up and down the halls in full face showing each and every teacher because I wanted everybody’s feedback. Every artist has a different way of doing things and that gives your learning this great diversity.”

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Anyone meeting Yupin Tsai is immediately drawn into her gentle soft spoken shyness. Her personality is tucked away underneath expertly clashed prints, with a touch of dipped fuchsia red hair tickling her shoulders. With her straight cut bangs landing just-so above her brow, Yupin is self-composed with an insatiable heart for adventure. Her simple matter-of-fact attitude landed her in the hearts of our instructors, where she became a cherished student.

“At Blanche Macdonald everyone is striving for you to succeed.”

With a dream of retail buying on her mind, Yupin chose a fashion school to set her course. With her heart seeking a new city and her desire to develop her independence, the decision was clear.

“I decided to choose Blanche Macdonald after hearing about the school through a friend who also took the International Fashion Marketing program. Actually Blanche Macdonald is quite well known in Taiwan!”

While settling into a new city, the greatest challenge as an international student was language. Each day Yupin would stay after class to review the class material with Fashion Program Directors and Instructors, Peggy and Donna. This allowed her to see the deep care and responsibility the instructors invested in their students.

“I felt so appreciative and touched at the number of hours Peggy and Donna sat down with me after class just to make sure they had all my questions answered so I was able to keep up with the class.”

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Blanche Macdonald Makeup Graduate Ruby Hogg Finds Big Time Success in the Small Town of Fort McMurray

Blanche Macdonald Graduate Ruby Hogg

Nestled amidst the boreal forest in Northern Alberta is the industrious, tight-knit community of Fort McMurray. While it may sound an unlikely place to find success as a makeup artist, Blanche Macdonald graduate Ruby Hogg has done just that, cultivating and an outstanding career and flourishing as one of the province’s top makeup artists. In the three short years since she graduated from the Freelance Makeup program, Ruby has established both local and national clientele, achieving celebrity status within her community and traveling all over Canada to do makeup for brides and films alike. She attended a workshop in L.A. with the famous Scott Barnes, and her growing reputation landed her on set with National Geographic. She achieved all this while starting her own successful makeup business, Colour Me Famous, and becoming a new mom.

Ruby now lives in Valemount, B.C. with her family, but it’s clear that her establishment in Fort McMurray was instrumental to her success. Humble, hard working and eternally grateful, Ruby is proof that the unexpected and unknown can be transformed into monumental career cornerstones by an expansive view of life, beauty, and business and an enduringly creative eye.

BMC: First thing’s first: We heard you’ve done makeup for Steven Tyler locally in Fort McMurray. How did that come about?

Ruby Hogg: Aerosmith was doing a Canadian tour and Fort McMurray happened to be on the route. Their management team inquired with the venue about a makeup artist. I’d worked on some of the staff for other events and they knew my reputation, so they referred me! I was actually on vacation and asleep when I got an email with the subject “Aerosmith Makeup Artist” and thought I was dreaming.

I thought I’d be so nervous walking into his dressing room, but I felt completely at home. Steven Tyler was a very welcoming person. His makeup artist made it easy for me by sending a list of his favourite products to use – he’s a huge MAC fan. The only difficult thing was figuring out something to wear myself!

BMC: Let’s go back in time. What made you want to become a makeup artist in the first place?

RH: Initially I was interested in International Development for the longest time. I had always had a passion for brightening people’s lives. When I found out I was going to have my daughter, I realized it would be difficult to balance that type of career with our lifestyle. I’d always loved makeup so I decided to pursue it as a career instead.

BMC: When you decided to go to makeup school, what made you choose to study at Blanche Macdonald?

RH: I did lots of research on schools across Canada and the United States. In the end, I chose Blanche Macdonald [because] its reputation preceded it and it had such positive reviews. All the recent grads I talked to were such successes in their fields. When I was put into contact with Admissions, everyone was so friendly and welcoming and the schedule fit so perfectly with my family lifestyle. The location wasn’t a drawback either!

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