We've all heard the song and we know the lyrics by heart: "He's making a list. He's checking it twice; He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice." Well, for night only, we've got a new Santa in town and he's here to find out who's fashionable and charitable!
To kick off the holiday season at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, 51-year-old former runway model Paul Mason will be in town tonight taking selfies with his adoring fans to raise money for the Humane Rescue Alliance. While the svelte, silver fox Mason may look a little different from his traditional counterpart, he says the espouses many of the same values as Santa, hoping to spread joy, promote inclusion and advocate for charitable giving.
"I could never take the place of Santa, and I would never try," laughs Mason. "I like to say I'm Santa's younger brother -- we came from the same family, but I just ate better than the old guy!"
So how does one get into the Santa business you ask? Well, for Mason it was really happenstance. After living in New York City for 14 years for his career in fashion, he had to move home to Toronto when his mother fell ill. When she passed away he fell into a funk, stopped shaving and started growing this epic beard. Mason says it took a solid six months to grow from a five o'clock shadow to where it is now.
"One thing led to another and I thought about going back to work, but with a new face," says Mason. "I wasn't expecting such a warm reception to the new look, but something about it resonated, so I put together a formal proposal for "Fashion Santa" and how we could use the platform for good and pitched it to five or so retailers in Canada. One of the malls in Toronto picked it up, we launched the character and went from there."
Mason debuted his now iconic "Fashion Santa" character in Canada two years ago and has since become an international heartthrob. Last year, he spent 88 hours taking selfies with the public at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, raising more than $15,000 for the SickKids Foundation. He even got schooled in the art of selfies by the selfie king himself -- Justin Bieber!
"I can't take any credit for why he was there -- he was just doing some shopping at Apple -- and it was kept really quiet but all the sudden I was told Justin Bieber was coming in," says Mason. "After taking selfies for eight hours a day, I just held [the phone] up to snap and he goes 'That's not how you do it.' I didn't want to argue with him so I was just like here, you do it."
Currently, Fashion Santa is getting his appearance clothing from Toronto-based suitmaker, Michel's Bespoke, though he says he would not be opposed to wearing other brands if approached. Tonight, he will don a burgundy, corduroy three-piece suit.
Mason prefers to stick to an adult crowd so as not to confuse children on his relation to the "Real Santa," but says his audience is primarily women.
"I get a lot of mothers and daughters coming out and wanting to take their Christmas card photos with me, and it's pretty funny to watch them in line applying makeup before their selfies," says Mason.
Hear more from Fashion Santa in the video above from his first ever US television appearance this morning on Good Morning Washington. Meet Fashion Santa tonight at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown from 7-9 p.m. Selfies are available for a $20 donation to the Humane Rescue Alliance and all donors receive a gift bag of beauty treats from Saks Fifth Avenue.