November 21, 2012

Pat McGrath, a living legend in the fashion and beauty industry

Pat McGrath works as a make-up artist since she can remember. She completed an art foundation course at a Northampton college and from here till being one of the best make-up artists in the world was just a step.

Raised by a single mother in England, McGrath became attracted to the fashion and beauty world at an early age. “My mum had no background in fashion but she’d taught herself to sew and she was amazing, she used to make all my clothes from designer patterns,” Pat says. She remembers how the two made a habit of studying classic Hollywood films, which McGrath believes was the beginning of her love for this world: “She trained me, basically, to do the shows, right there. Look at the pattern, check the fabrics, look for the makeup—and begin.”

Pat’s involvement in the industry started in the late eighties, when she began hanging out with the London underground group, the Blitz Kids (Boy George, Marilyn, Spandau Ballet), famous for their crazy make-up. They introduced her to the music scene, but her career breakthrough came in the early 1990s, when she began working with Edward Enninful, fashion editor of i-D magazine. Soon after that, she started working for minimalist Jill Sander, but also for surrealist John Galliano. Apart from appearing in i-D, photos of her work were published in Harper’s Bazaar, W, American, English, and FrenchVogue. Photographer Steven Meisel rarely did shoots without her for Italian and American Vogue, but Pat also worked with photographs Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh and Paolo Roversi. McGrath started attending the most important fashion shows and worked with designers including Miu Miu, Dolce&Gabbana, Prada, Comme des Garçons, Viktor & Rolf, and collaborated on major fashion advertising campaigns such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Versace, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, YSL and Lanvin.

The talented make-up artist says she really loves being a makeup artist, because “it never gets mundane or predictable and every shoot and show is different.”Apart from being known for arriving backstage armed with at least 20 cases of ammunition, from standard-issue mascara to sequins and art books, McGrath is also famous for her ingenuity and for her inventive use of materials. Sometimes, she even works using only her fingers, instead of the brushes. “I’m influenced a lot by the fabrics that I see, the colors that are in the collections, and the girls’ faces. It’s always a challenge but that’s the key – to make it different every time,” she said, in an interview for UK.

Pat is currently Global Cosmetics Creative Design Director for Procter and Gamble, behind Max Factor and CoverGirl brands. She is also a make-up artist for celebrities like Oprah, Madonna, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lopez and developed cosmetic lines for Giorgio Armani and Dolce&Gabbana.


“What first attracted me to fashion was the wildest clothes and make-up. I loved those shows where you’re able to dream; I loved the fantasy element of it, because even the so-called reality of fashion is a kind of fantasy, ” Pat says. One of her favorite shows is the one for Dior, in 2004, when she made a make-up like Tutankhamun’s death mask.


Being surrounded by beauty and cosmetics all the time, Pat is herself a beautiful woman. She says her flawless complexion is inherited, but she takes care of it using a good moisturizer, drinking plenty of water, and going regularly to a dermatologist in New York.