Pat McGrath is unquestionably one of the biggest beauty stars on the planet

Just ask the Queen, who honored the makeup artist last December with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

She’s also a regular backstage fixture, dreaming up the runway maquillage that sets the trends each season: brocade brows at Dior, jeweled face masks at Givenchy, feathered lashes at Alexander McQueen…I could go on for hours pointing out my favorite moments in her vast portfolio.

Now the face painter is looking to the future, and more specifically, to Instagram—a place she often finds inspiration—to fill the highly coveted spots on her show team. Unlike the days of yesteryear when McGrath would have to trek to department store makeup counters based on word-of-mouth recommendations to man her staff, now she’s hosting a global search for new candidates via a social media contest.

To enter, you need to follow @patmcgrathreal, re-create one of her runway or editorial looks on yourself or a model, tag the photo #BackstageWithPatMcGrath, and do it all by December 1. (The pro says she may extend the deadline, as she’s “quite overwhelmed with all of the talent out there,” but we like to think punctuality might earn you a brownie point or two.)

Before you slip into your highest stilettos and start making over supers like Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss, it’s important to note that backstage beauty isn’t about glamour—far from it.

 

And those heels? Forget about ’em. “It’s not that,” noted McGrath. “It’s very easy for people to want to be backstage, but then they see how much work there actually is and a lot of people flake out in shock.” To hang with McGrath, you need “quality of work, creativity, and personality.”

While this is a competition, it’s not a made-for-television cast—meaning she’s not in the market for a diva to inflate ratings. “I’m looking for someone that’s not afraid of late nights or super-early mornings, and someone that’s as obsessed with makeup as I am,” she said. You also can’t be above schlepping a bag (or 20).

Once McGrath narrows down all the entries (she’s received more than 8,000 thus far) to the “short list,” she’ll be flying candidates to New York City for “more extensive tests.” From there, she’ll select one (or “maybe five”) for the season who will journey with her to NYC, Milan, and Paris. And after all the glitz and glitter settles and the champions have been named, they’ll be rewarded with call times that would make a rooster shudder and cramped quarters in the trenches. “It’s going to be an endurance test,” quipped McGrath. “But that’s fashion, right?”

Want a leg up on the competition? Click through 10 of McGrath’s backstage highlights.

 

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