Spotted: Paul Mason, a.k.a. Fashion Santa. The day we met with Paul Mason for the cover shoot last year, he was told only hours ago that he went viral all over the globe for being Fashion Santa. Lucky for us, our team witnessed that wow moment of this gentleman – for over 30 years ongoing commitment in fashion, the stroke of fortune has finally come to him as a surprisingly remarkable milestone. Congratulations calls and messages kept ringing that day, and Paul was evenly answering them all meanwhile remained calm and effortlessly chic at work. “I think I’m at it. I think I’m really at it. I believe the best is yet to come, still…Milestone, maybe this is it – maybe growing the beard, that’s the milestone. I’m at a really good place, a really great place”, said Paul smiling. Thanks to the marvelous power of social media, and of course thanks to the don’t-give-up policy of Paul Mason who lives a life that he never regrets.
Editor & Creative Director LYNN YUAN
Photography VAI YU LAW
Cinematography BAI ZHOU
Makeup & Hair Artist KESTRA ILLIATOVITCH
Stylist LYNN YUAN
Assistant Stylist OGE AHANOTU
Wardrobe THOMAS HENRY MADE & CALVIN KLEIN
View in FANIQUE Magazine ISSUE 4 HERE
FANIQUE Magazine: We see you wear different hats like Fashion Santa, supermodel, and business founder of a model agency. How do you see yourself with such titles?
Paul Mason: Busy (laugh). With so many titles, it’s better for me to be having more things going on than not. I don’t like to be an idol. And, one foot is on the other – I mean to be a brand ambassador, to be the face of TOM [Toronto Men’s Fashion Week], to be the spokesperson for a brand, to model to do shows, or to be an agent. It’s all in the same business. So it doesn’t make it any more difficult. I could not be busy, and I prefer much to be busy.
FANIQUE Magazine: How does a PAUL MASON day look like?
Paul Mason: Well, now social media is so crazy and so part of our everyday life. I get up in the morning, fairly early. I’m on my computer doing all my social media and email stuff. It takes me longer than most people because I’m a bit technically challenged. I’m still at the gym. Eating, whatever. Lots of appointments – It’s a full day. I try to keep it [phone] off at a certain time in the evening. I’m learning now not to answer my phone after certain points, or even just ignore it, which is hard. For us, it’s almost a 24 hour [job]. I think you set the boundaries where you’re capable of working. I’m learning that now.
FANIQUE Magazine: Have you ever went to a model casting and been asked what made you want to become a model?
Paul Mason: Sure. Well, first of all, when I was young, I would go to GQ magazine and would see guys in the magazine. And I thought I could do that! That was my inspiration. The funny story was years after that, I moved to NYC, and I was on set doing a photo shoot for a magazine. One of the models I saw on the cover of GQ when I was a kid was right beside me on set, and we were doing the same job. It was one of those four circle moments when you knew that it was meant to be.
FANIQUE Magazine: What made you stay being a fashion model?
Paul Mason: I think fashion is all about creativity. I think visually, why couldn’t a person with the white beard, why couldn’t a person with the beard and older look equally as good as someone who is young. Fashion is all about visuals, and I think it’s the strong visual that works.
FANIQUE Magazine: Have you had any struggles in the past whether or not you should continue your modeling career?
Paul Mason: You know what, there is a great believe that to get to that place is easier than staying at that place. So you can work as hard as you like, and the challenge that you meet – You can achieve that. But once you get that, you have to stay there and try to stay relevant, and try to make people believe that you can still work – that people can book you. That’s a hard thing to last long. Getting there is an easy part.
FANIQUE Magazine: Since when you started to grow your white beard that turned to be your personal trademark?
Paul Mason: I started growing my beard from two years ago.
FANIQUE Magazine: Do you find a big difference after you start owning such a signature image with beard?
Paul Mason: Sure. It’s such a strong image that people want it. They neither want me at the parties because they need the big white beard in the rooms, or they want me to represent the brand or to do editorials or photo shoots. You know, in black and white it’s dramatic. It’s just unique, I think.
FANIQUE Magazine: Do you get annoyed when people keep asking about it (the beard)?
Paul Mason: No, not at all! Because It’s not very often that in one career, you could have two faces. I feel like the other face is completely gone – like the younger face is gone, and the older face with the beard is like an entirely new look, a totally new person. So, I embrace it; I love it. I’m just going forward to the next jump.
FANIQUE Magazine: What is your educational background? How did you initially start your modeling career from the ground up?
Paul Mason: Oh God (laugh). When I was in my second year studying Social Work at Ryerson, fashion students asked me to walk for their presentation. I walked. And, within three weeks I was walking on the runways in Tokyo. So, I left Ryerson, and I left my degree…Oh well, YES! (laugh)
FANIQUE Magazine: Have you ever regret that choice?
Paul Mason: No. I try not to live with regrets. I think it’s the policy of mine. And the education I got through traveling, cultures, food, money, and all other learnings at that time, I can never get it in a classroom.
FANIQUE Magazine: You must have been to many cities as a fashion model. Which one is your favorite place to be?
Paul Mason: That’s an easy one, New York City. I lived there for 14 years. I used to think Paris was because I did the shows there when I was younger. Twice a year, all the boys walked for Milan, London, Paris, and New York at fashion weeks. I thought Paris was, but when I went to New York and started living there, I knew that New York was my city.
FANIQUE Magazine: What’s unique or exciting about living in New York?
Paul Mason: New York is full of magic. Every single day, you don’t have to be a model to experience the magic in New York. It’s just amazing. It’s just full of culture. Fourteen years of really good times and meeting the best people. You know, the work is good. Although I have to say that working in the American market is very commercial, people think you’re going to New York, you are doing as really Avant-garde stuff, but it’s not the case. I was fortune enough to shoot the Dolce & Gabbana campaign when I was 41 years old, and that was shoot in New York.
FANIQUE Magazine: You mentioned that working in American fashion industry is very commercial, what do you think about the market here in Toronto?
Paul Mason: Almost all the most talented people end up leaving [Toronto]. I think what we have to do is through Government and funding projects. Things like that to keep the talents here. And I believe that we’re full of talents, as far as makeup artists, designers, models, stylists. Full of talents. We just have to learn how to keep talents and take care of ourselves.
FANIQUE Magazine: Is that why you choose to move back and stay in Toronto?
Paul Mason: I moved back from New York for many reasons. I always believe in making the best of where you are. So, if I am here, I’m going to make the best of it. If I can contribute in a positive way, to be a voice for the people who need it, I’m more than happy to do that. Someone who has been around for a while and knows what’s going on needs to stand out and to say that you can’t work for free forever. People have to make a living.
FANIQUE Magazine: What are the things you consider as milestones in your fashion career for the time being?
Paul Mason: I think I’m at it. I think I’m really at it. I believe the best is yet to come, still. Who knew it, 51 that I would be doing probably more works than I never ever done in my life. Milestone, maybe this is it – maybe growing the beard, that’s the milestone. I’m at a really good place, a really great place.
FANIQUE Magazine: What are the three words or one sentence you use to define yourself?
Paul Mason: Don’t give up. I think that’d be the three words. 30 years still doing the same thing, still surviving, still being relevant. I think it’s the model that I live by. The don’t-give-up policy is that no one is going to tell me until I know it’s time to give up, or, time to go away.
FANIQUE Magazine: What’s your suggestion to fresh starters who want to become a fashion model?
Paul Mason: I think there is no control, there is very little control you have. The only control you have is what you do to yourself. So if you have a good diet, good sleep, good living – Your lifestyle is healthy. Those are things you can control. When you have those things controlled, the other things will come. But I have to say that If you’re looking for something with stability, that’s a rough one.