new Pure Lacquer Nail Apps come in 14 designs,
including peacock prints, for $11.95 per package.
Each kit contains 16 pre-cut appliques, which
require only trimming once they are stuck on the
ANGELES ó Whether itís tiny Union Jacks, tuxedos,
stripes, crystal flowers or caviar pearls, nail art has
longer relegated to the subculture sidelines or the
subject of mockery, nail art has become an everyday
indulgence, and not just for flamboyant pop stars like
Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga. Itís been sported by
Britainís Princess Eugenie, worn to the White House
Correspondentsí Association Dinner and shown up at the
Golden Globe Awards.
art has been around for years, but in kitschy ways, like
a Santa Claus or a Christmas tree on your pinky
nail," says Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, creative director
of OPI. "But in the last five years, the emphasis
on nail design has been huge. Ö Nails are an
art is part of a larger trend of individualized
self-expression that includes tattooing, body piercing
and wild, temporary hair color ó all of which is being
driven in no small part by our cultural compulsion to
share-and-compare on YouTube, blogs and social media.
to the era of what might be called Kustom Beauty, doing
for the individual what the Southern California Kustom
Kulture movement did for jazzy hot rods.
art has almost crept into the mainstream a couple of
times," says Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure
magazine. "The closest call came when hip-hop
artists Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott were doing nail
art with crazy designs like dollar bills and designer
logos in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But then it
itís not only back, itís booming. As of June 10,
consumer spending on nail products and accessories at
the mass-market level had increased 23 percent over the
previous year to more than $1 billion, according to
Symphony IRI Group, a Chicago-based market research
firm. And the number of nail salons nationwide doubled
between 1997 and 2007.
boom is due in part to nail technology advances.
"People can do this at home," Wells says.
"It doesnít require going to the salon for four
hours. Maybe you canít do Katy Perryís 3-D flowers
at home, but you can do other things. Sally Hanson has
stick-ons that look good because they are not stickers,
they are made of nail lacquer, and they are
recently released its first nail decals. Called OPI Pure
Lacquer Nail Apps, they come in 14 designs, including
rattlesnake, lace and fishnet prints, for $11.95 per
package. Each kit contains 16 pre-cut appliques, which
require only trimming once they are stuck on the nails.
manicures, which are baked on using UV light and last
two to three times longer than a regular manicure, allow
for long-lasting decoration, including gradiated glitter
and stripes, as well as crystal and charm appliques.
fashion world has embraced ó and stoked ó the nail
art trend. Polish and cosmetics brands partner with
fashion designers to create new colors and patterns that
are presented during the fashion labelsí runway shows
in global style capitals such as Milan, Italy; Paris;
and New York. At New York Fashion Week in February, for
instance, MAC cosmetics created custom velvet-flocked
nail tips for the Ruffian presentation. For the Kate
Spade show, nail pro Deborah Lippmann designed polka dot
nail art. And, front-row regular, blogger and model
Alexa Chung wowed the fashion crowd with the
Egyptian-style hieroglyphic eyeballs painted on her
nails. YouTube how-to videos instantly sprang up
teaching people how to get the look.
ago, you never used to see nail polish on the
runways," Weiss-Fischmann says. "And now,
designers like Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu want nail
designs to match certain looks, like painting the nail
moon a different color or stripes, two toning or
have also been influential in popularizing nail art.
Peacockish pop singers like Minaj and Lady Gaga seem to
be out to see who can sport the most outrageous
manicures. For the "Born This Way" video,
Japanese-born, New York-based nail artist Aya Fukuda
filed Gagaís talons to sharp points, polished them
blood red and decorated them with Gothic-looking jet
black Swarovski crystals and silver hardware.
the trend isnít just for teen fangirls. "Iím
surprised at how women in their 30s and 40s are doing
this," Wells says. "Itís a playful thing and
the beauty of it is that it can be taken off tomorrow.
Itís something you really can do for an evening."
lot of the recent creative inspiration has come from
Japan, where there are numerous nail art magazines and
3-D things and bar codes, gold glitter on the tips,
nothing is off-limits," says Wells, who has yet to
jump on the nail art bandwagon, being a pale pink Essie
Mademoiselle woman herself. "The fascination with
highly decorative things, with miniaturization of detail
ó that has finally come here."
Tokyo-based Mars salon recently opened its first U.S.
location on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, offering
high-end gel manicures starting at $80, along with
custom nail art in a luxury setting. Each customer has a
private room, with a television, where two technicians
work at one time. Itís not uncommon for clients to
come in with clothing they want their nails to match.
One woman brought in a picture of a beaded Diane von
Furstenberg top. The technicians were able to mimic the
color and 3-D nature of the floral beading in the nail
design. "Later, Diane (von Furstenberg) tweeted
about it," says Hiroko Fujikawa, the owner of Mars.
artist Dzine was so inspired by the creativity that goes
into nail art designs and the sense of community at
salons that he wrote "Nailed: The History of Nail
Culture and DZine," published last year by Standard
Press/Damiani. The book covers the history of nail
adornment all the way back to the Ming dynasty and
features commissioned photography of extraordinary
contemporary nail art from around the world.
selection of photographs from Dzineís book is
scheduled to be on view beginning in September at
Subliminal Projects gallery in L.A.
of the designs in the book features miniature sculpted
camping paraphernalia (a tent, a bonfire) on each nail,
another 3-D flowers "growing" out of the nails
didnít want to have celebs in the book, and I didnít
want it to be the Guinness Book of World Records
either," he says. "I wanted to stay true to
the young nail techs and creative artists."
of these new creative artists is Oakland, Calif.-based
Liz Baca, a freelance stylist and vintage clothing
dealer who never had any professional beauty training
but was inspired by her love of fashion to create custom
nail art designs to match designer accessories, such as
Chanel sneakers and Tiffany & Coís blue boxes.
Some of Bacaís nail art creations can be seen online