There’s something about François Nars that I really admire, and apart from his obvious makeup artistry & photography skills, it’s without a doubt the fact that he doesn’t compromise his aesthetic vision for the sake of what’s trending. This latest collaboration with French actress/singer/model/muse Charlotte Gainsbourg is a testament to this philosophy, showcasing a selection of products which reflects this icon’s effortless laissez-faire beauty chic — and all without fanfare, bells, or whistles.
Charlotte Gainsbourg (45), was basically destined to become famous; her father – notable singer/songwriter & director Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991) has gone on to become one of France’s artistic treasures, while her mother Jane Birkin (yes, the coveted Hermes Birkin bag was named in her honour) is one of England’s icons, having gained fame through her acting/singing and songwriting talents. An impressive pedigree indeed, yet by all accounts Charlotte is humble and incredibly down-to-earth AND she has that French je ne said quoi … damn it.
Right off the bat, the collection stands out by virtue of the packaging: a stylized military khaki green hue with gold accents, yet still with that same classic NARS rubberized feel.
Multiple Tint, limited edition (CAN $49.00/each) | According to Charlotte, the Multiple Tints are her favourite items from the entire collection, as they are sheer enough to provide natural looking colour without overwhelming the face as well as efficient multi-taskers. Named after her children (Jo & Alice), as well as her father’s pet name for her mom (Jeanette), these are balm-like in texture without any noticeable shimmer and can be used on cheeks, lips, or even the eyes (not that I’d wear them there, but perfect for that ‘eye-gloss’ type of effect). Years ago when NARS came out with a limited edition trio of coloured Multiple Tints, I jumped all over them and searched high & low to compare them to these, but they appear to have been swallowed up in the beauty vortex happening here at the moment. Moving along … I love these for that ultimate natural glow they give to cheeks and while they can be built up for more depth, their true strength lies in how seamlessly they can be blended into the skin. Staying power over foundation is pretty good and you can even extend that by layering a powdered blush on top, if desired.
- Alice – poppy red
- Jo – light pink
- Jeanette – sheer berry
Velvet Duo Eyeshadow, limited edition (CAN $43.00/each) | Paying homage to both her French and British heritages, these eyeshadow duos bear complimentary hues but can also be mixed & matched or paired up easily with other shades as well. Created to work in harmony with the rest of the collection, the textures are incredibly fine milled and display no fall down upon application, while the pigmentation is perfectly balanced so that you can lay down a wash of colour or deepen the tone through layering — it’s basically a question of taste and the type of brush used. BONUS: these shades can also be applied with a dampened brush; I suggest that you stick to one corner of each shade for that, in order to keep the rest of the texture intact for dry use.
Rue Allent – shimmering frost & deep forest green, although the latter appears more like a blackened forest green to me although it still manages to not come off as an opaque black, making it a wonderfully new way to sport a smokey eye.
Old Church Street – golden champagne & deep slate teal (matte), a gorgeous duo that really makes eyes the focus but can be used in other ways as well; applied with a dampened brush, the teal becomes a smoldering liner shade while the shimmery hue can even double as a highlighter.
Kohliner, limited edition (CAN $31.00/each) | If you’ve yet to try any of the NARS Kohliners, you’re missing out on one of the best creamy eyeliners there are. The retractible pencils style is my favourite for how easy it is to use, not to mention the hygienic factor, and the shades of this collection also happen to be 100% wearable hues that will work with a variety of eye looks. Don’t be fooled by the creamy texture of these pencils either; yes they can be smudged out for a diffused and/or smokey look but they also happen to be incredibly long-lasting too. Word of warning: work one eye at a time because once they set, they’re pretty much there for the duration.
- Zinc – slate grey
- Cours du Soir – deep moss green
- Nuit d’Encre (not shown) – deep navy
Lip Tint, limited edition (CAN $33.00/each) | So here’s an unexpected — yet totally pleasant — surprise: the shade seen in the tube of these Lip Tints seems to be colour-drenched and quite opaque, but once again appearances can be deceiving. The formula of each is buttery and glides easily along the lips via the use of a flocked doe-foot applicator, delivering light colour which makes all eminently wearable, leaving behind a very comfortable lip-feel. These non-sticky glosses have pretty decent staying power despite the fact that they’re all relatively sheer, but they can always be applied over either a matching liner or lipstick for more depth of tone — although why you’d want to do that is beyond me; they’re ridiculously gorgeous as is.
- Double Decker – ruby red
- Jo – antique rose
- Promise – red plum
There are a few more pieces of this collection that I hadn’t received at the time of posting, and I’ll be sure to include any edits when that changes. Apart from the colour cosmetics end of things, the other new items from this collection include the new Hydrating Glow Tint and the Au Poil Brush Roll (all limited edition & reviews coming soon), but surprisingly there isn’t a blush, bronzer, or nail polish in sight as you’d expect with a Summer collection — which once again clearly demonstrates that François Nars does indeed march to the beat of his own drum: eclectic, original, and totally outside of the box. Thank God.
Available May at all NARS retailers
Media samples kindly provided, all opinions are my own