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Pat McGrath Is the First Makeup Artist to Be Named a Dame

The legendary beauty mogul became the first makeup artist ever to be named a Dame of the British Empire by the Queen yesterday….

Yesterday, the Queen’s annual list of New Years Honors was released, naming the figures across British society and culture who would receive the crown’s highest accolades for their services to the country. And for fashion and beauty obsessives, there was one name above all others which stuck out: the newly-minted Dame Pat McGrath, who becomes the first makeup artist ever to receive a damehood. The legendary beauty maverick and entrepreneur is widely regarded as among the most influential figures in beauty and fashion, noted for her long-standing collaboration with photographer Steven Meisel which has produced some of the most iconic fashion imagery of all time, as well as her work on the runway for the likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and Miuccia Prada.

“I am truly delighted and humbled to be given this wonderful honor,” McGrath said of receiving the title. “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.”

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Born in 1970 in London to a single mother and first-generation Jamaican immigrant, McGrath’s journey to becoming a beauty powerhouse began in the 1980s, when she found herself immersed in the city’s colorful nightlife scene, drawing inspiration from the Blitz Kids and New Romantics. It was here that she met some of the figures who would be key collaborators throughout her life, including stylists Kim Bowen and Edward Enninful, the latter of whom kickstarted her career by naming her beauty director at i-D magazine.

In the decades since, McGrath has become famous for her boldly experimental and iconoclastic approach to beauty, with her avant-garde makeup looks for John Galliano’s Dior couture shows across the late 1990s and 2000s remaining among the most-referenced of all time. In 2015, she launched her own beauty line, Pat McGrath Labs, which has swiftly become one of the biggest disruptors in the industry and was valued in 2018 as worth $1 billion. The label is known for its inclusive range of skin tones and kaleidoscopic color palettes, allowing her fans and followers to approach beauty in the same playful and inventive mode as McGrath herself. 

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It’s this renegade spirit which has seen McGrath receive some of the industry’s highest accolades, including the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Awards in 2017, and being named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2018. Notably, McGrath’s damehood was granted by the Queen not just for her services to fashion and beauty, but also to diversity—across McGrath’s career, she has consistently championed a more inclusive approach to fashion, working on groundbreaking covers like Vogue Italia’s famous July 2008 “Black Issue” and making the development of a broader range of beauty products for women of color a core pillar of her brand.

“Color across the spectrum is my life’s work and inspiration and I celebrate individuality particularly with my brand Pat McGrath Labs, so I am especially honored that this award is also for diversity,” McGrath added. “I believe that with creativity and resilience there can be abundant possibilities and that is certainly true today with this award.”

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