Nars make-up stylist Sadafumi Ito, in town for the launch of the cult cosmetics brand, talks beauty with BAZAAR. By Li Ying Lim.
Sadafumi Ito is holding the model’s bare face between his hands. When I ask if this is routine prep work before the heavy make-up goes on, he simply says: “I took a look at the model’s skin and thought it needed some warming up, and I didn’t want to just keep piling it on.” So instead of the usual camouflage, he massages a dollop of Nars skincare into the model’s skin before finishing off with powder around the T-zone and eye area. “This is a great way to make sure the eye make-up stays on under the lights.”
Tailor-making his make-up vision to suit a woman’s best features is one of the many fascinating feats of the Nars international lead make-up stylist. Sadafumi – or better known as Sada – is all revved up for today’s shoot at nine in the morning. Sporting a stylish Panama hat, crisp white shirt, and matching shorts and brogues, Sada is instantly recognisable, since he rarely goes without his extensive collection of hats while transforming faces backstage.
Fashion has always been Sada’s passion. Born in Nagasaki, Japan, he was inspired by the versatility and vibrancy of fashion. “Instead, I was told that I could do even greater things with make-up,” he shares. After several years in Tokyo attending makeup artistry school and manning the counters at Isetan Shinjuku, a chance opening in Nars’s international make-up team saw him take a leap of faith to New York.
Now, as one of only 10 chosen international make-up stylists at Nars, his famous flourishes as leading make-up artist have since graced Seoul Fashion Week and fashion shows in China and Taiwan.
His favourite backstage weapon? The Nars Yachiyo Kabuki Brush – a slim prototype that looks more or less like the Chinese calligraphy brush with an abundance of soft, fluff y hair. “[Nars founder] François Nars was inspired by the kabuki artistry when he created this brush,” he reveals. “I use it for everything, from highlighting to contouring and powdering. I use it all over the face because it blends everything in so beautifully.”
Aside from consistently creating breathtaking and avant-garde looks for top magazines including Vogue Nippon, Elle Japon, and Figaro Japon, as well as collaborating with stylists such as Nicola Formichetti of Diesel and Uniqlo, he also works alongside François Nars backstage at 3.1 Phillip Lim, Diane von Furstenberg, and Marc Jacobs.
While his subjects may be gorgeous models already in possession of great features to start with, his techniques can be easily incorporated into real life, too. “I strive to make beauty all about ease and accessibility while being fun and individualised. It is very important to me that my make-up allows the innate beauty of a woman to shine through,” he says of his bold yet delicate style. “Don’t copy, but always be inspired.”
Sadafumi Ito brushes on the final touch
It takes a lot more than just pat-and-go to achieve pixel perfection
At the BAZAAR shoot