Get to know: Michelle-Lee Collins, MAC Senior Artist

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing MAC Senior Artist, Michelle-Lee Collins recently. This woman is such an inspiration to beauty aficionados around the world, not to mention genuine, humble and driven – qualities which are both invaluable and admirable in the competitive industry she is in. For this reason I thought it only fitting to kick off the Get to Know monthly feature with a peek into her life as a MACcie.

The Get to Know feature is all about introducing you to role players in the fashion and beauty industries, sharing their recipes for success and finding out what makes them tick. Hopefully you’ll not only get to know these go-getters a bit more, but also be inspired and motivated to keep chasing your dreams, no matter what industry you find yourself in.

In this interview, Michelle gives us a candid snapshot of her life and shares some invaluable makeup tips. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.


Michelle-Lee Collins

Michelle-Lee Collins

“I am an free spirited, ambitious creative, forever traveling human. I have an intense passion for art in all forms and for people who are interesting and choose to approach life with optimism. My work is really my life and that’s ok because I am incredibly blessed to work with THE most amazing people within MAC and within the industry. I love to spend my downtime outdoors enjoying the fresh air, in the company of my mini choccie Chihuahua or in the kitchen with my “la familia” cooking up a storm. Life is busy but oh so wonderful!”

1. Who are some of the people who have inspired you over the years?

There are so many people that have inspired me along my journey and continue to do so every day. My most consistent source of inspiration is close to home with my MAC Events Team. These artists are talented beyond what you could imagine and so colourful in personality. I am also exceptionally privileged to work closely with Global Senior Artists from across the world – the MACspiration is everywhere. I have also had the incredible opportunity to work with the crazy talents that make up my industry; Val Garland, Alex Box and the most inspiring power house of a human, Vivienne Westwood.
MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich

2. What has been the highlight of your career?

I have been blessed with so many highlights but I would have to say nurturing talent within my team and watching these artists grow into influencers within the industry. I have so many artists who I will hopefully continue to help mould within their careers –  this is my ultimate.

My other highlight that will forever be imprinted in my mind is working on Vivienne Westwood’s Gold Label Show in Paris, having the Queen of fashion just a few feet away from me. That experience literally blew my mind and I am not easily star struck, actually I am never star struck.
3. What is your personal philosophy?

“To visualise your future is to realise your future.” I even have an eye tattooed on my left forearm that speaks to how I see life.

MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich

My recent quote obsession that truly does speak to my belief is “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together”; team work is everything.

At MAC we love to say No Team like a MAC Team?
4. You recently worked ‘backstage’ at the Mercedes-Benz Bokeh SA International Fashion Film Festival. What was your favourite look?

This year at Bokeh SA International Fashion Film Festival I worked with one of our MAC Resident Trainers, Raine Tauber on conceptualising one standard look for all designers that took on more of an art piece effect rather than traditional beauty makeup. We worked with the upcoming seasons off colour trend, colours that are dirtied and somewhat unconventional, greyed purples, polluted chartreus applied in a very abstract manner across the eyes and forehead. We love exploring the art component of makeup and this platform encouraged this approach.

MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich, Bokeh


5. In general, what are some of the biggest challenges backstage?

MAC Cosmetics roots are so firmly planted in our backstage heritage, nothing about backstage really challenges us at this point. I have keyed over 250 fashion shows locally and abroad so my team and I have the backstage “waxed”. What once was a challenge backstage now is our thrill. Generally we have five to eight shows a day during fashion week, these shows run back to back, so makeup and hair evolves within minutes from one designers look to the next. This is the backstage madness that we live for.
backstage MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich


6. Any funny/crazy backstage stories you can share with us?

Shew there are so many… in the thick of the shows at fashion week a model that was running from one show to the next managed to twist her ankle just before the show was set to start. We then had the insane challenge of grabbing another model, hoping she will fit into the garments and getting her into the entire look, literally in under five minutes. Imagine an army of MAC artists, hairstylists and dressers pouncing onto one model? I have never seen so many hands on one human in my life, at one point there was honestly easily seven people working on her. Team work like that is rare to witness and out of this world.

My job isn’t Monday to Friday 9-5 by any means. During my one experience in Nigeria, filming a backstage runway segment for television my super team and I worked till 3:30am shooting. Now, instead of getting back to the hotel and sleeping we decided a moonlight hour swim would be the best way to close such an eventful day. The result, a pool filled with MACcies at 4am…such good memories.

The last moment that I would like to share with you was when I met Vivienne Westwood. As you would have realised by this point in your read, I am fractionally obsessed with Vivienne. Working backstage in Paris under Val Garland’s incredible makeup direction, we are creating African Aliens. I was totally engrossed in this moment and just when I thought I couldn’t be any happier,  in walked the Queen herself.  She stood maybe five feet away from me talking to Val Garland about the look. For the tiniest second she looked at me and smiled and I lost my mind. I dropped my makeup brush, and not even realizing this had happened,  I continued the buffing movement of the brush even though at this point the brush had already hit the floor. I was literally spell bound by her presence let alone the fact that she had smiled at me…magic!

backstage MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich back stage


7. Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Cape Town is fast approaching. What makeup trends do you expect to come through strongly on the runway?

I forecast an optimism in makeup. We will be looking towards summer so keep your eyes open for skin that illuminates, makeup that enhances naturally with maybe a hint of sun flushes and perhaps a hint of colour worn casually in the form of liners as well as lashes that lift and open the eyes. That’s all I can say for now. Stay posted for my trend overview coming in May.
8. You travel fairly often. What is your favourite part of the world, other than Cape Town, South Africa of course?

I am glad you said apart from Cape Town as I am smitten over my city. However, hands down, I feel most at home in Thailand. Everything about my trips there have been incredible. Koh Samui and the islands are just heaven on earth to me. The food, the beaches, the warmth of the people and the climate. At the core of me I am an island girl. Traveling is food for the soul, so hopefully I will get to travel mountains more and witness even more breath taking places.
9. How would you describe your signature look?

My personal signature look is very minimal actually, I want my makeup to enhance my features and not distract. I want people to look at me and see me first, not my makeup and then the person. Right now I have a ten minute makeup routine. I even out my skin tone lightly with a BB Cream and concealer, enhance my wilting tan with a natural looking bronzer; which I dust over my eyelids as an eye shadow, add truckloads of volumising mascara and then finish with a lippie. Right now I am all about the MAC Toledo Reds…there is a red for everyone and every occasion in this limited edition collection.

backstage MAC, Michelle-Lee Collins, Tamara Metrowich


10. What are your top 3 beauty must haves?

  • A lash curler. The tool most women stay clear of, I cannot live without.
  • A mascara that compliments your lashes. My ultimate favourite is MAC In Extreme Dimension Lash.
  • A concealer. I rely more so on my concealer than my foundation. Most women show signs of fatigue under their eyes and foundation generally does not have sufficient pigment to conceal this. My MAC Pro Longwear Concealer doubles up as my concealer and foundation if need be and lasts up to 15 hrs. Once you try this, I assure you that you won’t go back.

If you are blessed with long naturally curly lashes then I would swop out the lash curler for a vibrant lipstick shade. Russian Red, Heroine – a popping lip can make you look like you have made masses of effort within minutes.
11. Do you have any runway beauty tips that we can use to spruce up our every day look?

Runway makeup for me is predominantly about how we do skin. We pump as much moisture into every complexion as we can. Invest in a good primer that adds radiance whilst controlling oil. (Try MAC Prep+Prime Natural Radiance). Highlights are everything and can instantly make your skin look healthy and lush. Try applying MAC Cream Colour Base (CCB) in Pearl, Hush or Bronze depending on your skin tone, over your moisturiser but under your foundation. Apply it to the tops of the cheekbones and directly under your eye and even lightly to any discolouration there may be under your eye. The reflection of this product will subtly distract the depth of the dark circle away. If you suffer from puffy under eye area, keep the CCB contained to the tops of the cheekbones. Apply a sheer layer of foundation over and watch your skin radiate from within. Makeup is all about those invisible touches that make the world of difference.


Your friend in fashion


Tamara Metrowich


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