Vancouver-based artist talks backstage beauty.

Leah Elliston, a Vancouver-based makeup artist and Blanche Macdonald instructor, assisting artist Grace Lee on set of a Fashion Magazine shoot with model Jourdan Dunn (pictured at left). ~ LEAH ELLISTON

A fashion show is, essentially, just a parade of cool clothes if you strip away all the additional elements such as music, hairstyling and makeup artistry.

These auxiliary artists are essential to ensuring a designer’s vision for a show come together. Perfectly.

As a veteran backstage beauty pro, Leah Elliston knows all about this. The Vancouver-based artist and Blanche Macdonald instructor has travelled the world assisting with makeup for runway shows for designers including Roberto Cavalli, Vivienne Westwood, Giambattista Valli, Balmain and Chloé and more.

With fashion month — the twice-yearly style whirlwind that sees fashion elite travel to New York, London, Milan and Paris in search of the latest runway trends — at a close, we caught up with Elliston to learn more about her backstage beauty experiences, how she got into the business and what she likes most about her chosen career.

Q. When and why did you first get into makeup artistry? 

A. By accident! I actually wanted to be a curator for an art gallery. I always loved art and I was obsessed with fashion. I didn’t consider a job in the fashion industry because it seemed unattainable. I was studying art history in college and worked part-time as a fragrance demo at Hudson’s Bay downtown. I became friendly with some of the girls who worked at the MAC counter, and one day they suggested I apply as a cashier. After I got the job, I quickly realized how closely related makeup was to fashion and art. Working side by side with some of the best artists in the city I learned a lot, I practised a lot, and eventually I built up my skill set.

Q. What do you like most about working in this industry?

A. I like the variety of the work. There are a lot of different facets to the industry. I’ve worked with beauty brands and been on the business side of things