Ms. McGrath’s other collaborators echo the sentiment. “I have always felt that Pat is more of a creative director than anything else,” says photographer Ben Hassett. “She is an extraordinary makeup artist, but her vision far exceeds that.” VIOLET GREY founder and chief creative officer Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey observes, “Working with Pat McGrath is like being lucky enough to get Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio to star in your movie. She is simply the best at what she does.”
Ms. Grey first approached Ms. McGrath and Ms. Kardashian West with the idea for the shoot, inspired by a 1963 Bert Stern photograph of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
. “VIOLET GREY is named after Elizabeth Taylor’s violet eyes, and her spirit has always been an inspiration point for our core DNA. I was thrilled when both Kim and Pat responded to the Bert Stern image, inspired us to commission the first of a series we intend to be a study in lost glamour and iconography,” she says.
In the photo by Mr. Stern, Ms. Taylor’s hair is tousled, and her famous eyes—double-lashed, violet, unflinching—are framed in kohl and isis-blue shadow. Her chin is tipped back, putting the delicate tracery of a recent tracheotomy scar in the center of the frame. It’s a tiny flaw that underlines the perfection of her face and form, and reveals a warranted confidence. Then on the cusp of 30, Ms. Taylor was an Academy Award winner, the best-paid actor in the world, mother to three young children, and widely considered the greatest beauty of her time. Who else would one ask to play the legendary queen? Ms. McGrath is working with one of the world’s most well-known faces, and one of fashion’s most familiar tropes, and yet she’s come up with something revelatory.