It's pretty rare to see an interview with François Nars, and even in this one, he's not exactly what you'd call a blabbermouth. But what he does say reveals a lot about his brand philosophy. And he's certainly had great success with his line of cosmetics—making enough money to purchase a small island in the South Pacific.
On starting his own company: "I never thought make-up was like brain surgery. I just wanted a line that made sense, using my 25 years of experience. I was never saying there was a whole message behind it. You can always romanticise these things and invent stuff – and some people do that well – but I'm very down-to-earth."
To find out why François thinks modern culture is vulgar, and why he digs girls with freckles,
On nostalgia: "I hate the vulgarity of today – it's something that kills me. Everything is overexposed. There is no mystery any more. There was a time when you would dream about, say, movie stars. Now, you virtually follow them into their bathroom when they're going to the loo. People say to me, 'Well, that's the way it goes.' But I don't know what went wrong. It's not that I'm easily shocked. It takes a lot to shock me. And wildness I like. But vulgarity shocks me. And there's so much of it today. And it's going to be hard to reverse it because it's really taking over like mad. If you're a very sensitive person, you can start to think, 'Why bother any more?' But there are ways to still keep yourself happy. For instance, I focus on creative things like make-up."
On casting models: "I wanted to get away from the typical over-retouched, over-plasticised blonde with blue eyes. To find girls with freckles or the features of a Fellini actress. And to see the skin. To see they were human. I wanted to make women feel more confident so they could say, 'OK, if I don't look like those blonde, plastic girls, well, there's still a place for me out there. I can survive.' It's changing now. But I hope I've been a part of that process."
The idea of casting models with a little something "off" is typical today, but when Nars started in 1996, it was still unusual. It's clearly been a successful move for him. And based on his comments, it looks like we won't be seeing any celebrities in his campaigns anytime soon. But if he needs a quirky beauty, I know just the right person.... (François! Telephonez-moi!)