When your cover model is Rihanna and she’s adorned in zillions of dollars worth of Cartier jewels, how can the makeup possibly reach an equally apocalyptic level? You call in the team at Pat McGrath Labs 004, that’s how. Though McGrath wasn't on set for the shoot itself, she acted as overseer for her army of artists who brought Rihanna's look to life.

The Covers

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful; W Magazine September 2016.

“Three-dimensional pieces were pieced together to make the eye mask,” explained McGrath, who oversaw the creation of these looks in her labs. “Three sets of hands were required and it took at least a week.” Mind you, this wasn’t one elaborate piece that was transported from the lab to the studio and placed over Rihanna’s eye. “It was put together from scratch, but then it had to be disassembled,” McGrath continued. “They brought all of the elements of it to the set, then each was placed on her, piece by piece. It was like an elaborate puzzle.”

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

“It was also about the nudity of the face,” said McGrath. “Simple shaping to the face, before all of these extreme pieces go on.” Rihanna’s supernatural glow comes courtesy of a liberal application of McGrath Labs Skin Fetish 003.

The Gold Sun Crown

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful; W Magazine September 2016.

“Lip color, glitter, jewels.” That was the layering process that McGrath’s team laid down on RiRi’s pout here. And those gold teardrops? “Pigments with 3-dimensional materials and metal eyeliner,” McGrath confirmed. But look closely: “There are actually metal pieces on top of the eye, as well as underneath it.” Gawd, it must have felt extremely uncomfortable!? ”You saw the video! I saw the video! She was walking around! She looked completely comfortable.”

Pailette Red Lip

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

This confetti-esque 3D lip was made from paillettes that were placed over red lipstick. “Makeup is her shield,” McGrath said of Rihanna’s character here. “But it is also her crown, her scepter.”

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

“The makeup is almost like war paint,” says McGrath. “But it’s done in the most modern way. She’s a survivor.”

The Masks

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

“I’ve been doing masks and 3D makeup for 20 years,” McGrath said. “My team created these masks inspired by all the shows and all of my history. They made so many for this; I can’t even remember the number.”

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

“Everyone said, ‘Do anything you want. Your wildest dreams.’ My team loved that,” McGrath said.

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

“This one was mostly made of jeweled pieces glued on,” McGrath explained. “The team added tattoos to her face as well as body casts. Plus, jewelry and Rihanna's own tattoos.”

Rihanna on W's September Cover, photographed by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

McGrath’s team took the best fabric from wardrobe, which they then shaped and placed under her eyes. “All of these looks were about texture taken to the extreme,” said McGrath. “Taking beauty to extreme places for the last woman on earth.”

See Rihanna's best hair and makeup looks here: