It was just over 18 months ago that we were marveling at the fact that legendary beauty Naomi Campbell, then 48, had just scored the first beauty campaign of her decades-long career for good friend François Nars’ eponymous line. On May 22, the still-stunning supermodel celebrated her 50th birthday, accompanied by another major milestone: In what can only be described as a black girl beauty bonanza, Campbell is now the global face of Pat McGrath Labs; the first in the brand’s five-year history.
As Vogue reports, the alliance comes amid a friendship that has lasted half the lives of both beauty icons: McGrath, also 50, first met Campbell at an i-D magazine photoshoot in August of 1994. (It’s also worth mentioning that current British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful was the magazine’s youngest-ever fashion director at this time.)
“It was there I discovered that Naomi was not only devastatingly beautiful, she was also so much fun,” McGrath recalled to Vogue, and Campbell concurs. “With Pat it was an instant connection...I knew right away that I loved her personality. But I also felt safe...I was so happy to work with a makeup artist of color because there weren’t many at the time. Moving forward, I wanted to work with her on everything I possibly could.”
Almost 26 years later, McGrath is not only a world-renowned artist but a self-made beauty mogul with her own billion-dollar brand, making products coveted by makeup aficionados everywhere. And like Campbell, who is still serving, strutting and demonstrating exactly why she remains the most enduring and in-demand of the storied “supers,” there is neither competition nor comparison for the talents and vision of Pat McGrath.
“Pat only competes with herself,” says Campbell. “You don’t even have to look in the mirror. You just trust her. There is no competition. She has taken her own artistry to another level.”
And the feeling is wholly mutual. “No one commands a catwalk like Ms. Campbell, but then she’s so much more than a model—she’s an actress, an innovator, an icon, an activist, and a philanthropist,” McGrath says.
Obviously, one icon deserves another, so it’s absolute kismet that the two join forces at this point—a statement not only on black beauty, but that beauty has no expiration date. After years of endorsing and appearing in the odd campaign for her friend’s brand, Campbell’s reign begins with the launch of the new Divine Rose Collection, starring in a Shakespeare-inspired (because British) promotional short film directed by McGrath herself.
“I am so honored to not only be working with a legend who has changed the face of beauty forever, but to be working with a friend and a sister who I love and adore,” McGrath told Vogue. “The fact that this is the first time Naomi has been the face of a beauty brand founded by a woman—and not to mention a fellow woman of color—after 34 years in the business, makes it even sweeter.”