Blanche Macdonald Centre News from Blanche Macdonald Centre BRADLEY FAIRALL TAKES A RIDE INTO FASHION HISTORY WITH MARIO TESTINO + Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

“It was incredible to see Mario’s images when they’d come through for the first time. Soon after I started he shot the cover of German Vogue with Miley Cyrus. It was instantly clear that I was working with someone very important.”

Blanche Macdonald Fashion Merchandising graduate Bradley Fairall isn’t the only person who speaks about Mario Testino in reverential terms. As a paid intern in London, England with arguably the World’s most famous Fashion Photographer, Bradley’s had a dream start in the fashion industry. Now he’s back in Vancouver, the lessons he learned continue to guide his career trajectory.

“Every day in London I would pick up new things,” he continues. “I learned that Creative Direction is where I’d really like to go. It’s about developing an eye for things and being able to translate a brief into an image; seeing what the client is after and putting together a team that will be able to create it. In London I could see how important Creative Directors were in magazines and advertising.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

As an intern at Mario Testino +, the photographer’s in-house art department and production company, Bradley’s responsibilities within the team were to research images for developing ideas, concepts, and casting, along with trend forecasting and producing newsletters, ensuring the entire organisation stayed informed on the latest developments. It was an exciting and challenging role that drew heavily on the fashion history education Bradley received at Blanche Macdonald. It also helped that he was very familiar with working as part of a team, having come to the fashion industry after a career as an elite professional cyclist.

“I took a roundabout route to fashion,” he laughs. “I started racing mountain bikes and had reached the Canadian National Team when I was still in high school. Then I switched over to professional road cycling and also rode with the National Team. I rode in three World Championships and the Under-26 Tour de France. It’s very difficult physically and mentally. You travel a lot and you’re tired all the time. And it’s extremely competitive. After a few years I looked at what I wanted to do and decided to pursue some other options.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

Riding and living in Europe did more than keep Bradley astronomically fit. It also opened a door to a second passion.

“I developed an interest in fashion while travelling around Europe – especially Paris. I’d always liked clothes and photography. It just wasn’t in the forefront of my mind when I was a professional rider.

“When I moved back to Vancouver through a cycling connection I started working at Mark James Ltd, a high end men’s boutique, on West Broadway. When that closed I realized that there were more elements of fashion I found interesting. Which is what made me come to Blanche Macdonald.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

Pushing limits were the norm as a professional cyclist. Bradley wanted a Fashion School where he’d be challenged in a different way. 

“What appealed to me was that the Fashion Merchandising program was condensed and I could do a year of serious study. And obviously Blanche Macdonald is well connected and can provide students with work opportunities. One of my old teammates, Cameron Evans, had graduated and he said it was good. He’s at Aritzia now.

“Going into Fashion School my knowledge was more in menswear. I was already reading magazines, but once I started classes I was able to get to know the photographers. After time, and Tyler Udall’s Communication course, I found myself being more interested in advertising. I began thinking about moving towards Art Direction – the in-between area between styling and photography. I really enjoyed picking Peggy Morrison and Tyler’s brains. They have such depth of knowledge in all different areas. That’s what I liked the most, learning about stuff that you don’t hear about all the time ­– like fashion history. Getting to know how what’s happened before is influencing what’s happening now. Your understanding of what’s happening in the industry expands so much.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

Blanche Macdonald delivered more than the fashion education Bradley used at Mario Testino +. It also gave him the connections to make the journey from Vancouver to London a risk worth taking.

“I wanted to try moving out of Vancouver to look at some bigger fashion markets. The scene in London is young, creative and vibrant. I was super drawn to that. A lot of the stronger independent magazines and young designers are based in London.

“I arrived in London with no guarantees, although Blanche Macdonald had set me up with a meeting with the incredible Laura Rule, who was the Creative Director at Mario Testino +. She actually did a talk at Blanche a few months ago. Laura said I would be doing almost exactly what I was looking for and Tyler put in a good word on my behalf. Essentially, it was perfect.

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

Mario Testino’s history speaks for itself. His photos of Princess Diana are some of the most famous portraits of the 20th Century. His A-List shoots for Vogue and Vanity Fair complement with his continual work for major fashion houses including Burberry, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana, Estee Lauder and Michael Kors.

“Mario’s done some major stuff. Of course that’s exciting. But what I found most fascinating was the process: from bringing in a client, Laura would then go to Milan for the shows and conceptualize a direction, along with targeted areas of research based on the collection and fuse that with the Mario Testino + brand. After being directed, me and my colleague Natalie Hasseck, would take that concept and references to build sketchbooks of image research.

“We’d edit that based on what Mario and Laura liked, and work on refining it until we found something that was the best fit for the brief. Then we moved into the casting stage, which was always interesting, especially if multiple girls were needed.

“There are elements of my contributions in every shoot that happened while I was there. On the Etro Fall/Winter campaign the research that I worked on for Mario, Laura and the client was definitely visible in the final product. It was very exciting to see that my work had played a part in a campaign for a major fashion house.”

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

Vancouver is a long way from London, but Bradley is keen to point out that the lessons he learned at Blanche Macdonald were beyond helpful once he found himself in the offices of the world’s leading fashion photographer.

“From my time at Blanche Macdonald I had the feel for fashion and a knowledge I could bring to Mario Testino +. I knew who the designers are and who the big photographers are and were. A lot of the research we were doing was based in the 50s, 60s and 70s, which I was exposed to through Peggy’s classes. Having that base of knowledge to draw from and expand from was probably the most useful thing I learned at Fashion School. Tyler’s class really helped me develop an eye for things. When you’re looking for inspiration or trying to convey your vision to a client everything becomes much easier when you know and understand your references and why they work together. There's a certain level of quality that you need to present when you're working in Mario's World. You need to know the markers of quality.”

Bradley’s back in Vancouver now, adding Graphic Design skills to the Creative Direction expertise he’s already absorbed. On his ride to success he understands that knowledge, combined with a professional attitude, can take you a long way.

“You need to develop relationships with people. You need to make a good impression and take advantage of connections. So much of this industry is, ‘do you know someone who would be good for this?’ You need to have a base knowledge of forecasting and how to develop a trend. You need to know all the photographers, models and designers. If you want to get into this industry, absorb everything you can about fashion.” 

Top Fashion School Graduate Bradley Fairall

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Tue, 14 Oct 2014 00:00:00 PST

In the world of Fashion Public Relations, Kelly Cutrone is not a name to toss around lightly. Even if you didn’t grow up watching hit reality television series The Hills, her reputation for high industry standards, towering expectations, and nonsense intolerance within her prestige New York-based Fashion PR company People’s Revolution is widely acknowledged, and daunting for many.

Not so for Nikki Dindo who, less than a year since graduating from Blanche Macdonald’s Fashion Merchandising program, has braved and survived a whirlwind internship through two seasons of New York Fashion Week with People’s Revolution.

“She was a bit intimidating obviously, but once you get to know her she’s actually really nice and super helpful,” chirps Nikki. “She was the mom figure for everyone; she’d even cook for us during Fashion Week! She’d bring us cups of soup and make sure we were never there too late.”

This is not to say that the internship was all chicken noodle and nine to fives.

“On a daily basis we were involved in things like event planning, doing press clips, new client outreach, social media monitoring, blogging; it was always changing and never a dull moment. No two days were ever the same at that place!

“Still nothing could have prepared me for Fashion Week. It was crazy, but it was also the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. We had seven shows and three events in that one week. It was madness. We’d be in the office until about 2:00 in the morning, have a 4:00 am call time, have two shows that day and then go back to the office until 2:00 in the morning again. We were exhausted, but as soon as the lights dimmed, the music started and the show came on, I was on a show high. It was so great to see all of the work that we had been doing for the last months come together to flow seamlessly.”

Top Fashion Merchandising School Graduate Nikki Dindo

To some this may all seem overwhelming, but it is evident in Nikki’s calm and polished delivery that this frenetic fashion ado is where she is most comfortable. Looking back, she had been preparing herself for this lifestyle since before she even knew what a press release was, planning catered surprise parties as a pre-teen and constructing the family itineraries. Yet it took being cast out to sea for Nikki to see that this knack for event coordination could become a career choice.

“I was actually a dancer in a semi-professional company for four years while I was in high school. I started on cruise ships as a singer and dancer in the shows, but an injury prevented me from pursuing that, and so I moved over to working with the event team onboard.”

Though Nikki found easy success in this path, soon leading her to a role as a top travel agent, her innate thirst for challenge and a sense of something more, something missing, propelled her on to the next adventure.  

“I sat down with my mom one day and she asked, ‘If you could pick anything, what would you love to be?’ I knew that I’d love being in the back end of the Fashion industry, but I didn’t know how to get there. My boss at the time knew that I was itching to move on, and so she mentioned that her daughter had gone to Blanche Macdonald and told me a little bit about the program. I went back to my cubicle, researched it on the spot and that very day I applied to meet with an Advisor. The second that I came to visit the school I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I haven’t looked back since.”

Top Fashion Merchandising School Graduate Nikki Dindo

Having at last discovered a calling that she could get worked up about, the year at Canada’s Top Fashion School went by quickly for Nikki. Though she may have been content listening to the fabulous tales of Peggy Morrison’s Fashion Awareness class for another year over (“all of them were just SO great!”) she set about plotting her future long before graduation; it would be the most exciting plan she had laid so far.

“For a few months I had been thinking about going over to New York for some internships; about three months prior I started looking into various agencies for where I might be a good fit. Honestly, after that I just picked up the phone to call People’s Revolution, asked for a contact person, sent over my resume and cover letter, and landed the job the week after. I just kind of went for it.

“Everyone was such a great resource! I was actually torn between a few places in the end and so Career Director Mel Watts reached out to a couple of past students who had interned at the other agencies to ask about their experience. That ultimately helped me in making my decision.”

As it turned out, the prestigious slot at PR firm People’s Revolution was the perfect fit for Nikki, who became an indispensable member of Kelly Cutrone’s team from the get-go.   

“During Jeremy Scott’s New York Fashion Week show it was utter madness. I was in charge of backstage check-ins and media outreach and we did not have enough backstage passes – we didn’t even have enough passes for the dressers. It was complete chaos and I was receiving no help whatsoever because everyone was just too busy, so I had to take the entire situation into my own hands. I had to break a few rules to let people in and out, averted about five major crises, and nobody even knew. My proudest moment was after the show when people were asking me, ‘Hey, what happened with this?’ and I was able to say, ‘Not to worry, I solved everything.’ ”

“I think I like that energy high of not knowing what’s going to happen,” grins Nikki, reflecting back on the glorious moment.

Top Fashion Merchandising School Graduate Nikki Dindo

Though Cutrone undoubtedly became a role model in Nikki’s thrilling New York life, the answer to who her industry idol may be lay much closer to home.

“Can I say Lyndi?” she laughs, referring to Blanche Macdonald Fashion Merchandising graduate-turned-instructor and PR maven Lyndi Barrett. “She does everything and she’s wonderful! She’s my idol, my mentor, and my friend. I think it’s so amazing that she juggles working here, and her PR agency AND Style Calling. She’s amazing.

“Lyndi has helped me from the very beginning. She helped me get my internship with Motive Communications, where I spent six months. She’s helped me get so many of my volunteer opportunities, and I’ve worked with her on a ton of projects, like the Deighton Cup which was just so cool, a few awards shows, and a bunch of projects with her agency Lj PR.

Once one of Lyndi’s classroom disciples, Nikki has now returned to the halls of the Blanche Macdonald Centre as a fellow mentor to the next generation of fledgling PR stars, coming by regularly to divulge about her rapid-fire success in the industry.

“It’s so funny because I still know some of the people in the groups that I’ve been going back to speak to. It almost makes me feel like I shouldn’t be there, but it’s great to be able to tell my story, and to share some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way. I’m so happy to be a part of this amazing family and I’ve been thrilled to come back as a mentor.”

One piece of advice that Nikki makes sure to pass down during her visits is the importance of utilizing the Career office resources.

“Get as much volunteer experience as you can! You never know where those connections could lead to; somebody could have a cousin that works for Michael Kors’ PR department. You never know who you could meet and who could help you in the future!”

Top Fashion Merchandising School Graduate Nikki Dindo

So what’s next on the horizon for Nikki?

“I’m going back to New York for Fashion Week again! I’ll be going back to work with People’s Revolution, as well as attending a few shows on behalf of Style Calling to do a few show writeups for them. I’m very excited to get back there.

“Ultimately I’d love to be in New York permanently, working with my own agency but I am thinking about having my own PR and events agency here in Vancouver as well, specializing in fashion and lifestyle brands.”

With less than a year out in the industry, a killer reputation, and two Fashion Week seasons already under her belt, the future is certainly looking good for Nikki Dindo. With infinite opportunities and challenges through which to flourish scintillating just ahead, she urges those who may be yet on the fence about pursuing their passion for fashion, to forge ahead.

“The experience that you gain at Blanche Macdonald is just invaluable. Part of the reason that I was able to stay afloat in the atmosphere of People’s Revolution was that I had so much experience behind me, that I was confident in what I was doing and was able to make decisions based on what I learned here. It’s so, so important to seize every experience.

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 PST
Blanche Macdonald Rolls out the Red Carpet for Makeup Royalty Ayami Nishimura! Ayami Nishimura at Blanche Macdonald

Last week, Blanche Macdonald Centre graciously hosted the Queen of cosmetic colour, Ayami Nishimura, for two fun filled days of lectures, laughs, life-lessons and some of the most celebrated avant-garde makeup in the world. 

For those of you not familiar with Her Highness Ayami Nishimura, her pioneering makeup has graced countless covers of Vogue, AnOther, Dazed and Confused, Mixt(e), V Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, W, Numero, has been immortalized in campaigns for Vivienne Westwood, Missoni and Escada, and transformed celebrities of the highest order… can we say Lady Gaga?!

The self-taught Japanese native, who now calls New York City home, credits the tenacity and perseverance of an eighteen-year tenure in London England for her phenomenal success in the world of High Fashion Makeup. 

Dripping in head to toe Givenchy, the ever-chic Ayami candidly shared her first steps of an epic career. 

“I moved to London twenty years ago to be a hairdresser.  I never really fit into Japanese society and always loved how civilized London looked…well in the movies at least; dinner at fancy tables with forks and knives, no chop sticks or tables on the ground, glamorous fashion and of course the rock and roll. Everyone seemed so cool!  I thought to myself, I am going to move there and hang out with those people.  So I did!”

Ayami Nishimura makeup presentation

With a cheeky smile and hit of reverence for a career she started nearly two decades ago, Ayami explained to the eager BMC students how she caught the makeup bug. 

“When I first moved to London I started doing hair on photo shoots for magazines like The Face and Dazed and Confused. One particular job I was asked to do the makeup as well, and was instantly hooked. I found it so much more interesting than doing hair. From that moment forward I was a makeup artist.”

Ayami’s rise to the top wasn’t a quick and easy one.

“For years I was not very busy. But every single day I would go to the library at Central Saint Martins to do research. I made a fake ID and flashed it to their security guards. I wasn’t a student and the ID looked nothing like me, but before long they would be saying hello with a big smile as I walked through the doors with my head held high.”

Ayami Nishimura international fashion makeup artist

Not so hard to believe, Ayami seems to possess one of those infectious laughs that could loosen up even the most star struck student at BMC.

“References are very important to me. I must have gone through every issue of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar from the 1950’s onwards.  Those were very interesting times. I always knew in my heart that someday I would be a famous makeup artist and wouldn’t have time to research and collect inspiration. So I gathered up as much information as possible. I still have stacks and stacks of photocopies from those days.”

Ayami was right.  Between shooting countless editorial stories, campaigns, being a Key Note Speaker at the IMATS and traveling to some of the most exotic places on earth, Ayami managed to find time to visit Blanche Macdonald Centre, Canada’s Top Fashion School.

“I have had the BEST visit to Vancouver. I have never been to Canada before and am so happy.  This school is serious!  I have been talking about coming here for over a year, but I didn’t fully understand just how impressive it really is.”

fashion makeup presentation blanche macdonald

Over the course of two days Ayami shared her personal journey as an artist, her secret tricks of the trade and demoed multiple looks, all based off her cult-collectable book, Ayami Nishimura, published and photographed by famed UK photographer, Rankin. 

“I am really proud of my book.  This is my best work and I am so pleased to see it all together in one place.  Even though the makeup is really quite crazy, I think all the women still look very beautiful.  That is quite important for me as an artist and is probably my signature style”.

One particular student with bright-eyed optimism, asked Ayami to share an all time favorite moment from her illustrious career.

“Years ago, I was a makeup assistant on Yves Saint Laurent’s final couture presentation before he retired.  I believe it was spring of 2002.  I remember being given this special VIP pass where I got to watch the most incredible show from backstage. It was a very important moment in history.  The show was at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and all the supermodels were there. I remember for his final bow, Yves came out and everyone was so quiet. Catherine Deneuve (the French film star who acted as YSL’s muse for the bulk of his career) stood up and started the hugest round of applause.  I have never heard or seen anything like it.  Everyone was crying and smiling and clapping for what felt like forever.  That was a really special moment for me.  That was when I knew, this is what I want to do with my life.”

Ayami Nishimura at Blanche Macdonald

We would all love to be a part of such special moments in fashion. Students asked for any tips that would help get them on the path.

“I work very, very fast. Time is a big deal in this industry and its important to keep the energy fun and moving when you are on a shoot. Otherwise, people get bored and I don’t like that… doing things that are boring.  I want to have fun and get on with everyone.  Remember, you are there to take pictures! Not only do makeup.  The team needs as much time as possible to shoot. You simply cannot take two hours to do one look. Unacceptable.”  Says Ayami with an earned authority that would make even the most seasoned artist waiver.

Then she softened.  “However, when I got to do my book, it was 100% my creative vision. Rankin let me do whatever I wanted so I took more time and was a little more precious with my applications.  Don’t be fooled though! I practice and practice before every job.  I must have done each look at least fifteen times before I did it on a model. My poor assistant!”

 makeup school vancouver special presentation

Ayami smiles at her beloved assistant Breianne Zellinsky, yet another revered alumni from Blanche Macdonald Centre. 

“I am scared of things that I don’t know and understand.  Exploring before the job gives me the confidence to perform. I like things to be easy” 

Seeing Ayami transform fresh faced models into the most progressive looks the industry has to offer (while simultaneously talking mind you) makes it a little difficult to believe that her work is, as she bluntly puts it, “easy”.

One common thread that stuck out in both Ayami’s student presentations and master classes was her eye for everyday objects that could be used in a luxury makeup world.

“Oh, these brushes are for water colour painting, but they are really nice and much cheaper! Most of the time fancy things are not necessary.  All my glitter is from art stores.  I mean why not? Glitter is glitter… I love glitter! Plus you get much more for so much less.”

Ayami Nishimura at Blanche Macdonald

It's tough to fathom that Ayami uses generic paint brushes and dollar store stickers to work on some of the most famous faces of our generation, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and MIA to drop a couple names. We saw first hand the transformative powers of basic arts and crafts supplies.  If ever there were neon signs pointing towards a future Ayami Nishimura Makeup Line, it was on stage at Blanche Macdonald Centre. You heard it here first! 

It was a whirlwind of creativity here at BMC last week.  Students and instructors alike are still surfing the tidal waves of inspiration that Ayami conjured during her time here.  We are so happy to have learned from this makeup legend and more importantly to have made a new friend. 

Needing to make it back to NYC for an exclusive event (for none other than Madonna), followed by a sling of back-to-back advertising jobs; Ayami left BMC with a Cheshire cat grin on her face. “So… when can I come back??”

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:00:00 PST
Big Love and Big Moments - Blanche Macdonald at IMATS Vancouver 2014! Top Makeup School at IMATS Vancouver 2014


Where else can you be in a coffee lineup with a swamp monster, brush elbows with a unicorn, or get bloodied up by your industry idol? We’re still reeling with awe, excitement, shock and pride after a whirlwind weekend at the IMATS Vancouver 2014! 

Hosted yearly in each of six premiere cities, the International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) is the world’s largest get-together for Makeup fanatics to swap quips, tips and, of course, load up on kit must-haves! This is one of our favourite events of the year, where we set our LOVE for what we do to shimmering amongst a gathering of our friends: tip-top Makeup industry Legends, Award-Winning Artists, TV & Film set heavy-hitters and YouTube Beauty superstars.

Top Makeup School at IMATS Vancouver 2014


It is also when we take to the bleachers to cheer on our own Blanche Macdonald Makeup talent in the Battle of the Brushes Character/Prosthetics and Beauty/Fantasy student competitions. At the culmination of two heated rounds of artistic tour de force, we were ecstatic to watch as Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup graduate Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick fluttered forward to grasp at the glassed trophy, taking a stunning third place win in the Beauty/Fantasy competition for her Picasso-inspired face of whorls. 

“I’ve always been inspired by Picasso’s bold lines and colours, and how he does beauty in new ways by using different perspectives and distortion. I was inspired by that to create my own style. This was how I interpreted the theme of ‘Art Through the Ages.’ 

Top Makeup School at IMATS Vancouver 2014


“I was definitely surprised,” she beams. “I was really happy that my work paid off, and to make people proud. The support I got was huge in this. As much as the competition was fun, what meant the most to me was the training that I got from Blanche Macdonald, and how they shared all of the team’s work to get us excited and ready for the day. Just even being encouraged to be true to my own style was great.”

Back at the CurliQue Beauty booth, celebration was a constant throughout all days, all hours of the event. We had the spectacular, spit-fire Siân Richards, TV & Film maven of such shape-shifting works as Halle Berry’s Cloud Atlas transformation and IMATS keynote speaker, spitting out fabulous British wit in what was the CQ premiere of her London Brush Company collection. Present also were the lovely Jessie of Love for Lashes, and JoAnn Fowler, founder of Sappho Organic Cosmetics and Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate. It was great catching up with our industry friends! Emmy Award-Winning Makeup Artist Kevin James Bennett, and AJ Crimson, CEO of BLACKBOARDGROUP Management popped in for hugs and hellos, as well as Blanche Macdonald graduate Heather Nightingale, who bustled over from her slot overseeing the Make Up For Ever booth. 

Top Makeup School at IMATS Vancouver 2014


We had a blast with our Big Love Ball installation, where we invited makeup fanatics (and monsters alike) to show their BIG LOVE for IMATS, capturing the moments and collecting them together under one hashtag-ed umbrella of excitement, #MyBigLove. We even had New York- based Pro Makeup Artist Ayami Nishimura come by before her keynote presentation for a quick snap and CQ booth shop!


Top Makeup School at IMATS Vancouver 2014


We hope all of you that joined us at IMATS Vancouver 2014 had a wonderful time, and for those of you who didn’t make it, we hope to see you next year!

Congratulations are due to all of our Blanche Macdonald Battle of the Brushes finalists, who displayed great skill and stunning creativity: Pauline King and Marina Hume in the 'Character/Prosthetics' Competition, and Jenny Tseng, Mimi Choi, and Kelseyanna in the 'Beauty/Fantasty'. We are so proud of all of you, and cannot wait to see awaits you in competitions to come.

Top Makeup School at IMATS Vancouver 2014

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 PST
BE THY SELFIE! Makeup Graduate Lyle Reimer Talks Keeping Yourself Inspired, and Inspiring the World Over Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

For Blanche Macdonald Makeup graduate Lyle Reimer, the infamous concept of the ‘selfie’ means so much more than a simple point and shoot portrait. Utterly enchanting, zany and full of wit, Lyle’s Instagram account @Lylexox features no duck faces, and no instances in which he ‘woke up like this’; it is rather a gallery of extravagant handcrafted beauty installations, visual sprees of the creative self. These works of app art have garnered him a following that boasts tens of thousands of avid fans, including iconic fashion Hair Stylist Eugene Souleiman,, The Huffington Post, and not a few other big-league industry names.

“Vogue liked one of the Instagram images, and as of last night Edward Enninful, Fashion and Style Director at W Magazine, is liking pictures which I am super stoked about. There are people who I really look up to in the industry who are on board, which I think is very cool,” beams Lyle.

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

He also happens to be one of only seventeen people that Cher follows. Yes, THE Cher. Yet Lyle insists that it’s the ability to inspire and connect with people that drives him, and reading through the comments sections of his posts is enough to make your heart well with warmth. It’s hard to top the vivid spirit of the @Lylexox creations, yet the artist himself is one of the most lovely and engaging people you are likely to meet, and he carries over this shimmering passion for interaction to his day job as trainer with the Artistry & Development team of MAC Cosmetics.

“Recently, we started a thing called ‘Play Shop.’ At this time, it was the first ‘Play Shop’ for MAC within Canada and they asked if I would do an Instagram look for a room of attendees. After the makeup was done, I went behind the scenes, did my wig and put on all of my accessories, and came out. It was one of the pinnacle moments of my MAC career for sure because the artists were crying, and it was like a receiving line at a wedding. They came up to me to hold my hand and they were beside themselves saying ‘When we have a hard time getting up and getting ready in the morning we just think of you and what you do and get inspired.’ I wanted to break down and cry, it was so sweet and so touching.

“You know at that moment, that what you’re doing has an impact on people beyond the makeup. I feel so often that makeup becomes very materialistic and very lah-di-dah, but when you have the ability to impact people and inspire their lives personally – that is what I can take home with me.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

Having worked his way up from a summer contract to part-time, and finally to his coveted position running core training for BC overseeing three locations (including the Pro Robson store where his journey began), Lyle has now been with MAC for nearly 15 years, and he couldn’t be happier.  

“Honestly, I always wanted to be in that role. It was just a matter of timing. I love the aspect of teaching and of being a source of inspiration but I knew that I needed to get enough work under my belt to have a larger body of knowledge to share with a team. As much as you want to apply for those jobs right at the get-go, you can’t. It was one of those situations where I had to work and really hone things, and then move on from there.”

Though he grew up in the small Saskatchewan town of Wymark (population under 200, no typo on the zeroes), the seeds of Lyle’s passion for makeup were planted early on with visits from his fabulous Aunt, a jet-setting Makeup Artist who would teach him how to do latex ageing with “Rogers maple syrup and kleenex”. He can recall also putting on elaborate lunchtime stage productions for his mother and an audience of stuffed animals, complete with fantasy makeup and full costume changes.

“Talk about things that are intrinsically you - no one told me to be like that. It was like that’s just Lyle and that’s how it is. My mom, thankfully, was so nurturing in that regard. She saw that and decided that she was going to embrace it, and let me run with it. I always knew that. I never felt like I had to not do my own thing.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

When it came time to sculpt this deep-seated passion, Lyle wasn’t about to go halfway with his education. He returned from a year’s jaunt teaching visual arts in Cuba, ready for big leaps and looking for advice on where to turn.

“When I was talking to a friend of mine she said ‘My dad works in the film industry, and the one school that has the most amazing reputation in terms of the industry standard is Blanche Macdonald.’ So I thought, ‘OK, then that’s where I’m going to go.’ There was no question about it; I wanted to go to the best school.

“As soon as I walked into that space, I know it sounds super cheesy, but it felt like coming home. It felt like this is where I belonged. My relationship with Blanche was started on such a positive note right from the beginning that I have nothing but positive things to say.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

The immediate connection he felt within the halls of Blanche Macdonald carried through to the classrooms, where his ambition in knowledge was met with a wealth of industry experience to indulge in.

“My favourite memory isn’t necessarily a moment, but the teachers there. I told them that I wanted them to be hard on me, to be critical, to really critique and not just be like ‘oh that’s pretty, that’s good and leave it at that.’ If it needs to be corrected, or if it needs to be whatever I want that feedback. They always came through.”

This head-first approach to learning saw Lyle excelling in every class, but he quickly learned that being great at something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right fit.

“I thought that I was going to go into film. I wanted to do crazy prosthetic masks and Star Trek-like things. I was really drawn to this because, in my mind it was so much more about the artistry and creating things that were beyond the human face. I did a short film while I was at Blanche Macdonald, and another after I graduated; it was a great experience, but at the end of that it was like ‘and that’s a wrap for me’. It takes a very special kind of person to work in the film industry because you always hear of how difficult it is with a personal life. My partner and I, we’ve been together for fifteen years and I would not want to sacrifice that, so I was taken down a different path.

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

Cue the collective hurrah of Lyle’s fan base at this change of the winds. Yet his original intrigue at pushing the boundaries of makeup artistry past the confines of a face chart ultimately led him to the phenomenal pastime that has won the world over.

“At MAC we had what we called a Five Day Makeup Challenge, and it was an initiative to get people to break out of their makeup habits and try out different looks for five days. So being a trainer, I needed to set an example and be a role model. I thought ‘well if I’m going to do it, then I’m going to DO it. I’m just going to go all out.’ I did four of the five days, and I went into the store and they said, ‘Lyle you can’t stop now – you need to make it into a FIFTY five day challenge. We LOVE it, so don’t stop.’ So I just kept going. Now I have a whole studio that’s designated just for @Lylexox. It’s this thing that I can’t stop now. I love it.”

Needless to say, he’s not the only one.

“As much as I can, I respond and send comments. I take the ability to have that connection with people all around the world very seriously. Relationships to me are vital; I think we all need to feel that sense of community. As an artist you understand this connection. I now have these people who are doing paintings and portraits and sketches of me, of my face and I’m like ‘What? You live over in the Middle East and you’re drawing my face?’ I mean, how can you not be impacted by that?”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

It was after Lyle’s work had been featured on Instagram’s official profile, seen by over fifty million followers worldwide, that @Lylexox kicked in to vogue status. The dominos just kept popping into place from there.  

“There’s a stylist in New York, Rachel Gilman, who started telling her people about my creations. That’s when the first article came out with, and then the The most recent one was in the Huffington Post.

“It is so lovely and touching to have these total strangers support me and support what I’m doing that I just want to keep pushing what I’m doing to the rest of the world. I’m so honoured that they actually care about all of the crazy that’s going on in my head. I’ve no words.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

With now over a hundred jaw-droppingly inventive, and absurdly unique creations up on his Instagram page, questions regarding just how long  the ‘crazy’ will keep on are not wholly out of place.

“People ask me if I’m afraid that I’m going to run out of ideas. NO! You’re not going to run out of ideas because there’s this constant flow that takes place, and if you’re always open to that there’s always going to be stuff that just comes to you.

“When we talk about inspiration, the key for me is that you should never censor what comes into your mind. You need to always be open to whatever comes in and just run with it, because as soon as you start censoring, ‘is this appropriate, or are people going to like it or not like it’, it really starts to take you off track. If you repress that, then you don’t have that really true vision. You have to be fully committed to what comes into your head at that moment. Things aren’t planned out. I might have a general image of this or that, but if it’s taking you in a direction in that look, you need to go with that and trust that intuition… that instinct, really. It’s like a muscle; the more you do it, the more you will feel it easing out.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer @LYLEXOX

As Lyle’s intuition would have it, the odder and more unconventional the material to use in his spectacular makeovers, the better. Just off the top of his head (literally) there have been cabbage leaves, ketchup packets, biohazard bags and spray nozzles.

“If it’s garbage, awesome, because then it can be completely taken apart, repainted and reglued into something, and given new life.

“Now the girls at work, if they’re unpackaging makeup and it comes in an interesting box, they’re like ‘oh save it for Lyle - he’ll turn it into a headpiece,’” he laughs.  

It’s an odd thing, he muses, to meet with such a compelling pursuit, such an exalting necessity after having successfully worked in the industry for over a decade. Yet Lyle insists that it’s in clearing the way, rather than self-manufacturing that brings about these powerful discoveries of passion.

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer

“It takes a long time, maybe a lifetime to get to what is the essence of you, but you have to be willing to strip away everything else and just focus on that essence. For so long my life was based on opinions and on what other people thought of me,” continues Lyle. “Growing up gay in a small town was very, very hard. It was insanely challenging to rise above that and feel that you had worth when everyone else was was telling you that you weren’t worth anything. You constantly have this sense of doubt as an artist, but that’s only from all of those years of insecure garbage talk. When you get rid of that, clean that out of your life, and just focus on who you are as an artist and tap into that, everything else becomes easy.”

For the next generation looking to push past their set of personal obstacles and pursue their own strange and wonderful inner Makeup Artist, Lyle has advice you’d be wise to heed.

“Savour every minute of education. Utilize the teachers’ wisdom to the nth degree. If this is really what you want to do, be very demanding of the need for feedback and corrective criticism. Be constantly open to it because really the only way to grow is to be open to hearing people’s critique and feedback, especially if it’s coming from someone in the arena of Blanche. You have such seasoned professionals teaching you, so soak up every drop and savour every minute because when it’s done, you’re into the world. Be really clear within yourself: this is my mission, this is what I’m going to do. And just soak it all up. Soak up every second of it.”

Top Makeup School Graduate Lyle Reimer

With a retrospective book in the works and a loving, well-loved position in the MAC Cosmetics family, Lyle is proof that passion can take you to your perfect nine-to-five, and beyond your wildest expectations.

“You know when you hear interviews and people say ‘oh I’m successful because I’m only doing what I love’? I always felt that that was cheesy and cliche to say, until I actually stepped back and looked at what I am doing now with @Lylexox. I could do just that all day long, and I would be ecstatic. It’s so weird to be tapping into it at such a later point in life, but I have now, and I’m going to run with it, and I’m not going to stop.”

All photos provided by Lyle Reimer via @Lylexox on Instagram.

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Thu, 14 Aug 2014 00:00:00 PST