In 1994, a French-born makeup artist named François Nars launched a collection of 12 lipsticks at Barneys New York. You know where this is going: today, François Nars is a modern beauty icon and a household name—and that little line of his, NARS Cosmetics, is now a staple in makeup bags the world over. (Seriously, how often have you heard NARS Dragon Girl or Orgasm name-checked?)

Needless to say, stop by the NARS counter at the newly renovated Foundation and you’ll find yourself in the presence of greatness. Rich bold colors, gorgeous textures, sleek packaging, irreverent hue names—the only other thing we could ask for would be a little help from the man himself. We got in touch with François Nars, Founder and Creative Director, NARS Cosmetics, and grilled him on his favorite products, what makeup traps to avoid, and the best beauty advice he’s ever received.


How would you describe your beauty philosophy?
I want to make women feel and look beautiful. My philosophy is to have fun with makeup—play with colors and don’t be afraid to express yourself.

What is your favorite part about contributing beauty looks for fashion week?
I work with Marc Jacobs and it is always a creative collaboration. We discuss different references in time: people, places, art. It’s one of the best shows to work on because there is always a makeup look. Marc isn’t afraid to push the makeup.

What’s the difference between runway makeup and everyday makeup? How can women get inspired by the runway in their own everyday routines?
I love to see women playing with color, but I don’t recommend following trends blindly. When you have strong looks created on the runway, the key is to find the part of the look that you identify with and recreate it in a way that feels most comfortable.

What kind of relationship would you like to see women have with makeup?
I want them to have a love affair! When a woman finds the right red lipstick, it’s empowering and exciting. Everything else falls into place.

What’s the biggest mistake women make when it comes to makeup?
I see women using too much foundation, wearing it in the wrong shade and over plucking their eyebrows.

What are your favorite products of the moment?
It’s so hard to choose! Right now, I love our new NARS Eye Paints and Radiant Cream Compact Foundation! The eye paints are incredibly pigmented and long-lasting, and the foundation is the only foundation on the market that can be used wet or dry!

What are three NARS products you think every woman needs in her makeup bag?
Radiant Creamy Concealer, perfect for touch ups on the go, any of our Multiple sticks, and a classic, Fire Down Below lipstick! Every woman should have a good red lipstick.

What’s the best makeup advice you’ve ever been given?
Less is more.