There's only one place in L.A. to find a certain velvet matte lip pencil in fuchsia: The new Nars flagship on Melrose. The boutique, which will offer some exclusive products that aren't available elsewhere, is 1,500 square feet of makeup heaven located along a high-end strip of Melrose near stand-alone boutiques for Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs.
Nars is the eponymous cosmetics line created by François Nars, the French makeup artist and fashion photographer who since 1994 has grown the brand into a premium powerhouse coveted for its synthesis of minimalist style, sex appeal and edgy colors paired with sleek black and white packaging.
The Melrose boutique brings Nars' high-contrast aesthetic to life with oversized photos on white walls accented in black, similar to Nars packaging, and high-gloss lacquer trim that matches the brand's Jungle Red lipstick.
"Having your own store, it's like having your own identity. It's really like decorating your own house," said Nars, who opened his first flagship boutique on Bleecker Street in New York last year. "When you're in department stores, you really feel like you have a corner in the store and you're in another environment."
Until the New York store opened, Nars products were available only at Sephora and finer department stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys. Over the next three years, Nars plans to open additional flagships in San Francisco and Chicago, as well as a second New York location in his adopted neighborhood of SoHo.
The Melrose shop is designed to "feel at the same time very sharp but very cozy and comfortable, where people want to hang out," Nars said. It incorporates a vintage marble fireplace imported from his native France and, like the New York shop, a bookcase stocked with "François' Favorite Things," including books that somehow relate to makeup and Nars' inspirations for designing it, whether it's old Hollywood or international architecture.
Nars worked with Fabien Baron — the mastermind behind Nars' chic, minimalist packaging — to design both the Melrose and New York spaces. The L.A. space, which is three times as large as the Bleecker Street store, won't just be a place for Angelenos to get their makeup on. The shop will host workshops and private parties and screen Nars' favorite movies — sometimes when the store is closed.
"We've been working on the idea to have films running almost as a background projected against the store, so when you pass by, you'll see some of my favorite films of all time," said Nars, who would only elaborate by saying the movies would be vintage "Italian, German and of course, tons of Hollywood."
The Melrose boutique will carry the same product mix as the New York flagship, including exclusives such as the Self Portrait Palettes that are part of the Nars Andy Warhol collection and the aforementioned fuchsia lip pencil. Although the Nars design philosophy is that makeup and the women who wear it are universal, eventually, Nars said, "There will be specific products that will be more personal to the Melrose address."
Nars, 8412 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 623-1730. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times