Make-up Art Cosmetics, M.A.C. was founded in 1984 by two Franks; Frank Toskan, and make-up artiste and photographer and Frank Angelo a photographer and has since grown to become one of the most recognised colour cosmetics brands of all time, with more than 520 stores across 25 countries worldwide.
The distinctive strong pigment make-up brand was created from Frank’s and Frank’s inability to get make-up products that photographed well inspiring them to start playing with pigments – you guessed it – at their bathroom sink. They rolled out the products initially as a professional line, and it became widely use by make-up professionals on fashion shoots and various production sets.
The more the products were used, the more credit the brand got, and MAC’s visibility begun to grow. A year later, driven by consumer demand, the partnership duo opened their first public retail store in New York’s West Village. And the rest, as they say, is history.
To lend their voice to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was deeply affecting their community, MAC launched a bold capsule collection of lipsticks and lip glasses called MAC Viva Glam in 1994 and committed 100% of the proceeds towards raising awareness for HIV/AIDS. They then took an unforgettably progressive move by using RuPaul – a black drag queen from Atlanta – as the face of the campaign.
“We picked RuPaul because we figured if you’re going to make a statement, you might as well make it loud and clear,” Toskan said in a 1997 interview. “We picked a 7-foot-tall man to be a beautiful woman because we wanted to send the message, ‘You can be who you want to be.’ ”
The buzz and conversation around this partnership created was amazing for the limited collection as users flocked make-up and department stores for product. MAC went on to work with breakout singer songwriter K. D. Lang for Viva Glam II and the limited collection line became one of their fastest selling most visible product lines. Noting this organic success, it is not surprising that the brand continued to work with breakout celebrities of the time.
MAC Cosmetics grown to become the brand reminiscent of urban pop culture over the last 27 years, with MAC Viva Glam still being its key brand featuring celebrities including Mary J Blige & Lil’Kim, Elton John, Pamela Anderson, Nicki Minaj, Myley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Fergie and Rihanna all endorsing the brand and its campaign message to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.
As the MAC Viva Glam celebrity status grew, so did the brands overall celebrity partnerships and endorsements that saw MAC co-create make-up lines that range from lipsticks and lip glasses to blushes and eyeshadow. Some of these MAC Makers have included Selena, Mariah Carey, Cinderella [yes, the Disney princess], Kelly Osborne, Barbie [obviously in shades of pink], Diana Ross, Taraji P Henson, Lorde and many, many more.
As MAC Cosmetics ventures into new global markets across Africa and Asia, it has also realised the importance in localising its celebrity partnerships which has seen Nigerian-Born Singer/Songwriter Tiwa Savage become Africa’s first MAC Maker! Could this be the beginning of an avalanche of African popstars working with the urban colour cosmetics brand? We can only hope so.