When François Nars first brought his 12 lipsticks to Barneys New York in 1994, he had no idea how big the brand would become 20 years later.
“I was just hoping it would do well,,” he explained to Women’s Wear Daily. “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.”
Today, Nars is a beauty trendsetter, thanks to the company’s endless innovations that have become backstage staples during Fashion Month. “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 [Cosmetics], I try to keep it balanced between trendy and classic and that’s not always easy.”
But Nars trusts his instincts and beauty knowledge when developing new ideas, and inspiration can pop up anywhere. “I create products based on what I’m attracted to in that moment,” he said. “For example, I can see a specific blue color — 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 traveled to, old films, exhibits I’ve visited and even people on the street. I can see something someone is wearing or their hair color, and design with those colors and palettes. That’s the way I design collections.”
His eye for color has helped curate the celebratory release of the upcoming Audacious lipsticks. The collection encompasses 40 rich hues all named after Nars’ personal batch of badass muses, including Charlotte Rampling who serves as the face of the campaign. The luxe lipsticks will go on sale in September after a two-week exclusive at Barneys. The brand is celebrating the major milestone with a event on September 4 hosted by Linda Evangelista, Simon Doonan, and Nars’ longtime friend and collaborator Fabien Baron. “François is a visionary,” said Baron. “He’s not scared to follow his instincts. He doesn’t question himself. If he likes it, he does it, and his attitude is, ‘If people don’t like it, too bad.’ He’s very secure in his confidence with the product, and that’s unusual.” That tenacity will ensure Nars stays on the top shelf of the beauty counter
Here’s to another 20 years!