Blanche Macdonald Centre News from Blanche Macdonald Centre BMC QUEEN SUPREMES - MEET OUR DRAG STARS! Florid torrents of sequin and chiffon, city streets steeped in electrifying beats of laughter and hoorahs – it simply must be...

PRIDE! The annual fiesta where our city blitz-and-glitzes through the streets to celebrate and be loud about our collective uniqueness in sexual orientation, gender, and gender choice. We love being a part of this brilliant, diverse and empowered community! And after the vibrant victories for the gay rights movement in the USA and Ireland this year, the 37th annual Vancouver Pride is bound to be one of the most vivacious yet! 

Our creative classrooms are built upon a culture of power-in-expression and absolute self-ness, and we’ve seen some truly incredible, utterly divine individuals find their voice here in our halls. The Pride parade is strutting up fast and fabulous, and to celebrate we reached out to a FIERCE five from our Blanche family who have been taking the local drag scene by storm.

Jaylene Tyme: Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate and CQ Talent Leader

But of course, we must leave some of the introduction up to our resident Drag Queen Supreme, the terrifically inspiring, mind-bogglingly talented Jaylene Tyme, Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate and CurliQue Beauty Q Talent Leader! Jaylene’s realm of experience in both self discovery and transformative artistry has made her a powerful role model in our family, and a maternal icon out on the Drag Queen scene of Vancouver (serving realness and wisdom as Empress a few years back) – we simply cannot think of anyone better to kick off this dazzling week!

“One of the greatest opportunities I’ve enjoyed at Blanche Macdonald is that in which I get to be part of a family that creates a safe environment for everyone to explore. I remember how important it was for me when I was in school! As artists, we need to feel free to be 100% authentic. The creative journey is all about being able to let go completely so that the only limit is our imagination! My heart has been so full being able to witness both artistry and the human spirit take flight in these halls.

“During Pride season, we celebrate the diversity in our communities. Vancouver boasts a fierce and eclectic drag community, and Blanche Macdonald alumni are at the top of this art form. Who doesn't love a good Drag Queen at Pride?! Check out these fabulous artists! HAPPY PRIDE!!

Top Makeup School Graduate Matthew Boubille, POISON APPLE

How did Poison Apple come about?

Poison Apple really came about in my childhood. As a kid I lived in my imagination and dreamt of dressing like some of my favourite movie characters, characters like Cruella De Vil or the Evil Queen, and they all still serve as a huge inspiration for Poison Apple's looks and personality.

If you could sum up Poison Apple in an equation, that equation would be...?

She's equal parts good and evil – you just don't ever know which side you'll get.

Tricks to beat the Pride parade heat and keep fabulous into the night?

Wear the biggest, most over-the-top sun hat you can find. They look fabulous and keep your face from melting off!

One technique you learned at Blanche Macdonald that was a game-changer for your drag beauty routine?

During the course we spend a lot of time studying bone structure and the science behind contouring to alter the shape of the face, and that's been a huge help for me. I was definitely guilty of some racing-stripe contouring before learning the fine-tuning behind it, and my makeup has become so much more refined as a result!

Your fave Queen?

Always and forever, Alyssa Edwards.

If you could do any onstage duet, what would be the song, who would be your accompaniment, and what would you wear?

Obviously I'd duet with my Queen Lana Del Rey, we'd do all of Born To Die and I'd wear my favourite little 60's chiffon baby doll dress.

What are you most proud about in your life/Drag happenings/career?

I'm proud of where I've come from and where I'm going. I never thought Makeup or Drag could be such an integral part of my life, but now here I am, living in the city, going to school for my passion and being part of a beautiful, creative and accepting LGBTQ community that celebrates and appreciates diversity.

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself like this at Blanche, in Vancouver?

Having the opportunity to expand as an artist at Blanche Macdonald has been life changing. My confidence as an artist has grown so much and the relationships I've developed along the way are priceless. It's been wonderful to learn with a group of girls just as eager as me and I can't wait to see where we all go.

What are your Pride plans?

This Pride I'm super excited to be hosting Backdoor on Friday July 31, performing for Celebrities the next day, and being a part of their float for the parade on Sunday! I'll also be starting my new job at Sephora, which I got with help from powder-puff extraordinaire (and one of my favourite instructors), Fay Von Schroeder. 

Top Hair School Graduate Aaron Brousseau, Katy Hairy

How did Katy Hairy come about?

The performance and entertainment factor of Drag has always intrigued me. When I mentioned to a friend that I was interested in doing Drag in a new way – like lumberjack vs. pageant queen or a Cyndi-Lauper-George-Michael mash-up – we started brainstorming and Katy Hairy was born!

Tricks to beat the Pride parade heat and keep fabulous into the night?

x1 obnoxiously large fan for both theatrical and practical purposes. And don't forget your setting spray! I personally love Green Marble by SeLr!

One technique you learned at Blanche Macdonald that was a game-changer for your drag beauty routine?

Blending, blending, blending!!!!

Your fave Queen?

My drag idol is Grace Towers – not only is she a beautifully bearded Queen and one of my biggest inspirations, but she has also done so much for our community.

If you could do any onstage duet, what would be the song, who would be your accompaniment, and what would you wear?

Islands in the stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers – and I would do both parts myself!!! (Wearing an adorably cheesy split costume, Kenny on one side looking all dapper in his suit and tie, and Dolly in one of her MANY glamorous sequined gowns!)

What are you most proud about in your life/Drag happenings/career?

I'm most proud of the name I've created with the Community in such a short amount of time! I am so grateful for all of the support that I have been shown <3

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself like this at Blanche, in Vancouver?

When I was Attending the Pro Hair program at Blanche I loved how the teachers encouraged and inspired creativity at all levels of learning.

Tell me a little about Sweet N Sticky!

#SweetNSticky is a monthly show that I put on in Kitsilano at Displace Hashery, Co-Hosted by Evita Versace. We are going on our 5th show and its been a smash hit since the first event! You can find pictures and vid clips on Instagram @SweetNSticky

What are your Pride plans?

I will be performing at Junction on Wednesday July 29th for the charity show Faux Girls. And on Thursday the 30th, I will be hosting #SweetNSticky! Doors at 8pm, show at 9:30-ish. EVERYONE is welcome!!

When not wrapped up in things #StickNSweet, Aaron is busy dishing out toothsome candy hues as a Master Colourist at Illusion Studio & Spa – read all about his story here:

ILONA: Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup student Mitchal Verley

How did Ilona come about?

I had been wanting to get into drag for the longest time. However, I didn’t want to pick some random name I would change later on. I started working with a super sassy 87 year old German lady, and her and I became really close; she was super interested in learning about queer culture and would always bring me Bobbi Brown makeup! I knew that I had to name my drag persona after her!

If you could sum up Ilona in an equation, that equation would be...?

50% of Ilona would be if you put all the Japanese street styles in a blender, and the other 50% would be very inspired by Adore Delano ripping off Kylie Jenner…LOL.

Tricks to beat the Pride parade heat and keep fabulous into the night?

Show up long enough for some selfies then head to the lake – no one will ever know. JK! Pray to the weather gods that it’s not scorching hot?? That and Green Marble SeLr!

One technique you learned at Blanche Macdonald that was a game-changer for your drag beauty routine?

HOW TO OVERDRAW LIPS AND NOT LOOK LIKE A CLOWN! THANKS JON! (+ Everything from Jaylene’s Drag demo, let’s be real here!)

Your fave Queen?

This is a tough one, so I’m gonna pick 2: Adore Delano because I LOVEEE her style and aesthetic and [local scene Queen] Jane Smoker because she is an INSANEEEE performer and I look up to her work ethic a lot!

If you could do any onstage duet, what would be the song, who would be your accompaniment, and what would you wear?

I’d love to do Genesis by Grimes with Jane Smoker, even though it would be more of performance art thing than a drag number – I just really love the outfits that Grimes wears in the vid. And who else can do Brooke Candy but Jane? Pretty much no one… bahhaa!

What are you most proud about in your life/Drag happenings/career?

The biggest moment for me so far was when my girl Frost Blossoms took me to Adore Delano’s concert and I was pulled up on stage to perform a number! It was my first time ever performing and it was randomly, accidentally, kind of opening for Adore!?

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself like this at Blanche, in Vancouver?

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to come to Blanche was because I really wanted to get into drag and further my Makeup abilities. It’s meant the world to me having the whole Blanche family at my side through my crazy journey and I’m SOOO grateful! It feels so good to know that I’m a part of such an awesome thing at BMC!

What are your Pride plans?

Tuesday July 28th I’ll be performing at Peach Cobblah’s Shame Spiral: Peach’s Biggest Mistake, and Wednesday July 29th I’ll be performing at Faux Girls at the Junction for their Pride show (doors at 10pm, cover is donation to charity!). For the parade itself you can catch me on the float for Rent Cheque/ Babe Bang!

Makeup School Graduate Derek Lauscher, PYXIE MCQUEEN

How did Pyxie McQueen come about?

After coming out, the first thing I did was go to Vancouver Pride in full drag! Pyxie was a way for me to show the world how happy I was to finally be able to accept myself as gay.

If you could sum up Pyxie McQueen in an equation, that equation would be...?

Confidence + Beauty = Bombshell Performer        

Tricks to beat the Pride parade heat and keep fabulous into the night?

Firstly, I’ll set my makeup with translucent powder (a lot of it) and then seal everything in with a healthy layer of Green Marble FX Sealing Spray. It works wonders!

One technique you learned at Blanche Macdonald that was a game-changer for your drag beauty routine?

Blanche has taught me so many things that have helped me create the vixen that it is Pyxie. I think the biggest game changer is really the in-depth knowledge I obtained of Chiaroscuro. Without that, I would have no idea how to properly highlight and contour my features.  

Your fave Queen?

My favourite Drag Queen would have to be RuPaul Charles. She’s been such a strong hand behind starting the careers of so many of the Queens I love today.

If you could do any onstage duet, what would be the song, who would be your accompaniment, and what would you wear?

I would have to break the rules and do a group number to “Lady Marmalade”. With Raja Gemini, Manila Luzon, and Raven. The song would have a Lace and Leather theme to it, and Pyxie would rock a few body chains haha.

What are you most proud about in your life/Drag happenings/career?

To date I would have to say I am most proud of making it to the final day of Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2015. Having never done performances of that caliber before, I was extremely proud to make it to the finale show.

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself like this at Blanche, in Vancouver?

I am so grateful to Blanche for the platform they have given me. They take pride in their graduates and have helped me to become a stronger Makeup Artist and Drag performer within the Vancouver scene.

What are your Pride plans?

Pride is going to be a very busy time for me this year. I will be performing multiple times while taking part in as many of the festivities that I can. Be sure to come out and see Pyxie doing what she loves!!

Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair Graduate Jordan Nogiec, Lana Lovelace

How did Lana LoveLace come about?

Lana LoveLace came about years ago. She started when I started playing around with Makeup. I always wanted to entertain and she let me do that!

If you could sum up Lana LoveLace in an equation, that equation would be...?

I would sum her up as a Female Impersonator with a quick-witted attitude and a wicked sense of fashion!

Tricks to beat the Pride parade heat and keep fabulous into the night?

Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray and a fan.

One technique you learned at Blanche Macdonald that was a game-changer for your drag beauty routine?

Setting and styling wigs and hairpieces – hair in my type of drag is CRUCIAL. If it looks like a wig, it’s a wig.

Your fave Queen?

My fave famous queen is Violet Chachki (Winner of Season 7 RuPaul’s Drag Race) and my fave local queen is either Beardonce (originality and fierceness is everything) OR Tiffany Ann Co (sister queen, fish & fabulous)

If you could do any onstage duet, what would be the song, who would be your accompaniment, and what would you wear?

I would duet with Kendall Gender – she is personally one of my good friends. We started drag at the same time and she's become quite known and successful! We would probably do some sort of Fifth Harmony or Destiny’s Child song. We would pull inspiration from a 90's girl group and wear cohesive outfits that didn't match too much, but that would let you know that they were put together for us!

What are you most proud about in your life/Drag happenings/career?

I’m most proud of myself. I'm from a small homophobic town in Ontario and drag isn't accepted. I’m proud that I have built the confidence in myself to walk the streets of downtown Vancouver alone in full face and feel loved.

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself like this at Blanche, in Vancouver?

Blanche was an awesome environment to express my drag goals! Everyone was so supportive and always eager to see photos or come to events with Lana.

What are your Pride plans?

I’ll be working at a popular gay bar on Davie, The PumpJack Pub. I fell in love with the staff and started working there part-time to give me an opportunity to build my salon clientele when I began working professionally in a salon!

Lana Lovelace has #flawless hair for a reason – read all about Jordan’s Pro Hair success story here!


Fri, 31 Jul 2015 00:00:00 PST
#BMCSOCIALSAYERS: Jill Lansky of The August Diaries The internet – the final and ever-expanding frontier of, well, everything. These Blanche Macdonald SUPERstars are storming the boundaries with a visual vengeance and boldness in voice, as mega-influencers on the World Wide Web. They are bloggers, vloggers, Insta-stars and Facebook friends to millions in the online community. They are beauty gurus, style mavens, entrepreneurs and artists. They are doing what they love, doing it with passion, and sharing this passion the world over, often making of it a killer career. Want to know what it takes to make it, and make a difference online? Take a leaf from the feeds of our #BMCSOCIALSAYERS!   

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jill Lansky

Instagram: @theaugustdiaries The August Dairies' Facebook PageThe August Diaries Pins@theaugustdiaries on Twitter






SOCIAL SCOPE: Vanity Fair Best Dressed shortlist; features in Refinery29, The Cut, WhoWhatWhere and InStyle; collabs with Aritzia, Breez and; 26.7K followers on IG and 44K followers on Pinterest. 

FOLLOW FOR: Easy favourites, wallet-friendly wardrobe updates, and wise-worded musings in wardrobe, and in life.

Jill is that friend you call on when buried in a pile of sneakers and silk, desperately scrolling Tumblr over what to wear. Deftly weaving trends into the patterns of personality, lifestyle and whims with a voice that’s cool-headed and warm, The August Diaries has become both a haven for the style-shy and an oasis for the Fashion-obsessed. Her own style steeped in a coastal crispness, fusing minimalism with a European ease, she’ll stop short of telling you how to dress, instead guiding you through what YOU want and need (though, you’ll most likely end up wanting one of what she’s got anyhow). Balancing an astronomical drive with a down-to-earth cool, and a sharp mind with a sharp eye for style, Jill is that powerhouse pal who leaves you awed and charmed at every turn.  


Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jill Lansky

If your life was a hashtag... 

Your favourite follows…
Love @tashsefton, one half of They All Hate Us from Australia, and @melissa.araujo’s feed is amazing. My favourite Snap Chatter is @songofstyle – she’s hilarious and real and basically just eats all the time. 

Favourite place to snack and snap?
Terra Breads has the best sandwiches and pastries ever. They’re so pretty!

Your current top 3 wardrobe favourites / must haves
A LWD (little white dress), Isabel Marant sandals and a hat (straw, preferably). And sunscreen!

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jill Lansky

Favourite event you've been invited to as a blogger?
A private BCBG dinner with [Chief Creative Officer of BCBG Max Azria Group] Lubov Azria – she was so lovely and gracious.

Favourite IG editing app?
VSCO, hands down. 

Quick tip for success in the world of social media...
Great quality over quantity… really!

Your #MVF, Most Valued Follower?
I can’t just pick one! I love being able to engage with all my followers and am so grateful for their support. 

First time you were recognized ‘on the street’ by a follower?
I was at a Tom Petty concert – I was both ecstatic and embarrassed at the same time. 

What’s the most empowering thing about blogging for you?
I feel so lucky and honoured to be able to influence someone’s style, or what they buy. I want to inspire and empower my readers to use clothing as a means to gain confidence.

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jill Lansky

What are some things that you took away from the Fashion Marketing program that helped you get to where you are now? 
I learned a lot in the Art & Tech Photoshop course and made some great connections and relationships in the industry!

The internet has become one of the most prominent sources of style inspiration and identification in today’s Fashion world. What, in your opinion, is important for readers/viewers to think about when searching online for style advice?
It’s really important to think about how relatable a piece is in your life. It can be easy to love a piece on someone else, but will it work for you on a day to day basis?

Proudest moment?
Realizing that I was running my own business – and that I’d done it by myself.

Five years down the feed dream?
Happily still social media-ing and growing my following, but not getting lost in the digital world. We have to remember to live our lives and not just Instagram them!

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Jill Lansky

Tue, 28 Jul 2015 00:00:00 PST

To be able to see and hear the Indian Ocean every morning is a truly inspiring awakening; its crystalline waves lapping at the white sand of the beach at Shangri-La’s spectacular Villingili Resort and Spa, in the tropical paradise of the Maldives.

“My home is an island surrounded by natural beauty! Palm trees and clear ocean. Of course I’m enjoying it!” laughs Blanche Macdonald graduate and the Shangri-La Villingili’s Director of Spa and Recreations Roxana Sanchez. “I have the opportunity to scuba dive every week and disconnect from the world into a breathtaking experience.”

It’s not all relaxation. Luxurious Island life keeps Roxana busy. Aside from recruiting, guiding and training the Villingili’s international team of therapists and estheticians, she is responsible for the short and long-term strategic planning of her departments, purchasing and budgeting, and spearheading marketing campaigns, all the while keeping on top of everything going on in the spa and leisure industries, both in the Maldives and around the world.

It’s an interesting challenge, but Roxana is used to management roles. She rose to the position of Spa Director with the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts group before she even began her Esthetics training at Canada’s Top Spa School.  

“I came to Canada from Mexico when I was 18 and lived close to the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC. Every morning I walked past this beautiful castle and really wanted to learn more about it. The first job opening I saw available was a spa receptionist, for which I applied instantly. The rest is history! For me it was the beginning of a beautiful journey that has taken me to places I would have never imagined. The more I learned about the industry, the more I became interested. I started to understand that it takes a special group of people to work towards the overall wellbeing of a complete stranger. It takes passion, selflessness and good energy to pull it all together. By the healing power of touch you can cure many conditions and make a good living at the end of the day.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Roxana Sanchez - Shangri-La Maldives

All Roxana needed to get her career rolling was a foot in the door. The more she learned about the spa industry, from administration to therapies to products, the more she loved it. She quickly rose to the position of Group Coordinator to Spa Reservations/Revenue Manager and was soon transferred to The Fairmont Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya, Mexico to become Assistant Spa Director. From there she was invited as an Acting Spa Director at Fairmont Nile City in Cairo and subsequently to Beijing, China as Spa Director for Fairmont Beijing. Roxana had become an international force in the esthetics world.

“I was doing everything except being an actual esthetician,” she explains. “I wanted to learn more about how to perform the treatments. I knew the protocols and the steps the estheticians and therapists had to follow. But that’s a different thing from actually performing the services. I was always on the other side.”

Roxana had decided that the time had come to complete her esthetics education. And it was only ever going to happen at one school.

“I did my research and from the very beginning, so I knew Blanche Macdonald was the best school for what I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t think twice about going anywhere else. Deciding to go to Esthetics School wasn’t about taking a step back. It was all about increasing and enhancing the skills I already had.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Roxana Sanchez - Shangri-La Maldives

Even though Roxana had been around spas her entire professional life, stepping through the doors of Blanche Macdonald was like entering a new world.

“It was a completely different environment. I’d been in the industry but never actually performed a treatment. There are so many aspects of anatomy and skin that you need to take into account before you touch someone or apply a product to someone’s skin. That was exactly what I was looking for! 

“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know Simona Gozner too. She’s an amazing lady and someone I really admire. She started at the bottom and rose to the top by working hard and really caring about what she does. I was thrilled to spend time with her. She’s so professional and so was the education. The approach I learned at Blanche Macdonald was what I’d experienced in the industry. It opened my eyes to new things too. Like how important the ingredients in various product lines are.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Roxana Sanchez - Shangri-La Maldives

With her in-demand skills as an esthetician and experienced Spa Manager, it hasn’t been unusual for Roxana and her husband to move to a completely new corner of the world every two or three years. For now though, they’ve found a home in the Maldives.

“All our therapists and estheticians are expats. Our team is from Fiji, India, China, Bhutan, Philippines, Turkey, Thailand and Indonesia, which is exciting! I give complimentary skincare nutrition education to our guests and colleagues, including sun protection, naturally. Here I’m able to combine all my different areas of experience to create an environment inspired in nature that promotes healthier living. That means combining physical, holistic, fun and educational activities, nutrition and, of course, various techniques of spa therapies to meet every guest’s individual needs.  

Top Esthetics School Graduate Roxana Sanchez - Shangri-La Maldives

“Of course, working in a five-star hotel in the middle of the ocean comes with logistical challenges. You always learn something new. For example, we want people here to be wearing organic products on their bodies. That contributes to the prosperity of the marine life, the fish and the coral, in this naturally blooming part of the world.”

Roxana’s commitment to her industry has taken her around the world. But wherever she’s travelled, her caring approach remains the same.

“Travelling makes you better prepared for new challenges. I still love the spa environment: the combination of health, beauty and education, and how it all interacts to help people to promote overall wellbeing. Physical touch and stress relief are things anyone can enjoy. It’s a place where people can come and de-stress. It’s a holistic approach to healing people.

“To be an esthetician you need to care about people. It’s something you’re giving from within yourself. Taking care of the little details transforms your guests’ experience. If you are able to customize every experience according to your client's needs, identifying what your client likes and how they like it, they feel comfortable and they know they’re being taken care of. Once you’ve built that relationship, they’ll always come back to you.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Roxana Sanchez - Shangri-La Maldives

Learn more about Blanche Macdonald's Spa Therapy Prgram

Mon, 20 Jul 2015 00:00:00 PST

Speaking from his chic apartment in Stockholm, Sweden, Paul John Reyes is living proof of how an eye for style and a taste for hard work can take a young Fashion Design graduate anywhere he or she wants to go. 

“I knew I wanted to move to Sweden before I’d even graduated from Fashion School,” he explains. “The more we learned about the various Fashion Weeks around the world, the more I started understanding the origins of certain looks. I really liked the Scandinavian culture and style. They’re very straightforward with everything in life, especially fashion. They have a functional, minimalistic approach with simple silhouettes. If you’re on the subway here 90% of the colour is black and white. I wanted to come to Sweden to be inspired by the culture and style, and to mature myself as a designer.”

Inspiration and perspiration go hand in hand. Paul put in the long hours of research and hustled his way to the ultimate Scandinavian fashion experience, negotiating a five-month internship for himself at International lifestyle label J.Lindeberg. That internship has finished now. He’s still digesting everything he learned.

“J.Lindeberg wasn’t easy to find,” laughs Paul. “They don’t advertise internships. I had to go deep into the internet to find an email contact. When I finally got in touch with the right person they asked me to send my stuff over, then invited me to do a Skype interview, which eventually led to the internship.

“As a fly on the wall I could observe and learn a lot. I could see how the professionals do it in fashion and business. I was in this creative environment that was really inspiring and got me excited for work every day. I took a lot of knowledge from my time there. If I started my own brand or worked for another company, I’d look at it from an entirely new perspective now. I’m wiser and more mature. I have a far better understanding of how I’ll do things when it’s my turn.”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Paul Reyes

Paul’s turn will be arriving soon. He was making waves in the Canadian fashion scene before he flew to Sweden, walking away from the Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Graduate Show with his class’s Award for Collection Interpretation, and dazzling his hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta with a collection and sold-out show for his label, Knownwealth, co-created with fellow graduate Brockton Lane.

Paul’s determination to carve his unique niche in the fashion industry makes sense once you understand his background. Fashion is in his blood.

“My mother is a seamstress. She’s been sewing her whole life. Her mother was a seamstress and her father was a tailor. She always loved to design. Her speciality was wedding and prom dresses.

“I thought I had great style in High School, although looking back at old photos I’m not sure if that was the case. I was more of a jock back then. I played soccer and went to Medicine Hat College on a sports scholarship. I didn’t realise until my early 20s that fashion was what I wanted to do. When I started serving and bartending in the restaurant industry I had to look good. I’d get my Mom to tailor my shirts and make me ties. Eventually she got tired of doing that and taught me how to do it myself. Then my colleagues started asking me if I could take in their shirts too. Mine were fitted and theirs were baggy and looked like they came from Walmart.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Paul Reyes

Turning to the one fashion expert he knew, Paul asked his mother how he could turn his tailoring sideline into a career.

“She told me that I should study fashion. Coming from Chile she never had the chance to study her craft. She just picked it up as she went along. I wanted somewhere that had a professional standard. Blanche Macdonald was the place that really stood out.” 

For a budding designer who would eventually make a home for himself in stylish Stockholm, the journey from Medicine Hat to Vancouver was accompanied by a large slice of culture shock.

“Vancouver seemed huge to me when I arrived!” he laughs. “Everyone suddenly had great style. Everyone always seemed to be doing something. There were so many creative people and outlets.”

Top Fashion Design Graduate Paul Reyes

Surrounded by creativity at Fashion School, Paul insists that it was hard work, not innate talent, that took him to the top of the class.

“Because I’m Chilean when I was playing soccer, people would assume that I was naturally good. But compared to some of my friends I wasn’t a natural. I had to push for it. Once I found something I wanted, fashion, it was the same. I saw that I could succeed if I worked at it. So many times I had to rip things apart and start over. Design is a process and it can be frustrating. It’s very meticulous and takes time and patience.

“Every day at Fashion School was challenging. It was also one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I loved the lab work – throwing your earphones on and getting on with it. When you reach that point you feel like a kid in a candy store. You have professional machines, awesome tools, computers and these great resources, including the instructors. You’re privileged to use them. I took a little bit of everything from every instructor. Even after I finished school I would often think, ‘Peggy Morrison would love this’ or ‘Lisa Gellert would be critical of this.’ I definitely carry their teachings with me.”

Suitably inspired, Paul crafted his award-winning graduate collection by deliberately exploring styles and fabrics outside his comfort zone.

“I wanted to do something that was a tribute to my Mom. She loves luxurious, elegant fashion runway style clothing. I wanted to make her proud. And from an aesthetic and marketing perspective, I wanted something that would look good on a runway. It wasn’t really my style or identity, but I wanted to challenge myself and create something that would stick out. I ended up winning the Award for Collection Interpretation, so I guess it did!”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Paul Reyes

Paul’s commitment to hard work continued after graduation. Joining forces with fellow graduate Brockton Lane, they returned to Medicine Hat to design and eventually show a collection entirely of their own creation.

“The Knownwealth collection was different to what I’d shown at Fashion School – more my aesthetic. It’s chill, ready to wear, minimalist clothing with an edge to it. We showed 18 different looks, with close to 50 actual garments. We sold 350 tickets and grossed $7,000. Unlike Fashion School this was all on us, from buying the fabric to drawing and designing it, sewing it, hiring models and finding a venue. It was all on us. The reason behind the collection and the show wasn’t to get picked up by retailers. It was to see what we could do on our own. We wanted to build our portfolios. We wanted the photos and, more importantly, videos. We knew that was what would get us internships.” 

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Paul Reyes

Paul’s work with Knownwealth impressed J.Lindeberg enough for them to offer an internship to the young designer from the opposite side of the world. That’s typical of Paul’s career. If he wants something, he’ll work until it becomes a reality. So when he says that there’s a new collection fermenting inside his brain, you’d be crazy to think it won’t be gracing a runway and stores sometime soon. 

“I want to make a small collection, focussing on getting it manufactured and getting it to retailers. I’ve always made ties. They were the first things my Mom taught me to sew. I want to start a brand called Mother, which will be ties and accessories, maybe under the overall umbrella of John Paul Reyes. If I can get it into stores in Canada and Sweden I can say I’m an international designer!

“I can’t wait to get the creative juices flowing again!”

Top Fashion Design Graduate Paul Reyes

Fashion Design Graduate Paul Reyes' Top 5 Swedish Style Tips

Wed, 15 Jul 2015 00:00:00 PST

Happily squeezed in between two friends, head crowned in sunglasses and limbs bared to the mounting heat of a hot summer’s day, Caitlyn Dixon seems your average twenty-two year old headed to the beach. Her words come bright and sweet, and her radiant spirit seems to carry the sun into the room.

Yet Caitlyn has far more spectacular reasons than a cloudless day off behind her smile. This young power wonder has just swept through the world stage in a cyclonic few months training with Beauty industry Big Leagues, stepping the red carpets at Cannes, and painting the faces of mega stars as a contestant of L’Oreal’s prestigious new international competition, THE BRUSH.

“It’s been a whirlwind! Every single moment has been mindblowing. There are so many highlights that I can’t even pick one!” (Though, painting the face of SUPER strutter Soo Joo, group hugs with Eva Longoria, and three brilliant rounds of wins are some that may be worth mentioning.)

“I had no idea that it would come to this. It’s the greatest gift. It’s been life-changing.”

Blanche Macdonald Makeup grad Caitlyn Dixon, L'Oreal Paris' Canadian Finalist for The Brush Contest!

A journey that culminated spectacularly in a star-studded Paris production, seeing Caitlyn placing in the international Top 3 candidates for L’Oreal Paris’ new Makeup Designer, began in the humble town of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Since graduating from Blanche Macdonald’s Makeup program, Caitlyn has been busy championing the freelance beauty game back in her hometown, but when the call came for video submissions to the first The Brush contest, Caitlyn responded.

Through a mind-boggling deluge of support on social media, which saw over 5,000 members joining a Facebook campaign to help vote her into the semi-finals, Caitlyn took a top slot and moved on to nationals.

“It was a total craze in Toronto with the competition and the engagement and everything – I was on cloud nine!” Caitlyn enthuses, recalling the daze of taking the title of Canadian Finalist and being popped THE question over the roar of the Niagara Falls, all within a few days.

And sometimes life turns into a giant fairytale,” read her bleary-eyed Insta-announcement. Fairytale indeed. Caitlyn had secured her ticket to the French Riviera.

Blanche Macdonald Makeup grad Caitlyn Dixon, L'Oreal Paris' Canadian Finalist for The Brush Contest!

The next few weeks before the big flight went by in a flurry with Caitlyn sent jetsetting across the country, hopping between Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto for interviews, glossy events, and trainings, including an incredible mentorship with Canadian Makeup Designer Eddie Malter. L’Oreal Canada’s Communications and Digital Director Hugo Thibault gave her the star treatment, introducing her to the Media, PR, Marketing and Product Expert teams with flourish, and taking her out for her very first Salmon Tartare (it was delicious).

She arrived on the French Riviera in high style, stepping from the runway to the crimson cush of the Cannes Film Festival red carpet, brushing elbows with pop culture royalty like Parker Posey, Robin Thicke and Aishwarya Rai (“To me, she is the most beautiful woman in the world… I can’t describe how exciting that was. It was almost like an out-of-body experience!”)

Blanche Macdonald Makeup grad Caitlyn Dixon, L'Oreal Paris' Canadian Finalist for The Brush Contest!

And, still shimmering in the glitz of her luxurious arrival, she arose victorious once again in the semi-final round, which saw her smoke out Pro artists from Spain, Australia and China.

“The big finale was the day after the first round, where we found out who the top three was. We showed up in the morning and were shown the set, all sleek and white with seating for the audience, and a station for each of us in the centre. There were cameras everywhere. Eva was in her Louboutins and her gorgeous white dress. It was all pretty special.

Later that evening the space, commandeered by host Eva Longoria, would be milling with a dizzying list of star names: models Karlie Kloss, Doutzen Kroes, Lara Stone, Barbara Palvin and Soo Joo Park, as well as heavy-hitting L’Oreal Paris pros Karim Rahman, Yann Joffredo, Michael Angel, and social media celebrity Kristina Bazan on the panel. It was enough to make anyone keel over in anticipation and pressure, but Caitlyn kept cool-headed and focused throughout – with a little help from some musically-inclined friends.

“We had quite a bit of time to wait while they were setting up, and I had two songs that I had been playing over and over in my headphones: Shania Twain’s ‘Today is Your Day’ and Carrie Underwood’s ‘Crazy Dreams,’” Caitlyn admits with a smile. “Both of those songs really speak to me and they kept me focused and calm. I always do some breathing exercises as well!”

Shania and Carrie seem to have done Caitlyn good, as she confidently slicked on a graphic take on Soo Joo’s blue ‘colour obsession’ that had models and panel members in collective coos of awe.

Blanche Macdonald Makeup grad Caitlyn Dixon, L'Oreal Paris' Canadian Finalist for The Brush Contest!

“When we were pulling up to Cannes on the train, I was looking at the ocean and admiring the French Riviera – how it faded, the further you looked, into that deeper and deeper blue. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. I was thinking to myself, ‘I need to use the ocean as my inspiration at some point in this competition if I can.’ So when Soo Joo said that we should use water as our inspiration, I thought, ‘OK, let’s do this.’”

“I would have been a lot more nervous two and a half years ago! All the the freelancing and assisting that I did really helped in that moment for me to feel calm and feel prepared. It was just like I was doing a regular Makeup application – that’s how I treated it."

It all began in the Makeup studios of the Blanche Macdonald Centre. Looking back on the mad rush of the practical exams and photo shoots that ignited her year in the Makeup program – at the research, prep and creative charge of each time-capped challenge – it is clear to Caitlyn that her ability to push herself under pressure was discovered and found strength then. A mini beauty bootcamp leading up to Paris with BMC Fashion Makeup Director Jon Hennessey – whose globe-trotting credits include working with big Fashion and Celebrity names (Coco Rocha, Alicia Keys, Alexander McQueen, Valentino), as well as dolling up the elite for the Cannes Red Carpet – brought her back to the halls where her taste and talent for challenge first took flight.

“Jon and I really focused on perfecting the skin - making it look flawless and complete. We worked on technique and perfecting the little things because that’s what makes a look polished and sets it apart. On my own I did a lot of researching of trends. Getting yourself in the know with that sort of stuff is so important.

“The opportunity to work with Jon was in itself a total dream come true. A lot of the artists that I learned from at Blanche Macdonald are doing amazing things and are a huge inspiration because I’ve met them and have seen what they can do, and this makes it seem more attainable.”

Blanche Macdonald Makeup grad Caitlyn Dixon, L'Oreal Paris' Canadian Finalist for The Brush Contest!

Between televised slots with CTV and ETalk, being invited to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, and meeting the Editor-in-Chief of Elle Quebec (watch for her feature in the September issue, hitting newsstands August 11th!), Caitlyn somehow managed to keep her more personal publicity of social media running on a pace as engaging and breathtaking as her realtime experience. And thousands were keeping up.

“I wanted to include everyone in my journey, especially given all of the support I received from everybody in my hometown, and from Blanche Macdonald. It’s so important to be present. Now I can’t go anywhere in my hometown without somebody congratulating me!

“It’s been incredible – I don’t even have words for it. I wish that I could send every single person a thank-you card! It’s been so humbling to have that support. I feel so lucky and really am grateful.”

Even without the title she set out on this journey to achieve, Caitlyn has gained an invaluable array of industry insights, connections, confidence, and fabulous memories that she will never forget.

Top Makeup School Graduate Caitlyn Dixon, Etalk

“I’ve met people from around the world! These competitors from Spain, Italy, Thailand are huge in their Fashion industries back home. They do Vogues, and all of these amazing things that I’ve never done before, and it was so incredible to be able to connect with them here. Meeting everybody at L’Oreal was so great. I’m connected to everyone in Montreal now and they’re fantastic to work with. Even doing the London Drugs Beauty Event in Vancouver, I was able to meet all of the biggest bloggers on the West Coast, so there’s been a lot of opportunity for networking.”

It was five months filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences but Caitlyn, fiercely driven that she is, is not one to sit back and reminisce. She’s already working on creating new fabulous opportunities for herself in artistry and career.

“My passion for Makeup, what I’m doing and where I want to get to drives me. It’s all a journey – through the good and bad steps, it will take you to where you want to if you try hard enough.

“I would really like to work with an agency and do more editorial. I’m building my portfolio to be more specific to where I want to go with it now, and just really focussing on building my brand.”

But for today at least, it’s just sunshine, friends, and basking in the excitement of what is still to come.

Caitlyn Dixon

Learn more about Blanche Macdonald's Makeup Program!

Mon, 06 Jul 2015 00:00:00 PST