Patricia Ann McGrath is founder and CEO of a cosmetic business which in 2018 was valued in excess of $1 billion and she is heralded as the world’s most influential make-up artist. Born June 11, 1966 in Northampton, England, she is the daughter of Jean McGrath, once a struggling single mother of three children originally from Jamaica. Jean McGrath encouraged her daughter’s early interest in cosmetics, critiquing her childhood experiments with color and application. With minimal formal training, as a young woman living in London in the 1990s, McGrath connected with Edward Kobina Enninfu, the Afro-British fashion editor of the magazine i-D and the British version of Vogue, and with prominent fashion designers Alexander McQueen, Jil Sanders, and John Charles Galliano.
Distinguished by her inventive experimentation and use of material (feathers, patent leather, rubber, vinyl, gold and silver pigments), oftentimes assembled and applied by hand, she seldom employed brushes but instead preferred her fingers. Runway divas, among them Amber Valletta and Naomi Campbell, were impressed by how McGrath’s beauty hints became trend-setting crowd-pleasers in the fashion industry and appreciated the fact that she respected a model’s skin tone and was sparing in the use foundation. McGrath was repeatedly asked to lend her talents to photo shoots by leading fashion photographers such as Craig McDean, German-born Peter Lindbergh and Helmut Newton, the Italian Paolo Roversi, and, most significant, the American Steven Meisel.
McGrath’s make-up creations graced the covers and pages of i-D, W, Harper’s Bazaar, and the American and foreign editions of Vogue. Recommendations from the world’s top fashion designers and photographers led to assignments from Prada, Versace, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Lanvin, Dior, Maison Margiela, Giorgio Armani, Yohji Yamamoto, Valentino, Loewe, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, and Calvin Klein among others. She directs major projects with as many as 75 assistants who call her “Mother” and works nearly 80 fashion shows per season in Milan, Italy, Paris, France, London, England, and New York City, with some shows paying her $40,000; and $10,000 per day for advertising campaigns. It is estimated she has earned tens of million dollars as a global beauty creative design director for Proctor & Gamble (Max Factor and CoverGirl) and as a consultant to Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.
Touted by industry observers as the world’s most influential and in-demand makeup artist, in October 2015 McGrath launched her own cosmetic business venture, Pat McGrath Labs, which she self-funded during its inaugural year. Supermodels Stella Maxwell, Hailey Baldwin, and Bella Hadid attended the premier of the company’s first product, Gold 001, a gold eye shadow kit retailing at $40 that quickly sold out. In August 2016, she began accepting investors, its largest, New York City–based Eurazeo Brands, signing on in June 2018 with $60 million as a minority shareholder.
At Buckingham Palace in 2014 McGrath received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contributions to the fashion and beauty industry. She lives in two New York West Village apartments but travels frequently.