This beautiful and arresting image by the great French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) is one of a number from his 1970s heyday which has inspired an entire collection by make-up maestro Francois Nars for the festive season.
In creating NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection, Nars pays tribute to an artist whose influence, he says, is “in the DNA of NARS.” Here’s a Q&A with Francois Nars on this exquisite collection which comprises five lipsticks, five eyeshadows, four nail polishes, three blushers and a number of covetable cosmetics bags, kits and gift sets.
When did you first discover the photography of Guy Bourdin? In French Vogue, in the early Seventies. The images I found captivated me – so edgy, so colourful. I had never seen anything like them.
What draws you to Guy Bourdin? His sense of colour. His madness. The way he broke so many rules. The way he saw women. The strong sexual aspect in the images. I love a strong woman who is comfortable being sexy and beautiful, and he celebrated that in his images.
What is it about Guy Bourdin, and his work, that lends itself to make-up? The explosion of colours, and also the extreme sophistication of the girls in his photographs. The models look totally artificial, totally unnatural, but very decadent and never cheap or vulgar. I’m drawn to bringing that juxtaposition to life in make-up.
When and why did you decide to dedicate an entire collection to Guy Bourdin? I always dreamed about it. Bourdin’s influence is everywhere in my life; it’s in the DNA of NARS. I’ve long incorporated his work into our collections – in names, colours, even inspiration for the campaign images. It was only a matter of time before I created an entire collection around him and his work.
How did you translate Bourdin’s vision into this beauty collection? I started by staring at the make-up of the models, and sometimes, the backgrounds and sets of his editorials and campaigns. It was important to me to capture both the colours and the feeling of his images. From there, we translated the shades into a cohesive collection.
How are you and Bourdin alike? How are you different? Well, we both love taking pictures, of course. And we’re both drawn to beautiful, provocative, even audacious, women. I think we’re both willing to break the rules. He was unafraid in his choices at a time when everyone was doing the same thing. I hope I am bold enough to be doing the same today.
How has Bourdin influenced you as a make-up artist and as a photographer? Enormously. His point of view has been so informative in my work – as a make-up artist, then later when I picked up a camera and stepped behind the lens for the NARS campaigns.
Why do you think Bourdin is still relevant today? His images are timeless. You look at them now, and they’re still so modern. His creativity is still inspiring the photographers, the make-up artists, the designers of today. I don’t believe he’ll ever cease to be relevant.
Both you and Bourdin have worked with the same models over and over again. How important is establishing that relationship to getting a great image? It’s all about the model – without a great model, the photography does not have the same impact. I’ve enjoyed and admired all the women I’ve worked with, and I believe that really shows through in the images.
What are your favourite images of Bourdin’s? All his work for French Vogue in the sixties and seventies. And the Charles Jourdan [shoe] campaigns. They were a revelation in their time.
How did you decide from Bourdin’s body of work what to incorporate into the collection? The most iconic images, and the most daring also. I wanted to bring the bright colours from these pictures – and the happiness drawn from them – to women’s lives and make them look beautiful.
For a fan of NARS who may be new to the work of Guy Bourdin, what would you tell them? Buy the books and admire the images. That is where it all started for me.
What should women try from the collection? Holiday is the perfect time to experiment with make-up. The shades of the Cinematic Eyeshadows are seductive and sexy. And of course, you cannot go wrong with a strong red lip, found in several of the new Cinematic Lipsticks, like Short Circuit and Future Red.
* The NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection is available now, online and in selected department stores and Space NK branches.