Power to the hashtag. Seventeen years after the sudden, tragic death of ’90s R&B phenom Aaliyah, a massive fan-driven online campaign for a M.A.C Cosmetics collection inspired by the singer/actress has borne fruit.
Rashad Haughton, Aaliyah’s older brother, was on board from the start. “M.A.C was her brand of makeup—she loved it. She never left home without it,” says Haughton, who we reached by phone—and he means that quite literally. When Haughton sat down with M.A.C to start working on the collection, they took inspiration from the plastic baggie of M.A.C products (including nude lipgloss and red and black lipsticks) that Aaliyah carried around with her and that her mother had kept in storage.
While the influence of her makeup in music videos like “Are You That Somebody” and “We Need a Resolution” is evident in the collection, it was also important to consider what Aaliyah’s style would have been like today, says Haughton. “One of the most important things was her ability to have so much belief in herself,” he says of his sister’s enduring appeal. “A lot of her quotes that are shared on social media today are about taking risks and breaking boundaries and making it seem effortless.”
Read the rest of our conversation with Haughton, below:
ELLE: When did you first become aware that people were pretty intensely campaigning for this collection to become a reality?
Rashad Haughton: I’ve been on social media since around 2007 so I could have a connection with the fans. They were so important to my sister, they really know so much about her career. They knew that M.A.C was her brand of makeup. It’s featured in all of her work. They really wanted to see a legacy line and tribute line for her and they started the campaign. They’re so respectful. They asked, ‘Is it okay if we do this?’ I said of course, because I know how my sister would be. Her fans—my mother calls them “the special ones” and that’s really what they are. They’re so special and incredible.
ELLE: You were really involved with the product development, what was that process like?
RH: I was introduced to the entire M.A.C team—everyone there is incredible. We sat down to think about what we wanted the line to be. You want to base it on what the fans really know. And because her fans are so tenacious, and really specific and knowledgeable, we knew that we wanted to do something that was able to represent all of her looks but, at the same time, because it’s 2018, something that also had the ability to represent the future. We went through a lot of the videos. They asked me a lot of questions about my memories and her glam team—Eric Ferrell, Eric Foreman, Derek Lee and Tre Major.
?Touching up my muse Aaliyah's makeup. I will always cherish those memories of her beautiful spirit. ❤️???24 more days till my first Makeup Masterclass on June 29th at @lookvegas at 12pm-3pm With Special Guest : Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist @iamreggiewells & Celebrity Hairstylist @tremajor_beauty ??Thank You to @maccosmetics , @beautyblender , @shadowshields , @ellisfaascosmetics , @makeupfirstproshop , @msviola , @twinmedix for Sponsoring my Makeup Masterclass for items for "The ESF Essential Kit" given out to all my guest that attend. ???GET YOUR TICKETS NOW ?LINK IN MY BIO! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/eric-scott-ferrell-masterclass-of-beauty-series-tickets-46350865687 Join us for an Makeup Masterclass Event that you will never forget! ? #Aaliyahformac #Aaliyah #maccosmetics #trendmood #macmakeupartist #vegasmakeupartist #vegasmua #makeupmasterclass #makeupartist #slave2beauty #aaliyahhaughton #aaliyahdanahaughton #macgirls @radmax6 @aaliyah_haughton_official
ELLE: How do you think your sister would have reacted to getting this collaboration with M.A.C?
RH: She was very famous for her infectious, beautiful smile and I think it would have been the biggest one yet. It would probably be a bit emotional because like I said, she was a huge fan of M.A.C herself and she had so much respect for the things that influenced her—products, companies, other artists—and she really loved the product that M.A.C put out. To have this line would be a day she would never forget. I believe she is looking down and she’s seeing that and smiling. I truly believe that.
ELLE: Any bets on how quickly the collection is going to sell out?
RH: [Laughs] I think we can glean from that initial reaction it’s probably going to do very well in our estimation.
ELLE: Any last words for the fans?
RH: Number one, we want to really say this collection is for them. The fans were so important to my sister and there was never a moment that she didn’t stop to smile or take a photo or stay to the end of a signing. This is something that they worked hard to create. Everyone wanted this to happen, it was really a timing thing. In one phrase, to sum it up: This is for you, the fans. Fans that have been there the whole time. Fans that have newly discovered her. And it’s for everyone. Every race, creed, orientation, gender. If I was to sum it up: This is for you, from Aaliyah.
See the complete collection, below:
M.A.C Aaliyah Bronzing Powder in Baby Girl ($33) Image by: Geoffrey Ross
M.A.C Aaliyah Lipsticks in Try Again, Hot Like…, More Than A Woman and Street Thing ($23 each) Image by: Geoffrey Ross
M.A.C Aaliyah Lipglass in Brooklyn Born, At Your Best You Are…, 1 In A Million and Li Li’s Motor City ($21 each) Image by: Geoffrey Ross
M.A.C Aaliyah Age Ain’t Nothing Eyeshadow Palette ($42) Image by: Geoffrey Ross
M.A.C Aaliyah Lip Pencils in Follow Your Heart and Nevermore ($22 each) Image by: Geoffrey Ross
The collection will be available at M.A.C stores and online at maccosmetics.com as of July 21.
A version of this article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.