Pat Mcgrath

Make-up with a Midas touch

A wave of extraordinary electricity is energizing the fashion firmament this season as makeup looks go gold. Literally. Who’s behind this beauty revolution? There’s only one person with the talent, the vision, the experience, and the sheer chutzpah to make it happen: legendary makeup maestro Pat McGrath.

PAT McGRATH - Makeup with a Midas touch

We saw it first this September in Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy SS16 runway at New York Fashion Week. A series of otherworldly face masks and makeup, with lustrous pearls and glittering jewels from Swarovski—so astonishingly elaborate that their beauty stole the show. 

Next, we see McGrath reimagining Kim Kardashian West as a modern-day Cleopatra, inspired by the iconic styling of Elizabeth Taylor in the legendary 1963 film. The images were created for beauty website Violet Grey, the first in a series exploring Old Hollywood glamour. A 3D aesthetic is once again the driving inspiration, as she creates a futuristic version of Taylor’s famously kohled and fishtailed eyes through the use of wire, Swarovski crystals, gold metal leaves, wax, paint, gel and glitter. 

“I wanted to portray a luxurious decadence through elements of ornate facial jewelry constructed into shapes that pay homage to Egyptian culture, and of course to the rich exotic character that Taylor portrayed,” McGrath explains. “Incorporating three-dimensional gold metal into the makeup design explores the concept of makeup as jewelry.”  

Perhaps the most surprising facial transformation to have come out of McGrath’s box of beauty tricks, though, is the look that she has just designed for Barbie. There was a time when the plastic blonde bombshell was known only for bubblegum style. No longer. Ms McGrath has given the world’s most famous doll a modern makeover that has turned her into a fashion icon. Since October 2, @barbiestyle has been debuting Instagram shots of one-of-a-kind, hand-painted faces. The first to be launched is a stunning golden cat’s-eye look blazing with Swarovski crystals. “Barbie is so iconic, with such a long history of different looks; I wanted to present Barbie in a contemporary way, showing how makeup can be a tool for creative self-expression.”

The big question is this: Are we sufficiently inspired to get a little braver with our own make-up routines?