FEMALE Exclusive: Interview With Jane Richardson, Global Artistry Director Of NARS

We chat with NARS’s Global Artistry Director, Jane Richardson, to see what it’s really like backstage before a fashion show to applying makeup like a true artist!

NARS Global Artistry Director Jane Richardson leading the makeup for designer Tawn C.’s show at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur 2019. (Photography: Shiseido)

While fashion shows give us an insight to upcoming trends, it’s also the perfect time to look out for new, eye-catching makeup looks to hit the streets with. Lucky for us, we had the chance to sit with NARS’s Global Artistry Director Jane Richardson just before the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur 2019 show started to understand what it means to be part of a leading makeup brand, what goes on behind the creation of a look and learn some backstage tips and tricks to follow at home.

FEMALE: As NARS’s Global Artistry Director, how do you come up with the idea of the makeup look for each show?

Jane: It’s a collaboration, to be honest, and I prefer it the more collaborative, the better. It’s talking to the designer after seeing the clothes and checking with the stylist and the heads of the hair team to kind of get a sense of how they want it to be. And I always ask questions about how they want the models to feel and look cos it’s the feeling you can capture and how you do that with makeup. Once you’ve had that conversation, you can throw some ideas back and forth and some tests to see what happens. But it’s literally conversations and just trying to work out what’s in their heads and making sure you’re on the same page.

F: How do you stay true to NARS’s DNA when working with so many designers and their own themes?

J: Because I’ve been with the brand for so long and had the amazing opportunity to see François Nars work in various capacities as a makeup designer and photographer, I sort of instinctively know what he likes – it’s almost as if I hear his voice when I’m working. And I always have about five or six keywords of how I would describe François and NARS, so as long as I hit every single one of those or at least three out of five, I know I’ve got it.  However, it’s important to remember that it’s not your makeup and it’s got to embody the brand instead which takes a deep understanding and passion for it. So, while it’s makeup by Jane, it isn’t and that’s really important when you’re representing a brand.

Photography: Shiseido

I remember doing a shoot once with a brief that would have been amazing, artistically and creatively and I could have gone out into the universe to create this amazing look. But, the question I had to ask myself was, “will this take me into another brand’s world?”, and the answer was yes. So I asked myself, “how do I do it in a way that looked like NARS?” and “does it look elegant and expensive?”. As long as I’ve managed that, I’ve got the vibe of NARS.

Equally, François is about pushing people to do the unexpected like what he’s done in the past with with Calvin Klein. He used makeup to look like dark circles on the models and that was the heroin chic look. He’s always been the one to challenge people about what is expected and be okay with telling the story in a different way.

F: Are there any key products you would use in every show?

J: I always make sure we’ve got certain skincare products like the Multi-Action Hydrating Toner because it really resurfaces the skin and prepares it for the moisturiser to do its job. And then I love the Luminous Moisture Cream cos it’s a classic emulsion that simply hydrates the skin. This one’s created around light and François wanted it to reflect it to enhance the makeup. It works perfectly under every formula that we have and the skin looks fantastic with it. So, that’s always there including a good black mascara and a lip balm that just helps bring a look together.

NARSSKIN MULTI-ACTION HYDRATING TONER

NARSSKIN LUMINOUS MOISTURE CREAM

NARS CLEAN CUT AFTERGLOW LIP BALM

NARS CLIMAX MASCARA

F: How do you think the beauty industry has evolved since you first ventured into it?

J: Technology has grown leaps and bounds; we now have way more shade selections than we ever had – the diversity is fantastic. How the products look on the skin, how they feel, the fact that everything has skincare benefits in them – it’s just mind-blowing! I think we’re probably on the fifth generation of foundation now, so knowing what I started with and where I am now, even though I loved the original foundations and have a special place in my heart for those that François originally started with, the difference is incredible! Then, it’s just how we’re sharing the information and how everyone has much more access to information about products that changes the perspective from a sales and retail side where we were once the only experts to our customers now being experts.

F: Finally, what are your backstage makeup tips that we can follow at home easily.

J: For starters, since a lot of us love the highlighter, I would advise to look in the mirror with a good light source and slowly move your face until you see where the light is naturally hitting – that’s where you place your highlighter.

I think the best tip is to understand your own face and do what works for you. What I tend to do backstage is split the face into three while looking at the shape. I look at each section and see which one is the the biggest, smallest, widest and the best. So, we touch the faces while cleansing to understand the bone structure and where the muscles are.

It’s certain tips like these that gets you working like an artist and being able to apply makeup in a slightly different way. So, get your blusher and put it on 10 times harder and heavier than you normally would or higher up one side and lower down the other and you’ll start seeing what happens. A blusher can be placed in many different ways to create a different feeling – whether it’s near the outer corner of the eye to look like there’s a fragility there or on the nose for a more youthful feel. You can even apply it down the sides of the mouth and that sort of draws the face down. This way you get to know how far to stretch the products, push them, and you know how to fix it. And as soon as you know how to fix something, you’re a makeup artist.

Models posing backstage after makeup, led by NARS Global Artistry Director Jane Richardson, for designer Brian Khoo at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Kuala Lumpur 2019. (Photography: Shiseido)

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

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