Creative Directions: Gabrielle Ouellet

by deirdre kelly

photography by ilich Mejia

If you think the Schulich School of Business is looking particularly good these days, you have MBA student Gabrielle Ouellet (BA ’19) to thank. An international high-fashion model, the 24-year-old Quebec City native is a stunner, with an unusual look emanating from wide-set green eyes that lend her a distinctly feline beauty reminiscent of a young Björk, as the influential fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily once described it. “The pupils have an unusual shape that makes them unique,” explains Ouellet, speaking with a French-inflected accent. “Instead of round, they fall downwards – the result of coloboma, a rare condition.”

A fashion model pivots. Photography courtesy of Gabrielle Ouellet

In her competitive world, rare is an advantage. Ouellet learned that early on when, in 2013, her raindrop-shaped pupils caught the attention of Toronto agent Chantale Nadeau, who spotted the then-16-year-old on Facebook and immediately offered her a contract. A model was born. Soon after, Ouellet’s remarkable visage began to grace advertising campaigns for the likes of Target and Mackage, as well as too many fashion magazine covers to mention. Accolades quickly followed. In 2014, Ouellet was recognized in the Best New Face category at the P&G Beauty Awards in Toronto. In 2016, she walked the runway in New York, where fashion reporters fell over themselves in a rush to interview modelling’s next big thing. Ouellet was on the rise. But this daughter of a teacher and a doctor found herself wanting more – intellectually speaking.

I want to be the vision behind a brand, not just the face

After three years as a full-time model, Ouellet enrolled at York University’s Glendon College, where she majored in communications with supplementary studies in French and Spanish. Last fall, she enrolled in the Schulich School’s one-year Master of Management program, with a focus on marketing. Ouellet thinks such a degree will come in handy when, in the future, she opens a business drawing on her years in fashion. “I was always at the forefront of a marketing campaign for a company or e-commerce site,” Ouellet says. “But now I want to be the vision behind a brand, not just the face out front.”   

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