This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase.
By now, most of our readers are probably aware of the MAC and Rodarte Collection fiasco. The fashion line (and subsequent makeup collaboration) was inspired by a trip the Rodarte designers took through some of Mexico’s most depressed areas including Juarez – an improvised, factory town on the border that is infamous for a heinous spree of killings (thousands of mostly poor, uneducated woman) and the discovery of mass graves for over a decade. In short, MAC and Rodarte collaborated on a fall makeup collection that was completely ill conceived, offensive and a PR nightmare.
While the issue burned up the internet, wht was quiet on the issue. Last week, we noticed the Thursday Post column over at Pink Sith, and thought it might be in reference to us (we’ve made no secret that we’ve been thrilled to recently receive MAC samples). We’ve been in contact with Pink Sith directly and things are fine between us – she’s a blogger we’ve loved and respected for some time and we wanted her to hear our side of the matter. We also thought our readers might want to hear our thoughts on the recent controversy and why we’ve waited to comment.
And while it pains me to sound somewhat on the defensive for wht – which is not the important issue at hand here – I felt a need to do so when our credibility is called into question. In June, Stef and I were invited to visit the MAC store on Robertson Blvd for a sneak peek at many upcoming late summer and fall collections for the “local press.” When we arrived, we discovered the local press meeting with MAC that day consisted of Stef and I representing wht and a reporter from the LA Times (gulp!)
The MAC reps explained that while we were free to use any images and candidly discuss all the products that they were showing us that day, they asked that we refrain from discussing ANY COLLECTION WE VIEWED until two weeks before the official release of each collection (this included twitter and facebook as well). While we wanted to run straight to our blog and share all the details of the day, we happily agreed to wait for the “Embargo Date” (as they call it) to pass before we shared with our readers.
We were then treated to a pre-release, hands on look at collections including In The Grove, Digi Pop, Dare To Wear, Fabulous Felines and Rodarte (plus a few upcoming September lines). To be honest, while I clearly remember the Rodarte Collection, (visually it was a stunner) the whole experience was basically giddy makeup- induced sensory overload.
There wasn’t time to look at each collection piece by piece, name by name and my notes regarding the Rodarte collection consisted of just these words “very sheer washes of colors”, “an ethereal ghostly feeling,” “pale girls will love it.” As a daily reader of the LA Times, I had read about the situation in Juarez for years. But that day, not knowing the concept behind the Rodarte fashion line, I did not make the connection between the collection and the ongoing brutality in Mexico.
We left the event with a single item from MAC – a new mascara – and a stack of press releases for most of the summer collections we saw in the sneak peak. On each press release was a North American Release Date, which lets us know when we could post about each collection. Rodarte was not included (nor any other September releases) in the press we received.
If you are a reader of wht, you have seen that we’ve been rolling out images and info from that Sneak Peak Day all summer long, just before the collections became available for sale. When the Rodarte fiasco hit the internet, (after I first picked my jaw up from the floor). I couldn’t help but think:
A) How ill advised the whole collection was.
B) How did I miss that?
After reading all the talk online (and a quick talk with Stef), we decided not to enter the fray until the Embargo Date had passed. In fact, we never discussed the issue with our MAC reps, as we were waiting until closer to the release to get any new information or quotes. IN NO WAY was there a GAG ORDER to not discuss the collection issued from MAC. We decided that since we were being treated on a media level on par with the LA Times; we would behave professionally as well. Meaning we would discuss Rodarte after the Embargo Date – much like a movie or book critic may see/read a piece well before publication, they agree not to reveal details until an agreed date – centered around the release date.
Does it mean that we were going to pretend the collection was puppies and rainbows for the possibility of free makeup? No.
In the meantime, the beauty blogosphere and consumers made their voices heard (check out Temptalia’s post for a lively discussion). Additionally, by the time we discovered the Juarez connection, MAC had already issued an apology and vowed to donate some proceeds to organizations benefiting women in Juarez. Next, they agreed to rename a number of pieces and eventually offered to donate all proceeds to charity. In the end MAC dropped the line (and therefore the embargo date) completely. To write a post about the outrage of this collection, now, seems redundant. I have no problem saying MAC stepped in a big pile of mess with this collection – and I can’t fathom how it made it past the spec boards – but it has all been said (much better than I probably could).
Will I think differently about MAC? Not too much. I do not think that there was a malicious intent behind the collection, just a sad ignorance. And I also feel MAC made quick and genuine overtures to try and correct the mistake (looking your way Target!), which I respected. As a matter of fact, after all the outrage, imo they went too far when they dropped Rodarte. Although they have vowed to still donate all projected profits had they sold the collection, I think they could have made a better impact had they repackaged/renamed the collection, included information about the ongoing injustice in Juarez and donated all those proceeds to humanitarian efforts in the area. I’m afraid that now that the Rodarte Collection is dropped, the situation in Juarez will drop from people’s radars as well.
After all, MAC does have long standing philosophy of spreading awareness of and raising funds for other social cause/charities. From the recycling program to VivaGlam products to outspoken support of numerous social causes, I’ve normally admired MAC the company (not just the makeup). I have been satisfied with their response and samples for wht to review or not, I know I will be purchasing a few upcoming pieces from this company. And not feel guilty while doing it. I’m not a shopper that’s afraid to put my money where my mouth is (again looking your way Target) but do not feel (for me at least) a boycott is called for in this situation. we heartsters, how has the controversy impacted your thoughts on MAC?
Finally, as we stated from Day 1 here at wht, every single item we receive from a PR company for review is acknowledged as such. All reviews (regardless of how we received the product) reflect our findings and honest opinions on the items. If a company we love hits a wrong note, we’ll tell you.
Regardless if you agree or disagree with how we handled the controversy (and if our silence offended anyone, we are sorry) – the situation in Juarez remains the same. MAC has dropped the collection entirely, so now what? How can you make (or continue to make) a difference? I greatly admire the beauty bloggers that spread the word on this situation and called attention to organizations dedicated to making a difference. I hope that our readers will be moved to support some of these organizations working tirelessly to bring peace, stability and justice to the women, men and children of Juarez.
Information and Organizations:
• Female Homicides in Ciudad Juárez
• Amnesty International, Justice for Woman of Juarez
• The Juarez Project
• National Organization for Woman – Stop the Killing of Women of Juarez – includes samples of letters you can copy and send to your local representatives in congress, plus other resources
• More organazations and links thanks to Healing Beauty via Pink Sith; Let’s Make a Longterm Commitment to the Women of Juarez