François Nars has teamed up with French-British singer Charlotte Gainsbourg to create his latest summer collection, which hit shelves this week. The 45-year-old singer, who barely wears any makeup, says she was pleasantly caught off guard when the legendary makeup artist approached her to collaborate. “I was flattered and surprised because I don’t typically wear a lot of makeup,” she tells Vogue Arabia. Save for a radiant swirl of blush and a smudge of eyeliner, Gainsbourg opts to “enhance rather than change her features.” It’s her authenticity that originally sparked Nars’s interest. In an earlier statement, Nars said he “wanted the collection to be a complete reflection of who Gainsbourg is – an extremely talented and sensitive artist.”
Featuring 16 limited-edition pieces, the collection includes products that are true and personal to the singer. Lip-to-cheek Multiple Tints are named Jeanette (the nickname her father, Serge Gainsbourg, had for her mother, model and actor Jane Birkin), Alice and Jo (after her children). Eyeshadows, liquid lipsticks, matte lip pencils, and a trio of eyeliners complete the collection.
Here, Gainsbourg opens up about her first experience with makeup, the beauty tips she hopes to pass on to her daughter, and her collaboration with NARS.
On her first experience with makeup
“A memory that stands out is when I was 14, I did a film called The Impudent Girl, where I worked with a French makeup artist named Joelle LaVou. He was wonderful, a true artist. I remember he worked on my face, but didn’t put on any foundation. What was so interesting was that he enhanced all the things you usually wouldn’t. He emphasized them through makeup. So little veins that I had he would draw and make them stand out, even veins on my neck. It left a real impression on me – the idea that you deal with what you have on your face and you accentuate it rather than hide it.”
On mother-daughter beauty tricks
“My mother always complained that she wore too much makeup when she was younger. Her main tip was to try to always keep it natural; not to wear too much makeup. My daughter Alice is 14 and exactly in that phase of discovering herself. I’m happy that she goes for stuff that I would never have dared at her age. It’s very surprising because I can’t do anything about it – it’s just happening. I think the less I say the better, because I want my daughters to be able to explore and not to feel restrained. I hope they will be as comfortable as possible in comparison to me; it took me such a long time to accept anything about myself. I think they’re on a good path. It’s really about staying true to yourself and what works for you.”
On her everyday beauty routine
“I mainly wear things you cannot see. I have lots of things to hide, so I have a routine – little things I need before I go out. Which has to do with whether I slept enough or not and then the basic cheeks but it’s not much. During the day I gradually end up wearing more, especially in the evening because I feel like I’m more awake in the evenings. The Hydrating Glow Tint, the Multiple, and the Lip Tints are all great for just lightly enhancing your features but still keeping it natural. For the evenings I would say adding a touch of the duo eyeshadows or the Kohliners are great as well.”
On the evolution of her makeup
“Even into my 20s I didn’t wear any makeup at all; I really didn’t know my face at that time. I was very much against makeup artists who would put too much on, so it was sort of a fight to be able to just be myself. And then gradually, of course, aging, I wanted to hide things, and then pimples you want to hide. So it was a lot of camouflage. Now I have tips that I’ve learned and I have a better idea of what I like for myself, and it has changed. Lips, for example, I’m not afraid of anymore. Lipstick doesn’t suit me, but I like to enhance just the top lip a little bit, and that’s something I wouldn’t have done before.”
On the collaboration
“François really chose me for this collaboration and it was quite exciting! During the creative process, François made me feel so comfortable, I was free to do anything as long as it came from me. The collection is very personal to me and centered around colors that suit me and products that I was excited for François to develop. It’s my hope that other women connect to it and like it. That’s always the challenging part. The names draw from my past visions, impressions, places, and emotions. It was great to see that come to life. My favorites from this collection are the Hydrating Glow Tint, the Multiples, and the Au Poil Brush Roll.”