At the back of François Nars’ mind is a running list of all the people with whom he wants to work. Usually they’re artists – ones he has admired since childhood, says NARS’ founder and creative director. You may recognize some of them from the brand’s highly coveted collaborations, like contemporary (and notoriously provocative) photographer Steven Klein, with whom Nars partnered for a limited-edition collection last holiday season. Before that, Andy Warhol- and Guy Bourdin-inspired collections became instant collector’s items. This year, Nars has teamed up with Sarah Moon, the French artist and photographer known for her ethereal, Impressionist-style work. Born Marielle Warin, Moon began her career as a model under the name Marielle Hadengue but then adopted her current moniker and devoted herself to photography. Since then, she has worked for Chanel, Dior and Comme des Garçons and was the first woman to shoot the Pirelli calendar.
Nars recalls how he felt when, back in the ’70s, he picked up an issue of ELLE France and saw a campaign Moon had worked on for French fashion label Cacharel early in her career. “They looked like paintings; they were gorgeous,” he says. “Through those photos, you can see how much talent Sarah already had. It was pretty obvious.” This was why, Nars says, his focus was on creating the product names and colour palette for the 15 limited-edition lip, eye, cheek and nail products, while Moon was given carte blanche to work on the holiday gift collection, for which she shot 11 original photos – the first time an artist has created new artwork for one of the brand’s collaborations.
Sarah Moon for NARS.
The importance Nars placed on Moon’s artistic vision is beautifully apparent in the Eye and Cheek Palette. The package was redesigned to open vertically rather than horizontally to accommodate the orientation of Moon’s full-body photograph of model Codie Young, who is wearing a Lucite corset created for the shoot by London-based milliner Lara Jensen and styled by Patti Wilson. Moon’s oversight extended to the design of the gift sets, which are refreshingly free of the trappings of traditional holiday packaging (i.e., kitschy, festive details that feel tired come January 1). “Before I knew François, for me the whole image of the NARS brand was of skin: translucent and transparent,” says Moon of the design process. “He said to bring an object [that inspired me], and I brought a Plexiglas box.” From there, Moon worked with Fabien Baron, founder of design agency Baron & Baron – who also designed the NARS logo – to create semi-transparent gift boxes that incorporate elements of her photographs.
NARS Sarah Moon Give in Take Dual-Intensity Eye and Cheek Palette ($85).
Nars works to come up with shade names – without the assistance of a copywriting team – jotting down ideas in a red Hermès notebook and crossing them off as he uses them. This is a task that he says is getting more challenging as the brand approaches its 23rd year in business. “I’m always looking for names that really click, not just a name for a name,” he says. Nars is responsible for creating such iconic shade names as “Orgasm.” “It could be something crazy, summon an emotion, be a beautiful name or the name of a city, but it really has to have a strong meaning for me.” To continue the naming convention used with the Audacious line of lipsticks, he chose “Sarah” (for Moon, who doesn’t wear lipstick but thinks “it’s lovely that there’s a lipstick with my name”) and “Codie” (for the model featured in the collection’s photos) to add to the line.
Anna Cleveland, daughter of ’70s model Pat Cleveland, is featured in the imagery, as is model Codie Young.
“I tried to create makeup that would really correspond to Sarah’s world and her vision of beauty,” says Nars. “She has a very strong aesthetic when it comes to makeup and women.” Moon, who gave the name “Truth or Dare” to an item in the collection, says it represents her approach to beauty. “Truth, because makeup has to be you somehow, but also daring – you, plus more,” she says. “There is a kind of fiction in every woman. That is the story of makeup.”
See more from the collection, below:
The futurism of the film Metropolis was an inspiration for the collaborative – and highly creative – holiday collection, which includes NARS Sarah Moon Duo Eyeshadow in Quai des Brumes and Indes Galantes ($44 each).
NARS Sarah Moon Matte Lipstick in Indecent Proposal and Blood Red ($36 each).
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