François Nars

from backstage at marc to bora bora, the charmed existence of one of beauty's brightest stars

When Marc Jacobs asked François Nars to take on backstage duties at his Fall show, thus pulling the famed makeup artist out of runway retirement for one glorious evening of eighties-style excess, even Nars himself was a little taken aback. "It just…happened," the French-born face painter says. "I always thought that if I was ever going to get back into doing shows, it would have to be with people I've had great relationships with in the past or people I admire. With Marc, it was both."

If anyone could help conjure Jacobs' recollections of up-all-night parties at Area and Mudd Club with friends and muses like Stephen Sprouse and Debbie Harry—the latter's "going out" makeup is the stuff of legend—it was Nars. "I lived it," he says of the time around 1984 when he arrived in New York from Paris with the encouragement of Vogue editor Polly Mellen, a fan of his work with photographers like Paolo Roversi. With his unique mastery of textures and colors, plus the discerning ability to know when and how to push the envelope, Nars' name soon became attached to almost every major fashion spread in every major magazine the world over. His artistic vision and technical skill helped turn Naomi, Christy, and Linda from fresh faces into iconic ones and laid the groundwork for a cult cosmetics line that has made him an indispensable member of the beauty world's elite—and the perfect choice for our inaugural Beautiful Lives feature. Read on to find out more about the man behind the makeup.

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—Celia Ellenberg

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