Nars has always had a unique eye for fashion and beauty, but what really set him apart was a nascent talent that led to an acceptance at the prestigious Carita Beauty School in Paris. Eventually came an apprenticeship with French make-up maestro Olivier Echaudemaison.
And then – 1984. At a time when beauty looks were heavily made up, Nars’s signature make-up style was gaining momentum. The fresh skin and daring use of colour caught the eye of fashion tastemakers – most notably Polly Mellen, creative director of Allure, who urged him to transplant to New York City to further what was definitely a burgeoning career.
Vogue. Harper’s BAZAAR. Milan. Paris. New York. London. Nars created beauty looks for fashion giants such as Versace and Marc Jacobs. He collaborated with some of the most famous photographers of all time – Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel, Paolo Roversi – on unforgettable images, including Madonna’s notoriously risqué looks in her ’80s videos and book, Sex. And who could forget that ’90s supermodel look made famous by Naomi, Linda, Christy – all of whom Meisel immortalised with that fashion spread shot in New York City.
But something was still missing. After many years of lugging around products to blend, mix, and match to come up with the desired effects, textures, and hues, Nars decided to come up with his own brand of lipsticks – only 12 colours sold exclusively at Barneys New York when it launched in 1994. Rich and saturated in pigment, shod in a black soft-touch packaging designed by Fabien Baron (who still oversees Nars’s packaging and store designs today), the shades and sensation were like nothing that had ever hit the market.
Due to overwhelming demand, a full cosmetics line was thence launched. Known for products with extraordinary colours, textures, and tongue-in-cheek names – most famously, Orgasm, a seductive shimmery peach-pink blush
Nars and Fabien Baron at the 2012 store opening in New York City Make-up galore in the Bleecker Street flagship