MAC Cosmetics – Fafi For MAC – Q&A with James Gager, Jennifer Balbier, and Fafi
Check out MAC’s Question & Answer sessions with James Gager (SVP, Creative Director of MAC), Jennifer Balbier (SVP Product Development of MAC), and Fafi (the designer who inspired the line).
Q&A with James Gager, Senior Vice President & Creative Director MAC Worldwide
Q: How did the collaboration with FAFI develop?
A: Ironically, Fafi wasn’t in my mind when we first began.
I was working with photographer, Richard Burbridge, and we started shooting photographs of this beautiful Asian woman with a renegade spirit and style, playing with makeup, different fashion accessories, and a video camera. It really conveyed the feeling that captures the spirit of youth today in terms of dressing up, experimenting and using technology as a form of expression. I then worked with Jennifer Balbier to shape it into a spring collection, elaborating on the playful idea behind the Barbie collection, but in a way that reflects this new generation. After doing research, we came across the work of Fafi, and from there we got the idea to merge illustration with photography. We are using art as a vehicle — merging photography with animation, and then integrating it with fashion, trends, colour, and forwardness.
Q: What makes FAFI a good fit for MAC?
A: MAC has its pulse on fashion, trends, art, the youth culture and what’s happening on the streets and in the world. The Fafi collaboration embodies our connection with the world of art, and fuses MAC’s philosophy that makeup
should be about play, experimentation, and making the customer feel good and have fun. When we met with Fafi, she was this amazing, young carefree hip person who also happened to be a true artist, so the collaboration ended up being a perfect match. We’re also about All Ages, All Races and All Sexes with the Fafinette characters representing that as well.
Q: Who will FAFI appeal to?
A: Everyone. They will certainly appeal to a younger generation, but I believe the world of Fafi is one that all ages will enjoy. Everyone wants to escape into a world of fantasy and imagination, and that’s what this collection offers. Customers want to feel young, so I think it’s likely that say, a soccer mom would be as intrigued by this collection as well as a younger consumer.
Keep reading for the rest of James’ interview, plus Jennifer and Fafi’s!
Q: Do you think the Japanimation and graffiti trend will translate to American consumers?
A: Absolutely. The Barbie collection was all about nostalgia, but these Fafi characters are a whole new direction. We’re exposed to so many elements through the Internet, which creates this thirst for new, innovative, fresh ideas like this. The Fafi collection offers a fantastical escape outlet, but there is a sophistication that arrives out of it. People love to play.
Q: How will that world be conveyed?
A: We created an adjunct video with an East Village-based artist, Bec Stupak, encouraging her and Fafi to create a moving animation piece that will introduce customers to the world of Fafinettes and the Carmine Vault.
Q&A with Jennifer Balbier, Senior Vice President Product Development, MAC Worldwide
Q: The collection includes bright lip shades that range from coral reds to bright hot pinks and eye colours in browns, blues and greens. How are these shades reflective of the Fafinette aesthetic?
A: The colours are clear without being harsh, playful with a sophisticated twist, and presented in textures that are sheer and buildable. We also utilized a pearlized effect with sheen rather than with heavy particles. The quads include one that is more on the basic, neutral side, and another that’s more “fun.”
Q: What is the ultimate Fafinette face?
A: The look is toned-down skin with heavier emphasis on eyes and a girly mouth. She’s colourful, but the texture is light.
Q: How did Fafi’s work inspire you from a colour perspective?
A: The fun attitude was inspired from young girls who are super-cool and hanging out in Shibuya 109 (huge, popular shopping mecca). They are edgy but sophisticated, and that is how we tried to make the colours. There’s nothing dirty or dull about the tones — they are playful and girly no matter what age you are.
Q: How did you determine what products to include in the FAFI Collection?
A: Upon meeting with Fafi and our Creative group, we began to craft looks that were young in attitude but not in age, so these products are intended to inspire and delight women of all ages.
Q: How involved was FAFI in the development of the product collection?
A: Actually, not at all. This was a collection inspired by her work. However, she was totally involved in creating the packaging, dolls and visuals.
Q: What consumer can wear the FAFI colours?
A: Anyone can wear Fafi. We were inspired by the look and feel of spring. That entails colours with a punch, but not raw or too bold. So you can wear a little or wear a lot.
Q: Are there any product innovations in the collection that you would like to talk about or does the collection focus more on colour?
A: The Fafi collection is strictly a shade promotion. Fafi was a visual inspiration, but not like a Beauty Icon, whose products we interpret to the consumer.
Q: So do you think the FAFI products will appeal to everyone?
A: Yes, but the visuals and the packaging are very young. The products, however, have universal appeal!
Q&A with Fafi
Q: How did the collaboration between you and MAC come about?
A: It was like a movie! MAC was somehow connected to my L.A. gallery, and they requested I meet them for a meeting. In New York there was snow everywhere, which made me very late, and I rolled in wearing these huge boots and feeling like this crazy French girl in an important American meeting. I had been dreaming about making my own cosmetics collection, and with their colour range and commitment to representing different ethnicities, I knew it would be the right fit. I’m a very lucky girl. Two days later, they offered to work on a project with me, and that’s when I started creating the three characters for this collection, which came naturally and smoothly, like a knife in butter!
Q: Can you introduce us to the world of the Fafinettes and the Carmine Vault?
A: The Carmine Vault is a parallel world, it links to our planet but has many differences such as food, nature, and behaviour. We can meet the Fafinettes but there are also other creatures like Birtak and Hmilo, who are all trying to live in harmony. I’ve been painting Fafinettes on walls since 1994 and at some point, three years ago, I decided they shouldn’t be alone anymore, plus, I wanted to add a richer universe to my creations.
Q: What was your previous experience in the world of beauty, if any?
A: I have always been crazy about black mascara! I think if there was just one piece of makeup I was allowed to take on a desert island that would be it. (I would use some fruits for my lips and cheeks!) I like the idea of crying with mascara. It’s beautiful, plus it gives you expressive, doll eyes. Overall, makeup is a way to transform your look. It makes us happy and gives us confidence.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: I’m so inspired by real women, my friends.
My husband is a DJ, so music and the girls I see dressed up at parties are so inspiring. In fact, at a party in Tokyo there were three girls dressed up as Fafinettes. I’ve even seen some girls wearing Fafinette tattoos. I mean, graffiti is ephemeral but tattoos, wow!
Q: When did you first come up with the concept of tagging these girls?
A: At first I was painting these green Martians in profile, which was limiting because I couldn’t express emotions. So I moved on to these more human subjects. The Fafinettes have been an evolution though. They’ve gone through more sexualized, even pornographic stages, and now it’s becoming this whole universe with new characters in the Carmine Vault. Sexiness is not my main thing — it’s more about being coy, a suggestion. Now that I have a child perhaps the Fafinettes are growing up a bit as well. They are less obvious. It’s more about the attitude, not vulgar, but definitely defiant.
Q: What does femininity mean to you and why do you think you created such a female-centric world with your characters?
A: I never think about it, I just act and it seems like many girls from all over the world can relate to my drawings. I’m not conscious of that. I guess my life, my art, my friends, what girls do in this world, are all connected.
Q: If you were a Fafinette character, what would she be like?
A: I am the original Fafinette, just watch me party!
Q: Can you describe how painting a wall and painting your face can be similar or different?
A: Everything is about emotion, how you’re feeling, like do you want to be noticed today or not? I think makeup is crazy for that: you can be unnoticeable if you’re not wearing any, and if you’re in a happy mood, meeting your friends or lover, you can express so many things through it.
Q: Why do the Fafinettes have hearts painted on their cheeks?
A: The Fafinettes are natural-born lovers, so it’s just natural for them to have it on their body. This is why it felt so natural to work with MAC!
Q: What are your favourite products from the collection?
A: I like the Iridescent Pressed Powder. I can’t wait to see it on display and actually have it in my hands.
Q: While working on this project, did you make any discoveries about yourself or find any new influences?
A: I really wanted to create empowered females that girls can relate to. I think they have the right attitude and hope girls will be in love with them.
Q: What do you want to achieve with this project?
A: Ubiquity! I’ve had my time of scary stuff with graffiti, now I want to spread the word without any effort other than my imagination.
Q: Your work is perceived as having similarities to animae/Japanimation (female characters with exaggerated features, big eyes, sexualized figures). Are you now or were you originally influenced by Manga, etc.? Can you talk about the connection?
A: I used to be inspired by Manga at my beginnings, I loved Dr. Slump, Gunnm and early Dragonball, but I don’t do Manga at all and I don’t feel very close to it. I’d rather be compared to Vaughn Bode or another indie American comic.
Q: What’s the question you wish people would ask you?
A: “What kind of boy would you have been?”: I think a very gay one!
Source: MAC Cosmetics