“She was my first model,” says François Nars of his mother, Claudette, his original muse and the inspiration behind his latest collection.
For Nars’s new Claudette capsule, the French-born make-up artist tapped into his childhood nostalgia (he began flipping through his mother’s fashion magazines at 12 and practicing make-up on her by 13) and created a rich range of lipsticks, blushes, and eye shadows that reflect how his mother embodied refined glamour during the ’70s. “She taught me a lot about not overdoing it,” explains Nars of his mother’s less-is-more approach. “In the ’70s, make-up was quite heavy, but my mom would wear clothes from all of the great designers with light-handed make-up, so I thought it was chic not to wear too much,” he explains. “It really stayed with me.”
In crafting the look and feel of the collection, a major jumping-off point for Nars was Claudette’s flair for Yves Saint Laurent; she was among the French working women who adopted the Rive Gauche look, wearing a rotation of fluid dresses, billowy blouses, and structured suits in warm jewel tones and metallics. “I was always elegant, and in all humility, I had a bit of taste,” admits Claudette herself. “I wore very little make-up: my eyes lightly done, a touch of blush, some lip gloss,” she explains. “I used to tell François all the time, ‘Don’t put on too much!’” In that spirit, the Claudette collection strikes a sweet spot between the mood of the ’70s—think vintage-inspired shades—and feeling modern and wearable enough for a woman of any age today.
Capturing Claudette’s proclivity for pared-back, yet striking make-up touches, the 18-piece collection—which is housed in a special edition of the brand’s sleek, matte onyx packaging with graphic crimson star, heart, and butterfly prints—begins with a range of rosy nude and deep crimson Audacious lipsticks, such as pink nude Anaïs, warm brick red Bérénice, and scarlet red Sandrine. The colours are a nod to YSL’s 1976 Russian-inspired haute couture collection, says Nars, who would sometimes paint his mother’s lips to match her vivid blouses.
Then, because blush remains Claudette’s desert-island essential (“If she could select one product, it would probably be her blush,” says Nars), there is a matte cheek duo with bright peach blush in Croisette and toasted amber bronzer Ninotchka to bring a wash of sun-kissed colour to the cheeks. Finally, since Nars loved playing up his mother’s beautiful green eyes with a smoky eye, often copying smoldering looks from the pages of Vogue and Helmut Newton photographs as a boy, there is the St. Germain Des Prés eye shadow palette, which features an array of matte browns and shimmering metallics designed to make the eyes pop.
For Nars, designing a retro-inspired tribute collection that would appeal to today’s women wasn’t as difficult a feat as one might think. “She was ahead of her time,” emphasises Nars of Claudette’s softer, more effortless beauty philosophy, a precursor to today’s no-make-up make-up obsession. “It’s a timeless collection for everyone.”