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The Makeup Genius Who Created a Collection For His Mother

By Renée Batchelor

Claudette, the mother of Nars' artistic director François Nars, and the woman who inspired this collection.
 
Courtesy of Nars
Claudette, the mother of Nars' artistic director François Nars, and the woman who inspired this collection.

François Nars, the founder and artistic director of Nars Cosmetics has his mother to thank for starting him on his career path as a renowned makeup artist and cosmetic brand founder. Claudette was a woman whose sense of style and timeless beauty influenced the way he saw makeup. He has come full circle with a makeup collection created in collaboration with her. Drawing from both nostalgia, as well as the spirit of the 1970s Paris Rive Gauche, the collection includes the makeup shades that Claudette is inherently drawn to, as well as packaging that was inspired by the things she likes.

On his mother, Nars said, “I always remember my mom being extremely beautiful and always getting a lot of attention from people, as they always noticed her in the street or anywhere we would go. She has always been a very gorgeous woman.” However when it came to makeup Claudette preferred a lighter hand. “My mum was never into a very heavy makeup, she liked it very natural, which I loved and thought she looked amazing. She was really into mascara, having her lashes done well… putting on some blush. She didn’t like foundation or anything that was covering her skin too much. She didn’t really need to put on too much because she had a naturally beautiful skin. When I started doing her makeup, I was probably the one who put more makeup on her!” he says.

Nars, who founded his namesake brand in 1994, also recalls first testing out his makeup skills on her in the early ’70s. “I would recreate some of the makeup looks from Vogue and French ELLE. My mother has amazing green eyes, so the most fun part was the eye makeup. I used to really look in the magazines, in the photographs, and see how they did the smoky eyes, which was the big trend at the time—they were quite extreme. I would try to recreate them on her and then I would send her out to go into town to go shopping, go see her friends and try to get the comments from her friends to see what they thought. Usually people said, ‘Oh my God, you look so great!’ and that was so encouraging that I started slowly getting more into makeup,” he says. T Singapore spoke to François Nars and Claudette in an email interview about the birth of the Claudette Collection and working together.

Courtesy of NarsLipsticks from the collection were decorated with '70s inspired prints like stars, hearts and butterflies and feature a new texture — Audacious Sheer Matte.
Lipsticks from the collection were decorated with '70s inspired prints like stars, hearts and butterflies and feature a new texture — Audacious Sheer Matte.

Renée Batchelor: Your mother is a great beauty. In what ways has she inspired your artistry?

François Nars: My mother has inspired me a lot. She showed me the importance and the transformational power of a light touch, transparency, and that less is more when it comes to makeup. She gave me an appreciation for beauty and fashion. I have always loved how glamorous, elegant, sophisticated and stunning she was. She is still very beautiful today, even at her age, and she kept this fresh look about her.

RB: When you were creating the collection, were there any past memories or moments that inspired you for the products and colour development?

FN: The Claudette Collection was really a collaboration between my mother and me. When I proposed the idea of the collection to her, we started thinking about the packaging, and this is when the idea of the prints came up. All patterns used on the packaging, including hearts and butterflies, were inspired from the prints of the dresses my mother used to wear in the ’70s.

As for the shades in the collection, they are all truly her colours — colours that she is comfortable with, that make her look and feel great, and that she loves to wear. They’re also very timeless colours that look great on everyone.

RB: What were your favorite moments from the campaign shoot and from this entire process of working with your mother?

FN: My whole life I’ve known my mother as a parent, who loved me unconditionally, as a friend, who supported me entirely in all my beginnings.

Working with her on this collection showed me the side of her I probably haven’t really seen as vividly before — she transformed into a professional model on set, during the campaign shoot, and a passionate, dedicated collaborator throughout the entire shade and packaging development process.

Courtesy of Nars The Claudette  Cheek Duo, featuring two shades of blusher was a favourite of Claudette's.
The Claudette Cheek Duo, featuring two shades of blusher was a favourite of Claudette's.

RB: As someone who has not been in the spotlight, what was it like to be the campaign model? Were you nervous?

Claudette Nars: It was a wonderful experience! We shot at the Hotel Regina in Paris, all of the images were captured in one day. We began in the morning and finished at six in the evening. I was indeed very nervous in the beginning, but I was surrounded by my son and a great professional team — they made me feel supported and very comfortable. I had an amazing time!

RB: How closely did you work with François on choosing the colours and the products for the collection, and what was the process like?

CN: François made it very easy for me. He knows me so well! He knows what colours I like and what colours look good on me. I loved everything he proposed — it’s like he was reading my mind! He lives in New York and I am here, in France. We worked very closely regardless of the distance — we spoke on the phone, exchanged pictures and ideas via email and samples via mail. I enjoyed every moment of it!

RB: What products are your personal favourites from the collection?

CN: I love everything about this collection. Every piece, the dots, the hearts — they represent so many things I owned and loved. Everything is so refined. It’s very hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to, I adore the blush palette (the Claudette Cheek Duo).

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