François Nars and Steven Klein: Artists at Work

François Nars and Steven Klein first met on a set 20 years ago. The prolific photographer talks about their daring collaboration for the Nars Steven Klein holiday collection.


Humoresque, from Steven Klein’s archives, on the Nars Steven Klein Humoresque Audacious Lipstick Coffret

First call

François Nars was very forthcoming in wanting me to do what I do. I love the idea of not shooting images for a campaign, but using archival photos. What François said to me was key, because I’m always restricted. He said, “If we use your strongest images, we want you. We love what you do and I want your vision.” How could you refuse an offer like that?

Your relationship

We’re both very busy in our own worlds and we don’t necessarily hang out all the time, but we do understand what the other is doing. We both have always appreciated each other’s work.

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The collaborative process

I was working with another creative person, collaborating directly with him [Nars]. He’s the one in control, so he doesn’t have to go through this corporate board to crush ideas. The collection was based on my images that existed as opposed to creating images that were inspired by the products.


I look for all kinds of objects and materials that I like to deal with. With beauty, I like the idea of masculine elements mixed in with feminine elements. They really almost need that yin and yang.

Definition of beauty

Beauty can be a goddess or it can be a beast. I think it’s more how the eyes are looking at it, how one perceives it. I don’t think there is any definitive idea because I think beauty exists in everything.

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I like the bullet idea, the idea of war, but it’s also a lipstick. I like the implementation of both elements. In these pictures from the campaign, they’re almost like a surrealist vision of beauty. I think as a whole, it has a statement about looking at beauty from a different point of view.


Steven Klein

If François Nars is all about audacious make-up, then Steven Klein is the master of provocation. Dark, sensual, extreme, and challenging in his visions, Klein is equally private and selective when it comes to collaborations. “People I feel are very different and new,” he says, “so doing one with Nars was a no-brainer. He endorsed what I do as a photographer and didn’t use me as a service to promote a lipstick or an eyeshadow. That was unique and it is very, very rare these days that people will come to celebrate your photography.”

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Nars Steven Klein Humoresque Audacious Lipstick Coffret


Available at Nars stores nationwide.