NARS Cosmetics is a French cosmetics and skin care company founded by make-up artist and photographer François Nars. The cosmetics line began with twelve lipsticks sold at Barneys New York. Since then, NARS has created various multi-use beauty products and now is a subsidiary of Shiseido.
François Nars was born in the South of France. He was raised under the influence of his mother, Claudette Nars, and was exposed to fashion at an early age. It was thanks to her that he acquired his first job as an assistant to some of Paris’ top makeup artists. After graduating from Paris’ Carita Makeup school, Nars moved to New York in 1984. There, he was recognized for his love of colour and modern style. He also became part of a trio with photographer Steven Meisel and hair stylist Oribe Canales. In the eighties and nineties they produced many magazine editorials appearing in American Vogue, Vogue Italia and Elle. Very quickly, Nars’ popularity grew amongst fashion designers like Marc Jacobs for his ability to create looks that captured the story and feel of their designs. Celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista also sought out for him. His philosophy towards makeup was to use makeup to explore the depths and nuances of individual character, and as a makeup artist, Nars was frustrated by how little selection there was for makeup artists.
In 1994, François Nars released his own brand of makeup- NARS. In 1996, Nars started his first advertising campaign doing the photography for the ads himself. After shooting his first advertising campaign himself, Nars found a new creative medium. This lead him to shooting several editorials for major magazines as well as all the Nars’ ad campaigns today. Currently Nars has published four books on his photography. Today Nars remains as the artistic director, in-house photographer, and copywriter for his brand.
The minimalist packaging was created by Fabien Baron and has been hailed as a modern design icon. Product shades carry provocative names like “Orgasm,” “Deep Throat,” “Striptease,” and “Sex Machine.” NARS “Orgasm” blush is one of the company’s best-selling products, being Best of Sephora’s Best Blush for 2006, 2007 and 2008. Thus, they have developed an “Orgasm Collection,” including blush, lipgloss, multiple use cream sticks, illuminators, and nail polish. In addition, some NARS product shades are named after geographic locations such as “Siberia”, “Iceland,” “Kalahari,” and “Kuala Lumpur.”
In the United Kingdom, Nars products are sold in Space NK, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges and are favourites of Madonna and Victoria Beckham. In the United States, NARS products can be found in 42 states and the District of Columbia. They are sold at Sephora as well as in department stores, including Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. In Canada NARS can be found in the department store Holt Renfrew as well as Sephora and The Bay. In Australia and New Zealand, Nars products are sold exclusively at Mecca Cosmetica and Mecca Maxima.