Excessive Glamour: A Guy Bourdin-Inspired Look

With the recent launch of the NARS x Guy Bourdin collection, I felt a guide to his models' over-the-top looks was in order.
Publish date:
November 7, 2013
blushes, eyeliners, eyeshadows, nars, lipsticks, retro, Guy Bourdin, hair, limited-edition, makeup, photographers

I'm an extremely visual person (well, duh, I am writing for a beauty site right this second), and along with that comes obsessing over the work of many different artists and photographers.

One of my favourites is Guy Bourdin, the Frenchman who started out shooting for Vogue in the '50s and then pushed boundaries during the decades that followed with his crazy-glamorous campaigns for designers like shoemaker Charles Jourdan or his cinematic and, at times, controversy-courting editorials.

I understand that there is plenty of hubbub surrounding his work, due to the hints of violence and death that he would frequently combine with high-fashion, which some would say trivialized the topics and depicted women as objects. I definitely understand the criticism, but as his best, Bourdin's images showcased stunning fashion and expertly applied makeup (in super-intense shades that were favoured in the nightlife scenes of the '70s and '80s) while telling a story that made viewers simultaneously uncomfortable and enticed.

I believe in keeping an artist's work separate from them as a person, and as far as Bourdin's work is concerned, I love it. I know it's not for everyone, though, so to avoid upsetting anyone, I've chosen the more tame of his works to feature here as inspiration, and I hope we can have a discussion about it in the comments.

Moving on…

As I said up top, I'm an art nerd, and 'sup, François Nars is too. Last holiday season there was the frenzy-inducing Andy Warhol collection (another man with a polarizing history), and this year it's a collection devoted to Bourdin, a photographer who has inspired Nars plenty. You can see his influence in the bold shades and intense pigments that are perennially featured in NARS's regular line.

With this launch comes various palettes, gift sets, and a few new limited-edition shades and formulas in hues pulled out of famous Bourdin shots. I had the chance to try out some of the colours and fell in love, and I'd been planning a Bourdin tutorial for months, so really, it all fell magically into place.

While the look is pretty major, I think it's fitting for the holidays (particularly New Year's Eve with a fur coat on top, of course). So, without further ado, let's get this tutorial started. Prepare for two-toned blush!

I started out by evening out my skin tone and applying my foundation as I normally do and making sure to apply primer first all over, including on my eyelids, using NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base.

After applying a translucent loose powder, I was ready to give myself an intense blush look that was seen time after time in Bourdin's photos. People really loved blush in the '70s and '80s, man!

I started out with NARS Guy Bourdin Limited Edition Blush in Coeur Battant, a bright magenta. I used a fluffy brush to blend it at the very tops of my cheekbones, at the outer edges of my eyes, and up onto my temples. I wanted it really soft, so I made sure to really focus on blending it.

Then I applied NARS Blush in Exhibit A, a shade from their classic collection that was named after a book of Guy Bourdin's photos. It is a bright, orangey red, and it definitely requires some confidence to wear.

I brushed it on in a pretty severe line along my cheekbone and then blended, blended, blended until it faded perfectly into the hot pink. I still wanted it to have that intense line of colour and really shape my cheekbones so that it looked period-appropriate, but I wanted it to have soft edges too.

Next, I started on the eyes. I used NARS Eye Paint, a product that was launched this summer that can be used as a liner or a cream shadow. It blends really wonderfully but once it sets, it doesn't budge.

I used the NARS Angled Eyeliner Brush 38, which I love for how precise and sharp a line it creates. First I applied Ubangi, a black with blue shimmer, starting in the middle of my lower lash line and bringing it out in a very, very slight angled that connected with a line on my upper lashline.

Next up I used a regular old q-tip to blend the colour out and soften the lines.

Every once in awhile I would add a tiny bit more product to make sure that it was pigmented enough.

After that, I added Interstellar, a super-shimmery silver along my lower lash line and in the centre of my upper eyelid. I also blended a tiny bit all over where I had previously applied the blue to soften and blend the shades together.

Finally for the makeup came the lips. I used a small lip brush to apply NARS Guy Bourdin Limited Edition Cinematic Lipstick in Short Circuit, a shade described as a "fire coral." The Cinematic lipsticks are a new formula that includes monoi butter and vitamin E for maximum hydration and shine. The colours go on sheer with one coat or can be built in layers for major colour payoff.

I applied one layer of Short Circuit, blotted, and applied again. Then because I really wanted that super-'70s sheen, I applied clear lip gloss over top.

I can't finish the tutorial without talking about my hair, so here's what I did.

I gave my hair a deep side part and then using a flat-iron with a really narrow ceramic plate, I feathered my bangs by turning them upwards (away from my face) until they curled up and out.

Then I used a flat iron with a larger plate to give my hair various ringlets in 1 to 2 inch sections. I let those cool for a bit and then flipped my head upside down, started brushing at the nape with a natural bristle brush to soften the curls.

After I'd brushed all the way through, I flipped my head back up, re-parted my hair, and boom: voluminous disco queen waves. All that was left was to throw on a shiny camisole and I was done.

I'm pretty excited that I recreated a look I consider so iconic and now I want to do it again. And again. And I need a bunch of white pantsuits and silky wrap dresses now. Life is hard.

Anyway, here are some swatches for those who like a closer look.

Are you a fan of Bourdin's work? Have you tried anything from the new collection? What artist should NARS pay homage to next? I think it would be cool if they made palettes that looked like Mondrian paintings...