Travelling the Globe: Jenna is an Assistant for Dame Pat McGrath, broadly recognized as the ‘Most Influential Makeup Artist in the World’
A moment of inspiration can go a long way. Just ask globe-straddling Makeup Artist and Blanche Macdonald graduate Jenna Kuchera, currently working as an assistant for Pat McGrath.
“When I was 15 my friend Owen was into fashion,” she recalls. “He ordered a bunch of Italian Vogues online. That was my introduction to that world. I saw Pat McGrath’s name in those magazines and instantly knew that I wanted to work with her. That’s what got me into makeup.”
Doja Cat was so patient and incredible to work with. I always feel so proud of Pat and our team when we come together and work magic.
Fast forward a decade and a half. The two teenagers bonding over fashion magazines in Penticton, BC are now delivering inspiration of their own. Owen is a successful fashion photographer in New York and Jenna is an Assistant to Dame Pat McGrath, broadly recognized as the ‘Most Influential Makeup Artist in the World.’ It’s a role that sees Jenna crossing oceans on a regular basis, bouncing from New York to Paris, from Beijing to Tokyo, to London and beyond. Pat, Jenna and the team’s credits include shoots and runways shows for household names like Anna Sui, Diesel Black & Gold, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Givenchy, Jill Sander, Valentino and Versace. Jenna is playing a vital role for the highest of high fashion. And she’s loving every minute.
“We go to Paris and Milan three or four times a year to do the regular Fashion Week schedules of Ready to Wear, Couture and mens shows,” she continues. “There’s not much time when I’m not travelling. Every day I take a moment to pinch myself. There are moments almost every day that are hard to believe, even though I always knew I’d be doing this. It’s still insane.”
I recently worked on a shoot for The Perfect magazine with Ashley Graham, Gisele Bundchen and Raquel Zimmermann, who I’ve always been obsessed with.
Insane and iconic. Jenna was part of the team that created the all-red, crystal clad look for Doja Cat at Paris Fashion Week that made headlines worldwide.
“It was sooooo amazing! As usual, we did many test runs. Doja Cat was so patient and incredible to work with. I always feel so proud of Pat and our team when we come together and work magic.
“There are so many incredible shows, looks and moments. I’ll never forget the Valentino show in Paris where the look featured giant feathers on the eyelashes. That was a gravity defying moment. The feathers had to be cut to the perfect weight. The glue had to be just dry enough to sit in the lashes. We spent days cutting and testing the weight, really up until the last minute. You put your blood, sweat and tears as a team to create an iconic fashion moment.”
I’ll never forget the Valentino show in Paris where the look featured giant feathers on the eyelashes. That was a gravity defying moment.
It’s been a remarkable journey that’s taken Jenna from the BC interior to backstage at some of the world’s biggest runway shows. And a major stop on that adventure was her time honing her skills and developing her artistry at Blanche Macdonald.
“When I studied at Blanche Macdonald it was regarded as the best Makeup School you could go to in the world. I’d researched and looked at schools in Europe and a couple in LA. I kept coming back to Blanche as it had the most well-rounded curriculum. And as I went through the program I fell in love with all types of Makeup.
“Even today I would recommend Blanche Macdonald 100%. The facilities are the best in the world and the talent there is incredible. The Makeup Artists who have taught there are so so talented. They’re amazing professionals in their fields. It’s such an amazing place to learn.”
I would recommend Blanche Macdonald 100%. The facilities are the best in the world and the talent there is incredible.
It was also a place that supported Jenna’s talents with creative opportunities.
“I had a lot of passion in the early years of my career. I wasn’t afraid to bang down doors. I wanted to break into the industry and had people around me who showed me a world of Makeup that I wouldn’t had known about otherwise. I was interested in doing the most creative Makeup that I could do. People at Blanche saw that I was excited about it and gave me chances to show what I could do. There were always cool projects on the go. I worked at the 2010 Olympics opening ceremony, creating big tattoo looks. Jon Hennessy wasn’t one of my instructors at Blanche but he had me do a fashion show with him in Vancouver then took me onto his Nobusura team.”
Jenna was used to competitive success from the beginning. During and soon after her time at Makeup School she won multiple IMATS Awards in the Beauty/Fantasy category and swept the podium of the Canadian Makeup Show, placing first in each of the three competitions she entered (Glamour, Fantasy Runway and Body Painting/Airbrush). Each triumph opened fresh doors. But entering the #backstagewithpatmcgrath Instagram contest changed her life forever.
“I was on set in Vancouver shooting for Kit and Ace and I hadn’t looked at my phone for hours. When I packed up I saw that I had something crazy like 50 missed calls. I realized at that point that I must have won. I threw my life and my kit together and I was away for over a month with her team. it was crazy!”
To be with Pat is so inspiring. She has a genius creative mind. She can pull any obscure reference from art, music or history. She’s always in a good mood so she’s impossible to not get along with!
The contest’s prize was a month on the road with Pat McGrath. But once Pat had seen Jenna in action… well, let’s just say she’s been part of the world’s most iconic Makeup Artist’s team ever since. Jenna can’t tell you stories from her adventures with Pat McGrath (what happens backstage stays backstage), but will gladly share tales from her solo work on avant garde editorials with the likes of Grimes, music videos for Hedley and Eating Out, and movie set face-doodling sessions with Norman Reedus. But even with her adventures across the Makeup spectrum, high fashion still takes a special place in her heart.
“It’s not glamour all the time but it’s always exciting. To see a Prada collection up close…photos don’t do it justice! This job is like riding a rollercoaster. After the first ten loops you get used to it—but it’s still exciting. To be with Pat McGrath is so inspiring. She has a genius creative mind. She can pull any obscure reference from art, music or history. That’s beyond helpful when we’re testing looks for shows and coming up with ideas. She’s an incredible businesswoman and has the most energy I’ve ever seen in a person. She’s always in a good mood so she’s impossible to not get along with!”
If Pat’s charm, talent and drive wasn’t enough to keep Jenna busy and happy, the Makeup Icon is also pushing her Canadian protege’s career onwards and upwards.
“If opportunities come up that aren’t in conflict with Pat’s schedule she’ll offer it to me or someone else on the team. She’s kind of my voluntary agent!
“I recently worked on a shoot for The Perfect magazine with Ashley Graham, Gisele Bundchen and Raquel Zimmermann, who I’ve always been obsessed with. I remember looking at Raquel Zimmermann wearing Pat McGrath’s makeup in Vogue as a 15 year old in Penticton. It’s during moments like that when I realize my dreams have come to life!”