The 15 Most Memorable MAC/M.A.C. Limited Edition Makeup Collections

Whenever the trendy and mega cosmetics brand M.A.C. release their seasonal limited edition makeup sets, the anticipation and hoopla that follow potentially rivals the special designer collections of Target and H&M. While the dedicated makeup addict has always been keen to the latest get-’em-while-they’re-hot items from M.A.C., lately their coveted capsules have been more heavily celebrity-backed and pop culture induced. This has eemingly led to higher coverage and sold-out stickers being placed on more store displays. Roughly ten years ago, M.A.C was more inclined to reach out to visual artists and under the radar designers. While they still occasionally do that, like with this year’s Antonio Lopez palettes, expect even bigger names to be introduced following the Lorde lipstick, Nicki Minaj‘s solo Viva Glam lipstick and later in the year, a very cool The Simpsons collection (yes, this is happening!)

So if you have yet to collect a limited edition lipstick from M.A.C. or got that timer set for when the next one will drop, while there have been a lot of fun sets since the brand’s debut in 1984 (though they really blew up in the ’90s when RuPaul became a spokesmodel), some capsule collections have stood the test of time, or at least the liquid liner that claims to be long-lasting. Let’s look back at what may be considered the fifteen most memorable and unique collections (and they are so many to choose from: Maleficent, the Disney villains, Beth Ditto, Barbie, Hey Sailor!) otherwise known as the ones we’re still searching on eBay for at a decent price!

1. The Marilyn Monroe Holiday Collection, December 2012

The Marilyn Monroe collection was an obvious nod to old Hollywood glamour and while the colors were average gorgeous with red carpet reds and berry hues, her name alone sent sales soaring. Fans did complain that the packaging seemed cheap, especially in comparison to previous sets (her face was mere sticker than her image emblazoned on it),in the end, that didn’t matter as much. Anything pertaining to the screen legend was worth having, and more than the pieces itself, her star wattage remains cult-approved and regaled 50 years later since her passing.

2. The Heatherette collection, 2008

The indie fashion label Heatherette was the original Jeremy Scott of the New York City downtown scene of the aughts. Founded in 1999 by a former club kids Richie Rich, and Traver Rains, the collaboration between them and M.A.C made perfect sense as M.A.C also, and always had, a flair for flamboyance. The Heatherette pieces were mainly pink, pastel, and coral and the packaging was hot pink and glittery. This one remains a cult fave of hardcore M.A.C fans and was arguably one of the brand’s first major limited edition campaigns.

3. Archie’s Girls, Spring 2013

A throwback to when video arcades existed and candies were sometimes 5 or 10 cents, Archie’s Girls hit the spot for many looking for a dose of very cute nostalgia. A charming collection that was a tribute to the women of Archie comics, the brand played into their personas of one being the good girl and the other, a bad girl. Betty and Veronica got three lipsticks each (“Ronnie’s Red” was IT) and together shared a vivid shades of purple eyeshadow palette and the Pearlmatte highlighters were also quite coveted.

4. Rihanna/RiRi Loves MAC, December 2013

We might as well call Riri’s pieces the hot cakes collection because the lipsticks couldn’t have gone any quicker. They even snatched “RiRi Woo” that had already been released earlier in the year. As soon as word got out that currently one of the biggest pop stars was collaborating with M.A.C., it was a wrap! Sales were so good, the company even made her the face of their latest Viva Glam campaign. She had three seasonal capsules, with the biggest being Holiday 2013. The stand-outs were definitely the lipsticks “Heaux (Hoe)”, “Pleasure Bomb” and “Bad Gal”.

5. Fafi for MAC, February 2008

Fafi is a super-cool, talented, graffiti-based female artist based out of France. Her sassy and adorable drawings of fashion-forward girls with conniving baby faces gained her an admiring following prior to her M.A.C. collection. And for her collabo, the hue choices weren’t exactly brand new, but it was all about the packaging as no other brand had exclusively drawn Fafi designs. Her name was formerly unknown to Americans and her collection sold quite well…and again, it was probably thanks to those delightful illustrations.

6. Hello Kitty, MAC in 2009

Like this wasn’t bound to be a success! Hello Kitty M.A.C. makeup?! The kids were ready.Our favorite cat was heavy on black and pink, giving her a Harajuku meets fashion editorial gothic edge and they were definitely a lot of jewel tones in the products. A key piece from this one were the glitter jars that included a vibrant hue of emerald.

7. Wonder Woman, Spring 2011

The fanfare was high for one of the greatest heroines of the comic book world…Wonder Woman! Both feminine and fierce, this one got the voice of a powerful woman that was also a girly-girl in many ways just right. Based off of the colors of blue, purple, red of course, and neutrals, this collection was bright but also muted if you liked. There was also the fun exception of colored mascaras! As the capsule was already eye-catching, the displays at all M.A.C. flagships were wonderful with life-size cardboards of the character and comic strip posters made exclusively for the brand.

8. Kelly & Sharon Osborne, June 2014

When socialite, now fashion commentator Kelly Osborne, dyed her hair a lilac purple, it was a code for makeup labels to wake up and give this girl a contract. An avid adventurer of dressing up, Osborne in later years has became somewhat of an icon and so her capsule was met with periwinkle promise. After declaring a love for the return of the once discontinued “Candy Yum Yum”, Kelly got her own with “Kelly Yum Yum” like how Rihanna got “RiRi Woo.” Even her mom Sharon got a few pieces of her own, once again reminding women of a certain age that makeup is not just for fan girls of Kendall and Kylie.

Cindy Sherman

9. Cindy Sherman, Fall 2011

While I wish I could recall the source I’m about to reference, in regards to one of his most favorite MAC collections, an executive of MAC recalls the Sherman set as one of the most misunderstood ones. In the end, the Cindy Sherman collection was regulated as a passion project for the company, though she’s a celebrated and eccentric photographer of conceptual work. She has transpired her kooky aesthetic with fruity colors and bizarre ad campaigns. For possibly being under the radar on a national level, her collection got a bit lost in translation, but the attempt was very daring for a brand that’s already always willing to be different and edgy.

10. Daphne Guinness, December 2011

British-Irish socialite, artist, and fashion icon Daphne Guinness collaborated on a 24-piece collection for M.A.C. with the visionary of a burlesque dancer. Considering her blithesome take on fashion and cosmetics, it was only right she led her carefree ways to the masses. Ranging in shades from deep rose to violet and even pearly off-whites, the Senior Vice President and Creative Director James Gager recalls Guinness, “[pulling] a tiny watercolor case out of her handbag and, using her own saliva, began mixing colors immediately!” Her set was definitely for the vixens with rulebooks of their own.

11. Year of the Snake, 2013

A collection not celebrity-backed, The Year of the Snake was a gorgeous swirl of prismatic jewel tones with overtones of silver and copper. Such a mix was especially found in the glitter pots and powders. And all of the products had imprinted on them the texture of a rattlesnake and this feature itself the pieces from this collection a must-have as it was in particular showstopping on the lipsticks. The pigmented eyeshadows were also beautiful.

12. Strength, January 2013

One of their smaller collections, the highlight of Strength was the cover model that M.A.C. had chosen which was the female bodybuilder, the Serbian-born, Jelena Abbou. The decision to use her was praised by feminist writers and was absolute punch on the arm to the overall societal take of how and what is woman beauty and power. Makeup-wise, the lipstick “Strong Woman” was an immediate favorite, as well as the fig brown and lightly shimmering “Firm Form”.


14. Gareth Pugh, 2011

An underrated fashion designer with out of this world proportions (though you’ve seen his work worn by Beyonce in her “Run the World” video), Gareth Pugh‘s M.A.C. set was naturally heavy on black, but also forest green, royal purple, cream, and silver chromatics. For the 21st century club kid, the Pugh capsule was for those with a definite taste for monochromatic sex appeal. Highlights included were the nail lacquers, the lip glasses, and bold lipsticks. The packaging was fantastic with leather cases and X marks the spot detailing. Memorable!


15. Iris Apfel, January 2012

One of the last great fashion icons and philosophers, Iris Apfel as a senior citizen is more bad-ass than the girls topping the Billboard charts right now. Her sharp, funny wit and even sharper commentary, while for those not into fashion may be viewed as cutthroat, are viewed as reminders to the fashion world that sometimes having an opinion is as chic as a rainbow shawl. Her “bird-inspired” collection (as described by NY Mag’s The Cut) had a copious delivering of bright shades like fuchsia, cherry red, and bold coral. Looks like no matter the age you are once you’ve passed 45, mama can still have it. Check out Apfel in the original ad for her capsule with her usual wide-framed eyeglasses and fully-manicured red nails. #GirlGetIt

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