To say the name of Pat McGrath is to evoke all that is alluring and creative about makeup. Professionally, McGrath is the top makeup artist in the world. To her legion of loyal fans of all ages, cultures, and genders, she is their patron saint.
Since releasing her fledgling product line perfectly named Pat McGrath Labs in 2015, and promptly crashing the Sephora site, her star shines brightly. About as bright as her iridescent metallic packaging stuffed to the gills with sequins. But one could expect no less from a genius on setting a tone. While that tone is often bold and extraordinary, in a recent New York Magazine profile McGrath explained why she felt the need not to play it safe:
In addition to the gold, there are bright-fuchsia, blue, and yellow pigments, black glosses and liners, silvery and golden highlighting powders and balms, and lipstick kits in beige, crimson, and dried-blood red. All of them are quirky, like runway fashion that’s made for photography rather than for department-store consumption. “I felt uncomfortable doing something that everyone’s already done,” says McGrath. “You don’t want to be boring.” (She considers the constant claims of newness in beauty products “a lie.”) McGrath’s idea is almost the antithesis of Bobbi Brown’s, whose friendly makeup in natural tones is the success story of this generation. Instead, she’s aiming to bring artistic makeup to a bigger, broader audience of people who want to invent their own appearance. It’s not a vanity project, it’s a bet that individuality can go big.
Like many entrepreneurs Pat McGrath Labs started small, but gained attention by being creative:
McGrath ordered 1,000 units of gold powder in cheap plastic compacts and, working with her team, slipped each in a glassine pouch, pressed a label on the back, and stuffed them in a bag of gold sequins that function as Bubble Wrap. The sequins attract and confound both customers and beauty editors. A group of six beauty bloggers I spoke to before McGrath’s press party at the Edition Hotel in the spring admitted they’d never actually tried her products, instead keeping the bag of sequins and makeup sealed as a collector’s item. It sold out in six minutes.
The future of her company is extremely promising and as always, McGrath is one to watch. And in case you doubt that she can do anything other than extreme, caricature type makeup here is a simple face and smokey eye tutorial she did in 2013 for Covergirl when she was their Creative Consultant. Take note.