Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MAC Ungaro: Q&A With Esteban Cortazar and Sharon Dowsett

MAC collaborated with Emanuel Ungaro designer Esteban Cortazar on a limited edition line, inspired by the designer's fall 2008 collection. The 14 piece collection is the product of the collaborative efforts of Cortazar, MAC's product development team and Sharon Dowsett, Head Make-up Artist for MAC. What do the masterminds behind the highly anticipated collection have to say about the inspiration and products? Spoiled Pretty finds out...

Esteban Cortazar, Head Designer at Emanuel Ungaro

Q: Who is the Ungaro woman?
A: "The Ungaro woman celebrates life, she loves nature, she smells fantastic, like peonies, gardenias and jasmine in a subtle way that’s so feminine. She adores feminine fluidity, beautiful colours, soft textures and unexpected prints – she’s a true individual with her style, a free spirit."

Q: Who are your muses?
A: "All my girlfriends are my muses – women who love to dance, to laugh."

Q: Did you have any preconceived ideas as to what feeling you’d like the makeup to communicate this season?
A: "Makeup is a huge part of a feminine woman who uses it to express her individuality and her mood. This season I wanted the makeup to come across as very natural and balanced…although natural can still have a strength to it. I wanted everything to be soft in the face. A little earth in the eye, to give it weight, but in a subtle way."

Q: You must be excited to be collaborating with MAC on this range – how long have you worked together?
A: "I’m so excited about the collaboration with MAC– they are so forward-thinking and so believing. They believed in me from my first show since I was friends with all the girls from the Miami store. I really feel part of the MAC family."

Q: Knowing that this makeup collection will have the Ungaro name to it, what was most important to you in terms of it’s aesthetic?
A: "It’s important to me that the makeup feels timeless-modern, but still makeup that a woman will always want to wear."

Sharon Dowsett, MAC Lead Makeup Artist

Q: How did you work with the MAC team backstage to ensure they understood the feeling you wanted for the look?
A: "Backstage I had to keep reminding the team to make it look less professional – I wanted it to look like shadow rather than eye shadow. Like Monet’s Water Lilies, it looks better the farther back you stand. When I visited his masterpiece at l’Orangerie, I was struck by how many colors he’d used to create brown, without actually using brown. There’s not a lot of makeup but a lot of thought’s gone into it."

Q: Who is the Ungaro woman this season?
A: "She’s a bit of a paradox – a girl who lets her hair dry naturally but also wears a couture dress. Feminine but not girly, stylish but not concerned, warm but not bronzed. Esteban described her as the type of girl who would dab jasmine under her ears as her perfume…I think he knows women like this!"

Q: What similarities do you see in the attitude and aesthetic of MAC and woman Ungaro?
A: "Not forced or contrived…although she isn’t afraid to wear makeup either. In this way, the Ungaro and the MAC woman have a similar aesthetic – they both have a definite sense of style and know who they are."

Q: The makeup feels very effortless, very innate. Was this your intention?
A: "It can take a bit of practice to be this kind of relaxed, effortless Ungaro woman. I suppose some women are born with it, but others of us don’t necessarily have that inherent refinement…we have to build it. Hopefully these products will make it simpler."

Q: How did you work with MAC on the products to get the colors and textures exactly right?
A: "I asked the MAC product development team to make a few changes to the products I’d used at the show since I'd created bespoke mixtures to get the shades exactly right. I requested that the orange eye shadow be less yellow, the brown be warmed up and the violet more vibrant. Fortunately you can make anything by combining pigments and mixes from the pro range and we also looked at some of my favourite theatrical products for inspiration."

Q: As a makeup artist it must be a complete dream to be able to create your own products, especially with MAC’s product development team and all their expertise at your disposal. Were there any constraints put on you by them, though?
A: "It’s such a dream to collaborate on a collection of products and MAC was incredibly free with me, there were no marketing constraints or anything to limit my creativity. They said ‘Be an artist and we will do the rest’."

Q: What are your thoughts on the final collection?
A: "I was really pleased when first saw the collection, as it was so close to the makeup created for the show with some pleasant surprises. I think that was to be expected, as the product development team had been very attentive during the whole process in paris and we’d been communicating by email since. I’m especially thrilled with the crushed rose and stone pink cream colour bases…my assistant said ‘in sickness and in health’ when I applied them to her! And the lip stain is brilliant…it doesn’t budge and makes no mess. love the mink brow set as it roughs up the brows and gives an expression of fierce femininity but the brown mascara struck me as slightly unnecessary as it’s already available in stores. Looking at everything together, I thought the whole collection needed an edge or juxtaposition…it could, in fact, be more painterly. I experimented with pencils and fell in love with an old pro blue, but was concerned that it wouldn’t be possible to include a completely new product at such a late stage. I asked Gordon Spinet if we could swap it for the mascara and we had several conversations about what could be done in the short time frame. After a bit of research, Gordon came up with Auto Blue Techno Kohl, which he said was a point of view on blue…watery, like an inky teal, which you could smear like eye shadow. Magic words to a makeup artist!"

Q: Which are your favourite products from MAC for Ungaro?
A: "I think the Cream Colour Bases are my favorites but everything’s now in my kit and own makeup bag."

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