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  • Writer's pictureRegina Cantú Navarro

How Pat McGrath Became an Icon

McGrath’s eponymous makeup brand, Pat McGrath Labs, launched worldwide in 2015 and is now at a billion-dollar valuation after just 3 years.


Pat McGrath’s rise to undisputed beauty pioneer is so revealing of her true talent and passion for her craft. From creating runway looks all throughout the 1990s — to launching her prestigious and connoisseurs-only beauty brand Pat McGrath Labs — here is a rough timeline of her journey so far.


Soul II Soul singer Caron Wheeler calls teen McGrath and asks her to do her makeup on tour in Japan. She then met Amber Valletta in 1993, who then spoke to Steven Meisel about McGrath’s talent. The photographer requested McGrath to create the beauty looks for a couture project alongside him.


In the early nineties, McGrath started working with i-D magazine's fashion director Edward Enninful, which led to her becoming the magazine’s Beauty Director. In 2017, Enninnful would again team up with McGrath, naming her the Beauty Editor-at-Large for British Vogue.


This was the year McGrath developed a line of cosmetics for Giorgio Armani. (By the mid-2000s, she was working with global celebrities like Madonna and Oprah, and adored by her muses — such as Naomi Campbell, and, most recently, Paloma Elsesser.)

2000 — 2010

Since then, McGrath has worked with brands like Prada, Miu Miu, and top models on the runway, creating makeup looks for almost 100 runway shows every year throughout the 2000s. She is regarded as the most prolific runway MUA of all time. Today she has done over 3,000 shows. Her fearless way of approaching beauty has created staples we still see today.


That year, she became Global Cosmetics Creative Design Director for Procter & Gamble — working on brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Covergirl, and Max Factor.


McGrath’s eponymous makeup brand — Pat McGrath Labs — launched worldwide in 2015, and is now at a billion-dollar valuation after just three years.


In 2021, McGrath became the first makeup artist to be named a Dame of the British Empire, for her services to the Fashion and Beauty Industry — and for her efforts to enhance diversity across the fashion landscape.

Understanding McGrath's influence comes with acknowledging that she has set the foundation for the majority of makeup trends we know and love today. Everything from dewy skin, to bold and vibrant eyeshadow, to using our hands as makeup tools (!), can be traced back to McGrath’s work. Her perpetual innovation has even made Anna Wintour recognize her as the most influential makeup artist in the world.

Her name is Legend, and her nickname is literally Mother. I for one, admire her raw creativity (and passion for makeup and detail). Her looks are both transformative and feminine, and she’s constantly finding new ways of accentuating beauty or featuring a new product with an incomparable technique. It is truly a joy to watch an artist grow and continue to blow new generations away with her work, even after all these years. 🌀

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