What makes Pat McGrath stand-out is the ‘OBSESSION. INSPIRATION. ADDICTION.’ which form her ‘guiding principles’ for her craft, not to mention her artistry.
By Hayley Barnes.
The name Pat McGrath is no ordinary name or makeup artist for that matter. She is considered one of the most sought-after makeup artists working today, proven through the fact that Maison Margiela works exclusively with her, and she has a career spanning over 2 decades. She has created some of the fashion world’s most decadent and elaborate beauty trends for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Dior and Givenchy. From looks that are subtly sublime to bejewelled overload, McGrath has totally transformed the world of fashion beauty. Think of any beauty trend in the past 20 years and the likelihood is that Pat McGrath is at the centre of them.
The past several years have seen the celebration of Pat McGrath’s standing as makeup mogul: in 2014 she became an MBE; 2017 she was named a recurring and contributing beauty editor at British Vogue; and earlier this year her company, Pat McGrath Labs, was announced to be a billion-dollar business, bringing in $60 million dollars in sales last year.
As Pat continues to flourish it is no wonder that some have come to question why the woman, who came from humble backgrounds without any professional makeup training, hasn’t featured on the cover of Forbes as their ‘self-made billionaire’.
What makes Pat McGrath stand-out is the ‘OBSESSION. INSPIRATION. ADDICTION.’ which form her ‘guiding principles’ for her craft, not to mention her artistry. Bringing her own unique twist to the world of beauty, by using her hands instead of brushes for example, McGrath says that she is always being inspired by the colours within the fabrics from the collections, and even the models themselves. As a teenager she was fascinated by cultural icons such as Boy George, Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids and Marilyn who were all innovators of outlandish makeup looks which created their lasting identities.
It is clear that she takes inspiration from all genres of art, her website (Pat McGrath Labs) displays mood boards of her work alongside pop-art, photographic pieces and album covers, reflecting her philosophy. Her runway looks are certainly deserving of artistic appraisal and applaud like no other makeup artist, so it is only befitting that Voir takes a look back at her finest ‘collections’ and how she celebrates art.
This collection by Valentino was all about floral expressions and a celebration of delicate femininity. As McGrath used large feathers to replicate delicate fairy-wings for fluttering lashes, it is reminiscent of the large brush strokes used by Expressionist artists such as Van Gogh. The lashes are a distorted way of showing the grace and delicacy of woman.
Beauty: Valentino Couture SS19 Art: Van Gogh's 'Starry Night'
Taking inspiration from David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust after his untimely death in 2016, McGrath creates a psychedelic dream for Louis Vuitton’s Resort show later that year.
Although the models on the runway were a marginally toned down version of this festival-esque makeup look, attendees to the show were greeted with obscenely colourful models.
As Fauvism art pieces empathise strong colour over realism, much like the look of Bowie – it is clear where McGrath took her inspiration from. It was a dystopian fantasy of the boho festival look of the Resort collection.
Beauty: Louis Vuitton Resort 2016
Art: Henry Matisse's 'Woman with a Hat'
Maison Margiela’s Fall Couture Collection in 2017 was a futuristic and modern take on typical fashion silhouettes – such as trench coats, skirts and bodices which were cut, folded and distorted. It was no wonder that McGrath added some added Futurism and Modernity through the colourful makeup. Foil lips, painted metallic hair, and curved metal accessories created a robotic look to the models – an AI-like expression of women’s fashion.
Beauty: Bella Hadid for Maison Margiela Fall Couture 2017 Art: Hajime Sorayama print
2017 was not the only year that McGrath got to work on a warped fantasy of women’s makeup – as back in 2015 for their Fall Couture Collection several models were painted in colourful silhouettes, undeniably reminiscent of Picasso’s surrealist pieces. A blue theme ran throughout the entire collection's makeup look signifying a masculine take onto beauty, much like the androgynous nature of the collection itself, and the parallel between what is beautiful and ugly. As surrealism as a movement seeks to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind – McGrath’s looks seek to release these parallels of the subconscious of woman through the blue shadow.
Beauty: Maison Margiela Fall Couture 2015
Art: Pablo Picasso's 'Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée'
Supermatism focuses on geometric forms, lines, squares, circles and rectangles as a way to celebrate the purity of artist's feeling by creating order. Pat McGrath took an Supermatist approach at Christian Dior’s SS14 collection by refining beauty to rectangles – one for eyeshadow, one for liner and one for brows. Using layers of gold paint, gold glitter and gold pigment, McGrathembodied the theme of Raf Simmonds’ collection as ‘Trans Dior’- beyond Dior, a transformation of the Dior woman to something modern.
Beauty: Christian Dior SS14 Art: Nikolai Suetin's 'Supermatism'
Rococo, or late Baroque, is a Renaissance maximalist art style often used as a signifier for wealth. Its theatrical and highly ornamental style is usually offset by pastel colouring to create a vision of luxury. McGrath adorned the Victorian-esque collection by Ricardo Tisci with Rococo-style face masks which created a pathos of mystery, sex, and mischief to the ivory slips, kimonos, and supple crepe tuxedo jackets– very Eyes Wide Shut. "It was sinister beauty meets grotesque romance, a celebration of la beauté macabre," according to McGrath herself.
Beauty: Givenchy SS16 Art: Jean-Honoré Fragonard's 'The Swing'
Like Supermatism uses geometry to make sense of emotion to put it into order – and the Maison Margiela collection was certainly no exception for geometry. This modern dream uses bright vibrant colours and eccentric shapes to evoke a sense of creative madness that is rife throughout the collection.
Beauty: Maison Margiela Couture Fall 2016 Art: Karel Maes' 'Abstract'
Impressionism often plays on the movement of light in a blurred dream world - and how movement is crucial element of the human experience. As McGrath created a smokey opium-den-like eye look, it experimented with the light around the eye showing how depth to them can create a power within. A strength that mirrored the often delicate femininity of the Givenchy Spring Couture Collection back in 2010.
Beauty: Givenchy Spring Couture 2010 Art: Claude Monet's 'Sunrise'
Pop Art which takes inspiration from popular culture, such as comics, much like Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl,is often over-expressionistic and cartoonish. Pat McGrath’s look on Cara Delevinge for Stella McCartney FW Collection in 2012 certainly played on expressions as Cara’s cobalt-bluemascara created the thick outlines and bold colorsdistinctive of the art style.