Strap on your monocles, pop on those top hats, pour yourselves three fingers of Scotch, and take a lounge in your armchair by the fire, boyos: things are about the get classy, luxurious, and utterly indulgent. It happened. It finally happened. The palette I always wanted is mine, all mine, and it’s pretty good.
Yes, you read that correctly: pretty good. Not fantastic, not amazing. Pretty good. Sometimes just okay. Let me explain.
A long time ago I posted a product exorcism, an anti-haul, about the Pat McGrath Mothership V: Bronze Seduction palette. $170 was simply too rich for my blood (and too rich for a palette of warm neutrals, let’s be real). I made my peace with never owning it. Sure, I would log onto Sephora during sales and check the price. I would try to rationalize the 140-ish dollars after my VIB discount as a really good price, actually. I tried to frame the palette as a Christmas gift or a birthday gift or The Last Palette I Will Ever Buy (hah, what a joke). But I stood firm, knowing that I had plenty of dupes for the shadows, that the price was exorbitant, that there were going to be other palettes I would love more, palettes that would have more unique colour stories.
Then Sara sent me a Poshmark listing, and the wanting came right back to me. I had to have this palette. Upon my honour, I would have it.
The drama really wasn’t necessary (but it was welcome, given the small pang of joy that it brought me). A couple of listings and offers later, The Pat McGrath Mothership V: Bronze Seduction palette was mine. The palette that almost had me reassessing what a reasonable price for eyeshadow was. It ended up in my collection, lightly used, but all very much mine. And though it being an eyeshadow palette with wearable, warm neutrals and some of the butteriest, luscious-est metallics I have ever had the privilege of wearing is enough, here is a review for all you fellow Pat McGrath window shoppers out there, wondering if you should take the plunge.
I’ve tried to deviate from my usual review structure because packaging means literally nothing to me. But I want to talk about the packaging here because this is my first – and possibly only – luxury palette, and the difference in packaging is striking. Buying used, I didn’t get the bag of sequins and a stunning box that Pat McGrath palettes usually arrive in. I did get a lovely handwritten note from the seller though, and that was quite nice (more on my Poshmark experience later).
This palette is a behemoth. It’s an absolute monster. I’m used to palettes in gussied-up cardboard, not adamantium or palladium or whatever the hell this one is made out of. It’s heavy! Clearly, it’s designed to sit on a vanity and stare out over its domain like the queen that it is, not get tossed into a checked bag or shoved in a backpack for an overnight visit.
I was looking it over with blogger eyes for this review, and I was genuinely entertained that the palette comes with a mirror. Who is going to be hefting this palette up for use during application? Who loves arm day that much? The hinge doesn’t allow it to open up in such a way that setting it on a tabletop would be effective, meaning this mirror is a cosmetic feature. It’s heartening to see – I don’t understand a palette that doesn’t have a mirror – but clearly this isn’t a practical product. So much for pragmatic beauty.
There are ten eyeshadows in the palette (“Only $17 each!” I used to tell myself, because nobody makes me believe my own delusions but me). I don’t know the names for any of them because they’re not listed on the palette itself. Are luxury palettes too good for punny eyeshadow names? Yes, I believe they are.
The mattes are incredibly buildable. They blend beautifully and layer exceptionally. The two shades of brown are incredibly close in shade though. There is a matte purple for depth (yes, that deep brown in the bottom left corner is actually a dark, rich maroon). However, despite the quality in wear and the blendability of these shadows, it’s hard to get the depth I like without – if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – a matte black shadow. Honestly, every single neutrals palette should come with a black eyeshadow, and I get that the point is to buy more than one palette, but I really want a matte black eyeshadow with this one. And every other palette that I own, for that matter.
The glitters, foils, and metallics are equally stunning, which is good, because they’re really the reason to buy the palette. Every one of them apply beautifully with minimal fallout and a longevity of wear that I have hitherto never encountered for eyeshadow. The glitters are so finely milled that even my sensitive eyes aren’t bothered by them.
What’s more is that the metallics actually give you a multi-dimensional shimmer from every angle of light, more than I can say for pretty much any palette that I own. This is the first copper shadow that I don’t think is mediocre because it’s that stunning. This palette made me understand why every copper eyeshadow I own simply looks okay. Because this copper eyeshadow is actually shining, beautiful copper.
I understand that part of the reason of owning a luxury palette is some kind of status symbol, but I also believe in the value of an investment this big. Bronze Seducation is an incredibly versatile palette. I’ve created looks with this palette that are natural, playful, high glam, glittery af. If it were lighter, I would have no trouble making this my go-to palette for travel. As it stands, it will live at home, because airport security – when I travel ever again. Wow, guys, remember traveling? It seems so long ago – may wonder why I’m carrying a brick in my carry-on.
There’s also a versatility here in terms of application. Pat McGrath works with brushes and fingertips, and her palette reflects that. Each of these shadows wears a little bit differently depending on how they’re applied, so there’s a sense for the more keen cosmetologist they’re getting more than one eyeshadow depending on if they’re using a brush or a finger. Maybe this is me further trying to justify my purchase, but I’ve had fun playing with the buildability, blending, and finish using different tools. This is a palette designed by or at the very least marketed by an accomplished make-up artist. It makes sense that it would have some artistry in terms of its formulation.
So why, after all that gushing, is this palette simply pretty good instead of oh, my gosh, my eyelids look like opals?
Honestly: it’s the price.
I didn’t even pay sale price for this palette, and I overpaid.
Yes, these are buildable, blendable mattes and buttery metallics and brilliant, microfine glitters, and no, especially for the metallics and the glitters, you really can’t find this quality anywhere else. But selling these shadows strictly in palettes feels unfair. I would have happily paid a premium for the shadows in this palette that I wanted. I’m having flashbacks to the good ol’ days of custom palettes, or at the very least, having the option for buying standalone potted shadows. And it’s not like Pat McGrath doesn’t also have singles; the company just doesn’t offer the shadows from their palettes that way.
The versatility is a bonus; I am getting a lot of wear out of this palette, and of all the years to have an eyeshadow palette that lives on my make-up table, this would be the one. However, for all my shameless wanting, I would urge you all to pick and choose from Pat McGrath’s single, potted shadows before getting your heart set on one of the Mothership palettes. I would also encourage you to shop secondhand if you choose to take this most auspicious, indulgent of plunges.
Speaking of secondhand shopping…
Poshmark is a secondhand marketplace that I have no affiliation with outside of being a customer. This isn’t a plug. This is me raving about a place – er, app where I have been shopping. Sellers post clothing, accessories, and make-up; there is an option to make offers and negotiate the price. Shipping is included in all purchases, and resales are fully encouraged on the platform.
Like any marketplace, you should shop around and check reviews, but I am very firmly a fan. I fully encourage using it to find products. There are a lot of Pat McGrath products available, new or lightly used, and sellers generally put some flair into the packages for shipping. Again, no bags of sequins or over-the-top boxes but handwritten thank you cards are also nice, and certainly a worthy trade-off for not paying full price for these products.
Are you already on Poshmark? Have you also tried a Pat McGrath palette and are currently clutching your pearls and popped monocle at me besmirching the great name of Lady McGrath? Leave a comment below!