From the moment John Galliano’s animatronic, Belle Epoch-inspired broken beauties craned onto the Parisian underbelly runway at Maison Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture show, fashion’s lexicon could only go into rapture. Like a rhapsody on a windy night, the viral whirlwind of Third Republic characters bellowed into a storm of incessant intrigue.
Yet, it was the porcelain doll skin and 18th-century watercolour makeup that Pat McGrath engineered for the show that really captured the zeitgeist’s attention. A video posted by model Lea Julian, who presented the 22nd look of the show, sent the internet into a frenzy as she innocuously filmed herself peeling the artistry off her face, revealing that the generation-defining beat was merely a mask.
“All will be revealed soon,” McGrath teased of the airbrushed complexion. But the internet is not a patient bunch, with many inside the industry sphere theorising on TikTok how exactly she achieved the look. Makeup’s mother concocted a creation so viral that beauty denizens have proverbially broken into her laboratory to crack the code.
Fortunately, we too are restless to uncover McGrath’s secret. If the prattling of leading makeup artists are to be believed, we may not have to wait for McGrath to decrypt this enigma. Until that moment arrives, scroll ahead for the leading theories on how McGrath created the ceramic complexion.
Here’s What Pat McGrath Used To Make Margiela’s Porcelain Dolls
A Peel-Off Cucumber Mask
Let it be known before the court that all evidence points to a humble drug-store peel-off cucumber mask as the product responsible. The proof is in the vitrified finish—and some insider intel from a makeup artist working backstage at Margiela’s show. As proposed by beauty historian, makeup artist and former protégé of McGrath’s, Erin Parson, the “Listerine mouthwash” consistency of the “custom mix” hinted at the $4 gel mask as the culprit.
“It is a custom mix, not sure if her core team did it themselves or someone else as we were given the product in cups,” a source told Parsons. The celebrity makeup artist posted the conversation on TikTok, with the person in the know adding: “All I can say for sure is that it was a water-based product as we had to be very careful with what we use underneath. The colour of the mix looked a bit like the Listerine mouthwash lol… it was slightly blueish and not clear.” Parson suggested McGrath diluted the product with water to thin it out before applying the product to the skin with an airbrush in delicate layers.
A Pat McGrath Labs Product
As per press notes, McGrath used products from her eponymous line of pioneering, high-impact beauty line in the show. We know the silky Divine Skin: Rose 001 Essence was used to provide a satin base, but could McGrath have used a confidential new product development? The bona fide beauty legend has taunted us that all will soon be revealed, making the anticipation for this possible launch an undoubtedly brilliant marketing strategy.
Kryolan Liquid Glass
The former leading hypothesis—before McGrath shut down this line of inquiry—was Kryolan’s Liquid Glass gel. As per the professional beauty brand the “fully dried film is completely transparent, very reflective and appears almost like a glass coating”—qualities that lead to this product being the forerunner.
Face & Body Gloss
While a face and body gloss may have been applied over the top of the airbrushed cocktail, it hasn’t been ruled out as the official product used by McGrath to create the shiny consistency. Not only is this high-shine staple a mainstay in the arsenal of any makeup artist, but it’s also a tried-and-tested means to accentuate the high points of a face. In saying that, the product does often leave a dewy sheen rather than the firm, almost brittle complexion seen in the videos.
While we await McGrath to finally reveal the truth, these products serve as great dupes to test the technique yourself. For those looking to emulate the makeup appearance begin with an ivory base and comically thin brows before dusting a layer of dual-toned pearlescent powders over your eyelids and cheekbones. Finish by dabbing a light hue in a love heart shape over your lips and et voilà—you’re a character in Galliano’s dream world.
Watch Maison Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture show below:
This story first appeared on GRAZIA International