Last night, legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath received the Isabella Blow Award at the 2017 Fashion Awards, a celebration of industry innovators in partnership with Swarovski. The ceremony, which has been a much buzzed-about entry on the fashion calendar since 1986, was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. McGrath joins a prestigious group of past Isabella Blow Award winners including photographer Nick Knight, stylist and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, creative consultant and writer Lady Amanda Harlech and Central Saint Martins professor Louise Wilson. In honor of McGrath’s win—and newly announced Apparel 001 clothing collection with Dover Street Market—we take a look at her legacy and most iconic moments.
One of the most sought-after makeup artists in the world, Pat McGrath began her career in London in the 90s after being introduced to photographer Steven Meisel. Since then, the duo have created every cover and lead editorial story for every issue of Vogue Italia, iconic images for numerous other leading fashion publications and countless brand-defining campaigns. Each season, McGrath conceptualizes and creates beauty looks for upwards of 35 ready-to-wear and couture shows in Milan, Paris, London and New York for an impressive roster of the world’s most prestigious brands and visionary designers, most notably Jil Sander, Prada, Armani, and John Galliano.
Born and raised in Northhampton, England, McGrath was first introduced to the world of beauty and fashion by her Jamaican mother, Jean, who mixed pigments for her own makeup as there were very few options for dark skin at the time. Incredibly, McGrath was never formally trained in makeup artistry, having only completed a foundation course in art at Northampton College.
Fondly nicknamed “Mother Makeup” by industry friends, McGrath boasts a wealth of experience overseeing the development of numerous beauty brands. Engaged as Global Beauty Creative Design Director by Procter & Gamble in 2004, she oversees Covergirl, Max Factor and created Dolce & Gabbana: The Makeup. She also designed and launched Gucci’s debut cosmetic collection. She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 for her services to the fashion and beauty industry. Vogue editor Anna Wintour dubbed McGrath “the most influential makeup artist in the world.” In 2017, she was appointed British Vogue‘s beauty editor-at-large.
In 2015, McGrath debuted Pat McGrath Labs, her own line of cosmetics that she completely self-funded for nearly a year before introducing outside investors. Her first product launch was Gold 001, a highly-concentrated gold pigment she debuted on the runway at Prada’s spring 2016 show. The launch was wildly successful, with the limited-edition batch of 1,000 units selling out almost immediately.
Pat McGrath Labs slowly expanded with later additions of Phantom 002, Skin Fetish 003, Lust 004 and Metalmorphosis 005. In 2017, McGrath released a permanent, unlimited line of cosmetics including three eyeshadow palettes and a collection of lipsticks which are sold on her website as well as at select Sephora locations. McGrath takes care to perfect both the formula and packaging of her products—her earlier launches were all shipped in signature sequin-filled pouches, which have become collectibles in themselves.