Plenty of desirable, limited edition collections have rolled out of MAC Cosmetics for as long as I have loved makeup. (That’s a good twelve years now we’re talking about. It was all lip gloss, shimmery shadow and black eyeliner that wasn’t cat-eyed, back then. Wait a minute. That sounds tragic).
Yet…I never could get my hands on the collections I wanted most. You name it, I missed it. Heatherette. Hello Kitty. Marilyn Monroe. Rihanna. The Simpsons. Wonder Woman. “Taraji Glow.” Beth Ditto. The pain of missing out was like a personal attack on my messy vanity counter.
No. I haven’t forgotten about you.
My Archie’s Girls.
When Patty Rodriguez began her petition on Change.org for Selena Quintanilla, the late Texan-born, Tejano singer, aka the legend, to get her own namesake collection with MAC, I was stoked and prepared for the customer mayhem. Selena and MAC? Selena loved makeup! What a great way to honor her. My credit card was already ready. Bidi bidi bidi bidi bidi bom bom!
By July 2015, over 37,000 people had shown their support with a signature and the mega cosmetics brand finally responded to the fandom that month. “We have heard the passion and enthusiasm from her fans and wholeheartedly agree that her legacy embodies MAC’s philosophy.”
As AV Club pointed out, a boatload of money was going to be made from this collaboration. Anybody that cared was going to win. Selena approved or stamped lipstick for the fans. MAC continuing to swim in the green.
Selena’s beloved sister Suzette additionally confirmed that the line was going to be available at most MAC department store counters and stores in 2016: “I am so excited that MAC Cosmetics will be releasing a collection in honor of my sister Selena. Helping to create this collection brings me back to all those late night conversations on our tour bus when she spoke of having her own makeup line one day. If Selena were here she would be beyond ecstatic to have this happening. History is being made.”
We all wanted to see what MAC was going to cook up for our icon.
Selena was known for her red lips, black eyeliner, and a matte face. When she accepted her Grammy Award for Best Mexican/American Album of 1993 in 1994, her go-to look was accented by her lids washed in flirty lilac.
This past summer, images of what the collection contained and looked like were released. The choice of violet as the main color for packaging, I gave a thumbs up to. But the color choices were pretty standard. I wasn’t super crazy about what I saw. I remained excited for the fact that #MACSelena was a reality.
On October 1, when it became available online, I admit I had my eye on two lipsticks. Yet hated that I felt the collection was lackluster. Suzette disclosed that once the project got underway, MAC based the collection on products inside Selena’s real life cosmetics kit. Suzette still has it from their touring days as Selena y Los Dinos (She was a percussionist and background singer. The band mostly consisted of family members). 21 years later, since Selena’s untimely passing in 1995, I know the kit means the world to her.
I think that’s pretty wonderful. They wanted Selena’s true selections at the core. But for the sake of the collection, I wish there were more colors or the colors jazzier.
Lately, I’ve caught on to how MAC runs their limited edition lines. Often, re-packaging is involved and shades are given a new name, connected to the subject or muse (Rihanna’s “Riri Woo” was nearly the same as MAC’s cult fave “Ruby Woo”, just not in matte formula). On Dupe That, a popular Instagram page that compares affordable, indie and high-end makeup matched the #MACSelena lipstick “Dreaming of You” (deemed lust-worthy by fans) to MAC’s favored deep wine “Diva.” And the liquid eyeliner of “Boot Black” in #MACSelena, is the brand’s stable, wrapped in Selena purple.
The most original item is the blush and bronzer combo, “Techno Cumbia.” This one had me baffled. The bronzer looked too pale to make a difference for a skin tone like mine (not to mention a little ashy!) And the two-in-one wasn’t evenly divided. It’s like 80% ashy sandy taupe and 20% dry pasty pink. MAC could’ve done so much with this! The taupe should’ve been mocha and the blush, a more pronounced cerise. Maybe two Techno Cumbias should’ve been made, complimentary of both light and darker skin tones. Selena didn’t do razor sharp shade and contour. But she definitely had color for effect.
Once more, violet was a great choice for the compact and lipstick cases. (Purple was a favorite color of hers). But just a violet case and her name?? This wouldn’t be the first time MAC dropped the ball on packaging. For Marilyn Monroe, containers were a glossy black compared to their usual matte black, but her image was stickered on. Ocassionally, they do get it right. For the Isabel & Ruben Toledo capsule, the cases and compacts were white and decorated with Ruben’s playful drawings.
A whimsical, talented illustrator should’ve been hired to creat exclusive visuals of Selena for the cases, brushes, or even a makeup bag. A T-shirt. A tote bag!
Below, are two of the many artist tributes to her that you can find on social media. Imagine seeing these while swiping on “Como La Flor.”
Fans thought of all the ways the packaging could’ve been before the official images were out. (All that’s missing in this one is a red shade. Got to have a red. Not even MAC messed that up).
So I listed my coulda, woulda, shoulda’s for #MACSelena. On the other hand, despite the lack of creativity, I can’t downplay the important existence of #MACSelena. It was heartwarming to see how her fans joined together and got Selena a much-deserved cosmetics shout-out. There’s footage of her mentioning her dream of one day having a makeup and fashion line. Patty, the fans, and Suzette’s influence made it come true.
On October 6, the day the collection had its store debut, I still felt what I wrote in this article. I softened a bit when I purchased “Dreaming of You” and “Como La Flor.” Fourteen years later, I finally got to join in on the fun of a special MAC makeup set and it was with and for Selena. Carrying a lipstick with her name on it, her spirit was tangible. I know she was looking out for me!
Her death still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it deeply. I remember. But when I look at her lipsticks and the full collection, I am happy for her legacy. She is truly immortalized. Carry on, Queen of Tejano. Even if MAC should’ve given you a full blush and matching nail polishes because why not.