Create & Cultivate 100: Beauty: Pat McGrath

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Pat McGrath's mother told her she can do anything. And thank goodness for badass mothers. 

They were wise words that clearly stuck. As the beauty industry's go-to, British make-up artist Pat McGrath has created the world's most celebrated editorial and runway makeup looks. Find a trend, you can trace it back to Pat. #BacktoPat. Vogue has called her the most influential make-up artist in the world.

Yes, world.

But what she creates is truly out of this one. Defiant and decadent, Pat's artistry has never played by the rules. Which, is something she's excited to see from her industry, recently telling GQ, “The world of makeup is becoming increasingly more diverse and less about rules, which is absolutely divine." 


They write, "If there is an equivalent to Supreme in the cosmetics world, it would be McGrath’s beauty line Pat McGrath Labs, which she started in 2015. Stoked by cultish cosmetics culture, almost every lip stick, eye shadow palette, and Versace show face kit sells out almost instantaneously." No offense to Supreme, but Pat McGrath is way more original.  

And seeing as Pat's entire spirit and character is set to "destroy convention and embrace cautionless self-expression," we say, let the destruction commence. 

More from Pat below. 

What is your earliest memory of beauty and makeup?

I mean, really, my earliest memory was watching my mother do her makeup. She was obsessed with beauty and collected makeup and experimented with it. I think it’s a lot of young men and women’s experiences, growing up, watching the ritual of what their mothers would do. 

The beauty industry has been under construction for a while. Do you think there have been significant improvements?

Yes! While there’s always room for improvement, I really think that it’s great to see that it’s getting better, but I myself know that I can go even further and I’m really excited about that.

With the Internet and social media, there’s been real growth in terms of beauty knowledge and beauty communities. Do you think it’s changed the way we approach beauty?

Of course! It started out with magazines and all those incredible articles and no matter how steeped in beauty I would be, I would read a magazine and tear the page out and go straight to the store to buy exactly what I’d seen. With Instagram, it’s taken it to a whole new level. You can see every minute, every second in your scroll, new ways of how to apply makeup, it’s so entertaining and it’s so inspiring.

Who are your muses as you create beauty looks and products?

They’re infinite! From Kim [Kardashian West] to Naomi [Campbell] to Paloma [Elsesser] to Duckie [Thot], Miss Fame, I love them all! All these beautiful, formidable, strong, courageous women and men of all colors and sizes. Beauty has nothing to do with one's age, gender, body size, socio-economic status, race, religion or culture. Social media really opens up the whole world to you, you can cast from everywhere. I remember seeing Paloma on Instagram many, many years ago and I remember thinking, “I’ve never seen such beauty!”

"Beauty has nothing to do with one's age, gender, body size, socio-economic status, race, religion or culture." 

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Who do you think your biggest beauty icon is?

Just one? There are so many! I always do Grace Jones and my mother, two beautiful Jamaican women.

How hectic is it backstage doing beauty at a runway show?

The fastest I've ever had to do beauty for a show was 50 models in one hour. Typically, I have a minimum of 23 people working with me. When I started, there would be 18 girls in a show, now there are shows with 150 girls, which means you just need a bigger team. And the timing of there being so many shows and so many girls arriving late, you need to have lots of hands backstage. Of course, that’s why I live on a motorbike during Paris Fashion Week, it’s my happiest time. We have a whole fleet of motorcycles because the cars are stuck in traffic and sometimes we’ll have to send motorcycles to the cars and my team loves it, they feel just like James Bond.

What do you splurge on when it comes to beauty?

The moment I get off the plane, anywhere in the world, I go straight to a drugstore and get all the latest balms and creams and everything. I especially love getting lashes. Eyelashes back in the day, they would have amazing eyelashes in the drugstores! For my beauty splurge, I go to amazing spas around the world. I’m a spa-holic.

What was your biggest fear in launching your own brand?

I felt uncomfortable doing something that everyone’s already done. I didn’t want to be boring.

"I felt uncomfortable doing something that everyone’s already done. I didn’t want to be boring."

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What’s the best piece of #realtalk you’ve ever received?

I was brought up by a mother that taught me, “You can do anything.”

This interview has been edited and condensed from multiple sources.