LIVING THE DREAM
Nights of champagne, dancing in moonlight. Soaking up rays and swimming with mantas. This is Motu Tane. By Sunitha Thayaparan.
There is a place where dreams come true. It is a dot of verdant green in the myriad, ephemeral blues of the South Pacific. Just off the atoll of Bora Bora rests a jewel: Motu Tane, or the Island of Universal Love. In the late ’90s, this tiny little sliver – once the home of the late explorer Paul-Émile Victor and playground of native adolescents who danced nights away – captured the imagination of François Nars. The force behind cult make-up label Nars saw its creative possibility. This is his real talent – to go beyond the surface, to look within, almost. By mid-2000 he had not only acquired Motu Tane but begun an extensive design project with acclaimed French designer Christian Liaigre to create what was to be the ultimate dream space.
“There is, of course, a natural richness to the island,” says Nars as we make ourselves comfortable in the stunning dark-timbered lounge of the villa he sometimes calls home. Somewhat dazzled by his own naïveté, he reveals: “I thought buying an island was very glamorous, without thinking at all about what it would take to make it look the way it does now. Now it’s no doubt, a fantasy island, totally comfortable and self-sufficient. But to get to that point was very complicated!” The property includes two 929-sq-ft master suites that mix modernity and traditional structures seamlessly; think thatched roofs and flat-screen TVs paired with exotic woods and Wi-Fi. Then there are two smaller suites on the beachfront and nine guest houses with garden and beach views. Says Nars, “Motu Tane was designed as a space of celebration, for my family and loved ones. Somewhere you could dine on the beach or deck, bathed in moonlight. It’s my retreat from the world, which is interesting because I thrive as much on this island, as I do when I’m on that other island I call home – New York – where the pace is frenetic.”
Indeed, as the make-up creator who cut his teeth working with renowned artist Olivier Echaudemaison and who by 1994 had launched an eponymous collection of 12 lip colours that developed into a cosmetics and skincare line, Nars is no stranger to the dichotomy of fantasy and reality. He pushes boundaries to their artistic extreme with playful yet provocative names like every girl’s
The deck, where cocktails and canapés prepared by the island’s personal chef are served come evening Christian Liaigre- designed rooms are beautifully appointed with modern conveniences