Behind The Most Epic Fashion/Beauty Collab Of The Year

Photo: Courtesy of MAC Cosmetics
I first met Prabal Gurung backstage at one of his shows almost three years ago. He needed someone to touch up his face before he walked out for the final bow, and I, as one of MAC's senior artists, was there to do that. Shortly thereafter, I was booked to do a shoot with him for W, and that's really where we really started talking and getting to know one another. Every time we meet, we have a great conversation — Prabal is very real. He's been around the world and has worked with so many amazing people, but he's a down-to-earth guy. Plus, he's looked out for me as a makeup artist and has given me great career advice, and I really appreciate that.
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So, it was cool to see his new collection for MAC come together, especially because it's been two years in the making. It perfectly captures his woman — there's a lot of color, but there are great neutral undertones, so anyone can find something to wear. Plus, it's gorgeous and expensive-looking. And, the bronzer I've been using on him for all this time ended up being included, so that was a happy coincidence!
Before the line officially launches on November 26, I asked him a few questions about the colors he loves, what inspired the packaging, and how he would like the Prabal woman to wear this collection for a night out.
Regan Rabanal: What's your favorite makeup look on a woman?
Prabal Gurung: "The Prabal woman is intelligent, beautiful, assured and confident, with a rich and polished sensuality. She is elegant and graceful, the epitome of sophistication in a modern context, and someone who is refined with a youthful appeal. She is curious about the world around her and resolute in her goals. I always say she is as alluring in what she conceals as in what she reveals. My designs, both in fashion and beauty, are an ode to women."
RR: What inspired the packaging?
PG: "The subversive beauty of [Swiss artist] Sylvie Fleury’s gold-plated trash cans played a particularly big role."
RR: Would you compare the process of making a beauty collection to making accessories or clothing?
PG: "The creative process for anything I do typically starts with a mood board that reflects what I am inspired by for that particular season or project. It then becomes a collaborative effort with my design team, and we fine-tune our vision and go from there.
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"At the onset of every collection, whether it’s fashion or beauty, I ask myself: 'Who is this woman? Who is the woman wearing these clothes? If this woman was to wear makeup, what would she want?' It turns out to be more than just the clothes and makeup — it’s the notion she stands for. I’ve always been interested in intelligent, beautiful women who are aware of the space they occupy and the relationship they have with fashion and the world, not just herself.
"What I know for a fact — having been born in Singapore, lived in Nepal, India, London and Australia, and then coming to New York — is there’s one universal truth that I believe: Every woman, no matter size, race, or color — they all want to look beautiful. I want to embody that idea with my designs and of course with this line as well. There are obviously differences between fashion and beauty, but I think the idea of capturing a distinct look and offering it in such a beautiful way is very similar."
RR: There are so many great colors in here, like violet, bright corals, and red. How do you think a woman can pull these off while still looking chic?
PG: "Thank you. Color is important. The key is not to overdo it, but considered pops can really bring a look to life. A confident use of color is always alluring."
Photo: Courtesy of MAC Cosmetics
RR: Your runway shows have run the gamut from all-out glam to softer and more understated. How do you decide what the makeup look is for a show?
PG: "Deciding on the beauty look for the shows is a very collaborative process. I work closely with the MAC team, and Diane Kendal, the lead makeup artist, as well as our stylist. It all starts with the mood board, then we see the direction the looks are taking. Our runway shows are an opportunity to really invite our audience into the world of the Prabal Gurung — whether the beauty look is softer or more dramatic, it always captures the essence of our muse."
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RR: You've mention your mom as an inspiration. How so?
PG: "My mother was a great inspiration for this collection. I vividly remember, from when I was very young ,how she would apply her lipstick — I’m excited to give her all the shades we created."
RR: You have a lot of celebrities and very cool girls who wear your clothes. Would you give them anything in particular?
PG: "If I had to choose, the essentials would be the Coral Lumineux cream base, the bronzer, since it works with such a range of skin tones, and of course, the Ultramarine Pink, Light English Red, and Carmine Rouge lipsticks."
RR: Many designers are expanding into beauty. Do you think fashion brands have a duty to do more than just sell clothes?
PG: "It has been an exciting time to be working in this industry, but my vision for my brand has never changed: Category expansion has always been a goal. Expanding into other avenues isn’t so much about attracting customers as it is about telling the story of your brand. When I design, I have the whole world of my customer in mind — I believe it’s very important to eventually be able to cater to every need of this woman, from beauty to menswear, and even to sportswear and home."
RR: How do you think this MAC collaboration will help your brand’s visibility in the long-term?
PG: "Our collaboration with MAC will certainly heighten the brand’s visibility. Expanding into beauty will give us the opportunity to speak to a wider demographic, and being able to offer product at a different price point from our ready-to-wear is very exciting."
Prabal Gurung for MAC, $20-$84, available November 26 at MAC.
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