February 7, 2012

Francois Nars - lies a great makeup artist

Behind every great fashion beauty there lies a great makeup artist. In the case of a long string of one-name supermodels—Christy, Cindy, Linda, and Naomi—that magician has been Fran├žois Nars, a bespectacled Frenchman whose wand is his makeup brush and his alchemy, transforming mere women into glamazons.

Nars was born in the South of France, where his father owned a pork-products factory. His mother, who went about town in Yves Saint Laurent, fostered her son’s interest in fashion from a young age. Indeed, it’s thanks to her that Nars landed his first assistant job: At appointments in Paris in the late seventies with top makeup artists, she would talk up her son and persuaded one to take him on. In 1984, encouraged by Vogue editor Polly Mellen, Nars headed to New York, where he quickly established himself as an artist known for a punchy color palette and for taking risks. (Ever-obsessed with eyebrows, he shaved the American model Kristen McMenamy’s off entirely for an Anna Sui show in 1992.) Together with Steven Meisel, a photographer very much on the rise, Nars and the hairstylist Oribe Canales formed an aesthetic triumvirate that became the most potent in the magazine industry in the late eighties.

Nars launched his makeup line, under his own surname, in 1994. Cash-strapped, for his first advertising campaign he took up a camera himself and found a new creative outlet; eventually, he would shoot editorial for major magazines, including VogueNippon. In 2009, after a ten-year hiatus from the runway, Nars returned in all his Technicolor glory to do the makeup for Marc Jacobs’s fall show, an ode to the heady nightclub days of eighties New York, when both the designer and makeup artist were in the genesis of their careers. “Marc and I felt there was a need to go wild,”[1] said Fran├žois, who created 65 unique looks rather than just one, cloned. The result: A celebration of good times and great style that was very Nars.

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