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Exclusive: Pat McGrath on Creating a 'Mesmerizing' In-Store Shopping Experience For Her Products

She wants you to get to your nearest Sephora and create some "swatchporn," stat.
Pat McGrath. Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath

Pat McGrath. Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath

In 2015, Pat McGrath launched her first makeup product under her own eponymous makeup line, Pat McGrath Labs. The metallic pigment, dubbed Gold 001, sold out almost instantly. Two years — and multiple limited-edition sell-outs — later, McGrath has introduced her 61-piece "Unlimited" collection, a full range of lipsticks, palettes and pencils. On Friday, the collection (which has until now only been available online) will launch in 29 Sephora stores across the country. And, in true Pat McGrath form, the in-store Pat McGrath Labs shopping experience is, well, quite an experience.

Gilded sequin gondolas and illuminated wall displays show off McGrath's offerings, while video monitors show models wearing McGrath-created looks and a swatch station that encourages testing and social sharing. "I must say, I think it turned out major," said McGrath in an interview ahead of the brand's brick-and-mortar debut. Read on for other highlights from Mother herself, and then get yourself to a Sephora, stat.

What is the overall in-store shopping experience like?

Experientially, my intention is that shopping Pat McGrath Labs in real life feels just as exciting as it does digitally. Mesmerizing movement. Iconic imagery. Powerful products. Divine diversity. And, of, course sequins! I hope that the Sephora shopper feels empowered to use without caution, to elevate their artistry and fuel their fantasies in-store with my new Unlimited Edition collection.

What went into the design and planning of the gondola?

From beginning to end, it took me a little over a year to conceptualize and create my groundbreaking new Sephora gondola. It was an inspiringly iterative process, going back and forth with Sephora to execute a gondola the likes of which the world has never seen. 

Pat McGrath Labs in Sephora. Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath Labs

Pat McGrath Labs in Sephora. Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath Labs

How is the in-store experience an extension of the Pat McGrath Labs brand as a whole?

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My brand was born digitally — it all started with a thousand pieces of Gold 001 that I created as a thank you to my Instagram followers. It is vital to me that that same digital dynamism and innovative spirit inform our-store positioning and experience. For example, I created the first-ever 'swatching station' for Sephora so that my fellow beauty junkies can create one of my favorite things — 'swatchporn' — in-store using my new Unlimited Edition and then share their swatches on social media. My goal is that shopping Pat McGrath Labs at Sephora inspires my fellow beauty junkies who crave instant glamour gratification in digital-era makeup, digitally empowered makeup.

What was the strategy behind the expansion from seven doors to 29?

Good things take time. Also, scarcity breeds desire. Not being able to get our first six Limited Edition collections built a brand with an undeniable cache. When I first started with my Limited Edition collections (Gold 001 through Dark Star 006), we wanted to innovate and do something new - we decided to sell cosmetics on Social Media and to subvert the old system of bringing out a main collection first and then doing 'seasonals.' Now that the beauty world has adjusted to this new paradigm, I felt it was time to transition from just seven doors to a more robust 29.

Pat McGrath Labs in Sephora. Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath Labs

Pat McGrath Labs in Sephora. Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath Labs

What have you seen consumers responding to most?

Consumers are absolutely obsessed with my Lust: MatteTrance and Lust: LuxeTrance lipsticks. In addition, people are buying not just one of my Mothership Eye Palettes — they're buying all three. It is so gratifying to see a project I have spent 25 years creating fuel the same obsession, inspiration and addiction in the public as it does in me.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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