While other little girls were busy dressing up their Barbies, British makeup artist Pat McGrath was making toys out of tubes of lipstick. “My mom was traumatized whenever the Avon lady came around because I would cry when she left,” she recalls. “I was mad for the testers she had, the minis — I was obsessed.” A few decades later, beauty editors and fashion designers worship at her altar. As the woman behind each season’s new take on the smoky eye or statement lip, McGrath creates the trends that trickle down from runway to beauty boutique. She conjures up new ideas for more than 100 shows a year, and this creative force is what made
CoverGirl sign her as its global creative design director and why brands like Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana have enlisted her help in developing their makeup lines. “I’m addicted to fashion and makeup, so, in a way, it’s easy for me,” she says. “I’m inspired by what I see.”

As she circles the globe for work, McGrath collects local items like fabrics and tools and carries them around in duffle bags in anticipation of a “lightbulb moment” for a new product or colour. Take the 28 pairs of false lashes she bought in Las Vegas, for example: She kept them for two years before using them to complement the feline prints in Miu Miu’s spring/summer 2010 collection. Despite her status in the beauty world, McGrath wears minimal makeup, if any. “I think [beauty] comes from within,” she says, “and makeup is a little extra on top.”

Pat’s It list

Hotel “The Ritz in Paris and the Dorchester in London.”

Restaurant “Scott’s and China Tang in London and the Waverly Inn in New York.”

Travel must-haves “My iPod, CoverGirl LashBlast Mascara, This Works oils and vitamins.”

Vacation spot “Formentera, a small island off Ibiza, Spain.”

Band “La Roux.”

All About Eve and
Now, Voyager.”

Skin Rx “I use SK-II masks.”

In her words … Pat on old Hollywood and her beauty and fashion obsession on the next page …

Check out our fave CoverGirl products here.

ELLE chats with beauty innovator François Nars about his magical beauty touch.
In her words

• “I’m always inspired by old Hollywood. I never forget those faces because they didn’t look like my neighbour or anyone I knew; they looked exquisite and incredible.”

• “Having 20 girls with different skin tones and try- ing to make them all look like they have perfect skin can be the most difficult thing.”

• “My mother was obsessed with beauty and fash- ion. She would always be putting on her lipstick and showing me exactly what she was doing. She would save up money to buy the latest creams. It was just all about beauty and fashion at my house.”

• “My earliest fashion memories are shopping for Vogue patterns when I was a child and watching Top of the Pops — it stopped a few years ago in England, but it was the ultimate pop show before MTV.”

Read more:

Spring/summer beauty trend: Pulled back hair

Cold Fx: Damage proof your hair

Spring/summer beauty trend: Eyes with drama