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Designer Phillip Lim on the inspiration behind his new nail collection with NARS

New York designer Phillip Lim may be best known for making the Pashli handbag the tastemaker's tote, but his latest collaboration is currently at the top of the beauty world's must-have lists. Seven years after first forming a dynamic duo with François Nars (who helms Lim's runway beauty looks), he has created a limited-edition nail polish collection for NARS; it launched on Aug. 1. "I want everything I design to be cool, easy and chic," Lim says about the eight-shade collection. "Fashion and beauty are so closely intertwined, it was a natural transition going from one to the other." Globe Style spoke with Lim to learn more about his beauty philosophy, the power of mystery and his prognosis for fall.

What was it like collaborating with François Nars?

As design partners, we really understand each other and have similar creative philosophies. It's about creating a character and using fashion, beauty, textures – just having multiple levels to colour your woman.

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And how would you define 'your woman'?

My fall collection was inspired by a character I created called "Soleil." She's a curious and playful girl, but I wanted her to have substance. I used nails, and this collection specifically, to really ground her and create a mysterious, broody undertone.

Speaking of mystery, you define the colours in this collection as 'shades in the shadows.' What does that mean?

I like to be in a different sandbox, and I'm really drawn to unusual colours that people don't think about. Lots of people like purple, for example, but in our collection the shade Crossroads was inspired by an African violet and the brightness it gets in the evening light – there is a vividness but also moodiness. That's what all these shade are about, the idea of transformative colours that don't have a solid character and change as the day moves.

Is there a particular shade that was challenging?

The colour Hell Bent is a shade I'm really passionate about. This colour was inspired by Japanese lacquer bento boxes – I collect them, and there's a very specific red that I wanted to represent. Everyone has their own red – it is probably the hardest shade to make, and this one took us three or four trials to get. The entire collection has a really personal meaning to me, though, so I can't pick a favourite shade. I like to say they are all classic with a side of madness – just like me!

The 3.1 Phillip Lim for Nars Nail Collection is available at select NARS retailers (including Sephora, Hudson's Bay, Holt Renfrew and Murale) and through www.narscosmetics.com.

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