Pat McGrath is a British make-up artist and the creative design director of Procter & Gamble beauty.
Born in 1970, she was raised in Northampton by her mother Jean McGrath, a Jamaican immigrant. Despite having no formal training, McGrath has become one of the most influential and respected make-up artists in the fashion industry, regularly directing the make-up for catwalk shows, advertising campaigns and editorial shoots for the world’s biggest fashion houses and publications.
McGrath has attributed her creativity to her mother, a devoted Jehovah’s Witness who was a keen follower of fashion and would quiz the young Pat on the different shades of eye shadow. “She trained me, basically, to do the shows, right there… look at the pattern, check the fabrics, look for the make-up – and begin,” she told Sarah Mower in Vogue in 2007. “She was always mixing up colours because there wasn’t anything out there for black skin,” added McGrath in an interview with TIME magazine in 2003. She has described her upbringing as “very religious, very conservative” and has spoken of her teenage fascination with the Blitz Kids – Boy George, Marilyn, Spandau Ballet – all of whom were famed for their outré make-up and whom she used to follow around the King’s Road. “We thought we were New Romantics, we’d get changed on the train and try to get into all those clubs,” she told the Guardian in 2008.
After leaving school, McGrath completed an art foundation course at Northampton College. She had planned to undertake a fashion degree but abandoned this when she met the stylist Kim Bowen, who invited her along to watch her work on shoots for The Face and i-D. Her big break came when she received a phone call asking her to go on tour in Japan with Caron Wheeler from Soul II Soul, whose make-up she had done one afternoon three years previously as a favor for a friend. “I left my job and went to Japan for three months, scared to death. I cried all the way there because I’d never been on a plane before and I was terrified,” she told the Observer in 2008. This opportunity led to McGrath working with i-D magazine’s fashion director Edward Enninful and, subsequently, being named beauty director for the title – a position which she holds to this day.
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