Interviews

Pat McGrath Thinks We Should All Wear Gold Makeup

Jane Larkworthy
Pat McGrath

Courtesy / Joslyn Blair

Pat McGrath is the Meryl Streep of makeup. Her keen eye, expert hand and vivid imagination are behind countless runway looks that span more than 20 years, including Prada®, Christian Dior®, Givenchy® and Alexander McQueen®.

While McGrath has worked with several beauty companies (including CoverGirl® and Dolce & Gabbana®) on their makeup collections, makeup zealots the world over emitted a collective gasp when she announced she was launching her own line in 2015.

And, of course, Pat launched it in a very Pat way. Nearly guerrilla style, she created only one thousand of her Gold 001®, a trio of pigment, spatula, and mixing liquid, launching it on her site. It sold out within minutes.

Since that fateful day three years ago, McGrath has kept the momentum on full tilt, with hypnotically shimmery shadows and explosively pigmented lipsticks. Simultaneously, though, her Labs have launched subtler shades and even a clear lip balm.

In her most recent launch, which was in celebration of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Jewelry: The Body Transformed” exhibit, the gold comes full circle. It’s seen alongside other metallics with Adorned, a capsule collection comprising of her Mothership® V Bronze Seduction Eyeshadow Palette ($125) and two lip glosses (as well as two t-shirts).

For her launch event, McGrath was ensconced high atop New York’s Edition Hotel to talk about Adorned as well her holiday offerings launching later this year — Opulence: The Collection, which includes the shimmery Blitztrance® Lipsticks and three new Mthrshp eyeshadow compacts.

Spotlyte spoke with McGrath about her long-standing obsession with makeup (duh) and how she cares for her own skin. 

Spotlyte: What are you embracing in makeup looks this coming holiday season?

Pat McGrath: Everything! To a makeup addict, it is about opulence!

Spotlyte: Blitztrance lipstick looks really shimmery in the tube, but it’s almost more glossy going on.

PM: They’re easy to go on, but you can see there’s a lightness to the sparkle. Some are more intense than others, like the Cyber Orchid shade, but others, like Nude Romantique and Flesh Fatale, can be worn in the day easily.

Spotlyte: Is there a time and a place when you’d want to wear a bolder shade?

PM: Sure, but today, people are just being themselves. They no longer want to look like everyone else. It’s more like, ‘This is what I’m into,” which is what’s happened with makeup that we’ve watched evolve for the last 20 years. It’s moved from wanting to be on trend to wearing whatever you’re into. It’s a real expression of self.

When we were at the Valentino® showroom, Peter Paolo was talking about when you love the outrageous, the rich, the opulent, you won’t hide it away. You will wear it in the day, you will go out in it. You’re no longer thinking “This is just for weddings” anymore. It’s the freedom of self-expression.

Spotlyte: Does that almost free you up to create whatever you want?

PM: You know I’ve only ever done that. That’s what the brand’s about.

Spotlyte: Then are you thinking, “Well, it’s about time!”?

PM: Yeah, because that’s what I’ve always been into and that’s what the Gold 001 was about. It was always “Wear gold just for parties.” But she needs a gold everyday somewhere in her life, and the most matte lipstick in the world, or the most sparkly lip. Everyone wanted [those looks] for the day or the night.

It was a hunger to be free, rather than be told, “Nuh uh. Excuse me? It’s a bit too much…” There was so much fear with makeup back in the day, whereas now it’s more like “Enjoy!” Now, more and more people are wearing it because they feel they can do whatever, be whoever, wear whatever they want.

Spotlyte: Is your daily makeup uniform the same?

PM: So many items! I think a lot of people think I wear a no-makeup look, but “no makeup” is normally 30 items, isn’t it really? There’s foundation on the eyelids and color, but I’m sure it’s from the Bronze Temptation [palette], then my Lip Fetish® balm ($38), then Skin Fetish® ($135) on my cheekbones and the new mascara on my lashes.

Spotlyte: What percentage of the day are you testing products on yourself?

PM: A lot. Just testing and testing and testing and trying. I always say I’m the number one makeup addict: I have 8,000 square feet of it, [yet I wear] just a balm on the lip and a bit of mascara. But that’s just my obsession. I think a lot of people buy a lot of makeup. They’re obsessed with the initial try-on.

Spotlyte: But the fact that they’re wearing gold on the street must have stemmed from all the seasons when you used it on the runway.

PM: Oh, we used it so many times! Remember the Prada look with the eye and the turbans? And the editorials with the girls crying gold? Gold’s always been a thing for me.

Spotlyte: Have you always been makeup obsessed?

PM: I was always the girl who went into the drugstore or the department store and bought everything that attracted me. Makeup has a magpie quality.

I’ve been that way since I was a child. Going into a store and seeing new packaging on five, then 10, then 15 bronzers. You don’t ever want to go shopping with a friend who’s like, “but you already bought that…” [McGrath gives a side eye.] And the packaging just makes you want to buy it more!

Spotlyte: What is your skin care routine these days?

PM: I use all my stuff from Dr. Orentreich and Augustinus Bader. I love that moisturizer! It’s major. I use the lighter version. I’m normally allergic to everything and I wasn’t allergic to that. I saw a change [in my skin] within a couple of days.

Spotlyte: When you’re on a long flight, do you do the whole face mask thing?

PM: Not really. I’m usually so happy for the quiet! I will do a whole cleansing routine before I get to the airport, using the Bader cream.

Spotltye: And when you wake up on the plane, do you have a routine?

PM: Are you kidding? I’m on my way to the next meeting. And the next meeting and the next. I’m way too busy to do that. The sleep and the cream was my skincare.

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