Blanche Macdonald Centre News from Blanche Macdonald Centre One to Watch: Winnipeg's Double Threat Paige Roy, Pro Nail and Makeup Talent Top Nail and Makeup School Graduate Paige Roy

For clients of twice-graduate Paige Roy, imagination is truly at their fingertips. Since launching off from both Blanche Macdonald’s Global Makeup and Nail Parlour programs, Paige has been busy brushing out incredible creatives which have seen nails metamorphosed into monarch butterflies, dragon’s treasure, beetle shells and lighting storms (to name a few).

With a social media following that is on the up and up, a position as Nail Technician and Makeup Artist in one of Winnipeg’s hottest salons, Cutting Loose Hair Design, and exciting makeup adventures on the horizon, the young lady from the small town of Victoria Beach, Manitoba is already changing Winnipeg’s perception of what’s possible.

“I really like when I’m taking off my clients’ nail work, and they say ‘Oh! It doesn’t hurt! My nails still look good!’“ she laughs.  “I say ‘Yeah! It’s because I do it properly!’ It’s nice when people realize that I’m doing things the right way and taking my time to do it well. I’ve got a lot of girls who are used to going to other shops who want to be out in 20 minutes. Once they sit down I tell that they’ll be here for a while!”

Top Nail and Makeup School Graduate Paige Roy

Paige is now the go-to girl for nail art and event makeup in Winnipeg, but it took her traveling across the country to Canada’s Top Makeup and Nail School to get there. Piqued by the artistry she encountered during her stint modeling, Paige made the leap to the other side of the brush and began her search for the best place to make most of her time away from home, leading her to take on a pair of courses at the Blanche Macdonald Centre.

“I saw that there was a Global Makeup program and I knew I wanted to do that. The Nail Parlour course looked amazing as well, and when I found out that Makeup was only three days a week, I knew that I could fit it in!  

“I thought it would be more scary because it’s such a big city, but I was close to school and it was super easy to get everywhere. There was a speaker from MAC Cosmetics a couple of days before I started, and my Admissions Director Jill Wyness suggested that I come to see that. The transition was so nice, and everyone was really helpful.”

Top Nail and Makeup School Graduate Paige Roy

The Blanche Macdonald Makeup Career office was a regular haunt for Paige, and Career Director Heather Sosa recalls her as being a true ‘go-getter’ from the get-go. Though she was thousands of kilometres away from her home, Paige knew that her Métis community was behind her all the way. This support provided inspiration to fill her already brimming double-bill schedule with volunteer and charity work.

“I wanted to do as much as I could while I was there to get the experience in,” she continues. “It’s true that you get out of your time at Blanche Macdonald what you put into it and you can’t just go out expecting to get famous. You have to volunteer, do free photoshoots.”

Though it is impossible for her to pick just one favourite moment from two courses full of memories, it was during the Nail Art finals in school that Paige found her passion set to shining.

 Top Nail and Makeup School Graduate Paige Roy

“It was exciting, and I was inspired by how much you could do with it. I thought, I’ve got to try something crazy and see what I can do with all this stuff.

“I try to figure out and think of things that other people haven’t done yet. I’m always trying to create new things and new techniques.”

This spark for experimentation and play has now become an emblem for Paige’s sensational designs, which have led her to establishing a community of followers on Instagram that grows each day.

“It’s fun! I’m really addicted to Instagram and meeting people on there. It helps me get clients. It definitely is a learning experience; I’ve come to realize that you have to put up high quality photos, and that people don’t like to see pictures of feet,” she laughs. “So don’t post up pedicures!”

Top Nail and Makeup School Graduate Paige Roy

With a supportive home in the Cutting Loose salon and a steady stream of fans eagerly awaiting each new nail art masterpiece, Paige is far from complacent in the success she has so far found. She is already striving to reach the next level.

“One of my goals this year is to do more makeup. I’ve been doing a lot of photoshoots for hairstylists entering competitions, and I’ve been doing more weddings and grads. This year I’m definitely focusing on that. I want to do more fashion too, and I’ve planned some photoshoots to enter Salon Magazine’s Contessa Awards and the Mirror Awards.”

There are no doubts that Paige will excel in these new ventures; her passion and constant drive for new challenges over which her creative mind can soar will keep her star rising.

Top Nail and Makeup School Graduate Paige Roy

“You can go wherever you want with this. You can do it in a salon, you can do freelance, you can do retail, do photoshoots. You can go anywhere and do a bit of everything. You make your own schedule when you get out there, and just do different things every day!”

Follow Paige Roy on Instagram @princess_paige1

Paige Roy's Top 5 Favourite Makeup and Nail Products


Learn more about Canada's Top Nail School Program!

Thu, 10 Jul 2014 00:00:00 PST
Doing it 'The Blanche Way' in Mexico City - Esthetics Graduate Cecilia Valdes Brings the Moor Experience Home! Top Esthetics School Graduate Cecilia Valdes

For Cecilia Valdes, born and raised in the bustle of Mexico City, an opportunity presented is never untaken, especially when it involves a business plan and a venue through which to share the healing powers of natural products.

“For me, it is the key element. The market in Mexico is only starting to be more aware [of the benefits of natural ingredients]. We are a little bit behind on that, but I feel that it is important. A line that gives you great results and is natural? Well, I think that’s the best combination.”

This winning combination comes in the form of Moor Skincare which, thanks to Cecilia’s phenomenal entrepreneurial spirit and head full of fresh know-how from Canada’s Top Spa Therapy School, is now an established favourite in her home city, sold in her lovely Moor Spa + Nails locales.

“After graduating from Blanche we came back to Mexico City, in November, and by February we had opened the spa. So everything was very fast!”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Cecilia Valdes

And it’s been shooting up from there. In only three short years since Cecilia and her husband opened the doors to the first ever Moor Spa, they have laid the foundations of a botanical skincare empire with three buzzing locations, including one nestled in the prestigious walls of Saks Fifth Avenue. This growth may seem incredible, until you meet with her fiery sparkle and you realize that Cecilia is a woman for whom words of ‘okay’ or ‘good enough’ simply do not exist.

“You do the right things, you have the right personality and the right location… but I think the most important thing is the service you offer. As an esthetician we have to give our clients the best - not just a facial, the BEST facial they have ever had. We have to give them our whole selves, and I think that is the key element to being successful.”

For Cecilia, the best could only be found in the Esthetics and Spa Therapy program at Blanche Macdonald. Having studied Business Administration in Mexico, the foundations for her dreams were set, and it was time to hone in on the industry in which she would set the passion for her goals to shining.

“My dream was always to have my own business. I looked into just about everything: Subway franchises, laundromats, drugstores, but then I thought, why not a spa? Why chase a smaller dream? The original idea was to have a small hotel; my husband was to handle more of the restaurant, the rooms and all of that. We got married, we moved to Canada, he took a Hotel Management course, and I came to Blanche as I wanted to have my own spa at the hotel- that was the goal!

Top Esthetics School Graduate Cecilia Valdes

“It really was a great experience [at Blanche Macdonald]. It was funny, because I was the oldest but I learned so much from the younger girls as it’s a different culture here. I was very far from home and was learning to take the skytrain in the rain and in the snow. It was very different living in Canada but it gave me more confidence in myself. I liked the other girls, and I liked learning from them. I have so many good memories.”

Undoubtedly the memory that shines brightest was the day that she met the Owner and President of Moor Spa, a regular and well-loved guest at the Blanche podium.  

“One day I remember, Michael Beresford came to Blanche, and as he was showing us the product. I fell in love with it. I liked that it used 100% natural ingredients. That day when I went home and told my husband that we should bring the line back to Mexico, he said, ‘well why don’t we open a spa?’ We started on the business plan right then.”

Michael, on his part, remembers her too; it’s hard to forget the daring and determined spirit that took the Moor line to a country that up until then, knew nothing of it’s fabulous healing properties.

“We had to push a little bit... a lot, to be honest. Moor is a great line but it wasn’t well known in Mexico. We had to work hard, but it was worth it. Once people tried the line, they made the switch in their beauty care and stayed with us.

Top Esthetics School Graduate Cecilia Valdes

“One thing that I’ve felt to be very useful is to be positive and optimistic. The minute I thought ‘we’re about to open a spa’, I was super afraid, I had to start from zero. ‘How will I find a supplier? How many files do I need?’ Then I thought, ‘I have to be brave, I have to start from somewhere - from myself’. And that’s what I did.”

The Moor’s botanicals were not the only goodies that Cecilia packed in her suitcase home; her knowledge gained at her time at Blanche was to propel spa practice in Mexico to new heights.

“Nowadays we use the same skin care analysis and we perform the facials in the same way as I learned at Blanche in all the Moor Spa + Nails locations, and I teach my team as I was taught to always give home care advice to our guests.

“Now, at Moor Salon, we do it the Blanche way!”, she laughs.

Though she is usually kept busy keeping clients smiling, networking and chatting up the media (“we have been lucky to appear in Glamour and on MTV. It’s been really great for the business!”) Cecilia rests easy knowing that this savvy has taken root and is now flourishing in her spas.

“I’m happy that I learned everything; I have the right knowledge and was able to hire the right people, and I’m able to know if they’re doing it the right way.

“Now I sit back and there’s no need to worry, and I know that if I’m not there, the spa will run perfectly as my team is perfect, I can take a vacation and everything goes well”, she says, which has certainly come in handy in the last two months, having given birth to her first little one, a beautiful baby girl. “I’m very grateful for this.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Cecilia Valdes

Being able to bring this knowledge back to her country, and create jobs for her home town is a true highlight for Cecilia, and her voice audibly sparkles when the talk turns to her team.

“There are many [favourite moments]; one that I really enjoy is when I see the face of a happy client, and another that I like the same or maybe even more, is when I see my team happy - when the girls are happy at work.

“We have pretty much the same team as when we opened three years ago so I feel that we are like family, and that makes me so happy. It feels like home. I love it.”

This warmhearted and supportive well that Cecilia has created with her ‘girls’ certainly spills over to her guests in Moor Spa’s lounges and nail bars, making for what is always a personally engaging experience.

“We give wellness to people and make them feel fine; we’re like a therapy. Sometimes they just want to feel fine and loved, and we can give them that at the spa. I love my work.”

Top Esthetics School Graduate Cecilia Valdes

Sometimes therapy means a few quality hours spent with friends and family, and Cecilia has this up for offer as well with her ‘Sparties’, a unique feature that has set her apart from the other spas in her area and has made Moor a veritable hotspot for every occasion to be celebrated.    

“It’s super fun! We do at least one a week. You book the spot in advance and we close the place for you, set up decorations, give you cappuccinos, wine, champagne… the girls love it! We get everyone from young to old, to men, and even whole families.

“It’s a nice way to chat with your friends and to pamper yourself. We make it your place. You don’t have to dress up, you’re with your friends, and here you have the opportunity to chat, relax and laugh!”

She wastes no time in insisting that we come ‘Sparty’ with her the next time we find ourselves south of the border, and receiving her warm and scintillating invite it’s not hard to see why Cecilia has done so well for herself with Moor Spa + Nails. Though, her dauntless strength of will and courage in the unknown of new possibilities couldn’t have hurt either.

“If I were to give any advice, I would say that it’s good to take the risk. If you have a chance and an opportunity it’s always good to say yes to everything. Then, you just try your best.”

“It’s a great career because you get the chance to be all that you can be. You can be an employee, you can decide to be your own boss. If I can be successful, then I don’t see why anyone else could not. Anyone can!”

Cecilia Valdes' Top 5 Favourite Moor Skincare Products

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 00:00:00 PST
From Small Town Salmon Arm, BC to Australia's YouTube Sensation, Blanche Macdonald Fashion Merchandising Graduate Karissa Pukas Top Fashion School Graduate Karissa Pukas

She’ll deny it of course, but Karissa Pukas is a celebrity. Her beauty, fashion and lifestyle YouTube channel, Saturday Night’s Alrite (now known as Karissa Pukas) and its sibling vlog channel, Sunday Morning’s Ok Too, have over half a million combined subscribers, with fans from all over the world tuning in to see the Blanche Macdonald Fashion Merchandising graduate’s easy-going and honest approach to personal style, makeup and hair tutorials, and life as a Canadian in the sun.

Broadcasting to Planet Earth from her home on the Central Coast, New South Wales, Australia, what started as a hobby is now a full time job. Karissa worked hard and smart to create her popularity. Now she’s converting that fame into collaborations with a growing list of fashion and beauty brands. She’s even launched her own line of eyelashes, SocialEyes. 

“Sure, I’m known on the Internet,” she’ll admit if you push her. “If I go to the shopping centre there’s at least one or two people who’ll say hello and say that they watch my channel. That’s really cool. The first time I was recognised I was in New Zealand in a line up for a Subway. I was ordering a sandwich and the girl behind me recognised my voice from YouTube. That was pretty surreal.” 

Top Fashion Merchandising School Graduate Karissa Pukas

If you told Karissa five years ago that’d she’d be an on-line star living and getting recognised on the far side of the world, she’d think you were crazy. Back then a career in fashion and beauty was the last thing on her mind.

“I’m from Salmon Arm, British Columbia, and I was the opposite of a fashionista growing up. I was a little tomboy. The world of fashion and beauty didn’t exist in Salmon Arm. I wouldn’t even wear pink!

“When I was 19 I was living in Vancouver and I really wanted to meet girlfriends because I was new to the city and didn’t really know that many people. I thought getting into fashion and beauty would be a good way of meeting new friends.” 

Karissa’s new pastime coincided with her discovery of a certain Vancouver Fashion School

“My cousin introduced me to Blanche Macdonald. It definitely seemed like the best option. When I started the program I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career in fashion. I wanted to have a taste of everything and see what sat well with me. It was actually a lot more intense than I’d assumed. I really liked the classes on PR and Fashion Show Production. I knew that I liked speaking to people and having creative control over what I’m doing. What I learned in PR class was how to attract attention and win a following for something. So about three months into the program I decided to create a YouTube channel that I’d do after school and hoped would lead to PR-type opportunities. I wanted PR companies to hear about me and offer me a job. Now they want to work with me as a client! I was able to put what I’d learned in class towards finding a YouTube community for my videos. That fit together really well.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Karissa Pukas

Karissa’s year at Fashion School did more than provide the springboard for her YouTube successes. It also changed her on a personal level.

“I went from having no fashion sense to having a voice in fashion, getting inspired by other students, what they were wearing and how they presented themselves. That was such a cool thing, to really express yourself through what you’re wearing. The more I started to do it, the more I started to love it. Blanche Macdonald instilled that excitement about fashion and helped me understand that I could create my own style. I took my Photoshop skills from Blanche Macdonald too. That’s something I use every single day now.”

One month after graduation Karissa had saved enough money to buy a plane ticket to Australia (“I took seven suitcases!”). Her boyfriend, Glen, was waiting for her and the 8,000 subscribers she’d gained while at Fashion School were eager to see and hear about her adventures Down Under.

Top Fashion School Graduate Karissa Pukas

“When I moved to Australia Glen had a Sony Handycam, so I decided I’d put my time and energy into making my channel as good as possible. There weren’t that many girls on YouTube at that time who were completely honest and would really bare their soul. I wanted to come across like your girlfriend; personable and relatable. People started following me, companies started emailing me and I started doing collaborations. I didn’t have another job and thought that I might as well focus all my energy on the channel. I thought that if I could get 10,000 subscribers, why couldn’t I grow it to 20,000 or 50,000? I was meeting people, which was exactly what I wanted to do, and PR companies were noticing me.

Windsor Store was the first company to contact me. Eve from the store messaged me and said that she loved my channel, she recognised that I was an up-and-coming voice, and said she wanted to work and collaborate with me. It was the coolest thing.”

10,000 followers grew to 100,000 and Karissa was becoming a valued voice in Australian fashion and beauty. She never lost track of what had put her in that position; her honesty.

Top Fashion School Graduate Karissa Pukas

“I remember coming home to Canada for summer and thinking that I had more followers than the population of Salmon Arm! When I hit 100,000 subscribers I was making enough to support myself. That was pretty cool. People are sponsoring me now, but the biggest thing for my channel is that I don’t ever work with brands that I wouldn’t wear or use myself. I’ve always been very transparent about when a video is sponsored or when I was given something for free. I’m never going to be the person who’s selling something. That’s not the intention for my channel. A promotion makes sense when it’s organic and it’s something I would use. I saw one YouTube guru trying to push a $200 makeup mirror onto her subscribers – who are13 to 17 years old girls! I would never do that. I work with brands that allow me to have my own vision.

“This is an industry that didn’t exist five years ago. I can set the bar on exactly what I want and where I want to take it. I’d like to get more into traditional TV and film – I would love to have a travel show, doing amazing things and eating delicious vegetarian food. I’ve released SocialEyes, my eyelash line, and it's been so exciting. I have a business partner, my brother, and we’ve been able to service Australia and the rest of the world at a good price. I’ve been learning a lot about having a business and servicing demand. There are about 15 different styles, with two more collections planned. I’m so excited!”

Top Fashion Merchandising School Graduate Karissa Pukas

The future is guaranteed to be exciting for Karissa. There are 500,000 YouTube subscribers (and another 120,000 Facebook followers) waiting to see what she does next.

“The best part of doing this is getting to meet people. I try to uplift people and hope they do the same in the comments. Some of my best friends I’ve met through being an on-line personality. I’ve been in Australia for two and half years, and I’m loving every minute of it! Yes, I’m developing a Canalian [Canadian/Australian] accent!”

The next generation of YouTubers and vloggers are now turning to Karissa for expert advice. Honest as ever, she’s happy to oblige.

“Don’t copy other people’s style. It’s exhausting to pretend to be someone else. People want to watch you, so be yourself, and do videos that you’re excited about. Have good lighting, and try to film with the camera a little bit above you. A bit of an angle really helps on makeup videos.” 

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 00:00:00 PST
Makeup Graduate Micah Gilbert Takes Inspiration from Transformation Top Makeup School Graduate Micah Gilbert

Micah Gilbert understands the responsibility that comes with having people in his makeup chair. As a member of the Q Talent team at Blanche Macdonald’s Beauty Boutique, CurliQue Beauty, and as the Key Makeup Artist for CTV Vancouver’s Sunday newscasts, whether he’s creating glamour or on screen professionalism, he knows that makeup can transform more than faces. It can change states of mind too. 

Micah discovered the power of makeup sitting in other artists’ chairs while working as an actor and model in Vancouver. It’s what inspired him to come to Blanche Macdonald and start making magic of his own.

“I had parts in the TV series Noah’s Ark and Godiva’s,” he explains. “In The Chronicles of Riddick I played a Purifier’s Assistant. My soul had been sucked out and I had a pair of prosthetic vents coming out of my neck. Jennifer Folk, who teaches at Blanche Macdonald, was my Makeup Artist for the movie. What she was doing to me seemed so interesting. I’d always ask her loads of questions. She said, ‘why don’t you go into Blanche Macdonald and ask them?’ All the Makeup Artists I knew from my time as an actor either taught at or had gone to Blanche Macdonald, so there was only one choice what school I’d go to.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Micah Gilbert

Micah came to Canada’s #1 Makeup School with zero experience but an eagerness to learn: a trait welcomed by his fundamentals instructor, CJ Wills

“CJ is such a good teacher,” continues Micah. “On my first day she asked us to do a lip with a black liner. I remember touching my classmate’s lip with a pencil for the first time and thinking, what the hell is this? It felt like I was floating on her face. CJ was encouraging but unforgiving too. She’d convince you that you could do it, but if it wasn’t perfect she’d get you to do it again.”

Micah arrived at Blanche Macdonald thinking that his future would lie in Film and TV Makeup. But the more he learned, the more exciting new avenues started appearing.

“With every section of the program I thought, this is what I want to do! I loved how you could transform someone. It doesn’t even have to be a huge amount of makeup. You just bring out their natural beauty. What made it click for me was the way people felt when I was done. It was like I helped that person feel good. Now they’re ready to go!” 

Top Makeup School Graduate Micah Gilbert

Micah knew that to get his career off to the right start he had to start making connections. With the help of Blanche Macdonald’s Career Directors he began assisting the great Jaylene McRae at Make Up For Ever and NARS. Jaylene’s generous words helped open Micah’s door into a dream job at MAC. 

“I would join Jaylene on Saturdays at The Bay, learning the business and cleaning her brushes. She’s one of the most respected artists in Vancouver and MAC knew that I volunteered with her. They said, ‘if we call Jaylene she’ll say that you’re amazing, right?’ I said ‘absolutely,’ then called her to make sure she knew what to say when they called! I went to work for MAC at the Metrotown location and eventually worked my way into the pro store in Downtown Vancouver.

“I loved my time at MAC. They have amazing products and a crazy level of artistry. I became unafraid of colour. I started taking more of a fashion approach to beauty makeup and getting even more into the transformative element of it. I enjoyed it so much because I was selling something I believed in. That’s not selling to me. I’m a Makeup Artist, and the sales come because I believe in the products I’m using. I’m just sharing what I love. I always tell students when they visit us at CurliQue; if you love the products they sell themselves. You just have to use them properly.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Micah Gilbert

The MAC store on Robson Street is directly across the road from the CTV Vancouver studios. When the channel goes searching for Makeup Artists, they don’t have far to look.

“Rebecca Simmons from CTV would come into the store to buy products. One day she told me that she needed me to cover a shift for her the next day. I freaked out but at the same time I was like, YES! I say yes to everything. Even if I have no idea how to do it, I’ll figure it out. There will always be someone to help you do it so never say no. Rebecca invited me to see what she did and how she did it. She was so fast! When you’re working in news, you’re expected to do at least four people an hour. With Beauty Makeup that’s the time you’re expected to do one.

“The next day I was on my own and I was trembling as I did it. I must have done ok, because from then I was on call for mornings and weekends, and soon after that I began to be the regular Makeup Artist on Sundays. I’ve had some interesting guests in my chair. Christy Clark came in when she was campaigning. She had a whole entourage with her. I love seeing my work on screen. I’ll see their faces on TV and think, I just did that makeup and now there are thousands of people watching this.” 

Top Makeup School Graduate Micah Gilbert

Newscasters require subtle makeup. Micah’s work as Key Artist for Vancouver dance instructor Chantal Hunt and her troupe The Stillettoettes requires something different entirely. 

“The Stillettoettes are focussed on empowering women. They start as students and eventually they’ll join the troupe. When they first enrol they’re not used to having their makeup done, which makes it even more exciting for me to go really theatrical and full glam! It goes back to that transformative power of makeup. I’m bringing out their natural beauty but manipulating it to the max to create a more impactful visual experience too.” 

Micah’s been busy since he graduated. When he’s not at CTV or keying The Stillettoetes he’s regularly working at weddings and professional photo shoots, and he always has performers eager to sample his makeup skills at Celebrities nightclub, where he doubles as the Entertainment Manager (“Now they have no choice but to let me do their makeup”). Blanche Macdonald students know and love him for his work at the School’s own makeup magic emporium, CurliQue Beauty. It’s where education and artistry go hand in hand, which suits Micah perfectly. 

“I was happy at MAC, but Jaylene told me that there were a lot of opportunities at CurliQue and I should come in for an informal chat. I was sitting with Jaylene and Gina Hansen, and everything was so polished and beautiful and glamorous. I could see the values they had along with the opportunity to be part of the School I loved. I thought, I want this job!”

Top Makeup School Graduate Micah Gilbert

Micah’s been a core member of CurliQue’s Q Talent Team ever since, inspiring customers and students with the same attitude and enthusiasm he brought to Blanche Macdonald as a Makeup novice.

“Everything here is connected. You have fashion, makeup, hair, skincare and nails. We all work with each other and it’s all connected to the industry. You’re in a constant flux of artistry and creativity, which is really cool. As an artist, it’s inspiring. You’re present when those things are happening. It can be a whirlwind, and it’s great to get caught up in it.

“I love educating Makeup students. It all goes back to transforming someone. I’m passing on my experience and you can see the spark in someone’s eye when they get it. When they get inspired it’s the most amazing feeling. A few weeks ago I was walking down Davie Street and a student ran up to me and was like, ‘Micah! Micah! I love you so much. I’m really inspired to be an artist and it’s all because of you.’ Even if only 10% of that is true, that’s a great thing to hear. People like Jaylene, CJ and Jon Hennessey inspired me and gave me that spark. If I can do the same for someone else, that’s amazing!”

Micah Gilbert's Top 5 Makeup Products

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:00:00 PST
Blanche Macdonald's Spring 2014 Fashion Design Showcase Welcome to Blanche Macdonald's Spring Fashion Design Showcase 2014

As the spotlights dimmed on the Blanche Macdonald Centre Spring Graduate Showcase, and the last of the cupcakes were reduced to wrappers, six wonderfully talented and utterly unique up-and-coming Designers were released into the world of Fashion. Each spring the fashion community turns to Blanche Macdonald, as close friends and family gather in the beautiful sun-lit Atelier campus space to fete the launch of the next generation of Fashion Design talent. Blanche Macdonald’s globally lauded standards of education, ever-renewing and flourishing, is known to foster some of the most anticipated artists, many of whom have gone on to become award-winning and internationally successful Designers in the Fashion industry.

“These were brilliant students that all had quite specific voices and pre-existing sensibilities, which is very refreshing to see in people at this stage in their careers; it usually takes designers some time to express their visions that articulately. Also, the technical abilities of this class was particularly high. I think each collection really reflects the essence of who that student is. There was such diversity in this class and they all worked really really hard. There seemed to be a creative camaraderie that allowed students to support and feed off of one another and thoroughly explore the entire design process. It usually takes a more seasoned designer to be that brave,” says Blanche Fashion Director and Creative Consultant, Tyler Udall (whose international credits include Senior Fashion Editor and Contributor in London for publications such as AnOther Magazine, AnOther Man and Dazed and Confused, Contributing Fashion Editor for L’Officiel and Teen Vogue, internationally lauded art photographer, and Creative Director for the Agency Fred and Associates in New York).

Just six months past since the standout Fashion Lyrics Fashion Design Graduate Show, the magnificent upper level of the Atelier Campus was illuminated once again, brimming with music, friends and the tinkling of good tidings for Fashion Design graduates Ciel Wu, Katelyn Woodburn, Frank Wang, Janna Meller, Chantelle Harley, and Cheryl Stelte. Only a few doors down from the Downtown Robson Campus where they honed their creative voice, and spent a year of incredible growth, they presented a select showcase of their debut collection.

Top Fashion School Graduate Frank Wang

International Co-op student Frank Wang, from Taipei had the boys covered. His collection titled ‘Shade of Youth’ was a dark reflection on the expressions of teenage riot and Emo esthetic that saw experimental silhouettes and intriguing manipulations of fabrics. Set in anonymous shades of nightfall, Frank showed boxy tops in sheened fabrics that caught the light in stiff draped folds, and ultra-skinny drainpipe trousers. One pair, constructed of stretch leather, nodded to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s bondage pants, with a strip crossing over between the legs. The clean constructed jacket it was paired with peaked at the shoulders, and offered a little bit of rebellion that could be safely worn to the office.

Top Fashion School Graduate Cheryl Stelte

For Overall Achievement Award winner Cheryl Stelte, the evening was a coming together, not only of the visions brought about in the sewing lab, but of a dream decades in the making. Inspired by the natural, spiritual, and foreign worlds that she has traveled, Cheryl debuted her line Armaiti with an elegant collection set in thick whites, creams and Statue of Liberty teals. A standout of the presentation was a voluminous paneled coat, with abstract city scapes hand painted onto the hem. Necklines and ornamental pattern insets were framed with the graceful curves of ancient temple entrances, adding a quiet allure to clothes ready to pick straight off the backstage racks. She closed with a brilliant white fitted dress, with airy ‘carwash’ panels that fluttered ethereal about, as her collection took leave of the runway.

Top Fashion School Graduate Janna Meller

For Janna Meller, born in Kazakhstan and raised in Russia, only the most lavish would do. Her collection, inspired by the Russian women she held reverence for in childhood, was made up of 100% Italian cashmere, silks, and gold thread embroidery. Her showstopping bronze bustier sheath and belted cape hit a pitch-perfect note of drama, and demanded an evening spent in dusky luxury. She followed up with a chic camel coloured top with lush mink fur cuffs, paired with a semi-fit skirt for a day strolling the high street, and her finale saw her elaborately embroidered belt, cinching in a beautifully tailored silk-lapelled coat. 

Top Fashion School Graduate Ciel Wu

For Taipei native Co-op student Ciel Wu, it was showtime in more ways that one. Her collection ‘Moi Chou Chou’, which earned her the Award in Garment Construction, played upon both her cultural and personal history with the theatre. It told of the love, sacrifice, and transformation of traditional Beijing Opera ‘The White Snake’, a story passed down from the Ming Dynasty. The themes of romance and transformation were immediately apparent; a toothsome mint sweetheart dress was metamorphosized with an asymmetrical peplumed bustier, and held sway on the hearts of every woman in the room. The male counterpart in Ciel’s tale took form in a beautifully tailored linen suit fastened with a bright polka dotted obi and cording, over a poetically embroidered mandarin collar shirt.

Top Fashion School Graduate Katie Woodburn

Katie Woodburn, designer of the Street and Saddle line and recipient of the Achievement Award in Illustration, led equestrian lifestyle to the runway to galloping success. Her experience as professional equestrian and work with an Olympian rider in Belgium was made evident in the impeccable construction and conscious design of her collection, which saw the melding of horse sport and high fashion. The tailcoat from her second look was made up of an organic fabric of hemp, cotton, and wild nettle, and featured a clever leather interlocking technique that mimicked the braiding of a horse’s tail, and flattered the figure with an hourglass curve. The same technique was repeated in the closing look, on a competition jacket with structured peplum and concealed zip sleeves that allowed the wearer to convert the piece to suit their activity (which was an exciting option for horse and fashion folk alike).

Top Fashion School Graduate Cheryl Stelte

Chantelle Harley romanced the crowd with her lovely bridal collection, which saw looks to fit a bride of any disposition. A polished dress with an short a-line hem and exquisitely beaded neckline announced the presentation, followed by a statuesque full length gown, with an embroidered lace panel wrapped about the back of the waist and set in a godet at the trail that cleverly and tastefully broke with an otherwise modest silhouette. Chantelle closed with a superbly playful two piece ensemble of boned sequin lace bustier with a sheer body, and a full and frothy layered skirt, that had the audience in fits of delight and promised only the most lively of wedding receptions.

On behalf of all of the friends and family of the Blanche Macdonald Centre, we are sending out our heartfelt congratulations and doffing our caps for the Fashion Design graduate class of Spring 2014!!

Top Fashion School Grad Show Backstage

Many thanks to our wonderful Blanche Macdonald staff, and roster of volunteer students and graduates from the Blanche Macdonald Makeup, Hair, Nail Parlour and Fashion programs whose incredible work backstage, and throughout the year made this show possible. Special mentions to Program Director/Show Coordinator Peggy Morrison, Program Director Donna Baldock, Fashion Director Tyler Udall, Fashion Department Career Director Mel Watts, Pattern Making and Garment Construction Lab Instructor Brenda Swinglehurst, and creative catalyst Lisa Gellert. Special thanks must also go to Blanche Macdonald Centre's President Lily Lim, Instructors Rose Aiello, Emmanuel St. Juste and Wanda Sustersich, Lab Assistants Whitney Phuong, and Hana Chiang, Creative Director Kelly Schmidt, and Host and CurliQue Beauty Q Talent Leader Jaylene McRae.  

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Show Spring 2014

Blanche Macdonald's 2014 Spring Fashion Design Graduate Award Winners

Overall Achievement: Cheryl Stelte

Special Achievement in Illustration: Katelyn Woodburn

Special Achievement in Garment Construction: Ciel Wu

Thu, 29 May 2014 00:00:00 PST