Schiaparelli and Blue Make-Up: a Captivating Story

Makeup artist Pat Mc Grath on how she created these striking Haute Couture looks that have already become iconic.


By Silvia Manzoni. Cover image: Photographed by Acielle / StyleDuMonde.

Diving into Klein Blue, enveloped in velvety pigments. Would you dare? Making the face and body a canvas, allowing layers of colour to be sprayed and blend seamlessly into the skin?
That’s the idea of makeup artist Pat Mc Grath, a backstage star in haute couture, who aims to carry on Elsa Schiaparelli’s artistic legacy. A passionate lover of art, the couturière was also a collector, and her creations and perfumes were heavily influenced by her creative tastes, adopting shapes and colours that were truly avant-garde for her time.
The Maison’s artistic director Daniel Roseberry, continues to honour this path, keeping the attraction alive with clothes and accessories that look like they were plucked from a museum, with explicit references to Dalì, Jean Cocteau or Max Ernst.


For the last Haute Couture show, the models at Schiaparelli showed bold looks, with colour becoming an integral part of their identity. Pat Mc Grath picked that particular shade of blue that has been Yves Klein’s signature since 1960 and makes it rise like a high tide from chin to cheekbones. Ultramarine pigments expand on the décolletage, looking intense but impalpable even on the belly. 


How did the great makeup artist achieve this effect?
“I used a mix of pigments made by me”, she says, “microspheres of pure colour that give a velvety and very strong result”, said Pat Mc Grath.
The pigments involved in Schiaparelli’s show are inspired by the Dark Star 006 eyeshadow – which sold out quickly as a limited edition, but a new version will soon be available. It contains an incredible concentration of tanzanite particles, which our backstage Queen applied generously with a foundation brush.
To emphasise the look, Pat used shades such as taupe and brown, with a black pencil line blended into the middle of the eyelid, to create a smoky look.


This makeup look would have certainly caught the eye of Elsa Schiaparelli, an unconventional woman who loved to surprise. In her book Elsa Schiaparelli l’extravagante, just out in France by the publisher Flammarion, Elisabeth de Feydeau wrote that Schiap (as the designer liked to be called) sculpted women’s bodies and infused her creations with colour, imagination, and even a touch of crazy, developing a personal philosophy of art and beauty over the years.
Her perfumes also reflect this approach. Shocking (a word “that had become her motto, her watchword, a way of life,” according to De Feydeau) was launched in 1937, making a seismic impact on the fragrance industry with its sensual aroma reminiscent of the night, its unusual pink hue and a bottle shaped after the body of Hollywood’s most glamorous sex-symbol, actress Mae West.

Silvia Manzoni is a journalist and a beauty expert.

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