The Legacy of Pat McGrath
By Brooklyn White
When Forbes announced that Kylie Jenner was the youngest self-made billionaire (largely due to her beauty endeavors), it made people ask questions. The first was what is the definition of “self made”, and the second her credentials in the makeup world? Soon, the conversation shifted to one centered around one of British Vogue’s contributing editors, Pat McGrath. McGrath is much more than an influencer - she is a dedicated makeup artist and one who has been described as the “best in the world”.
McGrath’s imprint is evident in the detailed, futuristic makeup styles I see younger artists try. Her use of bold color, glitter, and surgical precision is hard to imitate. Even her digital mood boards, nostalgic images including cosmetic (and cosmic) greats like David Bowie and Missy Elliott, are stunning enough to make you want to learn more about her. She is the pinnacle of facial excellence. Her work is instantly recognizable and a true work of art, every time.
Pat McGrath was born to a Jamaican single mother, Jean, in the 1960s. Her mom, a religious woman, was her introduction to the world of beauty. In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, the makeup guru said, “[my mother] would stand in front of the TV and we’d have to guess what she’d done differently with her eyes. I’d think: ‘Get out of the way!’ But she wouldn’t move until I’d told her.” These unofficial training courses groomed a young McGrath, who is primarily self-taught.
She briefly studied fashion, but life brought her back to her original path when she received an opportunity to tour with Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul. From there, all kinds of opportunities revealed themselves as she strengthened her craft and added to her rolodex. She came in contact with Edward Enninful, a young stylist who McGrath has closely worked with since their meeting. She has also lent her vision to Gucci, Armani, and Versace, to name just a few hugely influential brands who have been blessed by her Midas touch. McGrath has beat the faces of everyone who’s anyone, including Nicki Minaj and Oprah. In late 2015, she launched her own line of cosmetics, Pat McGrath Labs, which has evolved into one of the most luxurious lines in the industry. In short, Pat McGrath has beauty by the balls and she’s not letting go.
When I see the beauty empires that Black women, such as Rihanna and Iman, have established, I am reminded of the decades of groundwork that Pat McGrath laid. Her eye for detail, instinctual process, and raw approach to application make her one of the most fascinating talents in the industry. In a time when many claim to know the ins and outs of beauty, it is evident that McGrath has paid her dues and worked tirelessly to create the most gorgeous world possible. Her legacy is one of diligence and superiority. She is the true self made billionaire.