It started on the catwalk and with rock and hip hop stars. Now dazzling nail art is being embraced by women of all ages and walks of life … even corporate high flyers who would only once have dared a nude pink. The hands-on guide. By Jenni Gilbert.
From fashion runways to real life, nail art has emerged as a form of self-expression in which anyone can participate. Spurred in part by a struggling economy, it’s a relatively cheap way to feel and look stylish and make a statement.
Nail art is also very accessible. If a woman thinks she’s too curvy or too straight, too young or too old, unattractive or not, it doesn’t matter because she can still have beautifully groomed – and funky – nails.
If you like, nail products are the new lipstick of cosmetics. The “lipstick effect” is the theory that, when facing an economic crisis, consumers will be more willing to buy less costly luxury goods. Instead of buying designer shoes or handbags, for example, they will buy expensive lipstick for a far cheaper feelgood effect.
Nail colour is no longer just about bold solid colours or eye- catching metallics. Inspired by celebrities (think Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and even lifestyle doyenne Martha Stewart) and do-it-yourself guides in fashion blogs and magazines, enthusiasts are embracing all manner of experimentation.
There’s intricate floral patterns and cartoon characters, glittery mosaics, 3D motifs emblazoned with lace, gems, charms, foils, even magnets.
The shapes of nails are even changing, from traditional round and square to diagonal and borderline-threatening almonds and pointy stilettos.
￼It started in fashion, rock and hip hop stars, consumer editorial, then in the last few years or so, we’ve seen more people (like working women, who would once only dare a nude pink) start embracing bolder colours and nail art styles.
The cosmetics industry responded to the demand saw the nail category surpass lipstick in 2011 in the US.
It’s also an affordable luxury, according Marian Newman, godmother of Europe’s editorial shoots and runway shows, who has done the nails for
more than 50 covers of British Vogue and counts Valentino and Alexander McQueen among her fashion house clients.
Marian should know – she quit her job as a forensic scientist with London’s Metropolitan Police and opened one of the UK’s first nails-only salons in 1987, right before a recession.
“I worried at first but the opposite happened and we got busier and busier,” she says. “Even when people don’t have enough money for a lovely holiday or a fabulous facial, they probably have enough they can spend a little bit on their nails.
“It’s not that expensive and it’s not life changing like getting you hair cut short. If you don’t like it after a day or two, take it off.”
“You used to see runway models with no nail polish at all, but that changed when designers realised nails could be part of the overall look,” said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, artistic director of OPI, which did shows for New York Fashion week this year.
“Nails have become a major trendsetting accessory, not just for high- fashion consumers but for the average woman as well.
“It’s not about doing funky nail art for the sake of funky nail art. It should be the finishing touch that adds to makeup and coordinates with everything.
“It’s that finishing touch that sends the message down all the way to your fingertips.”
While DIY nail art might be fun for consumers, if they’re serious about it, the best results of course come from salons armed with amazing nail techs who can create stunning designs people can’t do themselves.
Brillbird is an internationally recognised luxury nail brand renowned for supplying large assortment of extremely high quality, fashionable and sophisticated nail and nail art products and tools.
“Our brand changes together with fashion: there are always new colours, new techniques and new developments,” says distributor Inga Clover.
“But it also has its unique style independent of the whims of fashion; a safe anchor amid the storm of changes. The BrillBird style is Elegance. Our slogan is: Your Nail is Your Jewel.
“BrillBird is a nail art innovator in Australia, delivering the latest European nail fashions and trends to the local market, from extreme shapes and crazy designs to a sophisticated and elegant nail art.
“Nail art doesn’t seem like something every woman can wear, but that’s just not true. These days the market offers variety of products and inspiring nail designs, so there’s something to suit everyone.”
BrillBird offers an extensive range of training, whether you are looking for a new career in the nail industry or want to develop your existing skills.
“Our educators have been trained by international nail icons to very high levels in all areas, and have many years’ experience and expertise behind them,” says Inga.
“Nail and beauty salons who dare to be different are the most successful ones, not only with their salon clients but are frequently sought after by photographers for shoots, designers, models and pop stars.
“So let’s be innovative and creative in our everyday work!”