Strong, sensual, commanding, in control; the women photographed by Helmut Newton over the course of his long career in fashion were, without exception, quite something to behold. “His woman is all about a bit of danger,” said James Gager, creative director of the progressive cosmetics brand, of Newton’s subjects. “She’s in control, she knows who she is. She’s sexy, but she’s somewhat sophisticated at the same time. You know, I think she’s liberating for a lot of women.” What better figure, then, to inspire a limited edition line?
Digging through the extensive archives of Newton’s famous photographs with the aid of his wife Alice Springs, the MAC team quickly came to establish an ongoing theme in the makeup choices of the subjects they came across; thick, dark eyelashes with the hint of a winged cat-eye and a bold red lip became almost uniform. It’s a distinctive look, and one which for many women who use cosmetics to harness a sense of control, has become synonymous with power. Just as the Helmut woman is all the more perfect for her flaws – in the words of Gager, “They’re glamour, but they’re subverted,” – the power of cosmetics lies in their capacity to help us play upon our own.
The collection comprises three elements that are vital to create the look favoured by Newton's archetypal woman: a palette of sultry beige and brown for a smoky eye, nail lacquer in shades from pale grey (or the aptly named Call Time) to red and plum, and retro matte liquid lip colour in similar hues, among others. Proof, if any were needed, that Newton’s legacy remains as provocative and exquisite as ever.
MAC Cosmetics' limited edition Helmut Newton collection is available from today.