By  on October 26, 2007

MAC Cosmetics brought its flair for surreal theater to the bastion of the travel-retail industry. And the iconoclastic brand in no way held back.

During an elaborate performance that began in the courtyard of the stately Majestic Barrière hotel, two scantily clad young men, decorated with glittering designs and wearing angel wings, sat atop white horses to greet guests.

In the hotel's ballroom, female dancers in 18th-century costumes, complete with transparent hoop skirts, danced around huge candelabras while young, winged men darted under their skirts.

The performance culminated with rising opera star and Universal recording artist Measha Brueggergosman striding into the room and singing two arias.

It was MAC's take on a Christmas fantasy that was meant to be staged Thursday in Russia as well, in celebration of the brand's holiday color story.

James Gager, senior vice president and creative director for MAC Cosmetics Worldwide, said the animation sprang from a mix of influences, including "Doctor Zhivago." He also had in mind a French chateau. "The heating pipes kind of burst and beautiful young women started lighting candles," he said.

John Demsey, the group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. who oversees MAC, noted the event demonstrated the brand's theatrical capabilities. He said MAC was making a statement in the international arena.

It has been reported that MAC's volume last year exceeded $1 billion in only 10,000 doors worldwide, of which 32 percent were outside of the U.S. Demsey said MAC does as much business as a beauty brand with 20,000 doors.

"Our business has taken hold all over the world," he said. "MAC is a global player. This is recognition there is more to come."

Demsey also indicated he sees travel retail as a prime growth avenue for the brand. MAC often uses freestanding stores as a way of entering markets such as Brazil and India. Demsey, however, added, "We use travel retail to establish brands in new markets, as well."

Referring to MAC's 64 travel-retail doors, Cedric Prouvé, Lauder group president of international, said brands like MAC can entertain and excite the customer in the channel.

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