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Bathroom Chats: With Pat McGrath

Bathroom Chats: With Pat McGrath

Flannels blog article
Bathroom Chats: With Pat McGrath


Dame Pat McGrath is a force in the industry. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Mother’ by those who know her (a name that’s translated into her bestselling ‘Mothership’ makeup palettes), she’s responsible for some of the most iconic makeup looks of all time. Think masks of crystals and tulle at Givenchy’s SS14 runway show. Valentino’s Spring 19 couture feather lashes. Those gold lips at Prada’s SS16 show.

She’s also the woman responsible for some of the biggest beauty trends of the past three decades. It was with her that the coloured mascara trend took off in 2012. Our obsession with strobing and highlighters? The result of her trademark glowing skin. And 2013’s ombre lips? You guessed it. No wonder she was the first makeup artist to receive a damehood from the late Queen in 2021.

Beloved by the biggest names in the business, a recent audience with her at Claridges saw a room filled with the biggest voices in the industry, whilst her good friend - and icon in his own right - hair stylist Guido Palau, popped in for a very public hello much to the crowd’s delight. To watch McGrath in action is a special thing. For Mother is warm and funny and firm. Whilst she declares talking in front of a crowd is her idea of hell, she’s charming and witty and passionate.

You can understand then, the power of her eponymous label. Filled with complexion-enhancing makeup with cult-followings, like her Skin Fetish franchise, and incredible colour, from her palettes to her lipsticks, these are products with serious clout. 

To celebrate the launch of Pat McGrath Labs at FLANNELS and the brand’s takeover of our Beauty Bar in Liverpool, the legend shares her beauty beginnings, the makings of her eponymous label and what the biggest makeup trends of SS23 are set to be. We suggest you take note.

It’s time to get to know Dame Pat McGrath.

Going back to the beginning of your beauty journey, what are your earliest memories of beauty?

Seeing my mom put on a full face of makeup, then get in the bath to emerge with a dewy finish. It was next level, but that’s where I became obsessed with fashion and beauty — it was passed onto me at seven years old. This obsession led me to create my first skincare product as a child. It was a moisturiser where I mixed all the ingredients and then let it set overnight in the refrigerator. I can still recall to this day sitting down at my mother’s vanity and carefully patting it onto my cheeks. I felt like a film star.

What does beauty mean to you now?

True beauty comes from within. It’s kindness, compassion, laughter and authenticity. It’s the energy you bring to the world. Makeup is a tool we use to express ourselves; depending on our moods, and what we want to communicate. I love the versatility of makeup, and the impact it can create.

October marks Black History Month in the UK and we’ve been talking a lot about representation, both in those who inspired the next generation and being the representation that you needed to see growing up. Your brand has been incredible in giving that representation across the board. What does this mean to you?

Throughout my three-decade career, I’ve approached makeup as a movement, a force for change. Three keywords that have always been a part of my personal artistry and PAT McGRATH LABS as a brand are: inspiration, innovation and inclusion. When I launched PAT McGRATH LABS in 2015, from day one, I have been pushing to show what’s possible by emphasising confidence, individuality and character regardless of age, size, skin tone or gender/sexual identity. As the ultimate beauty lover, I’m thrilled to know that everyone of ALL skin tones now has access to something as major as Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection The System’s 36 shades of foundation and concealer, which I developed over the past 25 years backstage and on set to match everyone’s skin tone seamlessly.

 What was the most important thing when creating Pat McGrath Labs?

PAT McGRATH LABS is the culmination of all of my work as an artist. It’s my entire career, wrapped up into products that I know don’t exist anywhere else. My philosophy has always been that if I want a product and cannot find it, I make it. That is how my brand was born, unlocking the history of my career to explore the artistry that has defined my work for the past three decades. It was important for me to launch must-have products that would work backstage but also make it fun and easy for everyone to use at home! I create products that push the boundaries of beauty while fuelling your passion and taking your experimentation to a whole new dimension.

You’ve just finished a marathon of fashion weeks and created a host of fresh, new looks. What are you most excited for in 2023?

This season was so refreshing and beautiful. The looks were inspired by sublime skin, minimal majornes and decadent drama.

When it comes to natural, subliminal looks, we introduced the idea of gorgeous, radiant, done-undone skin while creating a classic look that has been evolved and refined. We’re calling it Sublime Skin meets Minimal Majorness because we wanted minimal product but with a MAJOR impact - revealing pure luminosity with undetected textures. What makes this so easy is the prep - layering Divine Skin: Rose 001TM The Essence created the base for dewy divinity and transparent illumination. Incorporating neutral definition with subtle, buildable eye looks using the MTHRSHP Mega: Celestial Nirvana Palette gave us so many options for all skin tones.

Of course, we had some looks that were over the edge and otherworldly. We unveiled a triad of looks that transcend the exploration of using without caution. We’re calling this one Decadent Drama because even in all of its glamour, there was something so subversive and revolutionary. With Versace’s decadent drama, everyone experienced Dark Rebellious Romance with shades of black, purple and hints of fuchsia creating the look of jewelled smokey eyes. There was also the drama of unapologetically embracing Gloriously Graphic techniques by using eyeliner to accentuate the eye shape and give the illusion of bottom lashes and lots of smudged smokey eyeliner. Lastly, creating Legendary Lashes with a new approach on applying faux lashes or even customising your natural lashes and taking them to new dimensions using Dark Star or FetishEYESTM Mascara. I’m excited to see how everyone will push the boundaries of inspiration and get innovative with creating their own version of Sublime Skin and Decadent Drama. The looks are limitless.