Catwoman has been played by a long line of fabulous women, all of whom embodied the style and substance of their respective decades. Look at Eartha Kitt in the ’60s, Michelle Pfeiffer in the ’90s, Halle Berry in the 2000s, or Anne Hathaway in the 2010s. But in The Batman—now in theaters everywhere—Zoë Kravitz isn’t playing the Catwoman we’ve come to know. She’s giving us an origin story of sorts for Selina Kyle, a pulled-up-by-her-bootstraps cocktail waitress who moonlights as a pseudo-vigilante delivering her own brand of justice.
It’s difficult to understate how perfectly well cast Kravitz is for this film: She’s equal parts thrilling and tender, vulnerable and vicious. But beyond the performance, a highlight of the film is Kravitz’s beauty look—smoky and sparkly, done up but never overdone. And just like Eartha Kitt in the ’60s or Michelle Pfeiffer in the ’90s, this Selina Kyle feels especially apropos to today.
It should come as no surprise that none other than Pat McGrath—the queen of cosmetics, the doyenne of dewiness, the mistress of mascara herself—created Kravitz’s looks for the role. In this exclusive interview, McGrath spills all the nitty-gritty about how the looks came together, from the way she layered shadows and sparkles inspired by Berlin club culture to the specific products she used to create the perfect cat eye. Meow.
Tell me about your vision and process for Zoe’s beauty in The Batman.
My process was, of course, inspired by the luminous beauty of Zoë and the iconography of Catwoman. Also, similar to the way I approach a fashion show, the process was to absorb the brief, and then to realize it with excellence. It’s essentially a couture process: sketches, toiles, revisions, and, finally, perfection. There is such a wealth of inspiration to draw upon. With The Batman, and Zoë’s character, my mind immediately went to eyeliner, and the idea of incorporating subversion and a spirit of Berlin club culture. Hence the layering of shadows and sparkles.
In the end, the overall look we achieved is streamlined and lithe, graceful and powerful, in keeping with her character. My focus was on highlighting her natural beauty and sublime skin while designing a look that would amplify the expressiveness of her eyes.
There are a number of great, iconic Selina Kyles in Hollywood, including Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Eartha Kitt. How did you want Zoë’s look to stand out?
All are major feline fatale icons, and it’s thrilling to see Zoë take a place of distinction among them in the DC Extended Universe. With Zoë in particular, I wanted to make sure that we moved the look forward with a spirit of subversion and rebellion.
How does Zoë’s beauty in The Batman represent, or even accentuate, her character?
Zoë has the most exquisite complexion. For Zoë incarnating Selina Kyle, I started designing from the skin. We built a new interpretation of the feline femme fatale. We layered blacks and rubies and silvers to give a future-dimensional cat eye based on smoke, texture, and color using Mothership VI: Midnight Sun and Mothership V: Bronze Seduction eye palettes. It was such a pleasure designing looks for her character’s dueling personas: the smoldering Selina Kyle and the wickedly winged Catwoman.
What are some of the other products you used for Zoë’s look in the film?
Zoë is such a beauty, and her skin is divine. Enhancing her natural beauty was effortless. I wanted her skin to keep its natural radiance with subtle layers of Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation, Concealer, and Setting Powder.
Her skin was drenched with luminosity and high glow using my ultimate must-have, Skin Fetish: Highlighter + Balm Duo. A subtle contour to the cheeks was added using Skin Fetish: Divine Blush in Desert Orchid. The smoldering eye looks included some of my favorite palettes: Mothership I: Subliminal for a soft smoke, Mothership V: Bronze Seduction for the shade Blitz Flame, and Mothership VI: Midnight Sun for warm waves.
The details were exaggerated using the PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in Xtreme Black to create the shape and structure, and Precision Liquid Eyeliner was used to give a graphic, but elegant flick of liner. And, of course, we couldn’t have a fierce femme fatale without generously coating her lashes with mystique using Dark Star Mascara.
We stained and blurred her lips with MatteTrance Lipstick in both 1995 and Christy. To add even more definition, I shaped the lips with PermaGel Ultra Lip Pencils in Structure and Contour. Of course, the looks were stunning, because how could they not be with Zoë?! I wanted them to feel strong, but relatable—divine skin and exquisite eye.
Selina doesn’t rock a literal cat eye per se, but I feel like I would be remiss to interview you about Catwoman and not ask: What is your secret to getting the perfect cat eye?
One of my best backstage techniques for creating the perfect cat eye starts with sketching the shape. It’s all about outlining with a pencil; that way, it gives the foundation of the look and you build with intensity. The process is simple, and it’s easy to correct any mistakes as you go. I’m giving you all the secrets!
Using the PermaGel Ultra Glide Eye Pencil in Xtreme Black, start from the root of the lash line to map out the shape of the wing. Using a detailed brush, blend the liner into the desired shape. Dampen a pointed cotton bud with makeup remover to correct any mistakes and clean up the outer corner of the wing.
Next, build up the intensity by tracing the sketched shape using Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner. Continue to glide the eyeliner from the center of the lid to the outer corner of the eye. For a lifted effect, ensure the lower part of the wing is in line with the outer corner of the eye, extending upward to create the cat-eye shape.
Related article: Zoë Kravitz Stuns In A Saint Laurent Gown With Underboob Cutouts
Is a cat-eye a timeless look, or do you think it goes in and out of style?
It is absolutely a timeless look. It’s a couture-classic look that instantly brings to mind iconic beauties: the doe-eyed divinity of Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Jean Shrimpton; the seductive wings of songbirds Nina Simone and Grace Jones; the modern flair of Adele, wearing a graphic flick of Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner; and downtown debutante Julia Fox at Schiaparelli Haute Couture by Daniel Roseberry, spring/summer 2022, in a secret new “something” I’ll be releasing soon. The look’s infinite versatility makes it timeless, transformative, and transcendent—everything that evokes Cleopatra and Catwoman.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.