François Nars Celebrates 20 Years of Beauty

François Nars

François Nars

One of the biggest names in beauty is François Nars. Not only is his namesake line one of fashion week’s most in-demand backstage teams, but you’d be hard pressed to find an editor, socialite or street style star that doesn’t swoon over their favorite NARS products. For twenty years now, Nars has been pushing the beauty industry forward with innovative formulations, daring colors and of course, those unforgettable names. To celebrate two decades, the makeup maestro released a new collection of lipsticks, the Audacious Lipstick Collection, bringing the line right back to its roots — the lipsticks that made Nars famous.

Throughout his career, Nars has worked with the biggest names in fashion, painting the faces of supermodels, lending his talents backstage for the likes of Valentino, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs and even lensing his own label’s campaigns. And there’s no sign of stopping, because Nars is continuing to release new collections each season, open up freestanding Nars boutiques and giving beauty die-hards new shades to lust after year after year. Here, Mr. Nars himself shares some of his favorite moments with is line and gives us a peek into the future of beauty for Narsissists all over the world.

How does it feel to be celebrating 20 years?

Twenty years is very young for a brand and I think it’s progressing very well. It’s an amazing milestone and we are in a very good place – constantly improving and growing by the minute. It feels like yesterday that I started Nars. For me, the concept of time is very abstract. There is a certain point in your life when you start losing track of time; I don’t calculate the years. I’ve hit the point in my life where I try not to look back; I look forward to the future. It’s been a great ride so far and I hope it continues.

Did you think the brand would be where it is today? Did you ever imagine this type of success?

I had no expectations, period. I was just hoping it would do well. I didn’t think “one day we’ll be in this many countries or have 400 products.” I just wanted to create great products.

I was young and free, I didn’t have anything set in my mind. I was frustrated with not being able to find the best products or the best colors and I thought it would be fun to create a makeup line. It wasn’t planned, it was very spontaneous which is what I think makes the brand so fresh. From there, it grew little by little and I stood behind it the whole way, and I think the brand has stayed true to its roots because of that.

Francois Nars shoots the brand's Spring 2011 campaign

Francois Nars shoots the brand’s Spring 2011 campaign

How would you describe the brand’s DNA?

 The brand’s DNA is a translation of me and the fact that I love makeup and beauty.  If I had to describe NARS in one sentence, I would say “quality with a fantastic range of fun and fashionable colors.” That’s what Nars is – fun, edgy, and fashionable.

Quality is very important to me. I could never have a cheap brand with bad products – I will never trade quality for edginess. We strive to make great makeup with beautiful colors in every product.

Where do you see the brand 20 years from now?

I never think too much about the future. I work a few months in advance because I have to, but for the most part I take it day by day. I celebrate the past but live in the moment. For the future of the brand, I hope the image of the brand remains; I hope we continue to grow while staying true to our roots. I hope to open more stores in more countries and more boutiques all over the world – I am very proud of our boutiques.

Ultimately, I just want the image to remain intact. I think it’s hard with the evolution of a brand, but it’s been this way since the beginning so I hope in 20 years it will be the same.  I hope the brand will be in good hands and whoever is in charge keeps the DNA.

In the past 20 years, you’ve created innovative products that have changed the way women wear and think about makeup, what is your creative approach in developing new products? 

I’m very spontaneous; I try not to think too much. I follow my instincts and use everything I’ve learned over the years.  I create products based on what I’m attracted to in that moment. For example, I can see a specific blue color –in an accessory, a landscape, anything— and say I want to make an eye shadow exactly that blue. It’s a very spontaneous process.

I am always reinventing products, never settling for the same thing.  We are constantly moving and looking forward, we try not to create the same thing twice. It’s important to be open minded and fresh, never boring.

François Nars and Kate Moss

François Nars and Kate Moss

How does fashion influence the brand? In your opinion, what is the relationship between makeup and fashion?  

I’ve worked with some really fantastic fashion talent – Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein — and I learned something different from each, their DNA has influenced my DNA, my taste and creativity. I was very lucky to work with these luminaries.

As much as I’ve tried to stay away from trends, you have to be aware of them and aware of what’s going on with the runway shows – the fabrics, shapes, models – you have to relate to that.  There’s always something that comes out of those trends, so for Nars, I try to keep it balanced between trendy and classic and that’s not always easy.

The brand is known for its audacious product names. Can you tell us how you decided to use those names?

To me it was very simple, I gave the products names to make them more special, to bring them to life, to give them a personality. I wanted it to really click for women; I wanted them to remember the given product. It’s no longer just a tube of lipstick – it’s a movie or a character that you can identify with, a destination you travel to through products and colors. The names make the product “larger-than-life.”

Do you have one piece of advice you would give to a woman on how to feel and live a beautiful life?

I think makeup is a great tool for transforming yourself. It’s fun to play with – you can become somebody else or find yourself in a look.  There are so many different ways to achieve a look, so many tools and colors to use and play with – you can always take it off, so play with it, it’s fun.

Images courtesy NARS

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Author:Christopher Luu for Fashion Trends Daily

Christopher Luu is a Fashion Trends Daily Senior Writer and Menswear Editor.