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MAC Celebrates With Gareth Pugh, Eyes Global Growth

The Estée Lauder-owned brand also has collaborations with Daphne Guinness and Chinese photographer Chen Man in the works.

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LONDON — MAC Cosmetics staged its third European seasonal trends presentation here last week, which the brand presented in a west London gallery space for about 150 editors. Karen Buglisi, global president for MAC, noted that the city has been “a hotbed of creativity and an epicenter for [the company].”

Indeed, later that evening, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.-owned brand hosted a party to fete its collaboration with London designer Gareth Pugh, who’s parlayed his modern Gothic aesthetic into an edgy makeup collection for MAC. “[Pugh] translated the whole concept and the feel of his clothing line into [the collection]…it’s almost like it gives [the wearer] power,” said Buglisi. Alongside Pugh’s collection, MAC has also created a cosmetics line with Brit Daphne Guinness, which will bow later this month. “We always want to surprise our customers,” said Buglisi. “That’s what we try and do every day, is give them something that they don’t expect.”

Next up is a collection with the Chinese photographer Chen Man, who’s known for her fantastical, colorful imagery. The photographer has created a collection inspired by love and water, which will include Mineralize eye shadow duos, lipsticks, pigments and lip glasses, and is set to launch in March. “We’re taking somebody who’s very influential in the Chinese community and collaborating with her, so the MAC story can be told in a little bit of a different light,” said Buglisi.

China, where MAC is in 30 doors, is “an important country” for the brand, Buglisi said. While MAC is in both freestanding stores and department stores in the region, the company plans to expand there through freestanding stores, of which it currently has eight, Buglisi said.

Buglisi noted that working with Chen Man mirrors the brand’s strategy in India, where Bollywood makeup artist Mickey Contractor created a collection for MAC that was tailored to Indian skin tones. But while each collection takes its inspiration from specific countries, they are carried at MAC doors globally. And playing on the global appeal of its lines, MAC will launch a collection in May based on its best-selling lip colors in different countries. It will take a best-selling lipstick — such as the Snob shade, which has been a hit in Brazil — and create lip glass lip glosses and nail polish to match. That collection will also launch globally.

Expansion in Europe continues to be high on the brand’s agenda, as does expansion in Latin America. In terms of Europe, MAC will open a global flagship on Paris’ Champs-Elysées in the final quarter of 2012, and is also scouting for global flagships in Rome, Vienna, Barcelona, London and Moscow. “The European market is one of our fastest-growing markets,” said Buglisi. “We never want to outpace the demand for the product, and we haven’t [there] yet.”

MAC will also continue to build on its strategy of forging links with designers. Alongside its role as the official brand of London Fashion Week, MAC is working with the Fédération de la Couture Française to sponsor designers showing as part of its En Avant Premiere program, which showcases young talent online. The company has also become the official makeup sponsor of Paris fashion school l’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.

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