Disney villains vamp it up
The launch is top secret. Confidentiality agreements are signed and glossy lips sealed. The location is Disney Studios, Los Angeles, and four heavily made-up models pose in front of their muses – Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, Evil Queen and Dr Facilier.
A handsome waiter proffers a glass of green liquid. He looks like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Could it be pond water from the Princess and the Frog, or poisoned apple juice? Thankfully no. It's chilled cucumber water.
Beauty editors from around the world – Russia, South Korea, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia – have assembled for the launch of the MAC Venomous Villains collection, a unique collaboration between MAC and Disney. It kicks off with a video conference, with MAC creative director James Gager speaking from New York.
Interestingly, there isn't a princess in sight. Sure, Sleeping Beauty got her prince and Snow White may have been the fairest in the land, but when it comes to classic fairy tales, good girls are so cliched. What captured MAC's attention were the vampy devilish divas.
"Other brands can do princess collections," says Gager. "MAC would rather focus on another side of beauty. It's great to be nice but also good to be naughty occasionally."
The Disney villains are fabulously chic. They don't believe they're evil, just misunderstood. They're also identifiable, and likeable, because of their human characteristics and failings. Strip away the devil horns of the evil fairy Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and she is just like any woman scorned. How dare the King and Queen not invite her to the party? Why not dress up and crash it?
Then there's Cruella De Vil, of 101 Dalmatians fame, who loves to make fantastic entrances in a fur coat, stilettos and red lipstick, and will do anything to obtain one very couture coat; the Evil Queen obsessed with her appearance and the fairest of them all until Snow White ruined things. And then there's devious Dr Facilier – the voodoo witch doctor from The Princess and the Frog. He's the only male, an outsider in the trio of what Disney affectionately calls "the Disney Divas".
Johanna Mooney, beauty director of Disney Consumer Products, says the timing for the collection was right.
"It's culturally the right time to be bad," she says.
The Disney/MAC collaboration is an idea that has been in Gager's head for three years, so he was rapt when Disney agreed to the project.
"We're both in the world of entertainment and fantasy. This collection is totally focused on fantasy and sophistication of beauty, but it also has a tongue-in-cheek quality to it," says Gager. "Don't think about this makeup as going out on Halloween. It's very sophisticated makeup."
Disney gave MAC access to the original pantones that the artists used to design these characters.
This aided the selection of the colours and textures for the collection – smokey purples inspired by the Evil Queen's robes; red lipstick reflects the red of Cruella's coat lining, shoes, gloves and lips; and Maleficent's green skin inspired three nail colours, and mineralised eye shadows. Warm amber tones distinguish Dr Facilier's collection of unisex products.
For Gregory Arlt, MAC's director of makeup artistry, the challenge was to come up with looks based on the four animated characters (Disney doesn't call them cartoons) that were also relevant to runway trends and what women want to wear.
The range is not just targeted at women, however. Dr Facilier's collection is deliberately unisex.
"In the current job market, where men are losing jobs, appearance is everything," says Arlt. "Men are wearing concealer for dark circles and to cover blemishes. Product to tame the eyebrows. A bit of mineral powder. Very minimal."
In contrast, the looks Arlt has created for women are strong, bold and dramatic, which is where makeup trends are heading next.
"The look has been minimal for so long. Now we are seeing makeup again," he says.
The eyes are the focus of Dr Facilier's look, where the "moustache has travelled up to the eye" to create a dramatic eyeliner. To create this look, he used MAC Black Fluidline, while the rest of the look is all about the skin, using bronzes and golds, and MAC's new star product, Magically Cool Liquid Powder, dusted over foundation.
The look he created for Maleficent has a 60s influence – colour-blocking purple up to the brow with mineralised eye shadow, and sleepy eyelashes.
For Cruella, the "consummate society woman", he put the focus on the lips and kept the skin "satiny".
The Evil Queen also sports a stronger mouth – "sinister" lipstick, a brown plum. The look is also inspired by current looks on the runway – pale white skin, dramatic eyes and bold lips.
At Disneyland, which we visit the next day, we meet the professional actors cast and hired for the roles of Cruella De Vil and Evil Queen.
Disney won't hire actors until the right person is found. Currently, there is only one Evil Queen in Disney's employment. She tours the different parks, including Euro Disney. The actors also never break from character while in costume.
In contrast to MAC's contemporary Venomous Villains – MAC's modern interpretation of what a femme fatale would wear – these divas are sporting makeup that is true to their Disney character.
* MAC Venomous Villains will be available in New Zealand from October 4
The Dominion Post