LONDON — MAC Cosmetics believes in pouting to make a point. That’s why the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.-owned brand and its celebrity spokeswomen, Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, held a launch event here Monday for its latest Viva Glam lipsticks. They are sold to help the MAC AIDS Fund.
This story first appeared in the March 2, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Seventy-two percent of sexually active women in the United Kingdom have never been tested for HIV,” the ever-flamboyantly attired Lady Gaga told discussion moderator Sharon Osbourne, who put questions to the pop stars. The queries were culled from thousands sent by their fans via Twitter and Facebook. (The event also was streamed online.)
Throughout the discussion, the duo placed particular emphasis on communicating to women about HIV- and AIDS-related issues, including testing for the illnesses, practicing safe sex and, in some cases, abstinence.
“Even Lady Gaga can be celibate. It’s OK not to have sex,” said Lady Gaga, adding women are experiencing high rates of infection. “You don’t have to have sex to feel loved.”
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“Don’t be a knucklehead,” the straight-talking Lauper counseled. She mentioned the MAC AIDS Fund is working with a pharmaceuticals firm on developing a female condom. “Spread the word, not the disease.”
Both Lauper and Lady Gaga, who, as reported, appear in Viva Glam ads lensed by Ellen von Unwerth, lauded the opportunity to work with MAC on the campaign.
“The fact that lipstick is being used as a tool to spread the word to me is exciting because of the symbolism,” said Lauper. “A woman will always buy a lipstick.”
Lady Gaga explained she chose the pink shade named for her because she wore a MAC shade dubbed Pink Nouveau before she became famous.
“It made me feel so much more famous than I was. Nobody knew who the hell I was,” she said. “I asked MAC if they would derive a more accessible color out of that — that color that sort of made me feel good about myself.”
Lauper’s coral red hue has a slightly less romantic, if nonetheless well intentioned, backstory.
“I wanted a deep red, right?” she told Osbourne. “They said, ‘It’s not going to sell that much.’ I said, ‘Fine, make one that’ll sell.’ So I got this.”
Lauper added she’d been working with the shade and using it with other MAC colors.
Lady Gaga, who wore a black lace outfit and a floral hat-cum-mask, and Lauper chatted with Osbourne for about 30 minutes, offering frank and heartfelt answers to her questions. When asked what they feel is the biggest sexual challenge women face now, Lauper, for instance, suggested negotiating with a partner to wear a condom is a key issue.