Pat McGrath: Makeup Artist

By Mynxii White

Pat McGrath is easily defined as one of the most influential makeup artists of our time. Seldom has makeup been so morphic, so innovative

Over the last decade, Pat has not just reinvented makeup, she has re-imagined the landscape of the entire face.

Collaborating on major fashion advertising campaigns such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, YSL and Lanvin, she has transformed fashion as we know it with just a makeup brush.

McGrath has no formal training in fashion or make-up, having completed only an art foundation course at a Northampton college. Of her career, she has said, “I really love being a makeup artist. It never gets mundane or predictable and every shoot and show is different.” This truly proves that passion is the undeniable driving force behind talent.

Born in 1970, she was raised in Northampton by her mother Jean McGrath, a Jamaican immigrant. McGrath has attributed her creativity to her mother, who was a keen follower of fashion and would quiz the young Pat on the different shades of eye shadow. “She trained me, basically, to do the shows, right there… look at the pattern, check the fabrics, look for the make-up – and begin,” she told Sarah Mower in Vogue in 2007. “She was always mixing up colors because there wasn’t anything out there for black skin,” added McGrath in an interview with TIME magazine in 2003. 

The breakthrough in her career began in the early 90’s when her innovative use of color “brilliantly solved the world’s ennui with grunge” and helped launch i-D to a position of international importance. Since then, McGrath has worked with photographers including Steven Meisel (who now rarely shoots without her), Paolo Roversi, Helmut Newton, and Peter Lindbergh.

In addition to developing cosmetic lines for Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbanna, she has been appointed global creative design director of Procter & Gamble Beauty, where she helped revamp Max Factor products and has consulted for CoverGirl.

McGrath’s range is as varied as the colors she uses. She is famed for her unique, adventurous and innovative make-up techniques; most of her creative makeup is handmade and often prefers to use her hands as opposed to brushes. “Every designer takes you on a different journey,” she has said. “It’s great when they let you into their fantasy.”

“This woman is truly an amazing entity. She is inspirational. She is able to refocus and revise her application depending on the collection, seamlessly. Her cheery manor is quite delightful and down right lovable. She really has reinvented makeup and is unabashedly my favorite makeup artist. One can only wait to be graced with her presence and knowledge. “Beauty and Glamour is alive once again.”- Andreu MiChae

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