Why Pat McGrath and Naomi Campbell Instantly Connected Nearly Three Decades Ago

Imagine a world where Naomi Campell is your biggest fan. She hypes up your technicality, raves about your creations like they’re pieces hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and acts like it’s a national holiday every time you drop a new product. Only Pat McGrath can relate.

Sure, Campbell has just named the first-ever face of Pat McGrath Labs alongside the launch of the new Divine Rose collection, but her praise of the legendary makeup artist is backed by nearly three decades of friendship and respect.

In August 1994, the duo met at an i-D Magazine shoot with Kate Moss. The set was the streets of New York City’s Meatpacking District after dark and marked one of McGrath’s first shoots in the city. She was “dying” to meet Campbell. The model was relieved to finally find a makeup artist who understood how to work with her complexion. Between looks, they popped into delis for snacks and ordered noodles and diner food. “It was just the three of us, all from South London. To be together was so much fun,” Campbell tells Allure. Basically, the night sounded like the pilot episode of my new favorite TV show. Please give me six seasons of it and a movie.

As I sat on the Zoom call with them — the names Omi C and Pat McGrath popping up on my screen — one would go on a tangent, and minutes later, the other would circle back to the original point. A thread truly runs between their conversations and timelines. It glints trio-chrome like the hypnotizing emerald/copper/crimson shade Sextraterrestrial in the new Pat McGrath Labs Mothership VIII Artistry Eyeshadow Palette (aka the Divine Rose II Palette). I patiently listened as the chat bounced back and forth between the icons like a fly on the wall, only piping in when I was curious about something.

ALLURE: When you first met, did you guys sense you’d be so connected all these years later?



CAMPBELL: For me, in my career, up until that point, I think I’d only worked with two other makeup artists of color. One was Reggie Wells, and the other was Frank Cooper, so I was so happy for so many reasons. Not only just to finally get to work with someone that didn’t make me bring my own foundation and explain anything, but also to sit in the chair and just feel safe and trust. On top of it, she has this incredible personality — a nurturing mother spirit. That’s why we call her Mother. So I did, and I very much wanted to be. I consider Pat my chosen family.

MCGRATH: It just felt natural, like we’d known each other forever and ever in a way, right? I think doing Naomi’s makeup, for me, it’s so easy. We were doing that glowing skin the first time.

CAMPBELL: Yeah, it was dewy.

MCGRATH: All dewy and highlight-y.

CAMPBELL: Which is what I love Pat’s makeup: it’s never heavy. I think I can honestly say, in the ’90s and first started working, I wore so much makeup my first five years of modeling. I got to understand as I got older, that less makeup is best. You can still do beautiful skin and not have it caked on. You don’t want it to look like a mask, and Pat never makes your skin look like a mask. What I love about Pat is she puts skin first. Pat can spend hours on skin and getting it perfect. Then comes the rest of it.

MCGRATH: It was all about the skin. Naomi’s skin was like a baby. From Day 1, I was doing that Skin Fetish highlighting, using balms and highlighter to make the skin look dewy. The foundation is sheer but gives you that sublime coverage. I was doing all that on Naomi. Even when creating my foundation, I would always send Naomi her colors, so she could try it on, and I’d get results. I always wanted to make sure everything worked on Naomi.

ALLURE: Pat, did you learn anything from Naomi in that process of creating the foundation?

MCGRATH: All I wanted to do was make sure I got the most perfect color, so every time, for herself and for me, when I’m working with her or any of my team members are, Naomi would never be let down in any way. She has her shade. Your number, Naomi, is 26, but sometimes, I’ll add 28 to contour. I’d do the same with the Sublime Perfection Concealer. Just making sure Naomi is covered, and we all have colors. When we sent Naomi a concealer, Naomi was like I’m wearing it as a foundation. Right, Naomi?

CAMPBELL: Yeah, I do because I don’t put foundation all over my face when I’m doing my own makeup. And I don’t spend more than 10 minutes on my own makeup. Once my eyebrows are already done, I just put the concealer in the places I need it, and that’s it.

ALLURE: Naomi, how do you like to apply your foundation? Do you use your fingers like Pat?

CAMPBELL: I’m using Pat’s brush now. I think I’m the last person in the world to probably use the brush. I’ve always used the wedges. I still use them, too, to get the corners of my eyes. I’m very particular about my wedges. They have to be the firm ones, not the flimsy, soft ones. I don’t use the egg one. I don’t like wetting my sponges with water. I’ve never been into that.

MCGRATH: And what’s funny is, I always call in Naomi after she’s done her Lives, and I’m like, “Naomi, what are you wearing?” She goes, “The concealer and a teeny bit of powder here, and that was it.” I’m always getting updates from Naomi on how she’s doing with her makeup, as well as how she’s doing.

CAMPBELL: The colors! The colors! I love Pat’s presentation of her makeup. Even the boxes they come in are so pretty. Like the bright pink in the [Divine Rose II palette], I’ve been putting it on my cheeks. I love my Sextraterrestrial. I put that in the middle of my eye. It makes you love makeup. You know what I mean?

ALLURE: Absolutely.

MCGRATH: She loves Sextraterrestrial. It’s so major. And Rose Seduction we add as a little pop of blush.

CAMPBELL: And I love all the pinky glosses [in the Divine Rose collection] because I love to have pinky-peach lips. I’m always using those. When I work out in the morning, I put on a lipstick — just a lipstick, nothing else. It makes you feel good about yourself and gives you self-esteem. Whether I’m doing it live, whether I’m doing it privately, I do put it on. It just makes you feel, you know.

MCGRATH: Gorge. Gorgeous. It does. I get that, and I think everybody likes a little bit of makeup now because we are on Zoom all the time. We are looking at ourselves now more on film. Not that everybody wants to go over the top, but everybody wants the best products now just to give them those little touch-ups and make you feel good.

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of brand</cite>
Courtesy of brand

CAMPBELL: But everyone always thinks makeup and making yourself look good is for a man — No, it’s for you. You have to remember it’s for you to feel good about yourself and then comes the other exteriors. First and foremost, always remember it’s for you. Same with perfume: If you want to smell good, you put it on for you.

MCGRATH: It is. That’s what it’s for. I don’t really study myself on camera. I really don’t, and then, the Zoom thing makes me go, ooo, let me just add a little bit more eyeliner or let me have a little bit more powder. I do my makeup in the Zoom, so I can see how I look. I think that’s where the boom has come for cosmetics because we’re looking at ourselves and no one is judging you. You’re in your home, and it can bring you that little bit of joy. That color. Color brings me so much.

<h1 class="title">NYC: Anna Sui - Fall 2004 - Runway</h1> <cite class="credit">Getty Images</cite>
Getty Images

CAMPBELL: That’s what I think, too. Color brings me joy. I love that makeup you did on me for Anna Sui’s [fall/winter 2004] show with the pink and the purple on the cheekbones. I love all that. It’s not just makeup, it’s an art. I look at Pat as an artist, not just a makeup artist.

ALLURE: I was so excited to find out the makeup used for the look at the Prada fall/winter 2020 show is actually a singular product. I can’t wait to try Sextraterrestrial in the Divine Rose II palette.

<h1 class="title">Prada - Runway - Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020-2021</h1> <cite class="credit">Getty Images</cite>
Getty Images

CAMPBELL: Have you not tried it yet? It’s so good. The way it looks in the thing is not how it comes out. It’s like a multicolor of light. It’s just really fun, sparkly, and great. I think it suits all shades of everyone.

MCGRATH: It’s really the first of its kind. It’s a trio-chrome, a first-to-market formula. It gives you three color spectrum shifts in the light. We had it at Prada, and as the girls walked, their eyes changed color.

CAMPBELL: I totally get that. You can see so many different angles of color from it. It’s so great but still warm at the same time.

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of brand</cite>
Courtesy of brand

ALLURE: Naomi, what is it like to try a product that’s new to market like that when you’re constantly trying new makeup?

CAMPBELL: I don’t try many people’s new makeup.

MCGRATH: (Laughs.)

CAMPBELL: I have to know you, and when I know you, you explain it to me. There’s Pat, there’s [François] Nars. There’s not really many more because I know them, and I’ve learned from them over the years. I’ve been blessed to work with the most amazing hands in the world. It’s like Christmas for me when I get my new stuff.

MCGRATH: Naomi is always like, “Pat, I’ve just seen on Instagram. Where’s my glosses?”

CAMPBELL: No disrespect. I do get makeup from lots of people, but it’s just I know if I’m familiar, when I open it, I know what already works for my skin. Pat’s already tried it on me. Familiarity is important to me and makes me feel confident that I can do [my own makeup].

<cite class="credit">Courtesy of brand</cite>
Courtesy of brand

Pat McGrath Labs’ Divine Rose collection officially launches June 15 on patmcgrath.com and sephora.com.

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Originally Appeared on Allure