Behind the scenes with make-up artist Pat McGrath
The look that make-up artist Pat McGrath is creating backstage before the Dolce & Gabbana spring 2013 is all languor – sun-kissed beauty, untroubled by work or worry, fresh from a Sicilian beach or market square.
"It's all about Sicilian summertime," explains McGrath, one of the world's biggest names in backstage cosmetics and the talent behind thousands of iconic and iconoclastic catwalk make-up looks. "Lovely gold colours everywhere. You can see in the clothing…" Here she gesticulates to a whole other section of the room, where an entirely separate army of people are steaming and preparing the garments that will stride down the runway that afternoon.
"Beautiful, bold patterns on the clothes, all really pretty. They [the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana] just wanted the girls to look sun-kissed and beautiful."
McGrath's advice is to pick a summer shade that is slightly brighter than your natural skin tone, and a winter one that is slightly warmer – that way, you don't have the aggravating shift between glowy and ghoulish when the weather takes a turn for the chillier.
"Because then you don't start thinking 'oh my God, I look awful' and wandering round the department store looking for another brand!" she laughs. "No, darling!"
Broadly speaking, make-up trends don't change all that much between the obvious warming up for winter and easing off for summer, but show make-up tends to be more flamboyant than what we mortals might slap on to go to the shops in. McGrath's strength is in being able to flit between the two, to create wild and wonderful looks at one show (the scarlet masks she painted at Viktor and Rolf's autumn 2011 collection spring to mind) and something much more wearable at another. Earlier in the week she created a matte and minimal look for Jil Sander's show.
"I'm seeing a lot of bold minimalism," she agrees. "The fact that the skin was minimal and then there's something else going on, maybe a bold mouth. Then there's a nude trend, where everything's just tone on tone, and now we're going into this flushed, healthy look too. Keeping things sexy and fresh is very much a couture look – the stained lip, instead having a very hard line, for example. Doing things softly makes it all look more modern."
McGrath's other fail-safe tip is to sketch out eyeliner with a pencil before you start with a liquid. The Dolce & Gabbana models' eyes are accentuated with the perfect, subtle flick of black – perfected in removable kohl first and then traced over in ink afterwards, with McGrath using a tapered cotton bud to perfect the angle of the flick.
"First of all, just dot with a pencil and then draw the line, with your eyelids down – open your eyes and have a look, see where you like the flick to be and then use your cotton bud. In the swoop and the adjusting, you get it in the right place. Every girl wears eyeliner these days and they do it so well, don't they?"
Independent News Service