“Mother has something major coming very soon…” we spoke to Pat to find out more
When mother of all make-up and fashion industry legend Pat Mcgrath announced that she was finally bringing her much-lauded eponymous brand to the UK, we marked our calendars and emptied our savings account.
Having launched on digital, US-based platforms, Pat McGrath Labs products were difficult to get your hands on unless you had a travelling friend willing to be your mule or were happy to make the necessary shipping fee and import tax sacrifices. But now, four years after launching, the billion-dollar brand is coming home to London, where it will be available exclusively at Selfridges. To mark the occasion, McGrath will be taking over the iconic London flagship department store, guest editing their upcoming creative campaign ‘A Technicolour Odyssey,’ including directing a 24 window installation and curating a Mothership pop-up shop.
Ahead of Thursday’s launch, we caught up with McGrath to talk inspiration, industry and why now was the right time to launch in the UK.
Growing up what informed your sense of beauty? What was the beauty identity of where you grew up?
Pat McGrath: As a girl growing up in Northampton I was obsessed with legends like David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Grace Jones. They embody the spirit of ‘USE WITHOUT CAUTION’ that’s a cornerstone of everything we do at PAT McGRATH LABS. Musically I loved everything that pushed the boundaries – The New Romantics, Disco, House and Punk.
Where did your interest in make-up come from?
Pat McGrath: Like so many people in the arts, my mother was a huge part of why I chose the profession I have. She was a “Beauty Addict” long before the term existed.
Is your practice learnt instinctively or studied? Has your approach to beauty and the way you make up faces changed over the years?
Pat McGrath: I learn best by doing. My approach has always been to absorb the brief – whether it’s a celebrity, a photographer, a designer or a company and then execute that with excellence. A big part of why I founded PAT McGRATH LABS was to solve the sort of issues that arise from doing so many shows and covers. A matte lip used to take seven steps, now it’s just one because of MatteTrance. You used to need five different mascaras to create different eyelash effects, with FetishEYES Mascara, one tube provides a wardrobe of possibilities. Those early days on set are why I strove to create the world’s highest performance pigments and most amazing formulations.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned from making the transition to having your own brand?
Pat McGrath: What movies get wrong about the fashion industry is that they miss how much fun it is. Imagine spending your whole day on set with the world’s leading creatives, having fun, conjuring fantasies – that’s heaven! So, when people ask me if having my own brand is a lot more work than when I worked for others, the answer is absolutely - but it’s also so rewarding...and I’m having a fabulous time! Seeing my vision brought to life by so many talented people brings me so much joy.
Why did now feel like the right time to launch in the UK? What is it about London that inspires you?
Pat McGrath: So much of what inspires me personally and PAT McGRATH LABS is firmly rooted in London. Punk. Blitz. New Romantic. The list is endless. I knew I’d launch in the UK but it was just a question of when and how. Being invited to direct Selfridges’ “A Technicolour Odyssey” is an honour. I felt like it was the right time to bring my ‘Golden Revolution’ to the UK and give people from around the globe a chance to experience the products in person. Even though LABS was born on digital, there’s nothing like experiencing the make-up in real life.
How did you approach doing the guest editing for Selfridge’s creative campaign? What do you want the viewer to take away from those 24 windows?
Pat McGrath: Colour is a universal language; it truly infuses everything I do. Whether you are into make-up and fashion or not, everyone is touched by and understands the power and beauty of colour. Every window that I designed is meant as an opportunity for people - whether they know my work deeply or not - to explore a real-life interpretation of my digital fantasy. Some windows focus on a single shade of colour, while others are a riot of haute hues. I hope everyone enjoys looking at them as much as I did creating them.
What does colour mean to you?
Pat McGrath: Colour is beauty. Colour is power. Colour is expression.
How do you think the industry has evolved since you first started out? What problems does it still need to overcome?
Pat McGrath: Inclusivity is vital to everything we do at PAT McGRATH LABS. Every single one of our colour cosmetics are universally flattering and tested – rigorously – on people of all complexions. When I introduced a truly inclusive range of McGrath Muses for our initial launch of GOLD 001 in Fall 2015, the industry was just waking up to the magic of showing a truly diverse group of beauties. Nearly four years later, I am thrilled to see that others are following our lead and showing beauties of all sexes, shapes and skin tones. There is still a long way to go, but it’s so much better than it was.
What is the future of beauty?
Pat McGrath: Stay tuned – Mother has something major coming very soon….