Pat McGrath′s Career Successes
For those that live and breathe fashion and beauty, the name Pat McGrath will undoubtedly resonate in their minds. They probably own the highly reputable Gold 001 eyeshadow from her make-up range Pat McGrath Labs (its October 2015 launch sold out within minutes), they will be one of her 2.6 million Instagram followers and they will almost certainly have seen her make-up artistry strut up and down the runways of the Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
To much delight of the consumer, the British born make-up artist and entrepreneur is coming home. Today, Selfridges officially launches Pat McGrath’s 3-month takeover of the ground floor’s Corner Shop. Amongst her range of products, McGrath has directed ‘A Technicolour Odyssey’ which unites her inspirations, addictions and obsessions that have contributed to her 25-year career. Here, we explore the career of Pat McGrath and those monumental highlights that have led her to this precise day.
McGrath completed an art foundation course at Northampton college in the 1980’s and had no formal training in fashion or make-up but credits her mother for her skills, telling Vogue in 2007, “She trained me, basically, to do the shows, right there...look at the pattern, check the fabrics, look for the make-up and begin”. Whilst admiring and learning from stylist Kim Bowen, McGrath got her break when she travelled to Japan with Caron Wheeler from Soul II Soul (whose make-up she had done three years previously as a favour to a friend) which led to McGrath working with i-D magazine’s at-the-time Fashion Director, (and now British Vogue’s editor-in-chief-) Edward Enninful. From here, her career went from strength to strength with her and Enninful catapulting i-D to a position of international importance and influence. She went on to work with some of the best photographers in fashion like Peter Lindbergh and Hemlut Newton. A particularly close relationship was formed with legendary photographer Steven Meisel, when since working together, they have famously created every Vogue Italia cover and lead editorial story – the photographer will now rarely shoot without her.
She is the force behind so many of the bi-annual fashion week shows (80 per year to be specific) and is responsible for the make-up trends and products we read about, buy and wear. Such is McGrath the innovator in make-up with her use of exaggerated eyes and brightened lips, it is said that McGrath would prefer to abandon brushes and use her fingers to create looks for fashion shows, editorials and campaign shoots.
Miss Rayder, Photoraphy Richard Burbridge, Styling Edward Enninful, Hair Julien D'ys, Make-up Pat McGarth. All clothing Commes des Garcons A/W 2004 [The Passionate Issue, No. 224, June 2004]
However, McGrath’s career does not just stop at makeup application; she creates it too. In 1999 McGrath developed a line of cosmetics for Giorgio Armani who later told Vogue, “I was struck by the way she interpreted colour and by her ideas about beauty and femininity. She never used cosmetics to try to mask a woman”. Not a stranger to taking on multiple projects at a time, her long standing relationship with fashion house Christian Dior saw her create the wild Technicolour looks including latex petals stuck to faces, vinyl lips and bodies drenched in powder paint. In total, McGrath was responsible for 16 years of the Maison’s couture and ready-to-wear shows.
During the noughties, McGrath continued to rise; in 2004 she was named global cosmetics creative design director for Procter & Gamble – the name behind make-up brands including Max Factor, Cover Girl, and SK-II.
(Left-Right) Dior Autumn/Winter 2006 couture, Dior Spring/Summer 2004, Dior Autumn/Winter 2008 RTW
If her fashion week shows and work for commercial make-up brands wasn’t enough, in 2015 McGrath brought out her own line of cosmetics aptly named Pat McGrath Labs. Once Gold 001 eyeshadow sold out on her website (the launch only consisted of 1,000 units and was a completely self-funded venture) she then waited one year until deciding to include outside investors where she then slowly added to her line. Whilst Sephora now stocks her range on their US website, we in the UK were still unable to recreate her off-the-runway-looks: enter (and all hail) Net-A-Porter who brought her products to a global audience as of July 26th, 2017. However, Selfridges is the only store in Europe where consumers can shop her full make-up collection in-store.
It is difficult to identify a specific milestone in McGrath’s career; from her MBE, Anna Wintour dubbing her the most influential make-up artist in the world, to British Vogue’s 2017 announcement of McGrath’s appointment as beauty editor-at-large. One thing is for certain and that is McGrath is an innovator who always has and will continue to transform, predict and influence the beauty industry and its trends for decades to come.