I first met Patrick Starrr (née Patrick Simondac) one year ago, zip-lining in Hawaii on what could only be described as an "influencer trip." At the time, it seemed like his career was hitting an all-time high: He had just completed a hugely successful nail polish collaboration with Sephora's Formula X, he was on the cusp of hitting two million subscribers on his YouTube channel, and he was one of the key bloggers paving the way for men in beauty. In other words, he was flying high — figuratively and literally.
Unlike other influencers who fall from grace as quickly as they've acquired their internet fame, this was only the beginning for Simondac. Over the past year, he reached three million subscribers on YouTube and produced videos with Kim Kardashian, Tyra Banks, and Ashley Tisdale. But wait, because it's about to get better. Why? MAC Cosmetics tapped the makeup artist and entertainer for a major collaboration — and we have all the details.
MAC x Patrick Starrr, which dropped in December, was different from the usual influencer or celeb collab. His is a year-long commitment which, compared to the brand's past collaborations with celebrities like Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey, and Brooke Shields, means that Simondac can produce a lot more product. In fact, he and MAC will roll out five collections over the next year. The sheer size of the collection only comes second to when MAC teamed up with Rihanna.
I don't think I would have started a YouTube channel had it not been for learning at MAC.
Partnering with such a huge international brand would be exciting for anyone, but this collab has a deeper meaning for the artist, who started his career working at a MAC counter in his hometown of Orlando in 2012. "Working at MAC was like Hogwarts for me," says Simondac. "I learned so much there and felt confident even though I didn't really know makeup. That's why you see me in my first video already contouring and baking — I don't think I would have started a YouTube channel had it not been for learning at MAC."
MAC didn't just provide Simondac with valuable learning experiences — it also served as an emotional and creative outlet for him, too. "There wasn't really anywhere to wear makeup to for a young man my age," says Simondac, who once described himself as "the minority of minorities" being a man who is gay, plus-size, Filipino, and who wears makeup. "I'd go to Pulse, the gay club in Orlando, and MAC — they were the only places I could wear makeup in public."
Simondac has a long history with Pulse, a landmark in the LGBTQ community in Orlando and the site of 2016's horrific mass shooting that left 49 people dead. "You have no idea what Pulse means to me," says Simondac. "It was the first time I ever saw a drag queen, ever. Patrick Starrr is very much an Orlando queen... I owe a lot of my aesthetic to Pulse and the drag queens there." That history intersected with his relationship with MAC, which has a longstanding commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community. In fact, the first time Simondac attended a party with the MAC brand was at Pulse for MAC's Viva Glam and MAC Aids Fund initiative. He even performed in drag at one of the brand's charity events.
Simondac's passion for self expression through makeup, as well as his close relationship with his followers, was what made him an obvious choice for this partnership. "Sometimes there can be uncertainty as to the longevity and appeal of an influencer," says Catherine Bomboy Dougherty, SVP at MAC Cosmetics. "We really see Patrick as someone who has growth trajectory and global appeal. He's here to stay because he's a talented makeup artist and entertainer. He's also has a unique point of view that's grounded in individuality."
Patrick Starrr is very much an Orlando queen...I owe a lot of my aesthetic to Pulse and the drag queens there.
And Simondac isn't about to just slap his name on a few existing MAC products and call it a day. His collection with the cosmetics brand was a year in the making — and the star touched every aspect of it, including campaign images, product formulation, packaging, and social strategy, which, according to Dougherty, is the most involved any collaborator has ever been. Simondac was appointed Key Artist Collaborator for MAC this fall and will continue to work with the brand throughout 2018, creating content for the brand and traveling to the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, Europe, and parts of the U.S. to promote his collection and teach a number of master classes.
So what will these products actually look like? The first collection to drop will be the pair's limited-edition holiday offering — a 12-piece line of Simondac's must-have picks, which will be available in-store and online December 14th. What we know so far is that it will be universal essentials and includes a setting powder.
"I didn't want to go too artsy or avant garde with my collection," Simondac says of the line. "I literally wanted someone's grandma to be able to walk into a MAC store anywhere in the world and be able to use these products. I made sure it was universal so that anyone who loves makeup, glamour, and sparkle will find something in it."
One of the products Simondac made sure to create was a loose powder, specifically designed with baking in mind. "Powder was the one product I needed," says Simondac. "We went through so many revisions. I wanted to nail the color so that any skin tone could use it to bake and dust off — I was so particular about it."
The timeline for the rest of Simondac's collections with MAC will follow the seasons: In spring, summer, and fall the brand will launch a handful of single products and kits designed to help consumers copy looks Simondac created for the collections. The partnership will end next December with Simondac's final holiday collection.
As for the rest of Simondac's plans for beauty domination, only time will tell. For now, he's riding the wave: "I'm so glad to have been part of this movement with men in makeup and inclusivity," he says. "For a brand like MAC to back me up with not just an online collection, but an international one... It's such a full-circle moment for me. I truly can't believe the odds."