When she was 18, the artist who calls herself “Fafi” would sneak out of her parents’ house late at night to hit the streets and tag walls. “I was drawn into this career by other people,” says Fafi at the launch of M.A.C’s new spring collection inspired by her graffiti. “I didn’t think that what I did was a career, actually. I just liked creating this dreamy world filled with fantastical creatures and interesting girls.”

Even though she has already collaborated with Sony, Adidas, Coca-Cola and LeSportsac and produced two illustrated books, Fafi admits that she was nervous when M.A.C contacted her agent to set up a meeting. They arranged to meet at M.A.C’s New York office in SoHo, and Fafi eventually discovered that it would be with 15 of M.A.C’s top people. “My legs were shaking,” she says.

The spring 2008 Fafi Collection for M.A.C is based on three different women (Fafinettes) who live in three different cities: New York, Tokyo and Paris (where Fafi is now based). She has been painting Fafinettes and their alternate universe, called “The Carmine Vault,” since 1994. Fafinettes are high-spirited party girls who are coyly sexy and attractively rebellious. Now 34, married and the mother of a young child, Fafi says that the Fafinettes have grown up a bit too. “They’re not as vulgar and obvious as they used to be.”

“There’s something joyous about this collection,” says James Gager, senior vice-president and creative director of M.A.C worldwide. “There was such a great use of colour on the runways, and this really comes across in Fafi’s work.” During the spring/summer shows, M.A.C discovered that many makeup artists were “boosting” the preview Fafi collection for their own private makeup bags. Little wonder: the colours are bright but sheer, and the whimsical packaging reminds you that doing your makeup shouldn’t be hard labour; it should be more like a play date. “This collection puts the fun back into beauty,” says Gordon Espinet, vice-president of makeup artistry at M.A.C. “Fafinettes may be rebels – but ones that are easy to take!”