“I remember Star Wars coming out in the US,” Pat McGrath says by phone, time-traveling back to the year 1977. The movie first premiered in American theaters on May 25, quickly rocketing to blockbuster status, which left its would-be British fans woozy with anticipation. “It was always on the news, and I became more and more and more obsessed,” she recalls. The future makeup artist, then a wide-eyed pre-teen, tracked down a novelized version of the script and tore through it “until literally the book fell apart.” Two days after Christmas, the sci-fi saga finally landed in the UK. “When I watched the film, I was completely hooked. Astounding adventures, captivating characters, iconic inspiration,” says McGrath, who would go on to become a defining force of editorial makeup artistry. If runway spectacle is so often about flights of fantasy—gilded lips for Prada, head-to-toe glitter for Valentino couture—McGrath credits an early and lasting spark by way of the Star Wars galaxy. “It was a one-of-a-kind experience watching the movie. It showed us a world we never knew was possible.”
Ahead of the original trilogy’s 40th anniversary (Return of the Jedi rounded out the trio in 1983), McGrath is honoring the moment in a particularly cinematic way: with a glittering collaboration between Lucasfilm and Pat McGrath Labs, her seven-year-old beauty brand. As proof of her enduring fandom, McGrath has teamed up with Star Wars before: first in 2015, with a six-piece CoverGirl set (she then served as the brand’s global creative design director), followed by a Star Wars™ x Pat McGrath Labs range in 2019, pegged to Episode IX—The Rise of Skywalker. This new lineup, arriving December 16, rewinds to the beginning, when Leia’s buns, the bleep-boops of R2D2, and Darth Vader’s breathwork lodged in the collective imagination.
McGrath got started as one might expect: with a complete movie marathon. “Talk about a dream job!” McGrath says, describing how visual details caught her eye upon repeat viewings. “When I see how C-3PO gleams in all of the films, I realize that is probably when my early obsession with gold began.” She points to the stealth drop that kicked off Pat McGrath Labs. Called Gold 001, the two-part product paired metallic pigment with a liquid mixing medium for an otherworldly molten effect. Weeks before its release, McGrath’s creation caused a stir backstage at Prada’s spring 2016 show, where she and her team gave models’ lips the gilded droid treatment. In C-3PO fashion, Gold 001 proved its versatility across all parts of the body; just as important, she adds, it “glowed beautifully on every single skin tone.”
This month’s Star Wars™ x Pat McGrath Labs collection traffics in similar head-turning gestures. The novel ChromaLuxe Artistry pigments—a velvety, foil-like formula served up in individual pots—come in variations like Extragalactic Gold and Falcon Noir. A trio of five-shade shadow palettes each takes after a signature character: R2D2 (Divine Droid), C-3PO (The Golden One), and Darth Vader (Sith Seduction). The line’s three vivid mascaras are here, in fuchsia, teal, and bright blue, along with the ultra-classic black in a Star Wars–emblazoned gold tube. There are metallic lipsticks and shimmery glosses, and of course a new 10-shade shadow extravaganza. The Pat McGrath Labs nomenclature—that size palette is called Mothership, with a Roman numeral and subhead—has always betrayed a little intergalactic inspiration, like a prop that got lost on the way to a Lucasfilm set. This one, Mothership VI: Midnight Sun Star Wars™ Edition, combines sand-dune neutrals with shimmery gold and rust, along with the violet tone of a lightsaber’s beam. The palette’s cover artwork collects the key characters within a gilded architectural frame, as if Darth Vader had taken over Donatella Versace’s pad. Naturally, McGrath is also the mastermind behind Versace’s runway makeup—enough glamour to reach the stratosphere.
“It’s always about playing with that futuristic beauty and pushing boundaries,” McGrath says, reflecting on her back-catalog makeup looks that bear traces of Star Wars DNA. There is that outré gilded lip from Prada’s spring 2016 runway, paired with mod earrings and sideburn-like fringe. Valentino’s spring 2020 collection saw the gold migrate northward, by way of sharply drawn cat eyes and metal-studded brows—a face-jewelry effect that offset the spare Leia-esque tunics. For Maison Margiela’s spring 2017 couture show, there was a sense of Rebel Alliance restraint, with bare faces occasionally punctuated by ink-stained lips. “When you are surrounded by such greatness, how can you not be inspired?” McGrath says, marveling at her frequent collaborators like Miuccia Prada and John Galliano. “Every season I am taken on a different magical journey.”
This Star Wars collaboration, arriving on the heels of McGrath’s cameo in the Taylor Swift video for “Bejeweled,” puts another glimmer in a writer’s eye. Wouldn’t that be something marvelous for a future merch table—a Bejeweled mind meld? “Wow, my goodness,” McGrath says, the wheels starting to turn: “Do you need a job, Laura?!” Hypothetical tour accessories, sure; still, fantasy is the name of the game. But for now, the Star Wars collection is the mission at hand, promising pocket-size tickets to a galaxy far, far away. “We all need something transformative and transportative this time of year,” McGrath says, and it might well arrive via a coppery sweep of Cyborg Relations shadow or Rouge Rebellion foiled pigment. “I think it’s just going to bring so much joy.”