Tonight, for the first time ever, Fashion Santa is coming to the United States. Specifically, he’ll be hanging out in Georgetown.
Fashion Santa also goes by the name Paul Mason, a 53-year-old model and actor out of Toronto. Two years ago, after Mason started growing out his beard, Fashion Santa was born, and since then he’s made it his mission to use his jolly alter ego to benefit charities. Tonight, Fashion Santa will spread some mirth and cheer during a two-hour event at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown from 7 to 9 PM, during which attendees can take a photo with the svelte Saint Nick for a $20 donation to the Humane Rescue Alliance. Adoptable dogs from the Human Rescue Alliance will also be on site for the evening.
Prior to the festivities, Washingtonian caught up with Fashion Santa to ask some pressing questions about his persona.
What inspired your Fashion Santa look?
I’ve been a model for almost 33 years in the business, 30 of those years clean shaven with no beard and 14 years in New York City. My mother became ill and passed away three years ago, and having done that, I stopped shaving. I went into a little bit of a funk, and I didn’t care about anything at the moment. It turned into this epic white beard.
When you try explain to your friends and family what you do, what do you say to them?
They think I’m crazy. My father still can’t comprehend what I’m doing. But I have to say, I have a very loving group of friends and family, and it’s nothing new for me to come up with something like this, so I have tons of love and support. But they think I’m crazy.
What does it take to put together a Fashion Santa look?
Right now I’m working with a company in Toronto called Michel’s Bespoke, which is a bespoke company who’s tailoring some suits for me. The one I wore today had a little bit of a faint burgundy pinstripe. At the beginning of the Christmas season, I’d be wearing this type of thing, where near the end of the season I’d be in full burgundy or red. Just for The Ritz-Carlton at Georgetown, I’ve got a three-piece burgundy corduroy [suit], and the corduroy is so fine that it’s almost like a velvet. And that’s with Michel’s Bespoke in Toronto.
What’s the Fashion Santa workout routine?
I’m not a big bread person, but I’m totally into fitness. I love running. Normally I’ll do maybe four or five miles—I’ll warm up that way. I’ll do the cardio first, and then I’ll do a little bit of weights. I have a soccer team around where I live in Toronto, so I’ll participate in that too.
You’re not a big fan of bread—does that mean you’re also not a big fan of milk and cookies?
Yes. Are you asking what I would prefer people leave for me? Maybe like a vodka tonic—or a good beer.
Is there a Mrs. Fashion Santa?
You know what I say to that? Never say never, and stay tuned.
What will you be doing tonight at the Ritz-Carlton?
From Toronto Fashion Week, I noticed that people want to do selfies with me, so I thought, how can I generate this into making money for a cause or charity? So I came up with the idea that if anyone wanted to take a selfie or photo with me, they would have to pay or someone would have to pay on their behalf. Tonight, we’re doing photos, and anyone who wants to take a photo with me, there’s a donation made to the Humane Rescue Alliance. Any appearance that I make, that’s a huge stipulation with me. It has to be charity connected. That’s what Santa does, right?
This interview has been edited and condensed. This article has been updated.