Can’t get enough of Fabulous Felines? Peep this Q&A with Jennifer Balbier, senior vice president of product development for MAC.
Your mission is to develop a color collection that revolves around cats! Where does one begin?
For me it was really easy. I’ve had two cats for 16 years — Miss Charlie Girl and Shakespeare. In fact, I tried to get Shakespeare a modeling job as part of this campaign because he’s this gorgeous white thing but, unfortunately, it wasn’t the look we were going for! So it was natural from my point of view.
We started by looking at cats as a whole. They’re mysterious, quite unpredictable and, in addition to their characteristics, their coats are quite beautiful. A lot of times I look at Miss Charlie Girl because she’s a beautiful shade of soft brown and I’d like to get her to come out from under the bed and take her to the colorist!
There are three distinct and rich color stories at play, with lots of attention to texture. How did that come about?
We looked at rich greys and plums and greyed-out greens reminiscent of cats’ eyes, and of course ombrÃ© and amber. The felines’ coloration and tonality were part of the inspiration. Texture-wise, we started by playing with the various colors of the hair for each of these types of cats, and developed different finishes between the products. As a result of the various finishes, when the color is layered, you can really create differences in terms of light and opacity. Cats are never just one shade, so we wanted to create an ombrÃ© effect, for example — an amber that burns into gray green.
While the collection is obviously cat-inspired, it’s also catwalk inspired: those two elements had to fall into place with each other. We work with the latest trend reports and saw all these fall colors and textures — smoky greys, plums and warm-toned ambers — and we had to make it all work together. Each cat had to have her own look, as if each cat were a different type of girl.
The new Superslick Liquid Eye Liner sounds really cool. What’s the story there, and what is its role in the collection as a whole?
The beauty of this product is the amazing formula and this magical new applicator. It is super precise — you can easily create a thin line or a thicker one. It’s very long-wearing (15-hour wear!), water-resistant and leaves an incredibly shiny finish. There are nine different shades — three colors per cat. The goal was to not only offer enough “playtime” with the product, but also have it set quickly, while keeping a super wet look in exceedingly jewel-toned color.
We always like to have a focus for each of our collections, and you can see from this lineup we tended to focus on the eyes. So we chose to include pigments that are complementary accent colors to the eye shadow quads — they mimic cat fur in their multi-dimensionality: It’s never one shade and can be softer and lighter and deeper in some parts.
Got a tip for creating the perfect cat eye?
Actually, that’s why the liner was developed! The way the tip is designed builds a cat eye by itself if you glide it over your lid and swoop the ends. It’s flexible, yet firm enough for precision glide and control. It can be difficult to do a cat eye with a pencil, but this pointed applicator tip makes it simple.
You’ve mentioned that you have cats yourself. As a cat lover, how do you feel this collection will resonate with other fabulous felines?
Everyone knows that cat people are crazy about their pets. There’s a feminine feline connection between people and their kitties that any cat owner will cop to! Cat lovers will be drawn to the collection. Feminine feline enthusiasts always have this one-on-one with their cats, where you look at them and maybe you talk to them and your cat totally understands you at that moment. Cats speak with their eyes and that’s what we captured with this collection. Fabulous felines are just like the girls they portray — sexy, seductive, fun, playful, young and luxurious!