Q&A with James Gager, SVP/Creative Director M.A.C. Worldwide
Why M·A·C and Hello Kitty? What is the connection?
First of all, both M·A·C and Hello Kitty are globally loved. There are Hello Kitty-obsessed fans and M·A·C addicts, and both represent high-end as well as street fashion, inexpensive items and couture. Each brand represents a pop culture phenomenon. M·A·C’s incredibly coveted limited edition collections coupled with the public’s 30 plus-year addiction to all things Hello Kitty makes the partnership a no-brainer.
When you first encountered the project, what was your inspiration?
SANRIO didn’t come to us. We went after them! We simply felt that there was a great synergy that existed between us. Of course, we considered the idea that for all of the interesting partnerships they’ve participated in they had never done makeup before, and I was certain that all those women who already own a bit of Hello Kitty would also want to own branded makeup. Hello Kitty is completely universal: Millions of people are in love with her and they can’t get enough.
Who is the M·A·C Hello Kitty girl?
She is absolutely our customer, and she’s unusual in that she could be 14 or 75 years old. Within that broad range of women (and even men I should say), you’ll find an individual that loves to play with makeup in an offbeat, original way.
The Hello Kitty beauty visuals shot by Nick Knight are stunning. Can you tell us about the two images?
The more ethereal image is of the blonde holding a black vinyl Hello Kitty doll that we’ll sell as part of the accessory line. We were imagining this wonderful, almost Alice in Wonderland - like character with a definite M·A·C edge, standing there looking at this doll and wondering what she encompasses. If you look at the other visual, it’s more of a dominatrix, va va voom, fetish kind of creature; and each of these two characters is wondering what it might be like to transform into the other, which is how we show that makeup can be incredibly transformative. Overall, it’s an Alice in Wonderland meets Wizard of Oz fairy tale narrative.
There are a lot of fun accessories that will accompany the M·A·C Hello Kitty Colour Collection. How did you come up with the packaging and concepts?
The accessories collection is both cool and affordable. Additionally, we have created Hello Kitty Kouture, a very exclusive, limited edition luxe line done with Swarovski crystals. We worked very closely with Hello Kitty’s parent company, SANRIO, to develop the accessories and the idea behind the line. We have something for everyone!
Personally, I love the adorable Hello Kitty Plush Doll, and there’s also a black bracelet with three charms, makeup mirrors, a brush holder, makeup bags, and a tote that’s printed in a Pucci-esque pattern among other items. And that brings me to the packaging of the entire M·A·C Hello Kitty collection: It’s very graphic and fashion-forward. In fact, all of the makeup colours in the collection have come from runway trends for spring and the collection connotes a very glamourous vibe that plays up the more fashionable aspects of a woman. It’s fun, too. Most importantly, we are certain that this collaboration will put a smile on people’s faces!
Q &A with Jennifer Balbier SVP Product Development, MAC Worldwide
How did the MAC Hello Kitty partnership inspire your own product development process?
To me, MAC Hello Kitty embodies the ultimate beauty icon: No one is more alluring yet incredibly cute and at the same time appeals to a wider range of customers than she does, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Hello Kitty is the ultimate girly girl and guys like her too. She is coy and I couldn’t help but be reminded of how you never really know what she’s thinking. We wanted to reflect that mysterious quality through a sweet side, but also something slightly mischievous when it came to the colours. I started out by creating a palette of pinks, since they fit and always trend well in the spring, but we also incorporated black into the collection to give it a sophisticated edge as well, and moved forward from there.
Can you tell us more about who this girl is?
I see her as a playful, coquettish girly girl with a rocker edge, but she also likes to pamper and take care of herself. I think the actual products evolved to reflect this character.
In terms of the makeup collection, what does she look like?
Since Hello Kitty does not have a visible mouth, the first quality that came to mind is that she must have lashes that make a statement: They are wispy, flirtatious, and crisscross - because she is all about batting her lashes. It’s so much about the eyes that we did two eye shadow quads that combine classic, more traditional colours such as a smoky, taupe brown and a slightly sparkly black with shades that really pop, like turquoise and a violet, bright plum juxtaposed with coral and a hot, hot pink which is very playful.
We incorporated glitter eye liners because she loves anything that twinkles, and we took the coral and hot pink theme and did pretty, poppy blush. Playing on pink is a nod to her girliness but it is less of a baby-pink and more of a grown-up fuchsia shade. To appeal to the younger Hello Kitty fan we created these fabulous lip conditioners in colours like yellow pink and dusky rose that were all over the runways, and made the gloss extremely translucent by taking the heavy pigment out and making it almost see through and dimensional, reminiscent of cellophane.
We didn’t think that a matte lip properly represented MAC Hello Kitty’s eminine nature, so we created products that project glaze and lustre by skipping the sumptuous, sensuous mouth that could be perceived as heavy or campy and opting for light and glossy instead. The collection is for all ages, but it’s about a younger attitude. It is light, fresh and fun.
Tell us more about those sharp lacquered nails.Nails are very important to her!
We’ve created an amazing pepto-pink, and a really special flat gray.There is also a beautiful stark white. People will love wearing all the shades and they’re absolutely perfect for spring.