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The Body as Canvas

Pat McGrath discusses her inspiration for the Pat McGrath Labs x The Met Adorned collection

Can you tell us about a few of looks that speak to the Adorned collection? In particular, I’d love to hear about how you conceived of these looks in partnership with the designers themselves, and what your inspirations were.  

Throughout my entire career I’ve used jewelry, gemstones, and other opulent relics to adorn the face. Just recently, for the Valentino SS19 show, I created Swarovski-studded eyes and lips in shades that complemented the beautiful colors woven throughout the collection. With any moment of adornment and embellishment, we wanted the makeup to feel exotic and opulent, but fresh and modern at the same time. There is a wonderful juxtaposition between the soft, lush hues of the pigments underneath, and the strong, eccentric glamour of the graphic crystaline lines.

Pat McGrath, photographed by Ben Hassett


Can you tell us about a few pieces from Jewelry: Body Transformed that speak to the Adorned collection?

Researching the pieces featured in Jewelry: Body Transformed was beyond fascinating. I am so inspired by the incredible icons who wore these pieces and how they transformed their appearance, as well as, in some cases, the roles of power within society at the time. It was so much more than just jewelry.

For example, the 13th-century Colombian gold nose ring, which is represented in the packaging and apparel for my Adorned collection, attaches at the septum to give the appearance of large gold whiskers. How divine is that? The unforgettable visual of a face transformed with exotic seduction and power is legendary.

Another item you’ll see in the exhibit, and on my packaging, is a pendant in the form of a siren. The myths and representations of sirens throughout classic mythology have always been an obsession of mine. A creature that is so exquisitely transformative that you lose your sense of direction is my kind of beauty! The smooth, glowing, reflective body that the giant pearl evokes is just fabulous.

Nose Ornament, Sonso, Colombia, 13th–16th century. Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection, Gift of Jan Mitchell, 1991


What is the relationship between fashion and beauty?

Together they form remarkable moments of self-expression. They both explore the body as a canvas, with boundless options to transform and adorn, to personalize and express oneself. There are no limits to their radical capacity for creativity, which is what makes them, as art forms, so thrilling, dynamic, and alive. They allow us to live in a constant state of metamorphosis, to spin our bodies into works of art, conjuring whatever inspires most and reflecting that back to the world. They represent our history and they create our future, giving us endless opportunities to reinvent ourselves.  

Pat McGrath Labs x The Met LUST:Gloss and Mothership V: Bronze Seduction Eye Palette

Can you tell us what the theme “adorned” means to you (or what it calls to mind)?

Adornment has always been central to my work as a makeup artist, because I revel in the transformation it inspires. Makeup is a form of adornment—when applied to the face it elevates and transforms, creates glamour and opulence. As a makeup artist I’ve never limited myself to just traditional makeup products. I am obsessed with enhancing my looks with objects and ephemera—jewels, flakes of gold, pristine pearls, wisps of fabric. Adornment is glamour, storytelling, exoticism, transformation, creativity, ritual, empowerment. Anything can be reimagined as adornment—the possibilities are endless.

Can you tell our blog readers about the MOTHERSHIP V: Bronze Seduction Eyeshadow Palette, LUST: Gloss Blitz Gold  and LUST GLOSS: Aliengelic editions you created for the store?

MOTHERSHIP V: Bronze Seduction is adornment personified through eye shadow. Deeply seductive, it features a sumptuous collection of hues presented in an exquisite, ornate palette — as decadent and divine as the pieces within the exhibition. Aliengelic has long been my signature look, and no expression of adornment would be complete without it. The effect—whether illuminating the skin or the lips—is remarkably transformative, creating this surreal, lit-from-within glow that ignites any feature with otherworldly opulence. Together, they come to life as radiant jewels for the eyes and lips. To truly transform each piece, I’ve adorned the packaging with images of my favorite pieces from the exhibit—their colors and textures are also reflected in the formulations within.


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