British makeup artist Pat McGrath has been awarded a damehood in the Queen’s New Year 2021 honours list, becoming the first makeup artist ever to do so.

Throughout her three decade-long career in the beauty industry, McGrath has been known for breaking boundaries with her theatrical, experimental and inclusive approach to makeup artistry. She is frequently described as the world’s most influential makeup artist.

Makeup by Pat McGrath at the Dior’s Spring Summer 2004 haute couture fashion presentation, Monday, Jan. 19, 2004 in Paris. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)
Makeup by Pat McGrath at the Dior spring/summer 2004 haute couture show in Paris. Photograph: Laurent Rebours/AP

McGrath is known for her editorial work with i-D Magazine and Vogue – which have resulted in some of the magazines’ best-recognised covers – and her runway collaborations with the late Alexander McQueen, and John Galliano during his time as creative director of Dior.

Her work utilises materials such as feathers, lace, pearls and prosthetics to blur the line between traditional makeup artistry and special effects.

In an Instagram post acknowledging her receipt of the honour, McGrath thanked her mother, Jean McGrath, a dressmaker and first-generation Jamaican immigrant, whom she frequently cites as the inspiration for her career. McGrath was born in Northampton in 1970 and moved to London as a teenager in the late-1980s, where she met many of the people who would become lifelong collaborators, including the British Vogue editor Edward Enninful.

In recent years, McGrath has enjoyed explosive success with her makeup brand Pat McGrath Labs, which launched in 2015, and by 2019 was valued at $1bn. The line is known for its playful approach and for catering to a large array of skin tones – a strategy that was uncommon even a few years ago.

“ I am especially honoured that this award is also for diversity,” McGrath told Vogue. “Colour across the spectrum is my life’s work and inspiration.”

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