In the workshop with Pierre Hardy

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He's been making beautiful footwear for years, but now Pierre Hardy has designs on faces too, with a make-up range. Rebecca Gonsalves reports

The skill of shoe design wouldn't seem the most obvious to come in handy when creating a make-up range, but it has proved a source of inspiration for Pierre Hardy's latest collaboration – with cosmetic brand Nars. Hardy is famous among fashion followers not only for his eponymous label of architectural shoes and graphically printed bags, but for his work over the last 25 years at established Parisian houses such as Christian Dior and Balenciaga.

“Shoes are an object, while make-up is so contrary it's totally non-material,” says Hardy of his thoughts about the project which came rather out of the blue. “It's contrary too because the head and feet are so far away from each other. Frankly speaking I didn't have anything in mind when they came to me. I had never thought about it. But there are also some similarities; women's shoes are very ephemeral and need to be renewed each season. A woman's shoe is like a butterfly, you have to change it as soon as possible to keep it fresh. Make-up is in this mode, too, I think: it's something very fragile and very bright. Maybe there is something to have a link in between these two different approaches of beauty for a woman after all.” Consisting of nail polishes and blushers inspired by the designer's shoe collection for the summer season, Hardy's collection for Nars is undeniably fresh. “The shoe collection was already done, this was just the finishing moment,” says Hardy of his time with in the Nars laboratory.

“I picked up in the shoe collection the colours that could work for make-up, even some colours that are not used to work in make-up; blue lavender nail polish, and a twisted yellow-ish shade. The intent was to introduce a little bit of a different taste; a different point of view through the quite unusually feminine and flowery colours.

“And then texture: the texture of suede looks like a powder – a blusher or eye shadow, patent leather looks like nail polish. I tried to make this bridge between the texture and the colour and the shoe material.”

As well as the texture of the product once applied, Hardy looked at it in the packaging – blushers are embossed with his now-signature cuboid print in highlighter shades, nail-polish duos come in miniature dust bags to echo the packaging of his luxurious shoes. “When I first went to the Nars headquarters, I really loved it. It looked like a laboratory of colours and materials and textures. It reminded me of a futuristic artist's paint box.” A fitting connection, considering Hardy's studies were in fine art at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he also studied dance.

Throughout his career, Hardy has managed to maintain a balance between his stellar work for the likes of Hermes: for which he is the creative director of women's and men's shoes and fine jewellery, his eponymous label and hugely successful collaborations with the likes of Gap.

“Working with Hermes is very deep, long-term work,” says Hardy. “It's very different to do something for years and go deeper in this field and then do this very ephemeral collaboration with Nars. That's why I like it actually. It has to be quick, focused, efficient and fun – it's an exception for me, and for them.

“I'm a pure designer – what interests me is newness. I'm always curious how to express what I love and what I'm searching for in a different way, with a different vocabulary. Fashion is not reinventing itself every season; it's almost the same – but only almost. The variation is about how you put one thing together in a different way and you create a surprise – a new shape or a new kind of beauty. That's what I'm searching for every time.”

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