Rosalía on Her New MAC Collection and Using Stiletto Nails as Castanets

Named after her 2019 song “Aute Cuture,” the musician’s debut beauty line is long on glamour, from stage-worthy lipstick to crystal nail jewelry.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #67 series on my blog.

The Rosalía of the mind’s eye is not a minimalist. One imagines the Spanish pop star in perpetual full regalia, with three-inch nails, stylized hair, and her mouth painted bright red—a signature move that resulted in a limited-edition lipstick created in 2020 with MAC. But when her voice perks up on the other end of the line, Rosalía waves it all away. “Girl, I have nothing going on today. I’m at home with my clean face,” she says from Barcelona. The musician’s voice sounds equally at ease, the warm pops of laughter giving off a conspiratorial spirit seen in her music videos. In 2019’s “Aute Cuture,” she roams the streets with a so-called Beauty Gang, whose mile-long gold talons are decorated like sword handles; this month’s “Linda,” a joint effort with Dominican newcomer Tokischa, has them aglow in iridescent eye shadow and rosy blush under late-night fluorescents.

That kind of lush presentation—makeup that’s both vividly theatrical and true to self—lies at the heart of Rosalía’s latest project with MAC. This time, the collaboration is a sweeping lineup that spans lip colors, eye shadows, a highlighting face palette, and nail lacquers alongside jewel-like nail adornments. To title it Aute Cuture was only natural. “The name of that song is written wrong on purpose because, at the end of the day, I love glam, but I love it on my own terms,” says Rosalía of that makeshift riff on haute couture. “And the mood in ‘Aute Cuture’ is a little bit sassy and unapologetic—almost like a little cat that’s really cute, but it can scratch your face in a second if you get distracted.”

Plenty of flash turns up in the collection, beginning with her signature lip shade. “There’s so much red in flamenco tradition, and that’s a big inspiration for me,” explains Rosalía, who grew up in the Catalonian city of Sant Esteve Sesrovires and began intensive vocal training in the style at 16. That heat materializes in the flame-red Rusi Woo (a twist on the brand’s bestselling matte lipstick Ruby Woo) and a matte liquid lip color called Spicy Pimenton. But she’s just as keen to have blush-toned shades—like Nuez Moscada (a warm flush) or Jalea (petal-pink)—in the mix. “I personally love contrast, in life and in art,” says Rosalía. “You’ll feel much more the softness of something when [it’s alongside] something rough or strong. And I think that softness will become even more radical because of the context.” 

It’s an implicit case for caring about pink lip gloss (as Rosalía wears to brilliantly exaggerated effect in “Linda”) when one is a pop sensation rocketing into the firmament. But safeguarding those softer elements is part of what makes Rosalía relatable—despite her fearsome claws. Even those betray a weakness. “This is a confession: It’s really difficult to remove the credit card from the ATM,” she says with a laugh. “One time I had to ask for help!” There’s the kitten-at-play side as well. “I have one TikTok where I learned that I could use them as castanets, and I just recorded myself making my nails sound as if they were castanets,” she says. “When they are pointy stiletto nails, they can be perfect.”

With the current fixation on statement manicures, Rosalía continually delivers—from the crystalline, sculptural nails she and Billie Eilish modeled in this year’s “Lo Vas a Olvidar” video (created by nail artist Sojin Oh) to the multicolored tips she recently wore to DJ in New York. The mix of nail offerings in Aute Cuture means that Rosalía’s growing beauty gang can create their own homages. The collection’s six lacquers veer from the orange-red Cayena to the blush Sal Rosa—what Rosalía deems to be a vacation essential for its wear-with-anything versatility. There’s also a shimmery gold, in a nod to her early fascination with all things shiny. “There’s something about it that attracts me,” says Rosalía. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been obsessed with my mom’s jewelry. She used to wear gold rings and small hoops. I think that that influenced me, for sure.” 

Those tones—rose gold, warm copper, metallic pink, and shimmery gold—turn up in an eye shadow palette as well as in a quartet of face highlighters embossed with the musician’s repeating R motif. But the sparkle takes its purest form in Rosalía’s nail decals: self-stick crystal adornments shaped like teardrops or organized into flowerlike clusters. “It’s like jewelry for me,” she says, emphasizing that there are no limits, no rules. “Personally, I’ll be wearing them everywhere—to the bakery shop in the morning or for a dinner at night!

VANITY FAIR