Q&A with François Nars

November 5th, 2020

November 5th, 2020

As NARS launch their fabulous new Climax Extreme Mascara, we asked Founder & Creative Director François Nars a few questions.

What do you look for in a mascara?  What is the “perfect” mascara to you?

For me, it is the formula – great texture and intense pigment.  It also very important that mascara holds very well.  There is nothing worse than a mascara that, after an hour, starts to dull down, dry up, and falls into pieces.


What is your favourite type of mascara look? How do you think mascara contributes to complete one’s makeup look?

I think mascara is essential, it is a key item, a number one tool.  Mascara immediately frames your eyes in a way no other product can.  It really gives you a deeper look and puts your eyes in focus, even if it is all you wear.  Mascara enhances any eye makeup look and gives it a final touch.

Historically the first version of mascara did not have the same form as we know it today. Did you ever have to use the cake mascara when you started as a makeup artist? What do you think about the evolution of mascara?

It was one great mascara!  I remember my grandmother had it.  Back in the days cake was considered the best mascara in the world.  The formula was amazing – it was wax, not water based, and it held very well.  It came with the brush, that resembled a mini toothbrush – you were able to really separate the lashes during the application.  If you look at makeup on old photographs – the lashes were quite fabulous! I recall Olivier Echaudemaison, [Creative Director at Guerlain] who I was assisting when I just moved to Paris and started doing make up, used cake mascara on Catherine Deneuve.

I’ve heard over the years many people say that cake mascara can never be replaced, but it evolved and rightfully so.  It was frankly quite unhygienic, especially in a studio setting.  You were supposed to wet it with water, but many people used saliva instead, by spitting directly onto the cake.

I have used cake mascara a bit in early days, but not a lot.

Why did you decide to create climax extreme mascara and how does it compare to the original climax mascara?

Climax Extreme Mascara is more dramatic.  The pigments are blacker, the volumizing effect is immediate.  Climax Mascara is a bit softer; the formula is a bit lighter, it’s a buildable mascara.  Both are great mascaras and it is really a question of personal preference.  As to why Climax Extreme Mascara was created, the answer really lies deep in the philosophy of the brand – NARS is a brand for everyone and I want anyone to be able to find what they are looking for, be that mascara, lipstick, or foundation.


What do you really like in a mascara? What makes it perfect to you?

For me, it is the textures, the formulas—making the lashes as long as possible, which is the case for the new Climax Extreme Mascara.  It also holds well. There is nothing worse than a mascara that, after an hour, starts to dry up and fall.

Women around the world like to emphasise their eyes in different ways? Do you have different asks from various women?

Yes and no. I mean, usually people adapt to whatever their natural lashes are.  Some people have very thick and curly and long lashes.  Some do not.  I think there are many ways today to work around that, and mascara is the number one tool to help.  You can use various eyeliners and eyeshadows, but the lashes are the key element to a dramatic eye look. Mascara can help make a woman feel feminine and great.  It really gives you a deeper look and makes your eyes more in focus.


Do you always put mascara on last?

That has always been the way I have done, and I still do makeup.  I think it is easier when you do eyeliner, liquid, or pencil, before mascara because you get a cleaner look.  It is easier than if the lashes are in the way and they are already curled and finished with mascara.  And it is very important to apply to the top lashes first, let them dry, and then you go to the lower lashes, so you do not make a mess.  They really need to be done in two steps. I always apply mascara on bottom lashes no matter what, even if I want to enhance the top lashes, like what they did in the 1940s, ’50s Hollywood looks.

Are there specific moments in art, film or culture that really stand out to you in terms of a memorable eye look?

The ’20s and the ’30s were really one of my favourite periods because the looks were quite dramatic.  Women used to really have very, very dark or very greasy, black smoky eyes and a very dark lipstick.  I’ve recreated it so many times in my life.  And I love the ’40s and ’60s and the ’70s—many of those looks were inspired by the ’20s and ’30s.  If you look at all the photographs from the ’70s and ’80s, you’ll see the influence of the ’20s and ’30s.  So, obviously the ’20s and ’30s, which were the beginning of the Hollywood golden age and the start of silent movies, were really my favourite makeup inspiration looks.


NARS Climax Extreme Mascara (£22) is available now, nationwide.



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By Sarah Dann

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