Interview – Sarah Moon

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Back in June, I was whisked away to Paris by NARS to meet one of my photography idols, the wonderful Sarah Moon. I have been obsessed with her work since my mum introduced me to it as a teenager. It’s not often you get to sit down with a legend and chat about make-up and photography… Yet this is what I did with Mrs Moon. We spoke about her involvement with NARS, her creative process and the way she works with models. Oh and of course, make-up!

How did the collaboration come about? What was the creative process like?

It was a step by step process. It really was a collaboration, not an assignment and that makes all the difference. François trusted me entirely and gave me all the freedom I wanted and needed. It was truly a co-labour! Initially, he wanted to use some archive photographs of my work, but I wanted to create new work for this project. So he suggested I’d bring one object I owned that inspired me. I came in the next day with a very simple transparent plastic box… What I’ve always loved about NARS the transparency of the make-up.  Whatever palette you pick, the colours all work together and the make-up François creates is the opposite of a mask. It is a way to enhance natural beauty. This is how we decided to work on creating transparent objects. The colour would come only from the make-up. I asked my dear friend Patti Wilson (stylist) to create transparent accessories for the shoot. She had that transparent corset and all the transparent jewellery made in London especially for this. All together we created this beautiful écrin to showcase the make-up and the models’ personalities.

What was the most interesting part of the collaboration for you? The most challenging?

Both François and I really wanted to make this happen in the best way possible. Our mutual trust and enthusiasm kept us going. It was very stimulating work. We wanted to make it special and beautiful. We are both perfectionists, so got quite intense at times, but it was worth it. Sometimes when you work you have to remember that the idea is the idea, but it never takes over; the feelings and emotions everyone projects during the shoot are what take over, and that is pure luck.

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How do you create a story in your work? Did you have a story in mind when shooting for NARS?

 

The situation and the look create the fiction… The models create the fiction somehow, too. In this case, one model was more dramatic than the other. In the end, the fiction is always about a woman. In my head it is not romantic, it is romanesque – because my models are always the heroines of that one moment I try to capture. Everyone received a different story when looking at the finished images. The story I have in my mind is vague and moves as we create it. The idea of transparency I mentioned earlier was one of the main themes, but I also wanted to make the women look fragile and strong at the same time, I wanted to play with light… Of course the models lead too, it is a collaboration with them, what they project inside each frame is what ultimately makes the picture.

What about the casting process for Anna and Codie?

That was also a collaboration with François. I picked Codie (Young) as I had worked with her before. I thought she was right because she has both frailty and strength. He picked Anna (Cleveland). It was lovely because I was very interested and appreciative of Anna and he appreciated Codie. There is a real contrast between them, which shows we aren’t addressing just one woman.

What’s your own attitude towards make-up?

I used to wear a lot of make-up, I love make-up. At my age, I don’t wear so much anymore, but it does help (laughs)… A lot! It helps everybody. In my photography, I use make-up all the time because it is good for the light, for the models… And as I said, it isn’t a mask, it is a way to enhance existing beauty and personality. It balances the light too.

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What’s your favourite product from the collection?

The palette, because it has all the colours in one!

And what’s your favourite beauty product ever?

It is a new one… Well, new to me! I had never tried it before but now I can’t stop using it: the Luminous Moisture Cream from NARS! I love it and now I ask for it all the time! I also use the foundation… and the colours!

 

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Portrait of Sarah Moon by Toshihiro Oshima

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