Thursday, November 25, 2010

MAC & Marcel Wanders Q&A


M·A·C Cosmetics is widely recognized for its stylish, artistic, quirky and edgy collaborations whose partners run the gamut from the world of fashion and art to Hollywood and pop culture. It is no wonder that the latest partnership is with none other than legendary Dutch designer, Marcel Wanders. The two powerhouse brands are teaming up on a 2010 holiday luxe makeup collection that is bound to catch the attention of makeup addicts and design aficionados around the globe.

From hotel suites to restaurants, beach accessories to bags and furniture to bathroom designs, Marcel Wanders has put his mind, and maverick sensibility, to them all. Marcel’s design philosophy is to bring beauty to the things that we see all the time; to raise the aesthetic bar and elevate the normality of the everyday. “It’s not just about function, it’s about having something you really love and caring about the details that surround you,” says Wanders. Little wonder, then, that his latest collaboration is with iconic cult brand M·A·C Cosmetics: For what could simultaneously be more everyday and utterly personal than makeup?

“As a company I feel we have to explore every avenue of design,” explains James Gager, Senior Vice President and Creative Director, M·A·C Cosmetics, who has teamed up with many of the world’s leading trendsetters on colour collections. “When choosing M·A·C partnerships it’s important that there is an authentic synergy and similar philosophy shared between the brands. We are, after all, Make-up Art Cosmetics so there has to be a strong artistic association to feel it’s the perfect match. I’m always asking the question ‘Is it artful enough to be M·A·C?’” Well, you can’t get more artful than Marcel Wanders. Not only is he an internationally acclaimed designer, but he’s also at the pinnacle of the Dutch design movement characterized by irreverence, risk taking and innovative design solutions – all of which are aligned with M·A·C’s DNA.

Wanders was ultimately given free reign when it came to working on the package design for M·A·C’s Luxe 2010 collection. “We simply told him the products we wanted in the collection and asked him to come back to us with his vision,” confirms Gager. “I didn’t want to put restrictions on Marcel, it’s important that our collaborators approach a project from a fresh perspective.”

The results are stunningly beautiful and most certainly original. For a company whose signature packaging is all about monochrome and utilitarian cool, the M·A·C and Marcel Wanders collection retained that innate signature look with sleek black lines and tactile finish, while pushing the design boundaries as far from simple as possible. As Wanders quips, “We don’t want minimal, we want optimal!”

This maximalist aesthetic works very well for the luxurious tone of M·A·C’s limited edition luxe collection. “We wanted the collection to have a sophisticated feel and the products to have a ‘dress up’ moment,” explains Gager.

It turns out that the idea of dressing up is exactly where Wanders is coming from. Marcel always felt naturally inclined to design for women “because they add a sense of elegance to the world that few men have, and I really wanted to explore the idea of how makeup enhances this quality.” Wanders went back to his Dutch roots and the works of 17th Century Dutch Baroque painter Vermeer, famed for his iconic images of women such as “Girl With a Pearl Earring” (1665).
While the makeup itself wasn’t Wanders’ remit, the colours and textures of the collection are as decadent and sleek as the packaging. Take the smooth opaque Lipsticks and ultra light Lip Glosses – both come in shades including golden frosted champagne, hot fuchsia and vampy blackened red and the Sheer Mystery Powder, which gives skin exactly that gossamer light and flawless finish Vermeer himself was known for. Predict a stampede for the False Lashes Mascara for that untold oomph this party season.

The M·A·C and Marcel Wanders collection is more than a clever edit of what every woman desires come party season. Encased in wonderfully unique packaging with jewel-like compacts, the products reflect the edgy, high-style M·A·C aesthetic and fit perfectly within Wanders’ design dream of creating art out of common everyday items.


How did this collaboration with M·A·C come about?
I was talking with a journalist friend of mine about how I felt it would be interesting to work on a project with cosmetics, and I thought of M·A·C. I like to work for women – men are boring but women are exciting!

The breadth of your collaborations is amazing, ranging from crystal (Baccarat), homewards (Target), interior accessories (B&B Italia), fragrance (Cacharel), lighting (Flos), bags (Mandarina Duck) beach wear (Puma) to, of course, contemporary interior design and furniture. What was exciting to you about designing makeup?
Makeup is such a wonderful invention. Women paint themselves to be beautiful, and have done so for thousands of years. This fundamental idea, and the way that it connects to art – first women paint themselves, then the painter takes his brushes to paint her – immediately interested me.

What was your inspiration for the collaboration?
Coming from the Netherlands, Vermeer is my culture and “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in particular inspired me. He is the most important painter in the world to me – to revisit his work was fascinating. It’s such a contrast with the way we work now, which in the last few hundred years has become so mechanical. Vermeer is relevant to me because he represents the idea that there’s an interesting story to tell if you look to your world in a more poetic and loving way. Designing beauty packaging immediately made me think of the painterly connection I mentioned before. We are creating striking tools for women to paint and make themselves beautiful.

Your philosophy is “Here to create an environment of Love...Live with Passion and make our most Exciting Dreams come True”; how does this apply to your collection with M·A·C? 
That statement is about everything that we do here. For this collection, it’s about how we’ve created a dream. Like a painter from the Golden Age and his passion, we today use the same tools as Vermeer did 400 years ago to create beauty. It’s a very exciting and beautiful sentiment to me – I feel it’s an elevating and uplifting idea to connect the past and the future in this way. Take the wonderfully intricate Luxe Brush; it was hand milled in Japan as a very classical way of giving lightness to objects. It gives common tools a beauty beyond their functionality.

What was your idea behind the Clutch Bag/Brush Roll?
This is the pièce de résistance and exemplifies how to take a simple and utilitarian object from the painters’ past and translate it into a glamorous modern accessory. The shape derives from how a painter would store his brushes in a textile roll, but the ribbon and stone closure turns it into something beautiful to carry. It transforms into your own personal mobile vanity set.

It’s interesting to me that there’s a fragrance in the lineup. How do you feel about this?
Beauty to me only arrives once all the senses discover it at the same time. Fragrance is a great way to make it all work together, to complete a whole vision of beauty.

Is there a common design ethos throughout all your works?
In my studio we find many different ways to connect projects. I want my work to be a family. I love them to be connected, so I do use a lot of the same design metaphors between different projects. The idea of using current technology to make objects which are completely modern, but that look back in time to when things were handcrafted before the industrial revolution.

Were you involved in the specific shade names of these products?
Yes, the names of the products themselves are steeped in Vermeer, named after the women – lovers, sisters, wives, mother – in his life. It’s important to me that every detail of the collection works together. I would love to make things that are meaningful and emotional, not just practical. To me it’s not superficial, it’s about having a deeper relationship with the things in your life other than just ‘needing’ them. The collection is based on the idea that your tools can be your jewels.

MAC & Marcel Wanders is in stores November 24th. To see the collection preview, click here.


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