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11 June 1965 |
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
McGrath was born on 11 June 1965 in Northampton, England, to Jean McGrath, a Jamaican expatriate. Jean was a single mother who raised McGrath and her older sister Faith, in Northampton. McGrath credits her mother for her love of fashion and make-up, saying that Jean would comment on clothes as they watched classic movies together. McGrath's mother, a devoted Jehovah's Witness, heavily influenced McGrath's creativity, often quizzing her on different shades of eyeshadow. McGrath told Sarah Mower in 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", and TIME magazine in 2003: "She was always mixing up colours because there wasn't anything out there for black skin." 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." In the 80's, McGrath moved to London and became involved with designers such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.
Before becoming one of the most sought of makeup artist across the world, McGrath used to work as a receptionist to help support herself, slowing building her career. She advises: "Build your career slowly; then people start to trust you and pay you well." McGrath's career breakthrough came while she was working with Edward Enninful (then fashion editor of i-D magazine) in the early 1990s, when her innovative use of colour "brilliantly solved the world's ennui with grunge" and helped launch i-D to a position of international importance. In the mid-1990s, she worked both with minimalist Jil Sander and with surrealist John Galliano, where she became known for her "latex petals stuck to faces, vinyl lips, bodies drenched in powder paint, [and] stylized Kabuki physiognomies."
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 appearing in i-D, photos of her work have been published in fashion magazines including American, English, and French Vogue, W, and Harper's Bazaar. She attends four fashion show seasons (counting couture) each year and has worked with designers including Prada, Miu Miu, Comme des Garçons, and Dolce and Gabbana. Additionally, she designed Armani's cosmetics line in 1999 and in 2004 was named global creative-design director for Procter and Gamble, where she is in charge of Max Factor and Cover Girl cosmetics, among other brands. During McGrath's constant travels to work locations, she takes between thirty and fifty bags of materials, tools, and reference materials.
As a makeup artist, McGrath is known for her wide range; according to Edward Enninful, her work spans from "the highest couture to club kids." She is also known for her inventive use of materials: her most creative make-up is handmade, and she works mainly with her fingers instead of with brushes.
In an interview with Vogue.com UK during London Fashion Week (September 2008), McGrath explained her creative process, saying: "I'm influenced a lot by the fabrics that I see, the colours 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."
In the 2013 Queen Elizabeth II's New Year Honors List, McGrath was "named an MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to the fashion and beauty industry."
Following her mother's advice, McGrath sought to create products that she loved and thought "Why not just do a line now?" McGrath expanded her career by debuting her very own makeup line, Pat McGrath Labs. On 29 October 2015 she launched her first product Gold 001 which consisted of a gold eyeshadow pigment, spatula, mixing liquid, and an extra container which retailed for $40. This launch only consisted of 1,000 units of the set and was exclusively sold on her website, patmcgrath.com. Her line slowly expanded with the later additions of Phantom 002, Skin Fetish 003 and Lust 004 and most recently, Metalmorphosis 005. The limited quantities add to the frenzy of obtaining these products. Sephora has begun carrying McGrath's products. McGrath's sequins packaging and mystical advertising sets her products apart from others. Her collections have been sold out in nanoseconds, speaking to the popularity of the artist.
She self-funded her business for nearly a year until deciding to include outside investors. The colours in her range are more suitable for photography work, such as runway fashion, rather than department-store consumption. McGrath told New York Magazine: "I felt uncomfortable doing something that everyone's already done, you don't want to be boring." McGrath's makeup line seeks to bring back artistic makeup to a broader audience who aim to invent and perform their appearance, promoting individuality. McGrath says herself, "I want to change how people think about makeup, and disrupt the status quo."
According to Vogue (2007), Pat McGrath is known for her unique, adventurous, and innovative make-up techniques which include using her hands as opposed to brushes. She has a talent for using bold hues and material experimentation ranging from feathers to ornaments. McGrath is limitless, a mindset that enables her boundless creativity and diverse range of looks. Her art lies within the reinvention of makeup and experimentation. She has created trends ranging from thick eyebrows to coloured lashes, making a statement out of every face. Her innovative and intuitive outlook to life help create the vibrant and legendary looks we see throughout numerous catwalks and fashion shows.
McGrath draws inspiration for many sources, using materials such as feathers, gold leaf, and leather. McGrath told Vogue in 2008, "I'm influenced a lot by the fabrics I see, the colours that are in the collections and the girl's faces. It's always a challenge but that's the key – to make it different every time." Her inspiration started with her mother, particularly her love for fashion, film and costumes:"Everything that she was obsessed with, I became obsessed with." McGrath's mother encouraged her stating "It will be a problem for you if you don't love what you do. So make sure!" Growing up in London, McGrath and her mother used to go makeup shopping when she was six years old. Fashion became a huge inspiration for McGrath, stimulating her creative approach.
McGrath also looks to models that bring her personal inspiration. McGrath says, "They are their own women, representing a mix of ethnicities, sizes, and backgrounds, they allow me to experiment and create the looks I dream of in my head." She considers models Naomi Campbell, Hailey Baldwin, Paloma Elsesser, Jasmine Sanders, Mallory Merk and Ruby Aldridge as her muses. She says of Campbell, "We've worked together since the mid-1990s, and she inspires me in ways I've never imagined. There is no one like Naomi." McGrath calls Paloma Elsesser's face "the ultimate canvas", for her hypnotic complexion that "guides a makeup artist's touch." 
Much of McGrath's inspiration derives from making the natural skin salient. This can be seen in her own makeup line, which focuses on luminous skin. McGrath says, "Flawless, luminous skin has always been a constant in my work. For years I've been using a custom mix of products to achieve different levels of luminosity from fresh baby skin to a supercharged power-glow." The sequin packaging of her makeup line also derives from McGrath's inspiration of sequins, a reoccurring element in many of her looks.
The most important element of McGrath's inspiration stems from unique individuality and beauty, breaking away from traditional standards. McGrath values beauty beyond superficiality, looking at the story behind the person she sees. On the definition of beauty, she believes that "real and true beauty comes from within. It's like an energy, because the task of bringing out beauty—and at times creating it—really is like a puzzle. Often in my work, the approach to beauty is to seek perfection, yet sometimes beauty is imperfect or quite raw."
- Pat McGrath at Voguepedia.com
- Pat McGrath Biography at i-donline.com
- Mower, Sarah. "Pat, Inc." Vogue (September 2007): p. 794.
- "McGrath, Pat." i-Dmagazine.com.
- Mower, "Pat, Inc." Vogue (September 2007): p. 798.
- Pat McGrath Profile
- Linda Wells. "Pat McGrath Is the Most in-Demand Makeup Artist in the World", The Cut, 16 August 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2017. .
- Leive, Cindi, "Makeup Artist and Beauty Mogul Pat McGrath Shares the Secret of Her Success", Glamour, 11 April 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
- Orecklin, Michele. "The Shape of Things to Come: Pat McGrath", Time (10 February 2003).
- Mower, Sarah. "Pat, Inc." Vogue (September 2007): p. 795.
- McGrath, Pat, Vogue.com UK (September 2008)
- Jones, Nina (30 December 2013). "Queen Elizabeth II's New Year Honors List Released". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- Kallor, Amber, "Pat McGrath's Limited-Edition Gold Eyeshadow Is About to Go on Sale", Vogue, 2015.
- Pat McGrath Labs, PatMcGrath.com.
- Linda Wells, "PAT MCGRATH IS THE MOST IN-DEMAND MAKEUP ARTIST IN THE WORLD", New York, 21 August 2016.
- Emma Summerton, "6 Model Muses That Have Inspired Makeup Artist Pat McGrath", Allure Magazine (2017).
- "Business of Fashion."
- Ying Chu, "Makeup Artist Pat McGrath Talks Inspiration, Favorite Products, and What She Really Thinks About Nail Art", Glamour (2013).
- Jade Taylor, “Makeup Artist Pat McGrath Talks Beauty Icons And Her Highlighter Kit,” Nylon Magazine (2016).