Make up artist and beauty blogger Leah Elliston of Smudge Style takes us behind the scenes at World Mastercard Fashion Week. Leah took part in the hectic week of shows in Toronto as a part of the Maybelline beauty team and gives us a glimpse into what its really like backstage at a major fashion week.

Words by Leah Elliston
This was my 4th season backstage at TFW as part of the Maybelline team. I work backstage in London, Milan and Paris but the team in Toronto is definitely my favourite! There is something to be said for working with people you have known for over 10 years, and in this case that’s the majority of the team. Grace Lee who is an amazing artist and lead Maybelline make-up artist, go way back to our early days as makeup artists in the late 90’s. We always joke that we hit it off straight away, and have been friends ever since.


To say the week is hectic is an understatement. In 5 days we do 35 fashion shows. To put that into perspective the busiest I have been at a European fashion week would be 8-10 shows in the same amount of time. The call times aren’t early which is a blessing! We generally arrive at the tents in David Pecaut Square downtown Toronto, between 11am and noon. The first show starts 3 hours after our call time and then the show schedule runs on the hour until 8 or 9pm.

stationIMG_5586Day 1 is always exciting as we all arrive backstage and our stations are assigned to us. Each station has a blue carry-on size suitcase full with shiny new Maybelline makeup. We spend the first hour taking everything out of the packaging and setting up our stations.

All the shows on the official World Mastercard Fashion Week schedule are at the tents. That means once we are set up we are there for the week. We have a team meeting with Grace and discuss the logistics of the week. The craziest days are the ones with the biggest shows. The average show has between 15 and 24 models. I’ll do about 3 faces per show and each day has 7 or 8 shows for a total of 24 faces a day 120 faces in 5 days! Adding to the backstage buzz is the large amount of media presence.

MEIMG_5623FW 1

Throughout the week Grace will do over 250 interviews for print, TV, and bloggers. In between all the press she has to either demonstrate the makeup looks for every show, or have her assistants Jenia and Julie take us through the look. I always write everything down during the demos and take a picture. Otherwise one show runs into the next and you could end up putting the wrong look on the wrong model!

The major shows were Joe Fresh, Pink Tartan, Mackage, and Mikhael Kale. This season Joe Fresh and Pink Tartan showed on the same day, one right after the other. This was slightly challenging as 15 of the models from Pink Tartan were also in the Joe Fresh show. This “quick change” as it’s referred to, is not unusual as Toronto is a small city and the most in demand models walk in multiple shows. However to have 15 girls that have to have their hair and makeup changed in less than 15 minutes is no small feat.FW 2As soon as the girls walk the finale they race backstage to the hair stations. We are ready with the necessary products for the next shows look and chase after them into hair. We work simultaneously with the Redken hair team, often on our knees to get the makeup look on in record time. Team work is absolutely essential, and this team churns out stunning makeup for every single show.

Amidst the frenzy most importantly I have a blast and I can’t wait unit next season to do it all over again.

team1380020_250496618431892_1023824142_nFAVOURITE PRODUCTS
Barely Branded Color Tattoo
Color Sensational Buff lipsticks
Instant Age Rewind Concealer
Master Precise Eye Liner
Baby Lips

Maybeliline Products


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Images courtesy of Leah Elliston
Beauty images by The Coveteur
Product images via Maybelline Canada