Nars Talks ‘Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself,’ Men in Makeup, and What’s Next

François Nars
Photo courtesy of Nars
François Nars on his new book, men in makeup, and personal beauty routine.

In his new book, Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself, François Nars focuses his two passions, makeup and photography, on real people, revealing the powerful role of beauty in personal transformation. The subjects, culled from the streets of New York City, are of varying ages, ethnicities, and skin tones, and some are males.

Nars Cosmetics hosted a launch party for the book at Cedar Lake in Manhattan, where FashionEtc talked to the makeup guru about the concept, choosing real people rather than professional models, how all of us should approach beauty, and his surprising new project.

In your previous book you used models, but in this one you use real people. Why?

Basically, all the women buying Nars are real women, you know, the people that are not famous. They’re the women that really are buying the makeup, so they deserve to be in the book.

You chose the photo subjects from the streets of New York City?

Absolutely. Nobody was famous.

How did you do that? Just approach people on the streets?

I had a gigantic casting—many, many thousands of photographs—and then I selected my favorite 60, trying to have different ethnic backgrounds, age. We started with the teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s.

You have men in the book. Do you recommend that pretty much everyone should wear makeup?

Why not? Yes, absolutely. I mean, men, of course, [are] a more limited range of people, but I think why not?

Do you wear makeup?

Of course, yeah.

Do you have it on now?

A little bit, because when you get photographed you need it even more. [Laughs]

 ‘Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself,’ François Nars
Photo courtesy of Nars
Make Up Your Mind: Express Yourself cover.

Everyone says you’re the expert. Simon Doonan said he’s never seen anyone apply makeup like you. Do you encourage experimentation?

I think makeup should be fun. To me, it’s really like an accessory, the same way you buy, you know, a great pair of crazy shoes with super-high heels. Makeup should be fun and you should really experience and have fun with it and play with it. You can always take it off if it doesn’t work. [Laughs]

What is your daily beauty routine?

Take care of my skin, drink a lot of water, if possible, and put on a great moisturizer at night and during the day. That’s my routine that I do every day no matter what.

You’re planning a third book in this series. Do you have any other projects in the works?

I’m working on another book on the Tahitian Island, on French Polynesia, which will be more like a coffee table book. I’ve lived in Tahiti now for the last 10 years, part of the year. So I decided to do a book, black and white, portraits of people and landscapes, and something very, very different from what I’ve done so far.

When will that be out?

Hopefully next year. We’re trying to wrap it up this year and have it come out for launch next year. So that will be another big party, very different than this one.