It takes weeks for M.A.C. Cosmetics to prepare for Fashion Week. The company signed on to paint faces at 86 shows, which means the M.A.C. pro beauty team must create hundreds of beauty combinations and face charts to pitch at designer meetings before any makeup artist pulls out a single lipstick backstage. M.A.C. will unveil its new collections on the spring runways, and each new color or formula needs to be individually tested by Gordon Espinet, vice-president of makeup artistry, and Nadine Luke, director of makeup artistry. We caught up with the beauty gurus on testing day to see how their process works. “We fuss with it and decide what we want to use backstage and what will eventually go out to the consumer,” says Espinet, noting that the products won’t be available to consumers until March. Together they physically mangle products — crushing eye shadow, slicing lipstick, smudging blush, and if they’re inspired, mixing new formulas. “This is the play time. We need to play with the colors and see what we’re working with. I’m looking for something to jump out at me. I’m looking for something to speak to me,” says Luke. “It’s like studying for the exam. If it’s not done, you’re screwed. Because you won’t have what it takes to get it done backstage,” she continues. “We put so much on that by the end of the day we end up leaving, looking like drag queens.”
Click ahead for a preview of M.A.C.’s spring collections, and see Gordon and Nadine test the products to find out which ones they want to take backstage at New York Fashion Week.