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What Makes James Gager Tick

MAC Cosmetics senior vice president and creative director James Gager has created some of the most arresting images and products in color cosmetics.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 02/13/2009

MAC Cosmetics senior vice president and creative director James Gager has created some of the most arresting images and products in color cosmetics. Who can forget the brand’s brilliant collaborations with Barbie and Dame Edna, to name just two, or the iconic images of its Viva Glam campaign. This year, Gager marks his 10th anniversary with MAC, a brand he’s helped propel to the number-one spot in prestige cosmetics. His work has inspired countless makeup artists, so to celebrate, we asked Gager to reveal who inspires him. Here, his standout makeup moments unveiled.



Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra: “Her makeup was phenomenal. That look is still a classic. A couple of seasons ago, when we did the Alexander McQueen MAC collaboration, that moment came back very strongly.”

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “How chic was she—and will be forever.”

Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie: “The transformation of Dustin Hoffman into Tootsie was fantastic and probably a dream for a makeup artist to work on.”

Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees: “Has there ever been better makeup for a rock band?”

Ali MacGraw in Love Story
: “The makeup was gentle, beautiful and of the moment for that period in time.”

RuPaul: “I can’t not talk about RuPaul and the first Viva Glam ads.”

Dita von Teese: “She’s the ultimate glamorous person. I have never not seen her looking amazing.”

Barbra Streisand: Who can forget Streisand in the 1970s, especially The Owl and the Pussycat and What’s Up, Doc?.

Sophia Loren: “An all-time beauty, especially when she did Houseboat.”

Liza Minelli in Cabaret: “One of my most vivid memories is being in Liza’s bathroom, sitting on the edge of her tub as she applied her makeup, telling me about the process of makeup for her and how she doesn’t have cheekbones and this and that, and how it’s all about if you don’t have it, put it on. I just sat there holding her brushes and thinking to myself, This is totally insane and incredible.”

More on-screen makeup inspirations >>

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