Nars make-up stylist Sada­fumi Ito, in town for the launch of the cult cos­met­ics brand, talks beauty with BAZAAR. By Li Ying Lim.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Beauty -

Nars colours

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

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