The annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is collaborating with MAC Cosmetics for the first time, creating an interesting challenge for the ready-to-wear fashion designers participating in the competition. MAC is known for its stellar collaborations with fashion icons like Lady Gaga and Giambattista Valli, so this new venture isn’t completely out of the blue. There is likely to be a great deal of success with this crossover, which has a total of five womenswear designers in the competition. The designers were tasked with developing a makeup line that encapsulates their vision, which will then be proposed to the judges. The designers will likely draw upon their fashion design aesthetic to choose the makeup they could envision their clients pairing with their ready-to-wear garments.
This year’s designers will be Chromat, Cushnie et Ochs, Juan Carlos Obando, Tanya Taylor, and Tome. The collections will be presented to the judges early 2016, and will select one winner after deliberation. The winning proposal will then be produced and in stores in 2017, along with a monetary prize of $50,000.
Since the designers don’t have an extensive background in makeup or beauty, they were invited to the Flatiron District of New York City, where they took place in a crash course of beauty and styling at the MAC Pro showroom. Here, the designers and teams were paired with mentors to assist them in their unfamiliar design journey. Mentors consisted of senior executives from MAC, such as James Gager, creative director, Jennifer Balbier, of product development, and Gordon Espinet, artist training supervisor.
The competitors will be able to turn to their mentors to experiment with the different components that go into makeup production, such as the shades and specific formulas available to them. They will also receive a lesson to help with packaging design and marketing. As Steven Kolb, president and CEO of CFDA, told Vogue, these are “all components that make a successful beauty line.”
Designer Prabal Gurung is a judge for this year, and was also a former CVFF finalist. He has a unique perspective to judge from, as he is closely connected to the process the designers are going through, as his MAC collection debuted just last year, and was received with the utmost of excitement and enthusiasm. He took this experience and gave a bit of advice to current competitors, as a way to help them think more broadly and open-minded.
“It’s an opportunity to tell your story through a different medium,” Gurung said. It is easy for anyone to get caught up with what they know they do best. For designers, it may be tempting to find your niche and stick to it, but the real challenge in life is to find how your vision can be projected in other areas of the same industry. All you have to do is think more expansively, such as transitioning your fashion aesthetic to a more universally used product.
“It’s such a gratifying feeling,” Gurung continued, talking about the new people you can reach with a makeup collection. “What you put on your face is truly an exclamation mark to your whole outfit.” Every designer is connected to makeup, but more often than not they are simply telling their vision and delegating others to get it done for them, and this competition challenges these five designers to see just what goes into the creation behind these looks.
Here we have brief bios for each designer or team, which gives a bit of insight on where they might choose to begin their design process, or what their finishing product may be.
Founder Becca McCharen launched Chromat in 2010, using her background as an architect to shape the label. She is known to take risks, such as with the use of 3D printing and technology within her designs.
“I was kind of a tomboy, but my mom did have watercolor eyeshadow,” McCharen began, about her earliest memory about makeup. “It was from the 70s. I was taking lots of art classes, so I think I saw it as an extension of those classes. Like, Oh, I can paint and draw on my face!”
Moving away from her personal past, McCharen disclosed that her hero is Björk. She looks to her as a beauty icon, for her fearlessness and unpredictable style choices. Between her past and her icons, we should expect a versatile collection, even with the six-piece limit. “My makeup hero right now is any girl flexing on Instagram that’s not afraid to do a different color eyebrow every day of the week.”
McCharen plans to use color, shine, and sparkle in her collection, citing the likeness to a hot rod. “The person who would be into our makeup collection is someone who’s interested in trying new things and sees makeup as an artistic palette.”
So for Chromat, we can expect the unexpected, especially in a collection the designer refers to as being “bold, architectural, and empowering.”
Cushnie et Ochs
Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs founded this brand in 2008, and have always created fearless looks that embraced the best aspects of femininity.
Both designers cited their mothers’ lipstick as their earliest memories with makeup. Cushnie’s mother wore lipstick even to the beach, while Ochs’ fond memories were of her mother letting her play with it. As far as current beauty icons, the classic image of Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface is a point of interest for the duo. “Just how sultry she is,” Cushnie began. “Unapologetic. Owning the room,” Ochs finished.
As the designers prepare for their collection, they know they want to design for a jetsetter; always travelling, always working. They wish to use their six-piece collection as a way of getting everything their woman needs, in one small collection. “We love a good eyebrow, good cheekbone – and bold colors for lipsticks”
And so, it is clear we’ll have a versatile collection from Cushnie et Ochs, with the goal of fitting everything a travelling woman would need in one small package. “Sultry, sleek, and striking” are the words Cushnie chose to describe the intended MAC collection. But Ochs may have been on the mark, chiming in, “Or you could say, Cushnie et Ochs!”
Juan Carlos Obando
This Colombian designer started up his label in 2007, heavily drawing inspiration from his roots by creating clothes that could fit in on the beach or on the red carpet. Obando’s earliest memory with makeup stemmed from his childhood in Barranquilla, Colombia, where a large carnival featured an “explosion of color.” It was here where the designer learned “You need to dance, you need the music, you need the makeup!” This is where his roots in fashion and beauty are ingrained, and there they will likely stay.
The designer has a clear appreciation of the woman’ body, as his clothes portray, but also for the way their lives are lived, as his beauty icon might suggest. Bianca Jagger, to Obando, has a life of beauty, “not just in the sense of beauty, but living life to its fullest.”
To accompany his tropical-centric fashion, he is looking to create his makeup to obtain “that exotic, sultry, balmy, sun-kissed look all year long.” So we can expect a natural look from Obando’s brand this competition, in order to keep his vision of that warm-weather in the tropics alive all year round.
“Hot, Latin Summer” best sums up everything the collection will be, which in itself carries its own warmth in the words.
This Toronto designer created her eponymous label back in 2012, and has since established an important network of clients, such as Michelle Obama and Lena Dunham. She has an eye for prints and color, thus acting as the base for her brand’s quick expansion.
Taylor cites her mother and grandmother as the sources of her earliest makeup memory. “They always had a really bright lip,” she recalled. But it was when she watched Working Girl when she really remembers watching Melanie Griffith and Joan Cusack playing with makeup.
Bette Davis and Jean Shrimpton are significant sources for Taylor and her brand, naturally for Davis’s eyes and Shrimpton’s overall features. Taylor’s customer is one who lets one aspect of her face shine, such as with a bright lip to balance a natural face. Lips will likely be a big part of Taylor’s collection.
“I am a lipstick freak!” she said. “I have probably seven lipsticks in my bag at all times, and I like to mix them.” She has a clear leaning toward this one product, so we can expect to see a great lip showing, especially with the interest she shows in MAC’s cream lip stain and packaging.
Likely referring to the lip products in the collection, Taylor offered up “Artistic, bold, and fresh” to describe her MAC collection.
Designers Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo created this label in 2010. The duo had been friends in fashion school, and chose to follow that path and create Tome. The brand is known to flit between female artists as inspiration for each new season, and have since become known for their aspects of menswear that shine through in bouts of elegance and deconstruction.
Both designers’ earliest makeup memories involved watching their mothers get ready. Lobo was encouraged to experiment with putting his mother’s makeup on, which was a truly fond memory of his childhood. Martin, on the other hand, recalls his mother’s hands, and how steady she stayed when applying the makeup. He recounts the artistry she used to dress herself up, and now realizes she was wrong when she said he didn’t inherit his design abilities from her.
Lobo’s beauty icons include Sade, Madonna, and Grace Jones, for their striking yet natural beauty, especially as the use of makeup accentuated the beauty. Martin always looks to film first, on the other hand, in which female characters create themselves. He looks to a diverse range of sources, from Mommie Dearest and Blade Runner to Butterfield 8.
It is interesting to see these two designers working together, as they both have different ways of thinking, as shown in their beauty icons, and also in their ideas for the collection.
Martin shared that matte lipstick is a best-selling product right now. Upon hearing this, he immediately began to think of the possibilities of translucence and pearl, while Lobo thought about doing the exact opposite, since it wouldn’t be expected.
Marin plans to see the collection as in relation to “beauty, softness, and power,” while Lobo has a vision of “Universal, practical, and humorous.” There’s no telling what exactly will be the result here, but as we know this duo, it will be something spectacular.
Photo courtesy of Vogue