For Prabal Gurung, it all goes back to women. “At the onset of every collection, whether it’s fashion or beauty, I ask myself, ‘Who is this woman? Who is the woman wearing these clothes? If this woman was to wear makeup, what would she want?’ It turns out to be more than just the clothes and makeup—it’s the notion she stands for.” The Nepalese design wunderkind has become a household name in the five years since launching his namesake collection, and the success is due in part to his innate understanding of his customers. According to Gurung, the Prabal woman has always been associated with an intelligent and confident worldview, one evident in his sleek silhouettes, refined clientele, and, now, a well-edited beauty collaboration with MAC Cosmetics.

No beauty brand takes collaboration as seriously as MAC—over the years, the line has partnered with everyone from Rihanna to Catherine Deneuve, and even taken on pop-culture standards like Sanrio and the Simpsons, transforming their imagery into limited-edition products that sell out in minutes. Translating visual cues into eclectic color collections is MAC’s specialty, so when it came time for Gurung to team up with the beauty giant, stakes were high. It wasn’t enough to debut a few new shades of shadow and gloss; for his collection, Gurung aimed to infuse the identity of his namesake brand into MAC’s perspective.

Doing so meant overhauling MAC’s signature minimalist packaging and replacing it with a lineup of sumptuous gold baubles. “I knew I wanted to create a product that would be recognized not only for its incredible quality, but also for the luxury of its packaging,” says Gurung. “I was inspired by the jeweled minaudières of the Twenties—decadent and true collector’s items. I wanted to create something striking that would also make a woman feel beautiful, from the moment she sees the product to when it’s being put to use.” If the contours of the substantial, gold-encased products bring to mind sculpture, it is no accident. Minaudières may have been the starting point, but contemporary art provided the final guidance. “My inspiration for the packaging came from three particular artists whom I’ve always been particularly interested in: Damien Hirst, Sylvie Fleury, and Nick Knight,” Gurung says. “What I like about these artists is that they all are submersed in beauty in their own distinct way.”

The same could be said for Gurung himself. Though his collection features a few riffs on the classic (Carmine Rouge could be the perfect red lip) it provides an appealing, unadorned take on the beauty ritual. When you have a bold lipstick and a shimmering eye, what more do you need? Take it from Gurung, who explains, “I have always been drawn to a face that is not hidden by make-up but, rather, enhanced by it.”

MAC Prabal Gurung is available Wednesday through December 24 at MAC Cosmetics stores.

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