Why Maybelline New York and New York Fashion Week’s Partnership Continues to Work, 10 Years On

Staying together while staying ahead of the curve

At the Maybelline House during NYFW in February 2019.
Headshot of Diana Pearl

New York Fashion Week seen quite a bit of change over the past decade. In 2010, the event fled its longtime home in Bryant Park, relocating to Lincoln Center. And then in January 2015, Mercedes-Benz, which had served as NYFW’s title sponsor for eight years, announced its departure. Later that same year, Fashion Week relocated yet again, moving to the downtown Manhattan location of Spring Studios—though several designers now choose to show their collections at other locations.

But throughout those changes, one thing has stayed consistent: Maybelline New York has remained NYFW’s beauty partner. The beauty brand started working with NYFW in 2009 and is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that partnership with this year’s event, which wrapped up this week. The milestone anniversary of the two working together is being commemorated with a series of fashion illustrations featuring past Maybelline runway looks from artist Jeanette Getrost.

Jeanette Getrost's illustrations, created in honor of Maybelline's 10-year anniversary with NYFW.

Maybelline’s cooperation with NYFW has changed over that decade—keep in mind, Instagram did not yet exist in 2009. But Leslie Russo, evp of fashion partnerships and marketing for IMG, NYFW’s parent company, said that the partnership nonetheless remains successful in part because Maybelline is synonymous with New York.

“Maybelline is Maybelline New York,” she said. “The idea of Maybelline New York as a quintessential New York brand means from the get-go it was very well aligned with New York fashion and New York Fashion Week.”

The brand’s renewed focus on empowerment—perhaps most notably, its support of female designers—also has particular resonance in the city. “New York women have a particular sense of style that is really inspirational for women globally,” Russo said. “It stands for a lot of things: strong women, a lot of working women, women empowerment.”

A master class hosted by Maybelline during NYFW.

Maybelline, meanwhile, reaps a key benefit from working with NYFW: prominent placement at one of the most talked-about fashion events of the year. And though Maybelline is, of course, a beauty company, there’s no denying that beauty and fashion go hand-in-hand, particularly on a runway.

“The partnership helps to reinforce the brand’s fashion equity and our authority within the space,” said Amy Whang, Maybelline New York’s svp of marketing. “We know that trends are created on the runway. By being at the forefront of the development and ideation of backstage trends, we can maintain our beauty authority in the fashion space.”

Over the years, Maybelline’s work with NYFW has taken on a variety of forms. It has provided makeup for several of the shows (this season, that roster included names like Proenza Schouler, Rebecca Minkoff, Christian Siriano and Kate Spade), created Maybelline-branded murals and popped up with fresh activations every season. It has long cohosted NYFW: The Shop, for example, which sells T-shirts and other items to showgoers and fashion fans.

Recent highlights include hosting a baby shower for designer Carly Cushnie and launching Maybelline House, a space for attendees to gather between shows to attend master classes with makeup artists, try out new products and mingle with one another.

Attendees at one of Maybelline's NYFW events.

“They’re more than a makeup brand that’s doing back of the house. But really supporting designers and female entrepreneurs speaks a lot to the empowerment story behind Maybelline as well,” said Russo. 

Maybelline and NYFW are now facing what might be one of their biggest evolutions: providing a more immediate response to what hits the runway, thanks to the growth of the see-now, buy-now trend and the near-instantaneous sharing of runway looks. Highlights have to be shared not only with the show attendees but also the people watching at home or on Instagram. Activations play a big role here, yielding shareable moments all week long.

Maybelline has done a really terrific job of taking the inspiration of backstage to the consumer,” said Russo. “They’ve really transitioned to how fashion really inspires culture for consumers all throughout the week.”

@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.