Palm trees, cobalt blue waters and made-up glamour girls lounging on striped beach towels, all rendered in bold, gouache brushstrokes – a fuse between ’50s postcard imagery and the colourful, fluid style of Matisse. It’s artwork befitting the makeup that sits within the fun, vividly hued packaging of Nars’ limited edition 2016 Colour Collection, out in stores this month.
Inspired by an imaginary editorial shoot in the South of France, the line comprises Dual-Intensity eyeshadows in shades like iridescent periwinkle, seashell pink and shimmering green teal; lip glosses in coastal colours such as orangey red and deep crimson; and, to complete the sun-kissed glow, two pink-toned Dual-Intensity Blushes (prices unavailable). Says Konstantin Kakanias, the man behind the illustrations: “We looked at images from the ’20s, ’30s, ’60s and ’70s. I consider (the Nars woman) a very contemporary woman, but one who has an eye for the glamour of Saint-Tropez in the past.”
Speaking to Female in an exclusive phone interview, the Greek-born, Los Angeles-based artist is no stranger to the fashion world. Starting out at age 23 as a fashion illustrator in Paris for magazines such as Vogue, he also designed textiles for Christian Lacroix and Yves Saint Laurent. “Working for Saint Laurent was the greatest education for me in terms of colour and composition,” he says. “It was really like boot camp. It was the early ’80s, and there was a certain style; it was liberating, but also strict.”
The experience might explain the 54-year-old’s rich repertoire. He moved first to New York in 1988 and, besides collaborations with Tiffany & Co. and Barneys, drew for Vanity Fair and The New York Times. It was with the latter’s T Magazine that he would conceive probably his most famous creation to date in the mid ’90s: Mrs Tependris, a caricature of an art-collecting high society doyenne whom he describes as his alter-ego. His cheeky yet stylish cartoons continue to grace the publication.
Also on his resume: a comic book with Diane von Furstenberg (Be The Wonder Woman You Can Be: The Adventures of Diva, Viva and Fifa) in 2008; a fresco in the chapel of Carolina Herrera Jr’s farmhouse in Spain (his wedding gift to her); and tie-ups with swimwear label Orlebar Brown and luxury fabric maker Templeton. In nearly all cases, he exudes a natural affinity for the style set. “I love fashion design as an artistic expression. I love it as a mirror of our times. Art is, of course, a mirror, but fashion is more so,” he says.
The glamorous yet youthful illustrations he created for Nars were equally instinctive. “I came up with them completely out of my own imagination, based on this one photograph of the Cannes backdrop, and drew them again and again until I was happy with them,” he says. Adding to their appeal is the fact that everything was done by hand. “(My work is) all handmade and hand-drawn. You can always feel my touch, even when it’s abstract.”