Paul Mason lights up in a way only someone dubbed the Fashion Santa can. With an encompassing embrace in the lobby of the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver, he greeted me with energy, warmth, and curiosity. The white-bearded man inside the suit is eager to let the world know who he is. In the city for a shoot with made-to-measure suiting brand Indochino, he has just returned from a set at the historic Britannia Mine in Squamish, BC.
Paul has built a reputation as one of Canada’s most notable male models. His career has included working with well-known designers, being photographed by the legendary Peter Lindbergh, and walking in fashion weeks across the world.
His Fashion Santa persona saw unexpected success after appearances at Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall during the winter of 2015 went viral. Mallgoers took selfies with him in exchange for donations to local charities. Several years after his first appearances, he has trademarked the Fashion Santa brand and is always on the go, making appearances and raising money for charities.
Mason has supported the Sick Kids Hospital, Terry Fox Foundation, and Hope Springs Cancer Research Centre, and ensures that every Fashion Santa experience continues to be tied to a charity or non-profit organization. “I want to go everywhere with this character,” says Mason. “[I want] to raise awareness and money for charities all over the globe.” His new charitable partnerships include the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and yet unnamed environmental initiative.
His media appearances have not only become more frequent but also involve trying new things, like shooting a recently released fragrance commercial for Paco Rabanne. This stylistic complex desert shoot featured the original stunt vehicles from the film Mad Max: Fury Road and a jean vest-clad Mason observing from the doorway of a vintage Airstream trailer.
Mason will be completing a six-city tour with Ritz Carlton Hotels (outfitted in Indochino) and is looking forward to a speaking engagement in Moscow in the new year. Mason says that this travel schedule can be demanding, but by the time he is taking selfies with fans, it is all worth it. Meeting supporters of Fashion Santa is what keeps him motivated, and he knows that the more personal connections he creates, the greater his philanthropic impact will be.
There is nothing but optimism for the future of the Fashion Santa persona, and one gets the feeling that this is because of Mason’s prolific career. He knows how to make the most of the spotlight and find opportunities to grow.
As the driver pulled up to whisk him off to YVR Airport, I asked Paul which moments of his career stood out. He smiled and spoke about 15 years living and working in New York City, as well as working with Gianni Versace, Donna Karan, Armani, Moschino, Dolce & Gabanna, and walking for Dior.
He mentions these names in the same breath as his current work and looks ahead to where he can take the persona, and most importantly how Fashion Santa can continue to raise money for charities he believes in.
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