Blanche Macdonald Centre News from Blanche Macdonald Centre Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Grads Glow at Neon Dreams Welcome to NEON Dreams 2016!

There’s no substitute for genuine glamour. Which is why, when Blanche Macdonald was seeking a venue to host the 2016 Fashion Design Graduate Show, once we set eyes on the Grand Ballroom at the historic Hotel Vancouver, the decision was easy. The contrast of Imperial Russian style elegance with the bold, ultra-modern debut collections from some of Canada’s most promising new designers was too tempting to resist.

The result was Neon Dreams, the most spectacular – and to many attendees the best – Blanche Macdonald Graduate Fashion Show in the School’s storied history.

“The Hotel Vancouver is such an iconic piece of this city,” explained Fashion Director Tyler Udall. “They’ve done an incredible job preserving the original designs and over the years the hotel has been peppered with bits of luxury. Incredible fashion houses like Dior, Gucci and Louis Vuitton are now occupying retail space in the hotel. It seemed like a fitting space for our show.”

Neon Dreams: Blanche Macdonald's Fashion Design Graduate Showcase 2016

Under the sparkle of Vancouver’s most magnificent chandeliers Blanche Macdonald’s grads’ collections shone, as two glorious fashion shows unfurled on a chilly November afternoon and evening, the first for graduates’ friends and families; the second for the city’s assembled fashion media. For Tyler, presenting collections that could hold their own in the most extravagant surroundings was a testament to a special group of graduating designers.

“This group had more than a few extremely focused students. There are always a handful who come in and treat Fashion School like a military operation: up at 5am, working until 11pm and really pouring their blood, sweat and tears into their collections. There were several of them this year and it was a treat to see how well they worked and how much they bonded as designers and friends.”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Kirsten Ley, Neon Dreams 2016

One of those students putting their heart into their work was the Award Winner for Overall Achievement, Kirsten Ley. Her collection had the honour of closing the shows, brilliantly juxtaposing the constriction of leather body casts with the free-spirited escapism of billowing silks.

“I was humbled and honoured that I could carry that weight,” she beamed. “Tyler, Peggy Morrison, Sara Armstrong, Mel Watts – everyone who has been a part of this process has been so encouraging and good to me. I’m blown away that they picked me as an Award Winner.

“One of the ideas that sparked this collection was my own personal experience. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13 and was put in a back brace for 22 hours a day. I was an actress, dancer and opera singer and the only time I was out of the back brace was when I would dance or sing. I was out of the back brace when I would perform. The dichotomy of the bound leather garments with the flowing silks is like breaking free of the confines I grew up with. When I first spoke to Tyler about this idea he got it right away. He instantly understood what I was doing. I’d already done a lot of research; then he came back and threw new ideas at me. I absorbed and digested everything he brought to me. I’m forever indebted to Tyler for that. He’s incredible.

“I’m starting my own line as soon as possible. I’m already working on a new collection. I want to show at Vancouver Fashion Week next year!”

Top Fashion Design Graduate Natalia Pavanelli, Neon Dreams 2016

Walking away from the Hotel Vancouver with two well-deserved Awards – for Portfolio Presentation and Illustration – was transplanted Brazilian Natalia Pavanelli, whose free-flowing, ghostly shapes incorporated her own illustrations telling stories about her roots and beliefs.

“It’s such an honour to see your creations on the runway, knowing that you’ve achieved something,” she declared with pride. “The team at Blanche do an amazing job putting it all together.

“Before I came to Canada I was working in fashion in Brazil for three years and in France for another year. I didn’t want to become a manager so I wrote some emails to see what else was out there. Blanche Macdonald called and invited me to Vancouver. That was destiny calling. I sold everything I owned to come here and start a new life. The program was exactly what I wanted. There were a lot of tears, both happy and stressful, but the teachers were great and my experience was amazing.

“Now I’m starting a great job as a manufacturer here in Vancouver. I get to actually design and build clothes. I want to start my own brand too. I’m ready to take the next step.”

Natalia Pavanelli, Neon Dreams 2016

Also keen to continue the fashion adventure was graduate Julian LeClerc whose journey from the Northern BC town of Fort St John to the heart of Vancouver’s fashion world concluded by being named 2016’s Award-winner for Achievement in Design. His post-apocalyptic-inspired collection incorporated military shapes with repurposed and natural textiles, hand-treated with bleach to create unique prints and textures.

“I was awestruck to see my collection on the runway. I’d seen it on the table and on a mannequin for so long, so to see it moving left me speechless. The show experience was wonderful and I’d love to be part of another one sometime in the near future.

“I didn’t know a whole lot about fashion when I started so I needed a crash course for the first couple of months about what it actually is. It took me a while to get on board because I had so much to learn but once I fell into the groove I loved it. My designs have grown so much since my first meeting with Tyler. My ideas were so raw then. It’s amazing how they’ve transformed over the past five months.”

Top Fashion Design Graduate Julian LeClerc, Neon Dreams 2016

Transformation is a major component of everything we do at Blanche Macdonald. That extends from our Fashion Design students to our Hair and Makeup departments. Both were on hand to ensure that all the models looked as spectacular as the clothes and the venue.

“A lot of the hair and makeup decisions were made to temper the environment,” revealed Tyler. “We wanted some extremely modern elements to counter the historical and ornate space.”

Neon Dreams’ Hair Team was staffed entirely by current students, ably led by instructor Lisa Callender.

“I hand-picked a team of stars!” she boasted. “I’d worked with them before so I knew they were focussed and could work together. I wanted people with passion and drive. Enthusiasm is what makes me want to have you on my team.

“Tyler gave me some images and instructions of what he wanted to go for. The look was a diagonal side-part and side ponytail, with colour in that part. That’s where Neon Dreams came into play. With quick changes and a tight backstage space, there are always technical challenges but it looked beautiful. We had a dark skinned black model and a pale white model and the look we chose worked amazingly on all the different ethnicities. Being mixed race myself, I was like ‘That’s right! We’re coming together!’”

Backstage Neon Dreams, Pro Hair Team

Two years ago Kelseyanna Fitzgerald was graduating from Blanche Macdonald’s Makeup Program. This year she was Key Makeup Artist at Neon Dreams. Heading a team of nine Makeup Artists (eight Blanche Macdonald graduates and one current student), Kelseyanna brought a stunning modernity to the stately elegance of the Hotel Vancouver runway.

“I was looking for Makeup Artists with good attitudes who are chill and like doing weird Makeups. Tyler collected looks I’d previously done and showed me which ones he liked: the bold and glossy ones. We wanted it weird, so I chose colour combinations for each model that were a little bizarre and bold. We had 20 models, 16 girls and four boys, but I had a big crew so no one needed to rush. It was so cool to see these artists that I admire interpret my look.”

Backstage Neon Dreams, Makeup Team

Along with this year’s incredible designers the success of Neon Dreams was a tribute to the hard work of the staff at Blanche Macdonald, with special mention due to the inspirational leadership of President Lily Lim, the endless efforts of Executive Program Directors Peggy Morrison and Donna Baldock, Fashion Director Tyler Udall, Creative Director Kelly Schmidt, and Career Director, Fashion Department Mel Watts. Endless thanks must also go to Instructors Sara Armstrong, Lisa Gellert, Dana Johnson, Lyndi Barrett, Carlie Wong, Wanda Sustersich, and Morgan Mallett, Lab Assistants Kari Appelquist, Joy Nickerson and Anahita Monzavi, Associate Marketing Director Natasha Eng, Social Media and Marketing Coordinators Rheanna Miller, Allie Samborn and Jacky Le, Social Media, Creative Content Coordinators Kendahl Jung and Mohamad Ali Ibrahim, Resource Development Coordinator Liza Knobel, and the team at Brix PR. 

Infinite gratitude too, must be given to the backstage team, led by Tyler Udall, Sara Armstrong and Shelby Schramm along with Tracey Pincott and a team of volunteers from the Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing programs. While Key Makeup Artist Kelseyanna Fitzgerald, Key Hair Stylist Lisa Callender and Nail Parlour graduate Stefania Flex and their volunteer grads and students ensured the models looked as spectacular as the collections. Huge thanks also to our fabulous emcee Jaylene McRae and DJ Hana Pesut (Sincerely Hana) for providing an amazing soundtrack to the night.

The entire team at Blanche Macdonald would also like to extend its sincerest gratitude to our corporate sponsors, MAKE UP FOR EVER, Oribe and Eminence along with huge thanks to our colleagues at CurliQue Beauty for putting our guests’ goody-bags together.

Jaylene Tyme emcees Neon Dreams 2016 

Full List of Award Winners

Overall Achievement: Kirsten Ley 

Overall Achievement Honourable Mention: Isabelle Stewart

Achievement in Pattern Making: Phebe Menard

Achievement in Garment Construction: Josephine Mante

Achievement in Illustration: Natalia Pavanelli 

Portfolio Presentation: Natalia Pavanelli

Achievement in Design: Julian LeClerc

Textile Innovation: Ninon Parent

Sustainable Fashion Award: Gala Peters

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 00:00:00 PST
2016: An Unforgettable Year for On-Screen Blanche Macdonald Makeup Magic Blanche Macdonald alumni shine in Hollywood North!

Canada’s film and TV industry had one of its biggest and busiest years in 2016 and Vancouver, AKA Hollywood North, was at its epicentre. The city played host to superheroes and villains, monsters, romantic leads and sci-fi fighters, along with some of the world’s biggest stars playing them. And none of them were coming for the weather.

There’s a long list of reasons why Vancouver has become the ideal location for some of North America’s most popular and best-regarded productions. Hollywood studios and networks love our architecture, our close-knit TV and film community, and the laid back atmosphere in a city that understands that even movie megastars are here to do their jobs.

They also love that Vancouver is blessed with some of the world’s best TV and Film Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists, a once-select group growing exponentially as demand for their skills continues to boom. Our beautiful city’s Movie Makeup family was beyond busy in 2016, with more than a few Blanche Macdonald graduates and instructors taking starring roles.

Blanche Macdonald Makeup alumni for Star Trek Beyond

As our students all understand, in this industry excellence comes as standard. Which means that only a select elite receives major Award nominations. Huge congratulations are due to the Emmy Award-winning Makeup Team behind the teenage creature feature, R.L. Stine's Monsterville: The Cabinet of Souls: a team that starred Blanche Macdonald alumni Debbie Lelievre (Head Makeup Artist), Holland Miller and Felix Fox (Key Makeup Artists), Julia Bors-Dollinger (First Assistant Makeup Artist) and Sarah Pickersgill (Makeup Artist).

We're sending another big "bravo" further east to Calgary, Alberta, where grad gunther Schetterer worked his magic and was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Non-Prosthetic Makeup as Key Makeup Artist on the superb second season of Fargo

The Leo Awards recognize films and TV shows made in beautiful British Columbia. Which, if you check, involves a vast number of productions. That tells you that to actually win a Leo Award in the category of Best Makeup in a Dramatic Series, which the team featuring Amber Trudeau and Cory Roberts did for iZombie, is a remarkable achievement. Amber was particularly busy in 2016, receiving a second Leo nomination for Best Makeup in a Television Movie for On The Farm, an award that was won by the team behind R.L. Stine's Monsterville: The Cabinet of Souls. Leo congratulations also go to Darci Jackson and Lindsay Pilkey, who were rightfully nominated for Best Makeup in a Motion Picture for Numb.

Blanche Macdonald alumni nominated for Emmy, Leo and Gemini Awards 2016

The Gemini Awards are Canada’s Oscars and Emmys combined. The team behind Afghan war film Hyena Road included Blanche grad Doug Morrow and greatly deserved their nomination for Achievement in Makeup.

Arguably the biggest production to hit Vancouver in 2016 was summer sci-fi blockbuster Star Trek Beyond, where Blanche Macdonald grads and instructors boldly went to bring the voyages of the Enterprise to life. Ably manning that crew were Makeup Effects Artists Felix Fox, Holland Miller, Shelagh McIvor, Toby Lindala, and Patricia Murray, Painter Daemon Cadman and Assistant Makeup Artists Rebecca Delchambre, Megan Harkness, Ashley Forshaw, Colleen Conroy, Cory Roberts and Darah Wyant.

Meanwhile, Vancouver’s biggest TV series continued to go from strength to strength. Danielle Fowler was named Head of Department on Supergirl, Tina Teoli and Cory Roberts continued their roles as Heads of Department on The Flash and The 100 respectively, while the Makeup teams on Arrow and Supernatural were positively overflowing with Blanche Macdonald grads and instructors. Oliver Queen’s adventures in archery looked wonderful thanks to Tanya Howard (Department Head), Cayley Giene (Lab Technician and Assistant Makeup Artist), Fay von Schroeder and Amber Trudeau (Makeup Artists), and Kathryn Jarymy (Assistant Makeup Artist). While the Winchester brother’s fight against darkness in 2016 wouldn’t have been the same without the contributions of Toby Lindala and Celine Godeau (Key Makeup Effects), Cayley Giene, Leanne Podavin and Rachel Griffin (Makeup Effects Artists). 

This was just the tip of the creative iceberg. There isn’t room here to list all the Blanche Macdonald graduates and instructors who shared their talent on screen with the world this year. Congratulations to all of them. You’ll be hearing more from them and the next wave of brilliant new grads in 2017!

Blanche Macdonald alumni for Hit TV Shows

Photos via IMDB

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 00:00:00 PST
SHEAR TALENT: PRO HAIR GRADUATE ALI SMITH PAINTS HER CAREER AT ARTEL SALON! They're the pruners of our strands, the keepers of our secrets and the masterminds behind those picture-perfect balayages. These Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduates are just getting their feet wet in the whirlwind world of Hair, but already, they're making waves in their new careers. Spanning the scene from stylists and barbers to Pro-Educators and entrepreneurs, our grads own their very own hair salons, hold the hottest seats in top salons, and work behind the scenes to create stunning editorials. Armed with the knowledge of our internationally recognized training, and a pair or two of super-sharp shears, these remarkable individuals have heard the entrepreneurial call of the Hair world and they have answered back. With Contessa Awards and other prestigious national and international competitions under their collective belts, our grads are climbing the ranks of local and international scenes one snip at a time. It can be hairy, but they're ready for anything!

Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair Program Graduate Ali Smith, Artel Hair Salon Vancouver

Sure to be sporting a mane of many and different colours, razor sharp liner and specs of glitter wandering randomly about her person, Ali Smith is not just the creator of unicorn hair – she exudes an essential ‘unicorn-ness.’ Having graduated from the Pro Hair program at Blanche Macdonald a mere 4 months ago, Ali has found herself behind the chair of one of Vancouver’s premiere chop shops, Artel Salon. Owned by fellow Blanche Macdonald graduate Eliza Trendiak, Ali spends her days honing her skills, learning from fellow Artel stylists and crafting the latest looks for her burgeoning clientele. A flurry of retro Disney prints, witticisms, and perfectly timed meme humour meet the whirling dervish that is Ali Smith.  Or as she puts it “Ariien. Brat. Kitty. Facial hair admirer.”

Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair Program Graduate Ali Smith, Artel Hair Salon Vancouver 


Blanche Macdonald: What was your favourite part of our Hair program?

Ali Smith: Definitely level 7. The mass photo shoot level was absolutely the best! For me, it came just after Christmas and during a time where I hadn't had a day off from school or work in nearly two months. All of my stress manifested into the most wacky ideas, and being able to build pieces for my models was such a blessing. Having Lisa as an instructor for this level also made it so much fun because she was unbelievably encouraging and understanding of everyone's shoot concepts.


BMC: What is your Hair specialty (cut, colour, ombre, etc)?

AS: I really love doing big colour changes.  Whether it's from dark to light or from natural to something wild, it's just so fun! Seeing a client glowing at the end of their service is so satisfying. Also I've never been the type to turn down a challenge, so colour corrections are weirdly exhilarating for me.


BMC: How did our Career Services and job placements ensure you found the perfect home for your Hair skills?

AS: We have mandatory work experiences and mine were eye opening to say the least. I did one at a salon in Kitsilano with Aaron Brousseau, who is a good friend of mine and another Blanche Macdonald grad, and we did a lot of one-on-one work. My second work experience was in Maple Ridge where I live now and it's one of the busier salons with about 12 stylists. This was much more fast paced environment with less one-on-one teaching. From this I got a better idea on what kind of salon I'd like to work in, where I'd like to be located, what kind of clientele I'd like to build, etc.


Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair Program Graduate Ali Smith, Artel Hair Salon Vancouver


BMC: You're in one of those mega Crayola crayon boxes - what colour are you and what are you called?

AS: I have two sides to myself so one would be Malibu Barbie pink, and the other Midnight black.


BMC: What movie title best describes your life?

AS: According to Buzzfeed, Alice in Wonderland is the film equivalent to my life. I wouldn’t say that’s untrue though because like Alice, I’m a total daydreamer and I talk to animals all the time so, that’s cool.


BMC: What hair decade would you go back to if you had a time machine?

AS: Not going to lie, I miss 2006-2010 with all the 'coon tail clip ins, enormous face covering bangs, too much back combing . . . Ahhh, nostalgia!


BMC: Was there any advice you got going into the Hair program from friends or family?

AS: This is awful but I had a few friends who had attended other hair programs and they ended up realizing this wasn't for them, so before I enrolled the big discussion was always "Are you REALLY SURE?" And thankfully I was always able to say, "Yup, I've only wanted to do this since I was 5. I'm pretty sure I'm sure."

Photos provided by Ali Smith (IG: alismithhair) and Rob Trendiak for Artel Salon.

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 00:00:00 PST
Fashion Photographer/Director KT Auleta Brings New York Inspiration and Images to Blanche Macdonald Special Guest: NY-based Fashion Photographer KT Auleta visits Blanche Macdonald!

“What drew me to fashion was how it kept moving. Nothing’s iconic any more. It’s always, ‘What’s next? What’s next?’ I like that!”

KT Auleta’s high velocity love affair with fashion continues to take her around the world. The New York City-based photographer and director is in perpetual motion, travelling from country to country shooting with clients like Hugo Boss, Sephora, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs, and titles including Vogue, GQ Style, Elle and Glamour. But on a layover en route to China she somehow found the time to visit Vancouver, Blanche Macdonald and her close friend, Fashion Director Tyler Udall, to give an engrossing presentation to students at Canada’s top Fashion School.

Special Guest: NY-based Fashion Photographer KT Auleta visits Blanche Macdonald!

Over the course of a fascinating hour KT revealed her journey from intern to globetrotting photography superstar, the changing face of fashion imagery (including why she now shoots stills and video simultaneously) and the art of building a great creative team.

“I’m looking for good communicators,” she explained in response to one of many questions from the floor. “I want people to take pride in their work. I want people I can trust to do their job well. I want them to feel empowered. I love working with new models, giving them wings and watching them blossom.”

Special Guest: NY-based Fashion Photographer KT Auleta visits Blanche Macdonald!

After fielding questions about professionalism, agents, and the potential for creativity unleashed by Instagram, KT shared her portfolio along with a hefty dose of inspiration. Her most powerful message is that by beginning their journey surrounding themselves with passionate and creative people at Blanche Macdonald, whatever fashion ambitions students are aspiring to, they’ve already taken their first step.

“This School is perfect for discovering your voice,” she insisted. “You’re in the perfect place to start building your portfolio.”

Special Guest: NY-based Fashion Photographer KT Auleta visits Blanche Macdonald!

We asked KT eight questions in a quickfire Q&A session on our Snapchat!

Blanche Macdonald: If you could have any superpower what would it be?

KT Auleta: If I had a superpower, I think it would be to be able to jump from place to place. I like travel but I don’t often like the travelling part. 

BMC: What colour do you think your aura is?

KA: I think my aura is the colour of ice blue. I have a spiritual teacher that always says surround yourself with the colour of ice blue and I always liked the way that sounded. 

BMC: How do you feel your photo and film work intersect?

KA: I think my film and photography work intersect in that I like to capture a real true moment of expression from a model. I feel like my photography work is the moment between a movement, and I’ve always seen my photography work as a film still, like the captured moment. 

BMC: Describe your shooting style in three words.

KA: If I had to describe my work in three words it would authentic, expressive and playful. 

BMC: Three traits that are vital to your team on set. 

KA: Three things that I think are really important on set are communication, to empower my team, and to collaborate. 

BMC: Most difficult shooting situation?

KA: One of the most difficult situations for shooting is weather. If the weather is off, it’s bad for everybody: the light, the model, the comfort of the crew.

BMC: Advice you would have given yourself 10 years ago? 

KA: If I had to give myself advice ten years ago, it would be to be myself at all times and stick with my vision of my woman, my character. 

BMC: Advice you would give yourself now?

KA: Advice I would give myself now: keep growing, stay inspired, keep learning… inspiration is key! 

Special Guest: NY-based Fashion Photographer KT Auleta visits Blanche Macdonald!


Thu, 24 Nov 2016 00:00:00 PST

Blanche Macdonald Annual Graduate Fashion Design Showcase

Join us for an afternoon of fashion at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Wednesday, November 30th, at 3:00pm as we usher in the newest group of talented design minds. Tickets are $30.00 (taxes and service fees included). Purchase yours at Blanche Macdonald's Downtown Robson Campus (460 Robson) or by phone at 604.685.0337. 

**Reception and Portfolio Review 2:30pm | Fashion Show Begins at 3:00pm – we hope to see you there! 

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:00:00 PST