Nars Does Bourdin

This week is very special at Mecca Cosmetica. The new Nars Guy Bourdin collection is out and I have been waiting for it for 18 months! Nars told me about it on a visit to New York… the Andy Warhol collection was about to hit the stores and François was head-deep in developing the colours for the Bourdin collection.

François Nars has worked with them all, the greatest fashion photographers of all time, but Bourdin was one of his very favourites for the art he brought to his images. Have a good look at Bourdin’s work to understand this maverick photographer and the impact he had on fashion. He was a strange man, but one who created a totally new genre in photography.

Guy who?

Bourdin was born in 1928 and learned photography in the French army. After service, he went to work as the assistant to surrealist and Dada artist, Man Ray (you may remember Ray’s most famous work – a porcelain urinal – that turned the art world upside down for its poor taste and audacity).

Audacity was something Bourdin took to the world of fashion, creating images of women, usually doll-like and sometimes a little macabre. Their make-up was exaggerated, their skin pale and waxy. He surrealised women. For a young Nars, growing up on a diet of Vogue magazine and designer clothes, Bourdin was irresistible. And now, all these years later, Francois has created the collection he’s always dreamed of.

Colour that works

James Boehmer, Nars’ international creative director was in Australia recently training the Mecca team and talking to the media. He laughed about Nars’ make-up instructions: “Do a Bourdin cheek,” meaning plenty of pink blush. But what you will discover about the new collection is that although the vivacity of the colours greet you head on when you walk into Mecca, there’s an edgy wearability to each and every one.

Do you know the word ‘sartorial’? It comes from the world of fashion tailoring and basically means something made for you, something customised to suit you. That’s the secret to Nars’ success. His shades look even better when applied.

“I don’t know if there is such a thing as an ugly colour,” he told me one time. “But even if I do a crazy colour, it should still be beautiful. It’s a little bit of a challenge. When I want to do crazy and wild and strong, I always try to keep the colours beautiful. I think they are all fun. Make-up should be fun.”

Daring best

My favourite lipstick in the collection is Full Frontal, a lurid, mauvy pink I’ve been looking for for ages. And for that Bourdin cheek, try Coeur Battant (magenta). This collection isn’t simply bright and daring. If you’re after Bourdin done natural, there’s a great palette – part of Mecca’s holiday collection – called Crime of Passion – a neat collection of neutrals for every day… and every night. (arriving in store and online on November 11)

But, personally, I like daring shades the best. The lip colours are just perfect for summer.

Guy Bourdin died in 1991 from cancer. He would have been 85 this December.

You can shop the collection online and in store at Mecca Cosmetica.

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