Jane Richardson: “No Matter How You Use Make-Up, It Should Always Be Empowering”

As NARS Cosmetics arrives in India, the brand’s Global Artistry Director speaks to The Word. about the brand’s core values, must-have products, and the most memorable moment of her career.

Jane Richardson
Global Artistry Director, NARS Cosmetics

The Word.: You’ve been working with NARS for over two decades. Tell us about the evolution of the industry…given that you have had insider access before the advent of social media, and also after it came into the picture…
Jane Richardson: “I have been working with NARS for 23 years years. My God, that’s a really long time! I think, we, as artists and consumers, have to be open to talking about new products in different ways. I have always been a bit restrained about using social media. Personally for me, and also from an artistry point of view, I feel that it takes up too much of my time and almost pushes back on my creativity.
Having said that, it is also a necessary part of what we do—it allows us to share what we are doing. That makes a huge difference and it’s also something I love. Make-up is more transient now, we learn new things every day…we can learn wherever we are, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

TW.: You have worked with François Nars [Creative Director and President of NARS Cosmetics] extensively. What are some of the key things you learnt from him?
JR: “I think he encouraged me to train my eye. I have always been that person who could see things that other people don’t. And typically, I am a stickler for rules…but that’s what François taught me to break free of. He showed me that I could stretch the boundaries [of beauty], break the rules, tear them up, or even throw them away.”

TW.: What’s the biggest change you have seen backstage in your journey?
JR: “I think the significant difference now is that, thankfully, there is a lot of diversity. I have done shows where there are more black models than white, and that is amazing. The fact that we are seeing larger sized or plus-sized models…more real real bodies on the runway is great. And that’s the kind of change that has been really, really good to see backstage. And the brands have evolved as well. In terms of foundation, there are so many shades, and there are different textures to choose from as well.”

TW.: The one good thing about social media is that it has empowered people to own their unique selves…things that were considered ‘imperfections’ earlier.
JR: “Yes, today you are more likely to see models with tattoos or pigmentation, because these models are being chosen for their personality. And François was so ahead of the time in that aspect, because he always would say ‘If you’ve got acne, embrace them’, ‘If you’ve got scars, embrace them’. And it is lovely to see that change in the industry over time as well. And the NARS Light Reflecting Foundation is a great example of his philosophy. This product is 70 percent skincare and it doesn’t just blur imperfections and even out complexion temporarily, it actually makes the skin better over time.”

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“Make-up supports us when we are feeling vulnerable. It allows us to communicate who we are in the right way even if one is feeling tired or nervous. I love a bold red lip—it is one colour that stops people in their tracks.”

NARS Powermatte Lipstick in Dragon Girl, ₹3,000

TW.: What makes make-up such a powerful tool of expression?
JR: “Make-up supports us when we are feeling vulnerable. It allows us to communicate who we are in the right way even if one is feeling tired or nervous. I love a bold red lip—it is one colour that stops people in their tracks. That’s the power of colour…the power of lipstick. If you want people to listen to you, don’t just use the right colour, but use put it in the right place—put it on your lips, because you want people to hear you. But I would also encourage women to use make-up to be more playful…to become somebody else for the day, because why not? There’s something powerful about that.”

TW.: Tell us about the most cherished moment of your career…
JR: “Many years ago, I used to work at a beauty counter, and I had a client with a birthmark. She wanted a foundation that could cover it up. I asked her if she was open to me doing her make-up, just to show her what I would do. She said yes, and I just enhanced her natural features and let the birthmark be. Now this could have gone either way, but when she got off the chair and saw her face, she loved it! And this was way before social media…before the ‘embrace your imperfections’ movement had kicked off. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how we use make-up, it is always empowering. It should always be empowering. And I will never forget that moment—the look on her face. She was like ‘Everyone always tells me to cover it up…you were the only one person who asked me not to, and just embrace it’. It is one of the most favourite moments of my career.”

TW.: As a professional artist, what’s your take on make-up brushes? Are they truly essential for a flawless finish?
JR: “I always use my hands. This is something that François also believes in. And it is one of the many reasons why I connected with NARS, even before I began working with the brand. In fact, their products were in my kit…I was always a NARS girl. But now that I have met François, and worked with him, and spoken to him about all of this…I learnt that he also believes in using his hands as he was afraid of stripping the layers of make-up. François was so ahead of his time in that aspect. It has been really interesting to see how beauty has changed.”

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, ₹3,000
NARS Mini Light Reflecting Setting Powder Pressed in Crystal, ₹2,000

TW.: What are the must-have products from NARS, according to you?
“The first product I’d recommend is the Radiant Creamy Concealer. It is lightweight, and it corrects and brightens the skin. Then the Light Reflecting Setting Powder Pressed in Crystal is another essential. It is perfect for the weather in India as seals the make-up without feeling heavy on the skin. And a bold lipstick…it is a must-have.”

TW.: Lastly, a piece of beauty advice that you would like to offer.
JR: “The one thing I would like to tell women is that step away from the mirror. It is not about the tips or the hacks…recognise that what’s here is more real than filters, AI, etc. If we continue to want to look like that, we are never going to feel satisfied. So I strongly advocate taking a step back and being good to ourselves.”