Back in January 2020 B.C. (before corona), when awards ceremonies in packed arenas were still a thing, there was one name at the top of every best-dressed list and show recap: Rosalía. All eyes were on the Barcelona singer-songwriter, born Rosalía Vila Tobella, at the 62nd annual Grammys, where the Best New Artist contender made history as the first nominee in the category who performs entirely in Spanish. Her flamenco-pop fusion record, El Mal Querer, defied genres and made her a global star, collaborating with A-list artists like Travis Scott and Ozuna.
But Rosalía's influence transcends the music industry: She's also become a powerhouse in the beauty world. Whether it's a bold red lip or her signature statement nails (which have their own fan page), the Catalan artist's aesthetics have made a major impact. That's why it comes as no surprise that MAC tapped the singer as its 2020 VIVA GLAM spokesperson, a role that will see her partner with the brand on its newest collection.
This charitable campaign — which has previously featured artists like Mary J Blige, Rihanna, and Ariana Grande — was an easy yes for Rosalía, not only because of her longtime admiration for MAC but also for the lifelong memories she has of cosmetics. "When I was a kid, I watched my mom do her makeup," she tells Refinery29 in a phone interview. "I tried learning how she was doing it, and my sister and I used to do each other's makeup." Her love of makeup shaped the early years of her career when she was performing at small venues in Barcelona and auditioning for Spanish-singing competitions at age 15. "I used to do my own makeup before going on stage," she says. "That step was so important for me, almost like a ritual before going on."
Once Rosalía reached rising stardom, she got involved in the creative process with her makeup artists, whether it was learning from their techniques or creating looks alongside them. "I became more curious. I got really involved in the creative process and also trying to understand how to execute it," she says, adding that it all stems from her love for trying new things. "I try to keep experimenting all the time. I really enjoy that, and that's part of my process."
Now, she's brought that vision and passion to the launch of MAC's VG26, an all-new, limited-edition matte lipstick in a fiery red hue. If you're familiar with Rosalía, you won't be shocked to know that creating this shade was a no-brainer for the singer, who often wears red on her lips and in her outfits. "It's my favorite colour," she says. "Red has always been a strong and powerful colour. It's a very Flamenco color, and Flamenco is my main inspiration."
In addition to her love of makeup and the colour red, Rosalía was drawn to this collaboration for its philanthropic mission. With VG26, 100% of the selling price will be donated to the longstanding MAC VIVA GLAM Fund, supporting healthy futures and equal rights for all, focusing on women and girls, people living with HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ+ communities. The initiative has raised over USD $500 million globally for its charitable efforts since its 1994 inauguration. "VIVA GLAM is inspiring and something special," Rosalía says. "We're living in a moment in which there's a lot of communities that need help ,and MAC wants to help — and I want to be part of this."
As she looks forward to the collaboration and its commitment to giving back, Rosalía says she remains grateful for the recognition that Spanish-speaking artists are getting on a global scale from brands like MAC. She recalls seeing Spanish actress Rossy De Palma's face in airports when she worked with the brand to create a limited-edition line in 2017 — never imagining that one day it would be her. "That collaboration blew my mind, and it's such an honour as an artist from Spain to be able to collaborate with MAC," she says. "I always feel excited that I can make music in Spanish, and that I can connect with people globally at the same time."
Now, Rosalía only hopes to inspire others the same way women like De Palma, Carmen Amaya, and Missy Elliot have inspired her. "I think that it's a beautiful thing to be grateful for if I can inspire other people, too," she says. But above all, she hopes to motivate others by being herself, fuelling her passions, and staying grounded. "I just try to stay connected with how everything started," she says. For Rosalía, that all began in her Barcelona home, where she practiced her flamenco moves and watched her mom swipe on red lipstick.
MAC VIVA GLAM VG26 will be available September 24 at select M•A•C locations and online at MAC Cosmetics.