Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer A. Buabin

Photo credit: Jennifer A. Buabin

Full name: Jennifer A. Buabin

Program: Cosmetic Techniques and Management

Grad Year: 2019

Current Position: Entrepreneur & Brand Ambassador

What is your favourite Seneca memory?

My favourite Seneca College memory was when I found out that I got accepted into the Cosmetic Techniques and Management program.  I remember the moment like it was yesterday.  I was so happy to start my journey in the cosmetics field and excited to be able to gain knowledge from teachers within the program that had many years of experience.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same program as you, what would it be?

Have an open mind.  Be ready to learn all aspects of the Cosmetics industry, from makeup and skincare to learning about different types of ingredients in cosmetics.  You will need to put your full concentration hat on because from the moment you start the program, there will be a lot of information to grasp.  Don’t worry, the teachers have your back.  Ask questions!  If you don’t understand what information is being put out there, just ask and don’t be afraid; maybe someone else is thinking about that same question you are going to ask.  Get to know your classmates because forming a study group is something that will also benefit and enhance your understanding of the course materials.  Make notes after each class and read ahead so that when it comes to midterms and exams, you will not be overwhelmed.  Communication is key!  You need to be passionate about what you’re doing and it will all pay off in the end.

How has your career evolved?

As a result of expanding my knowledge of make-up, skincare and other essentials, I now have the ability to educate my clients.  My knowledge and confidence has definitely empowered me to reach for more and share with others what it means to be determined.  Makeup artistry has brought me closer to my clients and allowed me to help them with their cosmetic situations.  I’m proud of what I’m doing and continue to blossom.

How did your Seneca program help you get to where you are now/your current career?

  • By giving me access to career fairs where I could interact with industry professionals.
  • By facilitating role-playing exercises that prepared me for the industry.
  • By building my confidence.
  • By giving me access to excellent teachers that have open-door policies.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

The in-class make-up demonstrations and practical components of the program created amazing memories that encouraged me to become more creative in my craft and gave me the confidence to do what I do.  Getting to know different styles of makeup artistry was something that I carried on into the real world, where I could explore and share my knowledge with others.  My favourite class was Portfolio Development where I had the opportunity to explore which avenue of the industry I was interested in.

School of Fashion Presents: FLUID

Behind the scenes of an outstanding artistic collaboration

The Project

As graduation approaches students are looking back at one of their most ambitious collaboration projects: Fluid — An artisanal high fashion photoshoot. Their goal was to create international editorial appeal with fresh designs and captivating photography that brings sustainability into focus. The project explores themes of expression, inclusivity and timelessness that are reflected in the pieces, which traverse beyond the boundaries of gender and colour. They are in every way, fluid.

From left to right: Thiruchiya P. Cosmetic Techniques and Management student, and Zoe.
Photo credit: Photography student.

The Inspiration

Fashion is the expression of a state of mind, and photography captures that essence and conveys it to the audience. A collaboration of the two arts in a professional setting is inevitable. This was the inspiration for Arline Malakian and Zoran Dobric to develop this high-profile project.

From left to right: Mersedeh P (Cosmetics Techniques and Management student), Summer, Professor Arline Malakian.
Photo credit: Photography student.

Fashion and photography are highly competitive professions. They’re fast-paced, network-based and ruthless to amateurs. So, how can students make it in this industry? By having the confidence and experience to make a splash from the beginning. If aspiring designers and photographers worked together to create an industry standard piece, the world of fashion would take notice. Fluid was created for precisely this purpose – to draw the attention of the seasoned professionals and show them what Seneca College students were capable of.

Professor Zoran Dobric.
Photo credit: Photography student.

In this collaboration, students from the Photography, Fashion Arts and Cosmetic Techniques & Management programs came together to create magic that would give their portfolios an edge and help them take the professional world by storm.

The Collaboration

Any collaboration requires hard work, communication and mutual understanding. Executing Fluid was no different.

Fashion Arts students developed the concept of Fluid and determined the themes and ideas they would be exploring through their designs. They met regularly to brainstorm ideas, plan, and consult the right people to bring their vision to life.

They knew that every piece, every design, every shot should tell a story. The audience should be moved, and their work should make a difference. They worked relentlessly to co-select garments and fabric that would best represent the essence of Fluid.

Photo credit: Photography student.

Cosmetic Techniques and Management students played a key role in tying all the visual elements of the design together. With direction from the Fashion Arts crew, hair and make-up brought the look to life. It added the final aesthetics to pull together the entire piece and take it to the next level. While the designs spoke for themselves, cosmetics added the final appeal that would draw the audience in.

From left to right: Zoe and Thiruchiya P. Cosmetic Techniques and Management student.
Photo credit: Photography student.

Photography students worked to create magic behind the lens. Their role was to co-direct the shots, and develop a storyboard tailored to the designers’ visions. They were tasked with putting their technical skills to work by arranging the lighting, set, and presentation in a way that would capture the story and express through visuals the importance of fluidity – the central theme of the project. While they worked with the Fashion Arts students during the shoot, a significant amount of their work was done in post-production, where they ensured that their work captured the essence of Fluid and exceeded industry expectations.

Two intensive days in Seneca’s Sandbox studio and numerous days prior and post-shoot were expended to make Fluid possible. Every unit worked efficiently independently and together. They were aware of their roles, acted with utmost professionalism, and most importantly, thoroughly enjoyed the process!

From left to right: Mersedeh P (Cosmetics Techniques and Management student), Photography student, Professor Zoran Dobric, and Professor Arline Malakian.
Photo credit: Photography student.

The Experience

The experience of working with other departments and creating something from scratch was absolutely enlightening and exhilarating for the team. They were part of something bigger; something that is very much a regular practice in the professional world.

There were certainly challenges and the students grew more confident with every obstacle they overcame. With quick problem solving skills, communication, and teamwork, they made the best of tight schedules and small spaces. It was a learning experience that prepared them to face an industry as tough as fashion, head-on.

“[We learned] how much effort is required from everyone who is involved: Makeup artists, models, photographers, stylists… Everyone’s job is important and we all must rely on each other’s knowledge.”

– Deborah Alvarado (Photography)

Photography students.
Photo credit: Photography student.

The Takeaway

The professional world of fashion and photography functions like a well-oiled system. They work together seamlessly to create exquisite works of art that are celebrated across the world. However, even industry experts who are part of projects like Fluid on a much larger scale had to learn somewhere. Students had the opportunity to develop a toolbox of skills that will propel them into the fast-paced industry and make them known in the face of tough competition.

They learned how to process and edit high quality fashion editorial stories as well as ideation and concept development under a very conceptual direction encompassing art, fashion, beauty and photography in and for a specific context.

“Everything starts with the design of the clothes, you have to understand the concept and photograph it in a way that will enhance its “vibe” while at the same time keeping in mind trends and your own personal style of shooting,” Deborah added.

From left to right: Professor Arline Malakian, and Summer.
Photo credit: Photography student.

The Rewards

Along with the knowledge gained, students now have a series of photos that will enhance their portfolios and expose them to the fashion world. It gave them an opportunity to create something that they are proud of and can confidently take with them when venturing into the industry.

It is truly an accomplishment for the artists to have seen such an elaborate project from start to finish. It is a testament to the talent and tenacity of our students at Seneca College. They are constantly seeking to expand their horizons and prepare themselves for a career in something they are truly passionate about.

That is the real reward of this project- it was born out of genuine love for their craft and a determination to prove themselves!

Bloor Street Entertains, 2018 Highlights

T-1 Week until or Event Management, Event and Exhibit Design students assist with the setup and decor for Bloor Street Entertains, Canada’s largest and only fundraising gala in support of HIV/AIDS research.

This annual event is organized by the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR). The goal of Bloor Street Entertains is to deliver a world-class event, which raises funds and awareness for this important cause and to ultimately reduce the number of new HIV infections in the country. The support of guests, sponsors, and partners at Bloor Street Entertains is the driving force that allows CANFAR to continue moving forward in its mission to end the HIV epidemic in Canada. Last year, the School of Fashion and School of Media students supported CANFAR’s 23rd Bloor Street Entertains by transforming Bloor-Yorkville’s storefronts into luxury dining spaces.

Event Management students designed the dinner decor at storefronts including Brooks Brothers, Harry Rosen (pictured above), Liss Gallery, Lumas Gallery, Rimowa and William Ashley, while Public Relations – Corporate Communications students supported with public relations and social media efforts. Visual Merchandising students also participated by setting up the luxury silent auction.

Seneca students and faculty have worked on Bloor Street Entertains for more than 11 years. The annual event raises between $500,000 and $1 million annually for CANFAR, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research. Stay tunned for photos/coverage on the 2019 event!

Alumni Spotlight: Alice Zhu, Fashion and Rebellion

Living with one foot in fashion and the other in dark dramatism, Alice Zhu’s work expresses her inner world and personality. “For me, fashion is a part of who I am, it’s about costumes, theatre, and art – like a performance in style.” Recipient of the Seneca School of Fashion Excellence Award, Alice has design confidence that isn’t afraid to break out of the mold.

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Her line, as seen at the 21stCentury Atelier: Redefining Fashion in a New Age of Design, held in partnership between Seneca College’s School of Fashion and the Royal Ontario Museum, features what she calls “Psycho Clown.” The line is designed in rebellion to mainstream retail garments and celebrates hip-hop streetwear and decorative vintage looks.

Using woven polyester, silk and cotton, Alice cuts silhouettes that are A-line and asymmetrical. She details and decorates using colour blocking, pleats and ruffles. “My clothes are meant to make a person stand out,” says Alice. “They’re made for Alexander McQueen style runway shows, for theatre and movies, they’re meant to attract attention and create a mood.”

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Observing the streetwear designs in her line, one sees oversized jackets and petite tweed tops (reminiscent of Chanel’s suit material) that have creepy smiley faces on them. “These clothes mock conformist fashion – I believe following trends is wasteful” she says. Then she points to her masks and continues, “I have a zero-waste ideology. I make these masks out of wasted fabric, and give these shreds meaning.”

Owing a lot to the faculty at Seneca, especially the support of the Academic Chair for the School of Fashion, Gitte Hansen, and practicing fashion designer and instructor Zoran Dobric, Alice says her confidence and exposure, as well as her technical skills are all attributed to her years in Seneca and her relationships with the department even as an alumnus.

Today, Alice’s own style is simple; she wears flare cut black pants and a plain, beautiful black top with full sleeves that she says she stitched herself. She wears delicate cornrows on her head to hold her hair back from her face. “I used to be interested in rebellious, dramatic, gothic and punk looks and hairstyles, but as I grew older I began to spend less time on how I dress and more time on my work – today my rebellion is in my designs.”

Administration Spotlight: Michel Côté

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We would like to congratulate Michel Côté on his new role as Acting Chair of the School of Fashion. Michel has been part of the fashion and lifestyle industry for over 25 years. He started his career in Montréal as a merchandiser-buyer working closely with the Mexx International design team. Michel is also the founder of two companies: tec-nic kolor, which specializes in uniforms and promotional items, and Henry & Cécile, a custom handmade bedding manufacturer. He has been part of the Fashion Group International board of directors (Toronto Chapter), and a member of the board for Apparel Connexion. Michel has an MA in leadership at the University of Guelph.

Alumni Spotlight: Kinoo Arcentales

This week we explore the talented work of Kinoo Arcentales, #SenecaFashion Graduate

“An Echo in History”

To his surprise, Kinoo Arcentales’ journey into the fashion industry was swift and unexpected. Reflecting on the moment when he decided to pursue fashion, Kinoo said, “I never expected being a designer. It was actually during my studies at Seneca, during the RED: Emerging Designer Showcase, where I first took fashion seriously.”

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Born in Toronto and raised in Quito, Ecuador, Kinoo is a third-generation fashion designer of Kichwa and Mestizo heritage. Following the footsteps of his grandmother, he explains that like her, he built his success from nothing. Today at the age of 25, Kinoo’s talent and wisdom shines beyond his years. He has designed his own collection, AN.D.N,which earned him the 2016 Rowenta Award for ‘Best In Show’ at Redefining Design and is the owner of Pacha Indigenous Art Collection, located in downtown Toronto; recognized for selling hand-made bags, textiles, art and jewelry created in collaboration with Indigenous communities in Canada.

Showcasing his collection AN.D.Nat the the 21st Century Atelier: Redefining Fashion in a New Age of Design, a collaborative event by the Seneca School of Fashion and the Royal Ontario Museum, Kinoo describes the opportunity “as a privilege”. Working with an androgynous theme, Kinoo created AN.D.N for both men and women and designed silhouettes that closely resemble clothing found in Otavalo, Ecuador – his hometown. Showcased at the event was Kinoo’s favourite design – a Navajo poncho wrapped around a black jacket, worn with draped pants and a dark hazel skirt.

 

Kinoo considers fashion as an expression of activism, and strives to transform and transcend the stereotypical perception and image of Indigenous art. His mission is to inspire and encourage the younger generation to embrace their traditions and identity, while at the same time, remain detached from conservative ideals.  “AN.D.Ncan be understood as an approach to a prophecy,” says Kinoo. The logo for his company – Yana Manta, which translates to “I am from the void” – envisions an eagle and condor flying in harmony, signifying the fulfilment of a prophecy that traces back 500 years. “The condor and the eagle represent two separate forces from the south and the north, meeting to revolutionize and create a new culture or rebirth. It’s a sign that all Indigenous communities from around the world will gather together.

 

Speaking on his experience after graduating from the Seneca School of Fashion, Kinoo says, “It turns out the fashion industry is really hard. It’s rewarding and of course you have your five minutes of fame — but what’s more important is not being an echo, but a roar through history. The aftermath is what I’m more concerned with for myself, and what is going to happen five years from now.” In the future, Kinoo wants to continue working with the community and hopes to create a new collection. “I think it’s time to put AN.D.N. to rest. I’m very proud of it, but I think it’s time for it to be put aside and let the next thing take over.”

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When asked what advice he would give to students at the Seneca School of Fashion, Kinoo said, “The fashion industry is bitter-sweet. It’s hard. Work really hard. You have to have a very strong attitude and ethic of work. You can’t go there thinking it’s easy and that I’m going to get a job. If that doesn’t happen, create your own job, create your own position. Build it from something and invest in yourself.”

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Tala Nehlawi

We love when our grads have the opportunity to showcase their collections outside the classroom! Over the next month, we will feature the work of three all-star #FashionArts students – starting with Tala Nehlawi and her collection, Love Damascus.

At the age of 22, Tala Nehlawi has celebrated countless accomplishments in the fashion industry that many designers can only dream of.  Her collection, Damas, recently showcased beside the Christian Dior exhibit at the 21st Century Atelier: Redefining Fashion in a New Age of Design, a collaborative event hosted by the Seneca School of Fashion and the Royal Ontario Museum received a great deal of attention from Toronto fashion elites.

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“It was the most amazing opportunity ever. I thank Seneca so much for it,” says Tala. “Usually, when you have a big reputation or you’re a huge brand – that’s when you get [to showcase your line] in a museum. It also gave me the opportunity to connect with people. You don’t really get to do that in a fashion show.” commented Tala.

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Dedicating her collection, Damas, to her native country, Syria, Tala uses fashion as a medium to build awareness and show people that “despite all the destruction, Syria is still utterly beautiful.” Inspired by the architecture and antiques of the historical regions of Damascus, Tala’s silhouettes and hand-made purses have a Middle Eastern twist, with some of her designs inscribed ‘Love Damascus’ in Arabic calligraphy.  Her favourite piece from the line is a copper dress, with a domed-shaped neckline, influenced by the geometrical shape found in copper plates in Damascus.

For Tala, her creative process starts with inspiration, whether it’s from travelling, experiencing other cultures or being immersed in nature. “[My designs] reflect how I feel,” says Tala. “When I’m inspired, I start sketching – then I go out looking for fabrics and start draping and sewing. I also like working in a messy environment – my studio is kind of my bedroom.”

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While working in the fashion industry for only a few years, Tala’s ambition and business ethic speak for itself. She will be showcasing her new collection for the second consecutive year at the Fashion Art Toronto (FAT) show in April. While she does not have a name for her new collection yet, Tala says, “what I can tell you, is that it’s very different from Damas. Be prepared for a very colourful and different runaway set-up!”

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As an independent and ambitious designer, with a keen desire to learn and evolve, Tala hopes to pursue taking fashion courses in Europe as well as working towards her entrepreneurship certificate. She is currently working on developing her brand and hopes to design a new “it bag” in the future, something that she has always dreamed of accomplishing.

As a recent graduate of the Seneca School of Fashion, Tala is grateful for the relationships she built throughout her studies. “My favourite part [of being a student at Seneca] were my professors. They are knowledgeable and very well connected in the industry. I see them as my mentors.”