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Q&A: François Nars on His New Book, Embracing Color, and the Beauty of Wrinkles

François Nars, left, and an image from Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself, via Nars
François Nars, left, and an image from Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself, via Nars

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François Nars, the man who brought the world "Orgasm" blush, is making the publicity rounds this summer in support of his new book Makeup Your Mind: Express Yourself. We caught up with the makeup guru in Seattle last week during an appearance at Nordstrom, where he's debuting two exclusive palettes on July 25. Here's what he had to say about wrinkles, color confidence, and the transformative power of chartreuse eye shadow.—Alison Brownrigg

Racked: We noticed that you really layer colors in the book. Does it take an intrepid person to replicate that?
François Nars: The book is about ideas. It’s about showing women out there that you can mix colors—it’s not just what’s in the pot. You’re allowed to actually mix lipstick, combine eye shadows and create your own. It’s fine to play with makeup. It’s not forbidden.

Nars photographed real women of all ages, before and after being transformed by makeup for Make Up Your Mind

Racked: Your Summer 2012 collection is very eclectic, ranging from vibrant jewel tones to beach-y neutrals. Talk us through your thoughts on this summer’s freshest look.
FN: This summer, I was interested in exploring the interplay of earth tones and shimmers. I think at first glance, the combination of orchid, blue, strawberry red and seashell pink can sound and appear quite delicate and innocent, but our version of these colors and the way we combine them results in a look that’s more fun and edgy. I love Never Say Never Velvet Matte Lip Pencil—it’s a great color for tanned skin, and the matte finish is the perfect complement to summer’s shimmery lid or glowing complexion.

Racked: That’s really liberating, that sense of no boundaries. You also say in the book that almost every woman can virtually wear every color. I’d like to wear chartreuse eye shadow to pick my kid up from kindergarten.
FN: You should! I really believe that! To a certain extent, of course, I mean it’s true and it’s not totally true. But it’s not as extreme as it used to be, where the rule was wear this and don’t wear that. It’s up to women to realize what looks best on the them, but it should be more on impulse and not so much like a straightjacket, you know, so that you cannot move. It should be more like love at first sight: I love this color, I want to wear it. I like that attitude about makeup, not to be too restricted.

Racked: A makeup artist once told me that after 25, beauty is all about maintenance. You photographed some much older women in the book who are absolutely ravishing. What are your thoughts on that idea of the early demise of beauty?
FN: No, no, no! I mean, you must keep to a beauty regime, like don’t go in the sun, try not to smoke, exercise, you know. The older you get, after a certain age, you should be much more attentive to your health. That keeps you looking better. Maybe at 35 it’s like that, but you still have many, many more years of looking great even then. There is a lot of beauty in a 15 year-old kid, with porcelain skin, but there is also a lot of beauty in wrinkles, it’s part of life. Older beauty is very reassuring. I love both. Correctly applied makeup can make women of any age look younger. That’s what the lesson of the book is, I think.
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