MAC’s Creative Director Dreams of Cher, Dolly Parton Collab
When we interviewed James Gager, SVP and creative director of M.A.C., La Mer, and Jo Malone Worldwide, he was so hilarious and had so much to say about beauty that we thought we should let him speak for himself:
I was born in Niagara Falls, New York of all the strange places—the honeymoon capital of the world. I’m the oldest of five kids; my father was a teacher and my mother was a housewife. He taught chemistry and physics, and was the swimming coach for Niagara University, but I didn’t really like sports so much. But it’s funny, because as I’ve gotten older I’m probably the most athletic and fit of all my siblings; there must have been some psychological thing where I rejected his universe and wanted my own universe.
I was always interested in art, design, and fashion. I had a wonderful grandmother on my mother’s side who was probably the most important nurturer of me as a kid; she really got me. I had two best friends and we did outrageous things such as renting out a toolshed in somebody’s backyard and starting art classes, teaching kids our own age to paint and draw – then we'd have conferences with their parents about how they were progressing. We’d throw parties in my friend’s basement, decorate, and call the local papers to tell them they should cover this party. I was very entrepreneurial. I started a greeting card company. I would do pastel or watercolor paintings of people’s homes and then knock on the door and try to get them to buy them. I was offbeat and kind of fearless; I didn’t care what people thought. I lived a lot in my own little world, which is not a bad thing as long as your own little world gives you happiness and pleasure.
New York was the place I’d always dreamed of living in and I was very lucky that I got a scholarship to Pratt, and I never left. I studied industrial design of all things. I was never going to design cars or anything of that nature, but I thought it had the best curriculum, based on Bauhaus design. I got my master’s in packaging design as well. I was always interested in graphic design and interior design too; even as a kid, my parents would ask me what I thought of this fabric for drapes or what color walls they should paint. I had very strong opinions. I knew what I wanted and what they should do.