My interpretation of the word 'ugly'... I like ugly beauty. That can happen. In France, we have phrase 'jolie laide.' We like certain women who are not pretty or cute - it's the opposite in France of pretty. It's more strange and interesting.
I had no connections, and the fashion world was a closed elite. So my mother made appointments for herself with three top Parisian makeup artists and spoke highly about me... she was my first publicist!
I was a very lucky child because at the age of 16, 17 years old, my parents would buy me clothes from Yves Saint Laurent, which was an incredible luxury at the time, but I was attracted to that whole world. I had a pretty nice little wardrobe by the age of 17.
From the start, I used a different kind of girl in Nars campaign images. My choice to use models of colour such as Alek Wek, Naomi Campbell and Karen Park Goude was absolutely a deliberate one. I felt that makeup was universal and should apply to everybody.
I love strong looks, so to me, no makeup is strong. As long as it makes a statement, that's what I like. The girls look very real, and I'm probably the only makeup artist who will say that I love a woman without makeup.
I'm not so interested in perfect, plastic beauty, and I think it translates in the girls I've shot over the years for Nars, from Guinevere to Iris to Mariacarla. I love those girls. I love the more interesting faces, with maybe a strange nose, not just the Texan blonde. By picking those girls, I think it's changed what I've seen in other campaigns.
Was I a businessman to start with? I'm not sure. I mean, that comes slowly, when you start having the products out. But at the same time, I was very determined. I knew that I had to make it work. I had no choice.
It's more fun to have a name rather than a number. I think this gives our products a personality. I get the names from literature, movies, opera, traveling, nature, poetry, sometimes even the street. I keep a small book that I write in. I wake up in the middle of the night and jot down a name for a lipstick or an eyeshadow.
I'm always scared of trends. The runways are always so trend-oriented, but I always feel for the women. The real women that buy cosmetics want to see the trends, but they don't necessarily go for them. And I always encourage women to find what looks best on them.
I've always loved the way movie stars in the Forties looked when they were off set. Shot poolside or at their home, they always wore a matte red lipstick with practically no foundation - it was how they wore makeup in real life.
Looking at flowers, simple things in life. I don't need to look at gold and a castle; sometimes its very simple things that are very beautiful. I am keeping my eyes fresh to find beauty in many places, and in gold, too, sometimes!
I chose makeup over photography because there was something very sensual about makeup that I loved. But photography was always in the back of my mind. That was always something that I was very connected with: looking at magazines, enjoying photography, and then taking pictures myself when I was a kid.
I was spoiled growing up in the 1970s because magazines were publishing the photographs of Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin without compromise. You really felt that sense of freedom through their images.