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François Nars speaks about his brand's 20th anniversary

François Nars speaks about his brand's 20th anniversary

Travel is the key to inspiration

Editor: Buro 24/7


"I try to keep it balanced between trendy and classic and that’s not always easy." – François Nars

Back in 1994, François Nars was not entirely satisfied by the make-up on offer in the market and decided to try his hand at creating his own products, starting at Barneys New York with 12 lipsticks.

“I had no expectations, period,” Nars told WWD recently. “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 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.”

Fast forward two decades, and along with partner Shiseido (which acquired Nars Cosmetics in 2000) he has grown the brand into what industry sources estimate is a $450 million business globally. 

“In terms of my creative approach, I follow my instincts and use everything I’ve learned over the years,” he said, who remains Creative Director of the brand. “I create products based on what I’m attracted to in that moment. For example, I can see a specific blue colour — in an accessory, a landscape, anything — and say, ‘I want to make an eye shadow exactly that blue.’ I am inspired by everything, places I’ve travelled to, old films, exhibits I’ve visited and even people on the street. I can see something someone is wearing or their hair colour, and design with those colours and palettes. That’s the way I design collections. Travelling is probably one of the most inspiring things to me. There is always something that triggers my choice of colours and even sometimes my photography. I also love books; I don’t necessarily need to physically travel to a place because I travel through books. I can see a landscape or a culture in a book and that will inspire my work.”

He’s aware of trends, but doesn’t slavishly follow them. “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,” he said. “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.”

To celebrate the brand’s 20th year, Nars is making the biggest launch in his company’s history: The Audacious Lipstick Collection, which will arrive in September.


NARS will launch in the Middle East this October.

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