Saturday, January 25, 2020

Meet Paul Mason aka Fashion Santa

Call us perennials, call us fashion warriors but don’t call us complacent. Paul Mason found a niche and he filled that niche to the point of, I guess, reinvention or a new iteration of his former self. Such inventiveness is a building block of fashion as so many of us never quite really disappear, we merely fade from view for a while but we come back as “the new you!” 
There are just too many cases where designers, models, and even salespeople of fashion just give up and move onto another profession and then there is Paul Mason and the many other perennials whose lives are steeped in fashion!

He is a phenomenon within the world of fashion for several reasons: first is that he defies convention by retaining a successful career as a model despite his age and secondly by becoming this character who is now a fashion staple on so many levels as well as becoming a part of fashion history.
So, now after a command appearance in the final Jean Paul Gaultier’s retirement show in Paris, we get to hear how it all happened… and straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. So, let’s find out what this Fashion Santa is hiding in his bag full of goodies….and listen up when he spills the goods!
Jeffrey Felner-Can you give us the past and present of Paul Mason and then the genesis of Fashion Santa?
Paul Mason- Paul Mason was a kid always wanting to get out! I come from a blue-collar working-class family, not poverty by any means but when I was younger, I was so into Hollywood and fashion! I would buy GQ when they would put real models on the covers and I thought to myself I could do that!

Skip to New York City in 1993 and 15years later there I am under contract with Ford Models. That kid in me just never gave up on the notion “I could do that!”

The present would describe this same kid but 27years later.
I am now just as driven but hopefully in a more useful and productive fashion (pun intended)! The question of age always comes up where I’m defying the supernatural or convention but in my opinion, I'm just being me full of positive attitude and energy. I forget I'm 55 who looks like Moses! I believe the best is yet to come from this old body and that my inner kid is still a huge asset for me.

My last comment is a good segue into the genesis of Fashion Santa, the character I created is a character but it's also a feeling; a small feel good movement. I created him by way of life’s curveballs. It was an organic transformation that came out of a very sad moment in my life to what is represents today! 
I can't explain why or how this happened; My Mother sadly passed away and, in my grief, I stopped shaving for some unknown reason but then again maybe it was a sign of what was to come. Six months later there I am with a huge white beard and based on my model/fashion background I created "Fashion Santa."
The the character represents a real holiday/Christmas guy that provokes a minute of joy, wonderment, and pure silliness so that people can forget their problems if only a few minutes. I also hope than I am able to bring awareness to causes/ charities that need a platform by being a Santa that doesn't only represent toys… he gives back!
JF-Share with us your most gratifying moment and your most embarrassing moment while being Fashion Santa and please explain why?
PM-As for the most gratifying moment that I've experienced (as Fashion Santa), it would be securing and owning the US/Canada trademark. This was after a very long and painful period when I thought it wasn’t possible.

My most embarrassing moment (as Fashion Santa) needs to be told!...

In 2015 I was experiencing some lower abdominal pain when my doctor arranged a series of tests, one of these was to rule out testicular cancer. So, here I am on the table legs spread apart, all your junk in that nurse’s face as they prep your designated area and with one testicle in her hand, she looks down then up then down and finally says "Are you Fashion Santa" …. of course, I said yes and she says "Oh I'm such a big fan all the while still holding one testicle. How’s that?

 JF-If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?
PM-This is a very tough question for me, but you’re going to have to set a bigger table:

 Elizabeth Taylor& Richard Burton, Barack Obama, Fran Lebowitz, Dr. Seuss,

Tyler Tanner (Friend), Martin Luther King, Angelina Jolie, Donna Mason (My Mother), Oprah and Mahatma Gandhi ... some of the why’s are easier to figure out than the others so you’ll have to ask me about in person when we meet about the others!
 JF-Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you think you will remain Fashion Santa as long as you can and do you think that Fashion Santa has been the propelling source of interest for your modeling career at this age and why?
PM-As far as, where do I see myself in 5 years... I want to bring this story to the screen as a new genre of holiday/Christmas story! I believe it has all the makings of becoming a holiday staple with some fashion, drama, humor and joy so with the assist of the right people I hope to make it happen. I also want to continue on a path for more global recognition of the character. Now that I own the trademark, the sky is the limit so that’s where I’m headed. I have to remind you that one of my mission statements is to bring awareness to many causes around the world with my Santa style, so it's time to take this guy to the next level and turn Fashion Santa into a Rockstar!

I would like to have the biggest global holiday/Christmas brand where a percentage of all proceeds are donated to world charities. Santa is gonna be one busy gifter!
 JF-Did you have any style mentors or idols that you looked to emulate and who were they and why did you choose them?
PM- I don't really have anyone I can think of as a real influence in style for my life. I admire many in history, Cary Grant and James Dean were obviously huge personalities who brought much to shape fashion and style. It’s a funny question to me because I love fine fabrics, cuts, and fit that wearing a suit brings; I believe an amazing suit is like a suit of armor as well as sending a silent signal about who you are! 
On the other hand, I love the relaxed look of worn-out jeans, vintage boots, I've had for years, and a white T-shirt while driving an old shitty pickup! I was born on the last day of Gemini so maybe that’s it?
 JF-If you could give any advice to the so-called Instagram models of today, what would it be and why?
PM-Advice for Instagram “models” of today .... hahaha that’s a funny one! It's the new way to socially and professionally integrate as well as interact so I should be asking the young ones for the advice! One thing about the digital age is that I miss is the whole process of holding tangible magazine or book and the time it allowed us to browse or read the media of choice.

 Instagram is a very powerful tool today. My experience is that I use it as a tool for business and that’s it. I also know it’s a new form of communication so you must understand is assets and its shortfalls. I learn this for myself for my message every day. I'm concerned about how media is more concerned with numbers than content as it puts pressure on all varieties of young people. This can alter the quality of their content! I also know if it's not your thing, you best get someone to do it as it can make or break the visibility that you seek. 

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