Jamaican-British makeup artist and entrepreneur Pat McGrath, described as the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue Magazine and the most powerful force in the makeup business by many, is now a Dame of the British Empire (D.B.E).
She is being honored for her contributions to the fashion and beauty industries and diversity. This makes her the first-ever makeup artist to receive the honor from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Every year, Queen Elizabeth II honors a few Brits by bestowing the titles Sir and Dame, the crown’s highest accolades, for their services to the country. The 2021 New Year Honors List honorees are said to be one of the most racially inclusive lists in history and McGrath has paved way for makeup artists on the list to be the first-ever to receive the title.
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The legendary beauty eccentric is already a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to fashion and beauty, receiving the title as part of the Queen’s 2013 honors list.
In a statement, McGrath expressed the humbling nature of the title bestowed on her and said her mother, Jean McGrath, inspired her to be one of the best in her industry.
“I am beyond humbled that I have been awarded a Damehood in the Queen’s New Year 2021 Honors List,” McGrath said.
“I am truly delighted and humbled to be given this wonderful honor. My mother’s obsession with beauty and fashion ignited my passion for this amazing industry, and I feel blessed to have the privilege of working with some of the most extraordinary people throughout my career.”
McGrath is a makeup artist who has worked across the globe with various icons such as Oprah Winfrey, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, and multi-million fashion brands making up models for the runways and high ranking fashion magazines.
The 50-year-old was born in Northampton to a single mother and first-generation Jamaican immigrant before she later moved to South London.
She broke onto the scene in the 1980s after a few stints in London’s colorful nightlife scenes. It was during that time where she met Kim Bowen and the then director of British Vogue, Edward Enningful, now the editor of British Vogue, who named her the beauty director at i-D magazine.
McGrath, the beauty editor-at-large for British Vogue, told the magazine in 2019 that her mother would never go a day without makeup. Even though there were no shades tailored for dark-skinned women, that did not stop her from having fun or experimenting with bold hues.
“My mother really was not going to let a lack of availability of makeup for dark skin in Northampton stop her from having fun. Every Friday she would drag me out to the shops and we would get the one or two darker shade foundations that were left. Then we’d go and rummage through the fabric section and get remnants,” she said.
“She would always be saying to me, ‘look for the colors’, and she showed me how to pick out colors in fabrics and then reflect that in your makeup. She hothoused me into this career, really! But my mother would do a full makeup look every day,” McGrath added.
McGrath was inspired to establish her own cosmetic beauty line, Pat McGrath Labs in 2015 with the hopes of providing a brand that was usable on black skin.
On July 16, 2018, WWD announced that the iconic beauty brand mogul had bagged a 60 million dollar investment deal with Eurazeo Brands, an investment division of a global investment firm. The huge investment deal for the Jamaican-British makeup mogul skyrocketed her worth to 1 billion dollars.
“When I first launched my brand, PAT McGRATH LABS, it was designed to inspire self-expression and individuality,” said McGrath after receiving damehood. “I dedicate this honour in tribute to Makeup Artists everywhere, I adore each and every one of you. Never give up on your dreams – with hard work, creativity and perseverance anything is possible,” she captioned an emotional post on Instagram
According to Vogue, the iconic makeup guru has been shattering glass ceilings and mentoring many makeup artists for decades. She won the founders award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, then the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Awards in 2017. Two years later, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people that year.
To top it, the self-made billionaire’s Pat McGrath Labs is the bestselling brand in the history of Selfridges.