Mac teams up with Emanuel Ungaro

Landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession for me,” wrote Monet to a friend in 1909 of his vast Water Lilies“These Impressionist artistry to makeup artistry by Sharon Dowsett. Talking about her direction from the house’s new designer – Esteban Cortazar – “On canvases, which dominated the last thirty years of his life. Visit them in Paris’ Musee de L’Orangerie and it’s easy to see why. As nebulous cloud and sky are reflected on the surface of sun-skimmed water and foliage dissipates into smattered colour and disintegrating form, the limitless palette and layers of pigments with which Monet painted these canvases is mesmerizing. Essentially studies in the effects of colour, form, light and shadow, it makes sense that the Water Lilies should be especially inspirational and relevant to makeup, and indeed, to a makeup artist…Something which, nearly a century later on 27th February 2008, and just a stone’s throw down the Seine in the Carrousel du Louvre, we’re witnessing backstage at Ungaro’s A/W 08 show, where the Water Lilies have been taken frome of the first things that he said to me was that there always has to be something unexpected to the Ungaro woman,” says Sharon.
Hence the search for a more nuanced natural, a way “to do brown that’s not boring,” led Sharon on a day of finding inspiration wandering the streets of Paris (from trees on the Champs élysées to the beetroot staining her salad plate at lunch, a mood-board examining the subtle interplay of colour in nature appeared) and finally to L’Orangerie. “I was looking at Monet’s tree trunks and how they appear brown but become so vibrant up close, becoming an incredible collage of pigments including green, blue, orange, lilac and fuchsia,” she explains.
Cue the softly nuanced Ungaro face with it’s unpredictable tangents of colour that merge to form a translucently natural effect. With M·A·C’s dizzying array of colours at her disposal, a twine brown haze of eye shadow unravels it’s subtle inflections of cool lilac and warm coral, cut through with deep blue kohl and a flash of highlight “like the reflection of water on a lake” at it’s centre. An evaporation of pink (very beetroot…very Ungaro) hints the cheeks and a lip that appears natural but is surprisingly and succulently pink softens the lips.
In their native Paris the Water Lilies are known as the Nympheas, and indeed the models do exude a nymph-like beauty. “Yes, they are like wood nymphs,” says Sharon. “I had in my mind a woman who is feminine but not ladylike, who’d mix but not match, is stylish but not concerned.” Indeed, this effortlessly sylph-like species is at the heart of Cortazar’s conception of what the modern Ungaro woman is. His first season at the helm of the venerable Parisian couture known for it’s highly feminine take on print, pigment and romantic ruches, the 23-year-old is keen in instill his own set of brand values on the house: “Effortless Seduction and Unapologetic Femininity” are the values he keeps coming back to, which essentially translates as a girl who’ll give her look an unexpected twist, wearing that
fabulous frock with perfect lo-fi makeup and air-dried hair.
Speaking of unexpected, and of that perfect lo-fi makeup, in just five months after the show M·A·C counters are awash with palettes, creams, tints and shadows that replicate Dowsett’s Ungaro makeup. In a limited-edition collaboration with Ungaro – remember last year’s altogether more dramatic collaboration with McQueen? – M·A·C committed, months before anyone knew the makeup would be so downright beautiful, to creating a runway-fresh collection that takes the catwalk to the counter in a record time frame (you’re usually looking at over a year).
Having supported supported Cortazar from the very start of his designer career as a teenager in Miami, M·A·C for Ungaro is testament to a genuine fashion/beauty relationship. “Our association with Ungaro is really exciting as we’ve supported Esteban for many years. He’s reflective of an attitude and movement for venerable fashion houses to reinvent their brands by employing new emerging talent, something that’s a core value of M·A·C,” explains Creative Director, James Gager.
The collaboration also represents the many personalities and aesthetics to which M·A·C makeup appeals. “M·A·C’s a high/low fashion brand,” continues Gager. “We follow equally couture and street culture, a sense of yin and yang is inherent to the brand and our customers – heavy-duty dramatic makeup alongside that which is girly, fresh and light. Following from our dramatic and outrageous collaboration with McQueen last year, we felt that Ungaro
represented another side of M·A·C’s personality.”

What we can reliably expect is that the M·A·C for Ungaro collaboration will sell out as fast and furiously as M·A·C for McQueen last year (i.e. within weeks). The idea of owning undiluted, fresh-from-the-runway products is something that, in a beauty world increasingly edited and over-thought, beautyphiles will find irresistible.
Not to mention the fact that the makeup itself is pretty much the most imminently desirable, flattering and
fashion-forward of the season. Sounding increasingly like a modern-day Monet describing her thoughts on seeing
the final product prototypes, Sharon’s excitement about the range is infectious: “I spent a couple of days applying the products to anyone who would sit still for me, and loved how it works so well and so differently on everyone,”
she raves. “…There’s a see-through lip stain that’s incredible and I’m extremely pleased with the crushed rose Cream Colour Base – you can easily create a lifelike blush or a deep wine-red flush…the eye shadows are stunning together, the violet’s cool without being shimmery and you’ve never seen a brown like it…and I love the pinker tone of the new coral which is even brighter than it looks…” are just a few of her enthusiastic musings on the range.
One extra product was added at the last minute, of course. “I kept holding on to Esteban saying he wanted
something unexpected as well as remembering my original Monet inspiration,” says Sharon. Hence the addition of
a pencil – Auto de Blu Technokohl, a watery, inky teal that can be applied as a liner or shadow and which perfectly
addressed Sharon’s concern that “It needed to be more painterly.” Monet meets makeup indeed.