Haute couture beauty is meant to be over-the-top, shocking, and — more likely than not — totally unwearable. So it’s not every day that one of these looks goes as viral as Pat McGrath’s Maison Margiela Spring 2024 Couture porcelain-doll makeup. Following the show, TikTok was flooded with recreations, “glass skin” removal videos, and technique theories all about the hyperreal, high-shine faces. And in the For You Page frenzy, the next generation of makeup lovers seems to have discovered the woman behind the legendary name. “I thought she was a 50-year-old white man," one Gen Z creator shared in a now-viral TikTok video.
Although she may be new to up-and-coming content creators, Pat McGrath should need no introduction — she has been called the fashion world’s most important makeup artist and was the first makeup artist appointed as a Dame in 2020. Having first gained momentum in editorial and runway makeup in the early ’90s, McGrath has been working with design houses like Jil Sander, Prada, Armani, Miu Miu, Alexander McQueen, and John Galliano for over 25 years. Her massive influence in the beauty industry led to the 2015 launch of her namesake makeup and skin care line, Pat McGrath Labs, which has since become a billion-dollar beauty brand. Whether you know it or not, if you have any kind of makeup routine, it has probably been shaped in part by Mother herself.
Ahead, see 12 more of our favorite beauty looks from the legendary McGrath, which show just how she’s long been an innovator and shape-shifter in the world of makeup.
Christian Dior Spring 2004 Couture
In 2004, she sent models down the runway with gold lips, electrical tape eyebrows, and extravagant glitter eyeshadow meant to look like glamorized and glitzy ancient Egyptian kings and queens.
John Galliano Fall 2007
With drawn-on pencil brows, intentionally pale foundation, and the illusion of sunken eyes created by layers of dark, shimmering eyeshadows, this 2007 makeup concept was designed to invoke 1920s flappers.
Christian Dior Fall 2011 Couture
Another Paris Haute Couture Week standout was this Christian Dior show, where McGrath accessorized the Jetsons-meets-pop-art fashion collection with intergalactic sequins, face gems, and sculpted bordeaux lips.
John Galliano Spring 2011
At John Galliano's show at Opera Comique, McGrath worked with hairstylist Julien d'Ys to customize each model so that no two were exactly the same. Some models sported skinny arched brows and black lips, while others got blue metallic eyeshadow and dramatic blush across the tops of their cheekbones.
Christian Dior Couture Spring 2013
In 2013, McGrath gave us a fresh take on the classic (and often predictable) red lip. Instead, she used crystals to bedazzle the mouths of 46 models.
Alexander McQueen Fall 2014
On the Alexander McQueen runway, fluffy lashes reached unseen heights. Each model wore a custom set of falsies made with 65 feathers per eye.
Alexander McQueen Spring 2015
Alexander McQueen’s creative director, Sarah Burton, specifically asked McGrath for a “strong and lacquered” beauty look to accent this collection. To achieve the final 35 custom pieces for each model walking the show, McGrath first handcrafted around 70 different masks to test out at different fittings.
Maison Margiela Spring 2016 Couture
McGrath’s David Bowie-inspired makeup for Maison Margiela will forever go down in history as an equally touching and innovative tribute, as the show took place just over two weeks after the music and fashion icon’s passing. McGrath’s graphic zigzag lines, sequin stars, heart-shaped lips, and lipstick-shaped tattoos were all meant to capture the essence of the eclectic star, specifically his Ziggy Stardust persona.
Givenchy Spring 2016
McGrath has always found new ways to innovate with unconventional materials — like when she constructed ethereal ivory face masks out of fabric and beads for Givenchy.
Maison Margiela Spring 2017 Couture
McGrath brought the art gallery to the runway with modern art references, abstract line drawings, and block colors for John Galliano's Artisanal collection. The different makeup styles included glossed cheekbones, 3-D wire detailing, and vinyl lips.
Valentino Spring 2019 Couture
For Valentino's floral Spring Couture collection, McGrath used her brand new (at the time) FetishEyes mascara along with false lash strips delicately adorned with petal-like feathers.
Marc Jacobs Spring 2020
At this Marc Jacobs show during New York Fashion Week, McGrath created 60 highly individualized makeup looks meant to establish each model as their own unique character in “an idealized interpretation of real life.” Some of the looks included ’60s-style pastel blue eyeshadow, sparkly silver clown makeup, and white doodles drawn directly on the side of one model’s face.