UPDATED > Color Hack: MAC for Gareth Pugh

I’m a real geek when it comes to colors. I take notice of how they look, how they ‘sound’ and how much they look like others in the ROYGBIV spectrum. So when other bloggers start proving my tendency of detecting ‘color hacks’ right, I feel vindicated.

Such is the case with the MAC for Gareth Pugh collection.

You can read the rant I did a few weeks ago about the collection and see my swatches but this post concentrates on the nail polishes. There are two of them in this collection: Ascension and Hyper. Both are beautifully packaged and both hideously overpriced at $23 for .30 oz. And you don’t have to be a math nerd like me to know that’s -0.2 oz than in a bottle of Chanel or China Glaze and -0.1 oz than a bottle of butterLONDON.

Looking at Temptalia‘s swatches, Ascension seems to be a bit ligher and have more of a greenish cast to it than Deborah Lippman’s ‘Wicked Game’. Hyper looks to be pretty danged close to China Glaze’s ‘Blue Years Eve’ from their Holiday 2011 collection (an absolutely stunning color). Both bottles have stunning packaging and a unique shape so if you’re a collector for these reasons, or are just totally infatuated with Gareth Pugh (for me it’s Michael Kors and Tom Ford but I digress), I wouldn’t fault you for indulging.

Deborah Lippmann is $16/ bottle, China Glaze averages $7 a bottle. MAC for Gareth Pugh is $23/bottle. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it. For me personally, having DL’s Wicked Game and CG’s ‘Blue Year’s Eve’ in my stash provides better color and better value.

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'Wicked Game' by Deborah Lippmann, 2 coats. A more intense 'color hack' of Ascension from MAC for Gareth Pugh.

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'Blue Year's Eve' by China Glaze, 2 coats. A more vibrant 'color hack' of Hyper from MAC for Gareth Pugh.

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MAC for Gareth Pugh: The Rundown

As some of my current readers know, I’ve given MAC a lot of static about this collection ever since the price points and official information was made available to the public. I really like to see items in person I’m not too keen on just to say I’ve ‘seen it for myself’. And so for folks here in the US who do not have a MAC store easily within visiting range and have to rely on swatches posted online and ordering from MacCosmetics.com, I decided to call in a few favors and see what the hype is about.

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Photo of MAC store Gareth Pugh display. The lenticular photo makes it 'Not Just Another Makeup Display'. Very chic!

According to my favorite MAC store MUA, Gareth Pugh is a huge cutting-edge designer over in the UK. On first impression I think his work is a cross between Tron and Dr. Who but that’s just me. I appreciate the fashion vision most definitely but it doesn’t trigger my ‘must buy’ instinct like say, Tom Ford.

The packaging is very unique and screams ‘high end’. You can tell a lot of thought (and probably a lot of discarded prototypes) went into designing it. The black ‘webbing’ makes it look edgier than Chanel and definitely not as minimalist as NARS. Unfortunately all that fancy packaging that hasn’t, to use an economics term, taken advantage of Economies of Scale and you’ve got a hefty markup on price for the haute couture name attached.

But enough about my personal objections. On to the swatches! I only swatched items I was interested in as I was pressed for time.

First up there are two lipsticks. A nude color called Restrict (Creamsheen) and Fervent (Satin). Neither formulas are my favorites for performance reasons. I skipped swatching Restrict because on my dark skintone it would definitely give me a Tyrone Biggums look. Fervent, on the other hand, is very nicely pigmented, swatches beautifully and would definitely make me think twice about MAC’s satin lipstick formula. At $22 USD + tax it honestly didn’t want me to think twice about it that hard.

Tyrone Biggums. Restrict lipstick on Women of Color = this look. Not good.

Next are two very nice duo-chrome lipglasses. Vacant, a lovely lavender duo-chrome and Outrage, a deeper berry color with a greenish duo-chrome. Both of these lipglasses, when used alone or applied over the two lipsticks from this collection, provide a very unique look that is not for folks who wish to stay in the background. Like with the lipsticks, these are also priced at $22 USD. Considering these are lipglasses and can be used alone or with other lipsticks, I perceive these to be the greater value items from this collection. Both are equally gorgeous and provide a different duo-chrome effect. I don’t think you can go wrong with either.

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Top row on NW43 skintone: Restrict lipstick alone. Clockwise from top: Outrage over Restrict, Outrage, Vacant over Restrict, Vacant alone.

Two pigments are offered in this collection. Guise, a very nice pewter frost and Deceit, a pretty plum semi-frost. Both are finely-milled as all MAC limited edition pigments seem to be, but both are in my opinion, easily dupeable. At a $32 price point I’d start looking at other alternatives.

Lastly we have the very impressive-looking nail polishes. There are three (3) in the MAC for Gareth Pugh collection. Inert, a creamy pale beige, Ascension, a pretty purple-grey duo-chrome, and Hyper, a gorgeous electric blue frost. All three are nice but dupeable enough to confuse the judges. Ascension goes on very streaky (a big pain with pale colored polishes). Ascension looks very impressive but can be easily duped with OPI’s Not Like The Movies (From the Katy Perry collection) or with Deborah Lippmann’s Wicked Game. Again, the packaging is amazing but at $22 and containing almost -0.2 ounces less than MAC’s regular polishes, not to mention nothing technically remarkable about the formula, I don’t consider this worth the money.

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From top: Hyper, Inert, Ascension. 2 coats each. A little 'dinged'.

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Dupe time! From top: China Glaze 'Blue Year's Eve', MAC Hyper, Deborah Lippmann's 'Wicked Game', MAC Ascension.

My recommendation(s)? Considering the nature of this collection either you are so in love with the designer that this collection is a must (as I mentioned earlier I totally understand given my obsession with Tom Ford) or you’re willing to hunt for some pretty good dupes to ‘fake it’. If you really want something from MAC for Gareth Pugh, I highly recommend the lipglasses. Very unique, nice color payoff, great pigmentation and will add value to your makeup wardrobe should you be confident enough to rock the fierceness.