Blanche Macdonald Centre News from Blanche Macdonald Centre FROM SUPERMODELS TO SALON CLIENTS, SARA ROSE DELIVERS RED CARPET WORTHY BEAUTY TO ALL HER CLIENTS! top-makeup-school-graduate-sara-rose

Sara Rose possesses what seems like an infinite amount of talent at her disposal. As a multi-hyphenate Blanche Macdonald Freelance Makeup graduate, Sara currently holds the title of Lead Makeup Artist on top of Hairstylist at one of Vancouver’s most Instagram-worthy hair havens, BRUSH Salon.

But Sara’s journey from makeup school into the beauty industry started out during a time when social media wasn’t really a definitive tool for a Makeup Artist. “Instagram and Twitter were not huge at that time so you had to do groundwork of promoting yourself,” she recalls. Putting her innate people skills to use as a self-marketing tool was second nature for Sara. She admits to us with no slight hesitation that she “talks a lot” - an attribute that has landed her a myriad of opportunities throughout her career.

“I love to meet people. I get to surround myself with the most amazingly talented people because of that. I was a server for years and that’s where I would meet potential clients. I printed out my business cards and would slip it in with people's receipts at the end of their dining experience. Or I would find ways to incorporate conversation into my work, and I would meet brides and producers because of it.”

That hustler mentality paid off for Sara, leading to job opportunities that most Makeup Artists only dream of. Sara has worked on music video sets, backstage at New York Fashion Week, and has also attended Toronto International Film Festival to work on Canadian actor Jacob Tremblay.


Sara’s people skills may have led to amazing opportunities, but it was a lifelong appreciation for the arts, combined with a keen eye for observation, that inspired her to explore makeup as a way to help people realize their full beauty potential. Growing up on Vancouver Island, Sara’s life was constantly inhabited with creativity and art.

“I grew up dancing and performing, I loved partaking in the arts. Being behind the scenes was an area that interested me. I loved watching people transform into something they aren’t typically everyday. From there it expanded into being able to watch women and people transform into something that maybe they can’t find in themselves. Or that they can’t see in themselves just yet. That’s what really pushed me into the beauty industry.”

Sara’s innate ability to bring out the best in someone’s natural beauty is what makes her the perfect Makeup Artist to a clientele consisting of influencers, celebrities and one major supermodel (we’re talking Victoria’s Secret calibre).

“I’m definitely more drawn to an aesthetic that’s natural but enhanced. I don’t like people not feeling or looking like themselves, I want them to fully realize that they’re beautiful but that the littlest bit of makeup can change your look.”

As Sara explains her personal makeup aesthetic to us, she’s taping in extensions for Fashion and Beauty Influencer Janice Joostema, a regular client of Sara’s who manages a vastly popular Instagram account consisting of 1.5 Million followers.


“For Janice I really admired her aesthetic. She was on my goal list, so I emailed her and now we’ve been working together for two years. It’s just about putting yourself out there and not being afraid of rejection which is the biggest thing. When you’re scared a person can sense it. So just don’t be afraid and put yourself out there. If they like you they like you, but if they don’t just move on. Don’t be afraid of rejection.”

Considering all the incredible opportunities that have come Sara’s way, it’s clear as day that projecting kindness can get you a lot farther ahead in this industry than being cut-throat. “Don’t ever burn bridges” is a statement Sara has always lived by, and what has come out of it are career milestones.

“I got to work with Supermodel Karlie Kloss this past year which was amazing. I got connected with her through her manager, who I knew from ballet and high school!" In a social media video posted soon after their glam session, the Supermodel was evidently elated over their time together, even dubbing Sara as “The Queen of Canada”. Case in point according to Ms. Kloss, we may be in the presence of the beauty world’s next new royal!

During Sara’s time in Blanche Macdonald’s Freelance Makeup program, she quickly took notice of the potential her career could have in the world of makeup.

“The energy that Blanche Macdonald brings is really amazing because the teachers are so diverse in terms of experience within the industry. I got to work with Lesley Opheim-Riou, and I was honored to have Jon Hennessey as my Fashion teacher. And Instructors Timothy Hung and Leah Elliston who I still keep in touch with to this day. They really broadened my spectrum and helped me realize I don’t have to just work at a counter - I can do more. There’s film, fashion and personal. There's so much to it. That was really incredible for me to see."


“My time at Blanche Macdonald really helped me in the sense that I knew the Faculty would always be there for me. Even when I was going through a lull, I would pop by and say hi and ask for advice and chat. The Career Department were always there to talk. They are always there to reassure you that you’re doing things and to not worry and to keep going and not to stress. It’s really cool to know you always have that support system if you need it.”

Sara’s current state of success has no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“My regular work week now is very unpredictable. I work between the salon and I’ve been doing a lot of commercials lately. Some days I’m working on brides. Some days I’m working on red carpet looks. It’s just always versatile.

“My favourite part about being a Freelance Makeup Artist is the versatility. I’m never sick of it or waking up thinking why. I’m always excited to start my day. I think it’s amazing. It’s really cool to see the opportunities you can have in the makeup industry and especially in Vancouver. It's a little mini Hollywood right now.”

For the next generation of Makeup Artists coming into the industry where social media has become a high authority, Sara advises that authenticity is crucial in helping one succeed.

"If you’re looking to build a loyal/celebrity clientele or following it’s important to be true to yourself and your clients. If you’re not being true people will recognize that. If you’re doing a makeup application and it isn't your style just inform your client and be honest. I think if you’re true to yourself and your talent it will showcase and it will go places, and people will respect you for that.”


Thu, 04 Jan 2018 00:00:00 PST
skoah's CEO Andrea Scott judges Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Student's first-ever Dragon's Den! skoah's CEO Andrea Scott judges Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Student's first-ever Dragon's Den!

Not even the wettest day in Vancouver’s recent history could dampen the spirits of the Blanche Macdonald Esthetic students eagerly filing into Blanche Macdonald’s Atelier campus with boxes, bags, containers and armfuls of props - all things necessary to set the stage to pitch their business ideas in the first-ever Esthetics Dragon’s Den. Tapping into their entrepreneurial spirits, each student group was tasked with formulating a unique facial masque and creating a brand to go along with it. The judging panel for the event consisted of various Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Program instructors and top skin care experts, including skoah co-founder and CEO, Andrea Scott - all of whom provided feedback directly to the students post presentation. Not only were the students able to draw from the panel’s extensive knowledge of the industry, but they were also able to take Andrea’s invaluable advice on their products. Firsthand expertise from the legendary brand creator and developer of skoah's in-house skin care line, which has garnered a cult-following of its own - is just one of the many benefits of being an Esthetics student at Blanche Macdonald.

Andrea’s impressive history in the Esthetics industry spans nearly 17 years back to when she, along with her husband and co-founder, opened the first skoah location in Vancouver and shook up the Spa industry.

“Spas weren’t for young people. You didn’t go for just one service, you went for the afternoon. Everything was designed for the people who were going to the spas which were usually people over 50. And so we saw this opportunity to offer one service that was affordable, both in time and monetarily, for people from ages 20-50. We really turned the industry on its head back then. We came out of the gates offering one service at a time. We were professional but we wanted to break down the barriers of intimidation.”

skoah's CEO Andrea Scott judges Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Student's first-ever Dragon's Den!

Branded around the idea of "personal training for your skin”, skoah’s values fit perfectly into the notorious love of fitness and well-being on the west coast, even going so far as offering their clients a ‘skin gym’ membership. Now, the West Coast-born brand, having already become a major player in the national skincare field, is well on its way to becoming a global facial brand with 14 locations all across North America, and one can only assume there will be many more to come. Andrea’s outstanding business expertise and acumen were recently recognized when she was named the winner of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award in 2016, an international award celebrating exceptional women business leaders and their entrepreneurial contributions.

Blanche Macdonald is very fortunate to have an incredible relationship with this powerhouse brand. Throughout the years, skoah has welcomed many Blanche Macdonald graduates into their spas. So many, in fact, that Andrea has nearly lost count.

"In the 17 years we’ve been open, there have probably been close to 100 graduates that have been with us from Blanche Macdonald. We have so many with us in the spas right now! There are so many reasons why we love to hire these grads but one big thing is the level of professionalism.”

skoah's CEO Andrea Scott judges Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Student's first-ever Dragon's Den!

Andrea knows firsthand the level of professionalism that is imparted onto Blanche Macdonald students - she was one herself.

“I took the Makeup program and in that program too you’re taught from day one, if you’re not twenty minutes early, you’re late. This is a professional environment. And that’s how Blanche Macdonald graduates are. They come in, they take it seriously and they’re extremely professional.”

But if there’s one thing that can rival Blanche Macdonald graduates’ professionalism, it’s their enthusiasm.

“The enthusiasm that they come with! They come to us and they feel ready to be working. They’re not coming wondering if they’re ready to work, they already know. There’s just a level of confidence that they come with that we don’t see with everyone.”

As much as skoah loves our graduates, it seems that love is more than reciprocated.

Yolanda Ruiz, a Skin Care Trainer for skoah, was only a student when she and her class first toured a skoah spa. Her instructor encouraged her to apply because of her love of facials and nearly six years later, she’s never looked back.

skoah's CEO Andrea Scott judges Blanche Macdonald Esthetics Student's first-ever Dragon's Den!

“Blanche Macdonald's instructors help you find your path and shape you to be the best version of yourself. If you're passionate about learning skincare and you're passionate about facials, then skoah is a great company to journey with. We have a great ability to mould you into a fantastic Esthetician!”

For Madeleine Gordon, a Skin Care Coach at skoah, the values that her ‘Blanche Macdonald family’ taught so closely resemble those taught by her ‘skoah family’ that it was a nearly seamless transition.

“Our training at Blanche Macdonald set me up for success by actually emulating a lot of skoah's Kore Values. Blanche Macdonald grads are an especially good fit because of the work we put in at school. Whether it is physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional work, we work hard every day. We understand that the work has to be done. Most of us go from walking in to Blanche with no training whatsoever and we leave with jobs and so much potential. You definitely don't leave the same person that you were when you started the program. Like we were told in school, ‘Blanche is a family.’ skoah is exactly the same. Everyone wants everyone to succeed, you always have a shoulder to help you up if you start to stumble.  We're all in it together at the end of the day. I honestly couldn't imagine being at any other company.”

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 00:00:00 PST
Think Locally, Dream Globally - Fashion Marketing graduate Mireille Kessler Opens her Handcrafted Hub, Natale Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Mireille Kessler, Owner of Natale on Main Street

“For generations in my family, it has been of great importance to appreciate handmade goods and support the industry as much as we could. And this is what I have tried to create with Natale: an experience where people are able to both learn, as well as value where their garments are coming from.”

Blanche Macdonald Global Fashion Marketing graduate Mireille Kessler speaks with such warmth and clarity when describing her new artisanal shop, Natale, Main Streets’ new handcrafted hub. Her little shop has already gained much recognition since it first opened its doors a little under a year ago (most recently, being named one of three best new shops on Main Street by the Georgia Straight) with a community of devoted clientele eager to support this growing movement. Her apt knowledge of textiles and handcrafted, fair trade goods, evident the moment you walk into her carefully curated space, goes back generations.

Mireille often travels back to her family's cottage industry in Lima, Peru, to observe and absorb the ins and outs of the textile industry. The impact these experiences have had on her heart and perspective are momentous, paving the way for her budding entrepreneurial career.

“My grandmother started a cottage industry when my dad was just a boy. She started it on the same property that we own now; it’s actually still our family home. We have our family home on the back of the property, and then there are two other large buildings that have five or six floors, each floor dedicated to different textile processes.

“Since I was little, we’ve always travelled back and forth to Peru. At the time it was to visit family, but even as I child, I was aware of the industry. My grandma would explain what was going on and I always remember being very curious. As I got a older I began to really understand it: how it contributes to the sustainability movement, the importance of ethical practices and fair trade, and the quality of handmade goods.”

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Mireille Kessler, Owner of Natale on Main Street

Speaking with Mireille, it’s easy to come to the conclusion based on her deep-rooted understanding of the industry that she’s always had her future plans unequivocally laid out. However, the path to where she is now wasn’t always a straightforward one.

“I was always into academics. At one point I planned to go to law school. But there was a period where I got mentally ill and I couldn't finish high school the way everybody else did. Yet, it is because of my struggles with depression that I became more creative. Creativity became my outlet that I found to be really cathartic; it helped calm my anxiety and depression.”

It was during this period of her life that Mireille made the life-altering decision to come to Blanche Macdonald and study Global Fashion Marketing. A decision that would change the outcome of her future; putting her on the entrepreneurial track, and in an industry that has always been a part of her from day one.

“I decided to take a year off after high school to focus on my recovery and really decide what my next steps in life would be. It was during this time that I decided that Blanche Macdonald was the choice I wanted to make.

“I did a lot of research on schools and talked to people who had gone to Blanche. They spoke of their great experiences and the impressive roster of teachers. After that the decision was easy, Blanche was the right fit for me. Another thing that really sold me on Blanche was the small classes. I was told that their classes are small and intimate and that was really important to me, especially surrounding my anxiety and depression.”

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Mireille Kessler, Owner of Natale on Main Street

With intention and drive, Mireille affirmed her purpose in the mighty world of Fashion. Building on her already extensive knowledge of textiles, production and manufacturing, Mireille devoured even more insight into the industry, instigating the building-blocks of what was to come. 

“I was taught a lot of valuable information at Blanche that I wouldn’t have learnt otherwise. A lot of what I have learnt over the years from my family involves wholesale, manufacturing and production, but that was only to a point. My classes at Blanche were able to expand on that knowledge base.

“I also learnt a lot about the creative side of the industry. This has been, and will continue to be, a great source of knowledge for me to pull from. I am able to take everything I have learnt and use that in some realm of my day-to-day and as the business grows.” 

And grow it has. Besides importing goods for her shop from Peru, she has also designed a line of her own that she sells at Natale.

“I actually recently designed a capsule collection that I sell in the store. It's a lot of minimal pieces with just something a little different about it. They are pieces you can mix and match and wear with a lot of other things.”

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Mireille Kessler, Owner of Natale on Main Street

The garments are versatile and elegant, but more importantly, they are consciously crafted.

“For my collection, I used an organic Pima cotton from Peru. Something that many people don’t realize, the label on a garment will tell you where it’s made but it doesn’t tell you where the actual material is from. To cut costs, a lot of companies will have it made in Peru because in Peru the standards are better and the sewing quality is very good. However, the material won’t actually be from there, which they have you believe. A lot of times they’re not getting their cotton from Peru because the cost is higher. For me, it was really important that everything about it, other than maybe the style, was Peruvian.”

Being a conscious consumer and business owner is at the forefront for Mireille, but she also recognizes that supporting artisanal goods and buying local can be a challenge. It has become her mission to make this craft more accessible to the general public.

Top Fashion Marketing School Graduate Mireille Kessler, Owner of Natale on Main Street

“My parents always wanted us to appreciate and support handmade wares. However, as a consumer that can often be challenging as handmade can be a lot more expensive. A lot of what you find in Vancouver may be made locally but in order for the artist to make a fair wage the price ends up being really high. Even the goods that are artisanal from abroad end up getting marked up significantly and it just makes it really hard to support. So that is something I’ve always tried to do – keep handmade goods at a reasonable price. I’m grateful because the fact that I’ve been able to cut out the middleman through my families business makes it possible to do so.

“I’ve had a few customers that have come into the store for the first time and have really appreciated what I’m doing here. I love that I get to sell things that my family has produced and have a platform for people to come and see why this is so important to us.”

Turning her passion into a career has been a labour of love for Mireille. Her purpose is unambiguous, and her boutique exudes these same credences. Whether you’re in the market to just peruse, you’re looking to buy, or you’re somewhere in between, one thing is for certain, you’ll leave a little more wise and well-informed than when you entered. You can thank us later.

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:00 PST
Vancouver IMATS Brings Emmy Award Winner Thomas Surprenant and his Tales of Makeup Mysticism to Blanche Macdonald special-guest-thomas-surprenant

Thomas Surprenant is an Emmy Award winning Makeup and Special Effects Artist whose illustrious career spans over 30 years in TV & Film. From Hollywood classics like Donnie Darko to present day blockbusters like The Maze Runner series, Thomas' credits are monumental and varied. There’s hardly a genre of film Thomas hasn’t touched his brush to. We were honored and so grateful to have Thomas stop by Canada's #1 Makeup School a few days before Vancouver IMATS and do a live demonstration of two of his most famous makeup looks for our eager Makeup students and staff. Sarcastic, witty, hilarious and of course - wildly talented, Thomas spilled the beans on everything from what’s in his set bag to defining moments of his career, and that time that Orlando Bloom butt-dialled him!

"You kind of get to play God,” Thomas remarks as he pauses his work and turns to smirk toward the audience. Even his model, mid-Klingon transformation á la his Star Trek days, breaks character to crack a smile. While he painted and blended his student model into a being fit for the Starship Enterprise, he regaled our students with tales of his favorite jobs “The Grinch that Stole Christmas was so fun, just a really good time,” what movie changed his life and made him want to pursue makeup as a career, “Makeup was fascinating to me but I never thought about doing it for a living - until I saw Rick Baker’s work in An American Werewolf in London,” and the importance of having a well-stocked kit that goes even beyond makeup supplies, “I always have kleenex and a flashlight.  You just never know!”

After an entertaining day of demonstrations and conversation at our Atelier campus, Thomas, along with the rest of the Vancouver creative community and some major members of the global community, hit up Canada Place for IMATS Vancouver that weekend. Thomas - a dedicated vegan who has earned the title of “Batman for Animals” among his friends - took part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer reunion panel and painted up a likeness of Mistfits guitar player Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein on the Open Forum Stage. When asked to share what made him choose this particular look from this particular band, Thomas said “My model is a fan and I’m a huge fan. Doyle is hardcore vegan and the guy is such an amazingly cool dude. The Misfits are clever and satirical but serious about their performances, music and writing. A lot of my music is punky, goth stuff. That was my era growing up!”


Coming from a family of film people, “My mom was in it for a while, and her brother and my granddad made a living from it for a long time”, it’s almost as if Thomas was destined for a career in TV & Film - but that’s not how he tells it. “My family encouraged me to do art but not to be an artist - go figure! I think they really just wanted to see someone in the immediate family do something more academic. I did think about being a mortician at one point and an archeologist and a paleontologist but ultimately, all of the research I did in all these different fields, along with my other interests, ended up making me a better Makeup Artist! I’ve worked on medical shows with real doctors and my knowledge of anatomy and different procedures was really helpful. I had a real surgeon compliment my suture tying! All of my knowledge and research comes in useful in lots of other ways too - I’ve had actors who were really well educated and didn’t want to communicate on a superficial level. They want intelligent conversation and because my knowledge is so well-rounded, I can carry that. It makes them more comfortable and happy and that’s ultimately what you’re trying to do - keep the talent happy.”

But way before he was wooing various stars and celebrities with his outstanding knowledge and facts, Thomas was obsessed with the horror films and sci-fi flicks that his family would watch. “We watched The Wizard of Oz every year, whether we wanted to or not and other films like The Invisible Man, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, all those classics. And then when I saw An American Werewolf in London, things changed. I started reading everything I could get my hands on that had Rick Baker in it. I thought ‘This guy has made a career doing really cool stuff!’”.

“My granddad saw me reading and painting and sculpting and always wanting to buy products to teach myself how to use so he thought he might as well introduce me to some Makeup Artists. I met a lot of people during that time and they all said the same thing ‘This is Makeup. If you want to be a Makeup Artist, you have to learn everything - beauty, corrective, character, period, hair, all of it.’ And so I set to learning everything I possibly could and I still do! It’s been over 30 years and I’m still learning. Even film itself has changed and so beyond Makeup, there’s a whole industry that you have to keep up with and understand.”


The ever-evolving film industry might be a challenge to keep up with but the etiquette required in the industry isn’t. “The new artists that come in didn’t grow up around this and then they come in and get starstruck. That’s the worst thing in the world to be. I always caution them not to get too cozy with their actors and to know their station. But I’m Old Hollywood, I grew up in this and then when you get actors who are also Old Hollywood, we have a special connection that no one else is going to have and of course, working with someone again and again can definitely build a relationship. Orlando Bloom and I got along really well when we worked together. He’s a wonderful human being. So eventually after a few years of working together we exchanged numbers. One day my phone rang and it was Orlando and I picked it up and heard a lot of noise and muffled voices. I just thought it was funny but students love it when I tell them I got butt-dialled by Orlando Bloom!”

Though Thomas makes it seem anything but, Makeup Artistry is often underestimated in the time and dedication it takes to get from the bottom of the Makeup ladder to the point of glamorous pocket dials.

“You need to be serious about it. I had to figure out a lot about this industry all by myself. Now people have the luxury to coming to a school [like Blanche Macdonald] and it’s all here for you to learn with - the materials, the instructors, everything! But you still have to put the effort in if you want a return. It’s not a place to phone it in. You can’t just expect your career in to go in the direction you want and I think that’s hard for people. You have to constantly prove yourself. This is a craft. It’s art, it’s a career, and your soul, heart and every bit of your being should be in it.”

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 PST
Night of the Nocturnes Showcases Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Talent Frederic Chopin and Kurt Cobain. Not the most obvious musical bedfellows, but together they provided a major dose of inspiration for Nocturnes, the 2017 Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Graduate Show, held for the second year in succession in the spectacular Grand Ballroom at the historic Hotel Vancouver.

“In the weeks leading up to the show I was listening to a lot of Chopin,” explained Fashion Director Tyler Udall. “He composed many Nocturnes, which is a word typically used to describe a poetic scene set at night. It seemed like a good fit.”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Annual Showcase, Hotel Vancouver 2017

Nocturnes delivered a night to remember, as 30 designers from destinations as diverse as China, Syria, South Korea and Kelowna dazzled Vancouver with their debut collections.

“This group came into the program with an openness and curiosity about design that superseded any of the other groups I have been privileged enough to work with,” continued Tyler. “They took direction well and dived deep into anything new that was introduced to them. Those are the kinds of students that are particularly fun to nurture. You keep setting a bar higher and higher for them, and they keep rising to the occasion. And beyond!

“Seeing the students buzzing after the show is always a treat for me. They are under a lot of pressure building up to the show so as you can imagine the tension levels are high. Seeing them relax and relish in their accomplishments is a very pleasant experience.”

One of those students relishing the evening was Vancouver’s own Hannah Eriksson, who finished her year at Blanche Macdonald on a high by being named as the deserving winner of the prestigious Overall Achievement Award. Sitting down to catch her breath towards the end of a historic evening, Nocturnes proved to be a fitting conclusion to an emotional year of creative discovery.

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Annual Showcase, Hannah Eriksson, Overall Achievement Winner

“It was surreal and overwhelming seeing my collection on the runway,” she explained. “My collection went from one extreme to another: from functional to art-based clothing. I put way too many functional things on the garments, to the point where they were no longer utilitarian. The strongest theme in my collection is repetition, which wasn’t the original plan at all. I called it Elated Exhaustion. It’s inspired by the emotions of being incredibly tired and incredibly excited. I think what sets me apart from other designers is my willingness to go through with ridiculous designs, probably due to my inability to see the future and the turmoil I’m about to put myself through because I’m easily blinded by excitement. One thing that has become evident to me about my design style is that I’m torn between playfulness and severity, which I believe to be true to my personality.

“It was such an enjoyable year. The Fashion Design program takes you through every emotion. There were late nights and resistance on my part, accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when I was able to step back and see what I’d done. I told Sara Armstrong I was going to drop out three months into the program. She convinced me to stay. She was shocked and told me that I was good. That was incredibly encouraging and understanding. I made myself a promise that I would try. I pushed through that and started enjoying every aspect of the program.”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Annual Showcase, Niki Pasini, Academic Achievement Award Winner 2017 

The combination of emotion, hard work and eventual triumph was echoed by Hannah’s colleague, Edmonton’s Niki Pasini, who ended the evening with three awards, recognized for Special Achievement in Pattern-Making, Garment Construction and Academic Excellence.

“Tonight was surreal,” she admitted. “A year ago I was living in Prince Edward Island working in a bridal shop. I wanted to do more of my own design work, rather than working on other people’s designs. My sister had taken Fashion Marketing at Blanche Macdonald and had an amazing experience so I knew what I was getting into.

“All my instructors were amazing: so full of knowledge and willing to help, while still giving you the freedom to develop your own ideas and try things your own way. You don’t want people coddling you, which is why I loved drawing class. Lisa Gellert is amazing. She pushes you. I worked a lot. One of these looks I stayed up for 24 hours straight finishing it.”

For Niki, the wonders of discovering fabrics and the architecture in her new city provided dual inspirations for a memorable debut collection.

“My focus was exploring textures and developing fabrics, then translating those ideas into garments. I love the satisfaction of seeing a garment that is beautifully constructed inside and out. I really wanted to create clothing that would be empowering for anyone to wear that regardless of your size or gender, you could style it in a way that feels authentic.  

“From my apartment I can see Yaletown and Downtown Vancouver. The layers and glass started me thinking about light travelling through layers and how it changes with transparency and opacity. I took some sketches to Tyler and he said, run with it!”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Annual Showcase, Hotel Vancouver 2017

Tyler Udall’s impeccable influence was felt in every aspect of Nocturnes. In addition to offering his expert eye to assist every new designer, his vision helped shape the look and feel of a runway show where vastly different collections needed to be embraced by unifying hair and makeup looks.

“As always, the hair and makeup treatments were a collaboration with our amazing instructors Lisa Callender and Jon Hennessey,” continued Tyler. “The initial references I brought to them as our creative point of departure were some random images sourced from the belly of the Internet. I’d been thinking a lot about Studio 54 and what a modern take on that kind of energy would be. I was also feeling nostalgic and Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video kept popping into my head. There’s one slightly gothy cheerleader in that video that always felt as if she was the coolest person you could ever hang out with. Those red tinsel pompoms make my heart happy. I guess throw all those elements into a pot, sprinkle them with modernity, and what you have is our beauty treatment for the 2017 Show.”

“The beauty direction for the Fashion Show evolves over the course of a series of photo shoots leading up to the show itself,” added Jon Hennessey. “Tyler and I have collaborated on a couple of shoots with KT Auleta over the past few months alongside Makeup Artist Kendahl Jung and Hairstylist Freddy Sim. The looks all included graphic line work, neon and glitter.

“We discussed early on that the direction should be graphic in design, but unique to the individual model. No two looks were the same on the night. Each model had a bold linear shape accented with a neon or ‘pop’ colour. The skin was ultra-hydrated and the rest of the face was left relatively bare. This was the first time that I’d had the opportunity to work with this assemblage of Artists and it was a phenomenal team. Becca Randall, Kendahl Jung, Nicole Leisher, Alexandra Zenchuk, Maria Walton, Kiki Xiang and Evelyn Affleck are all very talented artists, any of who could have led the show. The show always has a fun atmosphere. It’s a showcase for the next wave of design talent and we’re happy to be a part of celebrating in their success.”

That celebratory spirit was shared by Key Hair Artist Lisa Callender.

“Once Tyler emailed me photos of looks that he wanted to go with I went into creative Christmas mode,” she smiled. “We could have gone with professional high heat extensions but I instead I got creative in Canadian Tire’s Christmas department and we curled and waved them into the models’ hair. We used regular tinsel, not meant for hair at all. It was like decorating a tree.”

Top Fashion Design School Graduate Annual Showcase, Hotel Vancouver 2017 

Aided by a team of current Blanche Macdonald hair students, Lisa ensured that all 20 models hit the runway oozing drama and high fashion.

“I needed students who could work quickly and get stuff done while taking direction. I held an open audition so all the students so everyone had the chance to compete for a spot on the team and chose Kathleen Casimer, Lynel Probe, Kristen Cook and Jessica Nickoriuk. It came down to how quickly they could do what was needed.

“Tonight went very smoothly. I take charge and run the ship. We need direct, clear communication. At the end of the night my team left a note for me. It says, ‘Lisa, we out. Love you!’ That’s their feedback!”

For Fashion Department Executive Co-Director Peggy Morrison this graduate show was the 27th of her glorious tenure at Blanche Macdonald.

“I thought this was an exceptional year. There was some brilliant work and this was a very strong year for technical skill. Having three students win Honourable Mention Awards tells you how strong this group was. Niki Pasini in particular was well deserving of her three Special Achievement Awards. If the audience could see Niki's collection up close they would notice the true couture detail. They’d be very impressed with the workmanship.

“I always love the fact that we have such a wide range of directions and ideas.  We're not a school that tries to put everyone in the same box and that’s always been a tremendous source of pride for all of us at Blanche Macdonald.”

Along with this year’s incredible designers the success of Nocturnes 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, Matthew Burditt, 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 and Creative Content Coordinators Kendahl Jung and Mohamed Ali Ibrahim.

Infinite gratitude too, must be given to the backstage team, led by Tyler Udall, Sara Armstrong, Kelly Schmidt, stylist Leila Bani, her assistant Sanja Kovacevic and a team of volunteers from the Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing programs. While Key Makeup Artist Jon Hennessey, Key Hair Stylist Lisa Callender and Nail Artists Patricia Grant and Leigha Fane, along with a team of volunteer grads and students ensured the models looked as spectacular as the collections. Huge thanks also to our fabulous emcees Jaylene Tyme and Jane Smoker, 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, Mine & Yours and Townshoes along with huge thanks to our colleagues at CurliQue Beauty for putting our guests’ goody-bags together.


Full List of Award Winners

Special Achievement in Illustration: Kari Hong and Daynah Notting 

Special Achievement in Innovation in Surface Texture: Jenine Smith

Honourable Mention for Design: Pengfei Lai 

Special Achievement in Pattern Making: Niki Pasini

Special Achievement in Garment Construction: Niki Pasini

Honourable Mention for Pattern Making: Aisha Kaliel, Daynah Notting and Annabell (InHua) Yang

Honourable Mention for Garment Construction: Aisha Kaliel, Daynah Notting and Annabell (InHua) Yang

Academic Achievement: Niki Pasini 

Honourable Mention for Academic Achievement: Semiha Abdullah Inan 

Overall Achievement and Special Achievement in Portfolio Presentation: Hannah Eriksson 

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:00:00 PST