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François Nars

Founder, Nars Cosmetics

The renowned artist debuted on the Marc Jacobs runway and worked on fashion shoots before launching his own brand of cosmetics.


One of the world’s most successful makeup artists, François Nars came to prominence through doing Marc Jacobs ’ show, after the designer left Perry Ellis to start his own label. Nars created some of the period’s most memorable makeup looks, including Anna Sui’s 1992 show, in which Nars shaved off Kristen McMenamy’s eyebrows. He returned to the runway in 2009 after a 10-year break, collaborating with his old friend Marc Jacobs to create 65 individual looks.

The Frenchman broke into editorial in 1984 with the support and encouragement of then Vogue fashion editor Polly Mellen in New York in the 1980s. Nars and Steven Meisel regularly collaborated, and along with Oribe Canales, the trio's shared aesthetic soon dominated and continued to be prominent in the aesthetic of fashion photography in the period.

François Nars launched his own makeup line, Nars Cosmetics, in 1994. The line began with 12 lipsticks, sold exclusively at Barneys New York in sleek black packaging designed by Fabien Baron . Nars shot the brands first advertising campaign in 1996, an experience that would lead him to embark on a secondary career as a photographer. The Frenchman has shot editorial for numerous publications, including Vogue Japan.

Born in the south of France, Nars’ affluent parents exposed their child to fashion at a young age. Nars’ mother Claudette encouraged her son’s interest in the industry, talking her son with her on appointments with Paris’ greatest makeup artists in order to secure him his first assistant role with Olivier Echaudemaison.

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What is The BoF 500?

The people shaping the global fashion industry, curated by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on nominations and on-the-ground intelligence from around the world.