Interview – Jane Richardson
Jane Richardson of NARS cosmetics discusses her new role as International Lead Make-up Stylist, and the joys of people watching.
It?s extraordinary how life can be going one way and then take a completely different turn. I?ve recently taken on a new role as International Lead Make-Up Stylist for NARS, which puts me right back in the creative sphere where I started my career. After fine tuning my skills as freelance make up-artist in television alongside editorials and back stage at Fashion Week I became an ambassador for NARS in the UK before becoming Europe Training Manager. When the opportunity came up to return to my artistry roots, I embraced it wholeheartedly.
In this industry creativity is the key. In my previous role I loved developing the NARS training initiatives, and the opportunities that the role brought, including running the first ever
NARS UK Conference, through to our third this year at the Aviator. I?m thrilled to be returning to a role as a full time make-up artist and ambassador for the brand, a role that will require a different kind of creativity altogether. I?ll be travelling to key events, attending new openings, working closely with the media, doing celebrity make-up and talking about NARS?a lot! Spreading the word and my passion for this fabulous brand!
I get a lot my inspiration by watching people. I love it. If I see someone wearing something that I like I will go up to them to try and understand what made them decide for that particular look or style. It might just even be a chat about the lipstick they?re wearing, I?m very curious as you can see. I have a twin sister and she is exactly the same. It is I guess an artistic curiosity that we share.
Make-up application can really change people?s faces so I prefer to show women how to embrace who they are, and teach them how to do something different with make-up.
I don?t know if people watching got me into make-up, but I have always been fascinated with faces and knew it was what I wanted to do. My Mum was an Avon lady for years. I can still remember playing with the tiny lipstick samples that stacked up. After School I went straight to study Beauty Therapy. I finished my training and ended up setting up a salon in the local leisure centre. A couple of years later, I went onto specialise in a massage technique that led me to work with cancer patients, it was a life changing experience for me.
When you create someone?s make-up, it is not just about colour and what is pretty, it is about ?how to bring out the best in them, but make them still look like who they are?. Make-up application can really change people?s faces so I prefer to show women how to embrace who they are, and teach them how to do something different with make-up. I saw an American lady last week, who was focusing on all the negatives about her bone structure: I explained how her strong bone structure could allow her to use make-up in a more graphic and unexpected way. We worked on a really cool look, inspired by the look that François Nars did for the Marc Jacobs show. She was very interested fashion and I talked to her about the show, the hats, and why we did the make-up as we. She felt released at being allowed to do something that didn?t conform and was excited once again about make-up. That?s what I love about being a make-up artist.
Providing expertise on the shop floor is a really tough job, and it takes great skill to get the balance right.
The François Nars ethos is all about empowering women to be themselves, teaching them the basic skill sets they need, and then inspiring them to do things differently. As you see their skill sets developing you can inspire women to be a bit more experimental. I like to encourage them to touch their face ? for instance when massaging in a moisturising cream in the morning – and get to know it better.
As a trainer I?ve had to teach counter make-up artists how to best express their vision. Artists tend to prefer not to talk whilst they are working. When we are creating, we tend to ?disappear? into our right brain and linguistically we shut down. At NARS we want our customers to have a great experience, and go away with a sense of what they can do for themselves. When you then factor the retail sales aspect into that side of things it becomes a little difficult. Providing expertise on the shop floor is a really tough job, and it takes great skill to get the balance right.
At NARS we are doing a lot to make people realise how unique make-up can be. For example we are the only company that call members of our team ?Make-Up Stylists? rather than ?Make-up Artists?: indeed we see our stylists as the experts to help women pick out their make-up wardrobe, in the same way a stylist would help them choose clothes. It?s what we call ?wardrobing?.
?Wardrobing? is unique to NARS, it is our way to get women to understand make-up. You need your ?Wardrobe Basics? – the things that you really can?t do without; then you need your ?Modern Classics? which are all about the things that suit you ? that bring out your eyes, your hair, your skin tone, or that simply work with your bone structure; then there are ?Fashion Accessories? which will ensure that you are not going to wear the same look for the next 20 years. We encourage women to be daring and try something different, so that they don?t wear the same make-up year in year out. We are proud to give our customers the tools to make their own choices.
François doesn?t want to copy. He likes to challenge.
In our industry, to attract and retain good people it is important to keep them inspired. We regularly organise to ?inspiration days?. The most recent one was a trip to the Design and Textile Museum near London Bridge. However, I believe that you can fuel your inspiration by simply keeping your eyes open and being aware of what and who is around you. In my case I am lucky to have a lot of inspiring friends who are doing everything from styling, hair, photography, and events.
When we created our new Foundation Colour Matching system we decided to be much more consultative in our approach. Most make-up artists are used to looking at 20 different bottles of foundation and selecting one. However, at NARS we believe that everyone sees colour differently and that colour choices go back to our very own personal tastes and perceptions, so why should we expect women to trust us to choose colours for them? This is what led us to create a new way of advising customers on the perfect foundation products for them; asking each customer what she likes and reassuring her that she can actually make this decision. We can advise, but in the end, it is the customer who should make the choice.
François Nars, our founder, is a true artist who appreciates the power of style and elegance. Born in the South of France his talents surfaced at a very young age. At ten he was reading French Vogue and began sketching the faces of the models and personalities he saw in its pages. At the time, visionaries such as Yves St. Laurent projected the culture, sophistication and ultimate elegance that drew François into a career in the fashion industry. After attending the Carita Make-up School in Paris, his talent caught the eye of Polly Mellon, the then editor of American Vogue, who encouraged him to move from Paris to New York in 1984. At the height of his career he was part of a small, elite corps of creative talent that conjured up innovative and modern looks. He was known for re-inventing faces and his ability to transform the accepted face of beauty.
He worked with Madonna and Calvin Klein: he was part of the team that created the heroin chic look ? it was cutting edge and shocking – that was his thing. François likes to do things that are unexpected. He has shot all our ad campaigns since 1996, and will often throw the odd curve ball out there. His late dog Marcel advertised our make-up primer, credited in all the campaigns as Model: Marcel Nars. François doesn?t want to copy. He likes to challenge.François launched his brand in 1994 at Barneys in New York, starting with 12 lipsticks. The overwhelming demand encouraged him to create a full line of cosmetics. A line that now has iconic products such as the revolutionary Multiple Stick and our ?Orgasm? blusher. At NARS we don?t take ourselves too seriously and yes we have the controversial product names which make you blush! As the Creative Director for NARS, François continues to lead the way in everything that we do. He also returned backstage at New York Fashion Week after a 10 year absence by leading the team at the Marc Jacobs show a few seasons ago. It was an amazing, inspirational moment for all of us who worked alongside him to create the look for the show that day.
New York is the easiest place to walk around, and it is one city that I did consider moving to once, but then I realised how much I love London.
I?m travelling a fair bit at the moment, and was most recently in Prague. It?s a really beautiful city ? although a bad idea to wear high heels with all those cobbles! I am grateful to the company for sending me to some fascinating places ? Japan, Istanbul, Hong Kong and Australia are amongst my favourites. I found Istanbul totally intriguing. I?d love to go back and venture a little further out.
I do wish that there were more hotels like The Aviator? it is so beautifully set out. For an artist like me, the whole Guggenheim reference with the rotunda and atrium is just beautiful. I was thrilled when I finally got the approval to bring our team here for our conference. For the most part the hotels we stay in are quite corporate but every now and then I have stayed in some beautiful boutique hotels like The Sofa Hotel in Istanbul, Hotel Urban in Madrid and Mon Hotel in Paris.
I have learned that when travelling, I only ever need half of what I take away although I do still pack loads of shoes. The little bag I take through with me on the plane is really simple. I take Tea Tree oil, dab it onto a tissue and the tip of my nose to inhale as it is a good antibacterial. I also take antibacterial wipes, a lip balm to stop dehydration, and my must-have NARS skin product called Aqua Gel Hydrator ? an 80% water based mask. I take off my make up in the wash rooms and put this on ?if you are on a long-haul flight it really is fantastic and does help reduce water loss.
New York is the easiest place to walk around, and it is one city that I did consider moving to once, but then I realised how much I love London. I was returning from a shoot recently and made myself stop in the middle of Hungerford Bridge opposite Royal Festival Hall. I just turned round and had that moment when you realise once again just how cool London is. It was a beautiful sunny day the last time I was in New York and I found that as I walked, I was just chasing the sun! The buildings were so high it simply couldn?t get through! In London I love the fact that you can see the sky!
I love the bar Tom Terrace?s within Tom?s Kitchen at Somerset House — it?s only a temporary structure but you have to catch it when it comes up in the summer. An early summer evening there is just wonderful.
There?s also a beautiful Tea shop in Barnes called Orange Pekoe which I love for its great afternoon teas, lunches and teas. I live in Hammersmith and love being near the river. Sit on the right hand side of the plane when you?re coming into Heathrow and you get the best view of the Thames, and how beautiful London is.
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