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MAC Gears Up for Runway Blitz

The brand is expanding its nail sponsorship from New York to Europe and co-branding events for the upcoming rtw shows.

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Twenty years after MAC Cosmetics firmly planted its flag backstage at ready-to-wear shows, the brand is continuing its quest for fashion week domination by expanding its nail sponsorship from New York to Europe and by co-branding events for the upcoming rtw shows.

This story first appeared in the August 24, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We are reinforcing our position that we are the [beauty] brand of record for fashion,” said John Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. “It’s about living fashion every day. Fashion week has always been an important part of MAC’s DNA — even back when fashion week was basically a trade show — and these new initiatives help show why.”

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The brand will kick off New York Fashion Week on Sept. 6 with a Fashion’s Night Out performance by hip-hop artist Azealia Banks at the brand’s MAC Cosmetics SoHo store. DJ Cosmo, Banks’ favorite DJ, will be on hand to spin tracks at the store as well. Banks is also creating a limited-edition lipstick, Yung Rapunxel — a deep blackened purple — for the brand. Retailing for $15, it will be sold in all New York City MAC stores beginning Sept. 6 (it hits maccosmetics.com from Sept. 5) through Sept. 20.

On Sept. 5, the brand will sponsor a book party for Mauricio and Roger Padilha’s new book “Antonio: Fashion, Art, Sex and Disco,” which celebrates the work of the late fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. Cabaret singer and drag artist Joey Arias will perform at the gathering.

As well, MAC will be one of the sponsors for a private party which Mercedes Benz will host on Sept 8 to celebrate Carine Roitfeld’s new fashion bi-annual, CR Fashion Book. In addition, on October 2nd, MAC and Roitfeld will hold a similarly lavish party in Paris to celebrate Roitfeld’s 23-sku color cosmetics collection for MAC, which hits U.S. counters on Sept 6 and international doors in October. The brand is also backing André Leon Talley’s “Little Black Dress” exhibit, which will open in October at the Savannah College of Art and Design. The brand is creating a supplement to the exhibit catalogue that features beauty looks.

MAC will sponsor nails in New York, London, Paris and Milan, noted Demsey, and for the seventh consecutive season will be the official cosmetics sponsor of Made, the fashion shows held each season at Milk Studios. MAC will do backstage for 20 Made shows and roughly 80 overall over the course of New York Fashion Week. Globally, the brand averages 840 fashion shows in 23 fashion weeks each year.

As has happened in many past seasons, MAC will test-drive a number of product prototypes backstage, said Demsey. Those slated for the shows in September and October include a new moisturizing lipstick, a brow gel and pencil, new moisturizers and palettes of what MAC artists are projecting as the season’s hottest lip and eye shades, Demsey noted. “Our artists backstage are using products sometimes years before they are launched to the public,” said Demsey. “It’s a real-world test. If there are tweaks needed — particularly with the texture, color, application and finish — the team lets the product development team know.”

Subscribers to MAC’s Tumblr account, maccosmetics.tumblr.com, will be able to view exclusive beauty visuals and backstage videos — which will be updated daily — from New York, London, Milan and Paris, said Demsey. On Facebook and YouTube, subscribers will be able to view profiles of makeup artists, which are intended to give a first-hand look at the realities of being a backstage artist. “We are continuing to delve even more deeply into social media this season,” said Demsey. “Our artists will be backstage tweeting continuously in 10 different languages from the shows about trends, forecasts and fashion. We’ll be making our followers — more than 100,000 on Tumblr, 3.6 million on Facebook and 80,000 on Twitter — feel like they are right there through an extensive media platform. Fashion week is a major driver for us in the success of these platforms.”

Demsey added that MAC will also partner with the Fashion Institute of Technology on a series of educational events during the fall and spring semesters, including the annual BFA graduating students’ runway show, panel discussions and the Faces in Fashion lecture series. MAC will, on Dec. 3, teach its first makeup master class for FIT students, MAC Pro Team members and selected members of the press, to be led by Gordon Espinet, senior vice president of global artist training, development and makeup artistry for MAC. Topics to be addressed will include how makeup artists can work corroboratively with designers to create a beauty look for each show. Concurrently, MAC will host a global live chat on its Facebook page during the class, offering participants access to a question-and-answer session. “There is a symbiotic relationship between fashion design and makeup,” said Joanne Arbuckle, dean of FIT’s School of Art and Design. “This is true both on the runway and on the street.”

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