NEW YORK — MAC Cosmetics is about to elevate its makeup game to Olympic proportions.

The cosmetics brand has inked an agreement that will take its widely known MAC Cosmetics Pro Team to Athens for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games later this month. MAC will provide design, makeup artistry support and cosmetics products for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Games.

MAC’s Pro Team comprises 35 makeup artists from 16 countries, headed by co-directors Nadine Luke of MAC and independent makeup artist Kirsten Piggott. Luke and Piggott will work with Dimitris Papaioannou, the Ceremonies’ artistic director, and London-based designer Sophia Kokosalaki on the two Ceremonies, under the direction of the producers, Jack Morton Public Events.

Luke and Piggott, who have worked together on a number of fashion runway shows, will work with the Pro Team to design the makeup looks for the Games. Luke, in a telephone interview from Paris Tuesday, noted that more than 100 different looks will be designed. The team will personally make up celebrities and several hundred other participants, and will teach thousands more to replicate the looks on themselves.

The team, said Luke, also will ensure that the participants stick to the preplanned designs. “We’ll tweak things within reason, but if someone shows up with fuchsia lipstick, she’s going to be made under rather than made up,” said Luke with a laugh. The point, she added, is to get away from the ceremonies’ traditional theatrical makeup into looks that people would wear on the street — from natural to glamorous.

“The 2004 Opening and Closing Ceremonies will celebrate the human element of Greek civilization. The faces will be made up with elegance and simplicity in order to reveal the individual natural beauty of each person,” added Papaioannou, in a statement.

While most of the athletes will not be made up — at least for the Opening Ceremonies — the MAC Team will be on hand to ready them for photo shoots and press interviews, said Luke.

A Herculean amount of makeup already has been ordered, said Luke, including more than 50 different shades of foundation.

“If the Olympics are about the true expression of the human spirit, MAC has always been about human spirit and artistic expression,” said John Demsey, president of MAC Cosmetics. “The chance for us to be associated with the first modern Games held in Athens, the Games’ birthplace — it’s an extraordinary opportunity.”Demsey added that MAC already has been asked by the next Summer Games host committee in China to be involved with the 2008 Games there. “It’s an incredible validation of the power of MAC,” said Demsey, noting that the brand will open a store in China in 2005. “We’re thrilled be be involved.”

— Julie Naughton

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