"Beauty is a universal language that goes beyond borders"—François Nars

The iconic make-up artist and creator of NARS Cosmetics, talks about the brand’s launch in India, cult-favourite products, and his beauty values.

Harper's Bazaar India

Close to completing three decades, NARS, has become a name that's synonymous with the beauty industry. From starting with just 12 lipsticks, the brand, under founder François Nars—a photographer and makeup artist—has grown from strength to strength boasting a stunning collection that includes products such as the Radiant Creamy Concealer and Orgasm Blush. With the brand finally launching in India, Bazaar India speaks to Nars, in an exclusive interview, where he talks about his earliest memories of beauty, keeping the brand ahead of the game, coming up with the name Organic Blush, catering to the Indian market, and more. 

Harper’s Bazaar: What are your earliest memories of beauty and how did it shape NARS?

François Nars: My mother and my grandmothers introduced me to the world of beauty. When I was six or seven, I began to notice that I was surrounded by really gorgeous women in my family. My grandmother was very artistic and inspiring. She did her make-up beautifully—it was fascinating to watch her apply eyeliner and paint her lips with vibrant red lipstick.

However, my love for natural-looking make-up comes from my mother. Even though she never wore a lot of make-up, she always looked so elegant and striking. She was very fond of blush—never left the house without it.

HB: Beauty is controlled by trends that change in the blink of an eye. How do you manage to keep NARS so fresh throughout it all?

FN: I don’t follow trends. I don’t think about what would be trendy in the next one or two years. I aim to create products that will have a longer life span than that.

HB: We are so thrilled NARS is coming to India, can you tell us why did you make this decision now and who will your target audience be here?

FN: I am delighted and deeply honoured to launch NARS in India. India’s rich culture and beauty traditions have always been a great source of inspiration for me. The brand’s decision to launch in India is driven by the country’s rising beauty consciousness, including the consumers’ increasing investment in beauty. India’s celebration of individuality and the growing demand for premium beauty products that allow for self-expression without boundaries is what primarily drives this decision.

HB: You introduced your line in 1994 with 12 lipsticks; why did you choose to start with lipsticks?

FN: It happened so naturally; I could have started with 12 eyeshadows, but I have always believed that lipstick is the most iconic make-up accessory in any woman’s make-up bag. It has the power to instantly transform your look and its appeal remains timeless.

HB: The Orgasm Blush is famous not only for its beautiful pink hue but also for its name, how did you come up with that?

FN: When I created the Orgasm Blush, the name actually came to me before the colour itself. With NARS blushes, I wanted to give names that would evoke emotions and sensations. I had an array of names in mind that were inspired by pleasure, passion, and various feelings.

You blush naturally in response to a certain emotion, and I wanted the names to be tied to these emotions, some of which might have a slightly more provocative or sensual undertone. ‘Orgasm’ happened to be one of those names.

HB: Tell us three rules of thumb that a brown-skinned person should follow while choosing their make-up products.

FN: Beauty is global. It’s a universal language that goes beyond borders, cultural boundaries, and skin tones. There are no rules. Women should wear what they want.

HB: Do you plan on launching any products that will specifically cater to the needs of the Indian skin tone and texture?

FN: I am always inspired by the unique beauty of different skin tones and textures. My goal has always been to create make-up products that are inclusive and celebrate the beauty of everyone. While I can’t reveal specifics around future product launches, you can certainly expect me to continue to explore and develop products that cater to a wider range of skin tones and textures, including those specific to India.

HB: If you had to choose, what three NARS products would you have on you at all times and why?

FN: My choices would include: Light Reflecting Moisturizer to lay the foundation for a radiant complexion, Soft Matte Advanced Perfecting Powder for on-the-go touch-ups, and Afterglow Lip Balm in Clean Cut for effortless lip care.

HB: Who have been your biggest muses throughout the years?

FN: So many women have inspired me throughout the years. Among them, my mother holds a special place as my initial muse. Her influence continues to be a big source of inspiration today.

However, my muses extend beyond my personal circle. You can witness the profound influence of these extraordinary women in my recent documentary, titled Unknown Beauty: François Nars.