For K-pop sensation CL, meeting editorial makeup legend Pat McGrath is a very big deal. Her eyes widen and her limbs practically vibrate when she and McGrath encounter each other for the first time on the set of Vogue’s shoot on the last day of New York Fashion Week. Soon, a sapphire color is being swept onto CL’s eyelid and topped with a border of gold metallic paint that extends almost up to the brow—quintessential Pat. And while CL is no stranger to bold looks—the 2NE1 star pairs full eye makeup with a painted lip the way most girls tend to flick on some basic mascara on their way out the door—today’s look is extraordinary, even for her.
“My eyeliner is part of my face,” CL explains. “There are elements that I’ll change here and there, but my eyeliner, with little wings, that never changes.” She sometimes travels with a makeup artist—the first time I met CL, at a shoot for Vogue’s March issue, it was the beauty expert/occasional photographer named Pony—but for the most part, CL tends to her own face. It’s a process so important to her, you might even call it a practice. “It’s meditation for me,” she says. “It’s therapy.”
Every morning for CL starts with a workout, less for fitness and more so that she sweats through her pores (if there’s no time, a hot bath or shower will suffice). Then comes an organic clay face mask by a Korean brand whose name she refuses to share—“I’m saying too much!” CL protests—followed by a gel mask. Only then, she explains, can a new day begin. “I have makeup on for such a long time that I need to give my skin a break,” CL says. “And at night I really get clean when I take all my makeup off.” When asked how long these processes take, she will only say, “It takes time.”
As for her hair, CL admits that those locks have been blonde for so long that she can’t stand her hair dark. Whatever’s next for her, she says, “my hair is going to be bright.” For fragrance, she relies on rose essential oil.
And while she loves to do her own makeup, occasionally the experts need to take over. When she’s on set, CL frequently asks makeup artists for tutorials on new looks. Today, Vogue is shooting between the Calvin Klein Collection show—where CL sat front row and McGrath worked backstage—and Marc Jacobs, which is considered NYFW’s final chapter. Even though the day is moving at breakneck speed, McGrath is happy to oblige a quick training session. “Mama’s here for you!” she declares.