Photograph by Irving Penn. Published in Vogue, August 1997.
- Canadian cofounders Frank Toskan, as creative director, and Frank Angelo, as marketing director, begin selling cosmetics to professional makeup artists in Toronto. “If someone needed a gallon of glitter powder for a photo shoot for 30 people, they knew where they could find it,” Toskan will later say. The core team includes chief chemist Victor Casale, Toskan’s brother-in-law, and his sister, Julie Toskan-Casale.
- Sold in the basement of a Toronto department store, Angelo and Toskan launch the M.A.C. brand. Opens first stand-alone retail store in New York’s Greenwich Village. “No one thought we would succeed,” Toskan later says. “They thought it was crazy to open a cosmetics store in a gay neighborhood. But we embraced it.”
- Begin styling fashion shows in Toronto, creating extreme looks, including several bald brides.
- Henri Bendel in New York is the first U.S. department store to pick up the brand.
- Launch of the “Who is the M.A.C. girl?” campaign starring RuPaul. Sales of Viva Glam lipstick raise the first $1 million for the M.A.C. AIDS Fund. In December, Estée Lauder acquires 51 percent of the company, while Toskan and Angelo retain creative control. The Lauder company will buy the entire company in 1998.
- Participates in its first New York Fashion Week runway, working with Matsuda. For the show, creates Haku, a lipstick that appears sea-foam green in the tube but goes on pink. By 2012, the brand will sponsor more than 850 shows across 47 fashion weeks each year.
- Frank Angelo dies suddenly during routine surgery. K.D. Lang promotes Viva Glam for the M.A.C. AIDS Fund, wearing an Elvis-like pompadour and with a pink lipstick kiss on her cheek. “K.D. Lang has achieved success in an alternative way without having to conform to everything the industry expected of her, and that’s what we’ve done,” Toskan says.
- The first M.A.C. Pro Store opens in SoHo, exclusively serving professionals keen to test out the brand’s new products. Frank Toskan resigns.
- “All That I Can Say” singer Mary J. Blige poses as poster girl for Viva Glam alongside rapper Lil’ Kim. The duo will help raise more than $41.3 million by 2005 for M.A.C.’s AIDS Fund.
- M.A.C. cosponsors the construction of a beauty school in war-torn Afghanistan. The company delivers, according to Vogue, a $25,000 shipment of foundation, lipstick, and eye shadow to Kabul, and makes a ,000 donation.
- Becomes one of the major sponsors at New York Fashion Week, offering a full-service venue at Milk Studios, with top hair, makeup, lighting, and casting pros all working under one roof. “We love the idea of being able to champion and solidify a strong point of view for the next generation,” says an Estée Lauder executive. “We’re a makeup-artist brand, and we’re inspired by the runway—it’s very organic.” Dozens of fashion designers take advantage of the site, including Proenza Schouler, Peter Som, and Preen.
- “You and I” singer Lady Gaga brings the power of her millions of Facebook fans and Twitter followers to the Viva Glam campaign.
- “Pound the Alarm” chart-topper Nicki Minaj and popster-turned-Broadway-star Ricky Martin become the new faces of Viva Glam, touting a new shade of flamingo-pink and a unisex lip conditioner. Early in 2012, the M.A.C. AIDS Fund totals its contribution at $236 million.