Makeup Maestro

Each season the talented team at MAC Cosmetics decamps to New York Fashion Week to create beauty trends we’ll all be rocking next season. We spoke with Gordon Espinet, senior vice president of global artistic training, development and makeup artistry, on how and when the brand became the official backstage beauty behometh and where it’s going from here.

How did MAC come to partner with the organizers behind fashion week?

We started off by mistake. In 1995 we got called in to work on a show – a Japanese label called Matsura that was showing in New York. Someone said, ‘Do you want to go do a show?’ So I said, ‘Sure.’ So we did a show and after that, we did a few more shows. Other designers called on us and that’s when it started happening. It was one of those things that we did because people were asking us. We had no clue what we were doing, no clue whatsoever.

When did you decide to get organized about fashion week?

In 1998 we started to get more deeply involved. At that point in time we saw a great opportunity to leverage what we were doing, and that’s something that happens at MAC. We do things and don’t tell people about it. But one day we realized that we should be broadcasting this to the world! Low and behold, this is where we are today. We do over 200 shows across four markets, not including the Tokyo, Sau Paulo, Australia shows.

How Have you adjusted your internal structure to accommodate this need?

Now we have a team dedicated to fashion outreached. Before it was whoever wanted to get involved would do so, but now we have begun to work with so many make-up artists, study trends, test run product backstage. We live, eat, sleep everything fashion during fashion week and the brand and the people who work at MAC are organically involved.

What is the future of MAC in regards to backstage?

The evolution continues – we’re not trying to mold a story into something we’d like to see happen. We are a makeup company – we don’t control fashion and dictating anything. We leave it to grow and evolve in its own way, we are just here to do the makeup. But we do have an opportunity to speak to the world much more about what we do backstage. I think the fact that we’ve kept it among ourselves for as long as we have has made this collaboration an honest and truthful one. And now we need to figure out how to bring it to our retail customers while also protecting the privacy of the fashion industry and what happens backstage.

Photos by Steve Stone from the Wayne runway show at Milk Studios and Greg Kessler from the Kevork Kiledjian runway show at Milk Studios.

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