The Genius of Pat McGrath | Cover Story

Ignore deadlines. Look, these are Pat’s rules, I’m just the messenger. (Allure‘s visuals director is still breathing into a paper bag after coordinating this shoot.) “Everything’s done at the last minute. That’s how she works,” says Hahn. “[Sephora’s] a big machine and sometimes we have to break the machine to get her product in. I don’t want to tell you it’s worth it because then she’s not going to stop but… it’s worth it.”

Sweat every last detail. “She is such an active force in every component of what she’s selling,” says Jacobs. “There are people who have a name on a cosmetic line who probably have never experienced the formulas. They’ve never sat down and made a red bluer or more yellow, and hey, more power to them. But Pat is a makeup artist and this is her collection and her heart and soul is in every aspect of it.” So is her idealism: Says Hahn, “I’m like, ‘Pat, does everything really need to be perfect?”And she says, ‘Yes, Alison, it does.'”

Never forget. Pat’s mind is a camera roll. “f she sees a picture, she will remember everything about that picture,” says Guido. “She can talk about not just that time in London but the ’30s, the ’20s, the 1800s, neoclassical Italian paintings, German Expressionist paintings, the Surrealist movement. She has a great library in her head.” I ask Pat if she dreams about makeup, or ever wakes up to her next idea. “I see makeup and color and just incredible imagery all the time,” she says. “Mostly when I’m awake. To me, imagery is as important as the air we breathe.” There is one brilliant design that came to her in her sleep, though: “I’ll never forget as a kid I dreamt about a bomber jacket that had a huge rucksack attached to it and ran downstairs to my mother and said, ‘Where’s my jacket? The new jacket?’ She said, ‘What jacket? Draw it out.'”And then she made it for you?” “No, she made me a lovely dress to go to church in.”

Embrace the new. Social media stormed the beauty world over the past 10 years. Was it difficult to embrace this new way of working, I ask — maybe it was even a little threatening? Suddenly “influence” wasn’t limited to a rarefied world of runways. Not in the least. “I loved it,” Pat says, remembering when model Coco Rocha first got her started on Twitter. “She kept going on about it at work, and she set me up. But I said, ‘Don’t say anything, I’m just going to look.’ She swore on everything, and then goes, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Pat McGrath on Twitter.'” But it was Instagram, born four years later, that was the real revelation for her. “Everybody said to me, ‘They don’t want to know about all of your work. They want to know about what coffee you drink, what your cat looks like.’ I was like, ‘Well, I’m not going to be doing that, am I?’ If I’m going to play with Instagram, let me play with the imagery that I love, that you could never get printed. Everybody still kept saying, ‘No, no, you must be personal. They want to know what your coffee looks like.’ I’d be like, ‘Nah, girl, I’m going to put Grace Jones up.'” So far, a few million followers are just fine with that.

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