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The beauty innovator: François Nars
François Nars is blessed with the most beautiful lips and an extremely charming smile. He instantly makes you want to be his BFF. Maybe then you could hang with him and his pals, like Marc Jacobs, Daphne Guinness and Amber Valletta. Nars recently published his third book,
15×15, a collection of celebrity portraits that celebrates the 15th anniversary of his company, NARS. He had the dual role of photographer and makeup artist for the book, which features A-listers like
Naomi Campbell, Isabella Rossellini and, of course, his good friend Jacobs. “The shoot went unbelievably smoothly,” says Nars, who is clearly as talented with a camera as he is with a makeup brush. “I’d like to think that I make people look beautiful, and I love working with a camera,” he explains. “Everybody is insecure in front of a camera — everybody. But if they feel comfortable in the makeup room, they will want to give you more because they are more sure of themselves. As a photographer, you have to get them to relax as much as possible so that they open themselves up to you, and that isn’t easy.”
Nars was born in the south of France and speaks lovingly of two important influences in his life and on his work: his mother and his grandmother. “I was aware that they were beautiful,” he says. “My mother was incredibly beautiful. People would turn in the streets to look at her.” His mother taught him about natural beauty, and his grandmother taught him about the pleasures of makeup. “She used to love painting, and she could have been an opera singer,” he says. “She created the most beautiful red lips and always wore eyeliner. I still remember the smell of her perfumed powder.” Obviously, Nars’ love of beauty is in his DNA.
In his words
• “The image of Marc [Jacobs] in 15×15 is a very strong one. There was a lot of trust. I wanted him to look great and beautiful. We did his nail tips because we didn’t want to do the full fake nail. We wanted them to look real, so we glued the tips and filed them. It took forever, but he kept them on to go to a party!”
• “I love my red lipsticks — I think they’re some of the best reds on the market. I really mix 300 colours to get the perfect red. The Orgasm blush wasn’t planned. I wanted that pale peach, a little bit of pink and a bit of gold to give your skin a flush. People loved it!”
• “I have a special love for the ’70s — maybe because I was a teenager at the time. I thought it was one of the most amazing periods creativity-wise, especially in the fashion world.”