The world is entranced with Vancouver-based Lyle Reimer and his alternate personality @LyleXOX. The internationally acclaimed multimedia self-portrait artist—with 150K+ Instagram followers—is fresh off collaborations with iconic brands Moschino, Gucci, and Victor and Rolf, when we found him holding court at Gastown’s Inform Interiors.
The room is full as the much-anticipated launch of Lyle XOX: Head of Design, published by Rizzoli International, gets underway. Impeccably dressed, in what could be best described as ‘Playful Pilgrim,’ Reimer is discussing his beginnings with the city’s finest creatives. His first mirror selfie photo was taken in 2013 and scrolling through his IG grid, since then, shows his creative genius is not waning.
The hardcover book is a one-of-a-kind tome that captures Reimer’s work as he breaks the boundaries of beauty and embraces self-expression while celebrating individual style. The contrast between @LyleXOX and IRL Reimer is that the latter is slightly self-conscious but handles himself well—with aplomb and wonderful wit.
The question of inspiration inevitably is asked to which Reimer replies that he believes that inspiration is best found serendipitously in the world as it passes by.
He shares with the audience how he was recently flummoxed by a discussion with an art teacher—who was allowing students to use their phones—to find inspiration while working in art class. For Lyle, creativity comes from everywhere you most expect it not to be, and this is something that the upcoming generation of creators, artists, and changemakers should consider.
“If you are looking for your inspiration, put your phone down. Get out into the world,” Reimer shared. “I appreciate makeup artists, but I’m not inspired by makeup artists.”
Once, on a walk across the historic Burrard Street bridge, he noticed a wheel had fallen off a passerby’s suitcase. “That’s a cool shape,” he thought, “that’s coming to the studio with me.”
Lyle’s form of art is twofold. He posts self-portraits of elaborate, jarring and seemingly gravity-defying makeup designs featuring upcycled and found objects. These photos are paired with the eclectic stories of the personality he has created with the objects. Each character and story is unique and unexpected, and they are primed to leave the reader in awe of the artist’s duality of talent.
His creative inclinations were first realized when growing up in Wymark, SK, a place small enough to be designated as a hamlet instead of a town. The casual observer might assume that his work is a reaction to a conservative prairie upbringing, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. He has stated in past interviews that he was always able to find support at home, especially from his mother, an artist with an affinity for used recyclables and his aunt, a makeup artist.
After moving to Vancouver, Reimer pursued a makeup program at the Blanche Macdonald Centre and found work for MAC Cosmetics, where he worked as a trainer for their coveted Artistry and Development team before leaving to pursue his interests full time.
His online fandom (which includes luxury fashion houses), has become so devoted that they now serve the purpose of creative curation, sending him bits of inspiration in the form of garbage (Jeremy Scott sent 45 lbs of studio refuse), handbags (Gucci, Balenciaga), metal hearts from Mexico City, a used retainer from a childhood friend’s daughter. Nothing is too opulent, sacred, unconventional or unusable for Reimer.
The past year has been full of accomplishments for Reimer. Lyle XOX: Head of Design was designed as a collaboration with renowned art director Fabien Baron. His works were featured in such international publications as the New York Times, Vogue Italia, British Vogue, and GQ China. Last March, he fulfilled a lifelong dream when famed luxury New York City retailer Bergdorf Goodman featured storefront windows dedicated to his work.
Invited to collaborate with Victor and Rolf at their Amsterdam atelier, Reimer remembers being astonished when they asked him what to wear for their shoot. “I remember them coming to the studio space in their jeans and t-shirts and saying, ‘well, Lyle, what would you like us to wear?’ And I just said, ‘I’m going to tell you what to wear?’” This shoot was a personal favourite of his, and a particularly treasured photograph is the first image page of his first—but not last—book.
As a tastemaker for fashion’s most influential, it seems that the sky is the limit for Reimer, who remains on the west coast in his cozy studio in trendy Kitsilano and is intent on finding new opportunities for collaborations. However, he is still driven by the same principles.
Inspiration will always come in unexpected places, and as much as the world’s most acclaimed designers knock on his door, we are sure to find him where he truly feels at home: in front of the camera, adorned with the objects that others have left behind—there to tell a story that is seeking exposure.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and multiple digital lifestyle blogs. She is a content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her rescues. firstname.lastname@example.org
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