NEW YORK, United States — Amidst the on-going shake up of the fashion calendar, cosmetics brand MAC, owned by Estée Lauder Companies, is backing designers aiming to expand the reach of their pre-collection presentations.
The long-term initiative will kick off this Cruise 2017 season with New York-based Proenza Schouler, which will show its collection in Paris on July 4 to coincide with the city's upcoming haute couture Week.
But here’s the twist: while MAC is providing the typical reinforcements — financial backing, as well as talent led by senior makeup artist Fatima Thomas — the New York-based Proenza Schouler is standing by its commitment to keep any images associated with the collection under embargo until the clothes arrive in stores. Designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez plan to present the clothes in intimate, no-social-media-allowed salon presentations on Monday, which is also Independence Day in the United States. That evening, Moda Operandi co-founder and friend of the brand Lauren Santo Domingo will host a party at her Paris home celebrating the collection.
It’s an interesting move for MAC, given that much of the logic behind supporting shows is brand association, as well as the earned media that comes from backstage beauty blogs, print editorials and social media. But if Pre-Fall 2016 is any indication, MAC may benefit further down the line. According to Proenza Schouler, press mentions around Pre-Fall’s May 9 release — which included a video shot by photographer Harley Weir — were significantly greater than in a typical cycle. “The press that we got from that video was like, 100 times more attention than if we would have just released the images the day we did the presentation in the showroom,” Hernandez says. “We magnified the presence of the Pre-Fall collection.”
The decision to show in Paris also reflects the label’s global intentions, underscored earlier in June with the appointment of a new chief executive, Judd Crane, who is joining the company from London-based department store Selfridges. Currently, half of Proenza Schouler’s annual revenue is generated outside the US, and showing in Paris allows the designers to get the collection in front of more international press and retailers, which might not make the trip to New York for the lengthy, confusing Cruise season. For Americans who don’t plan on being in Paris this July, the brand will host private appointments back in New York.
As for MAC, which has been working with Proenza Schouler for the past 16 seasons and will be backstage at more than half the shows on the Haute Couture calendar, the unorthodox approach speaks to its longstanding marketing strategy. “The idea of supporting fashion wherever fashion takes place on whatever schedule it takes place is part of the new realities of the world right now,” says John Demsey, executive group president of Estée Lauder Companies. “Pre-collections are as big, if not bigger, than fashion collections.”