Nail art isn’t the only way for your manicure to make a statement. The so-called stiletto shape stands out in a sea of squares

Lady Gaga's stiletto nails

Lady Gaga sports monochromatic stiletto nails

In recent months, you may have noticed Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry and even Adele rocking out with intense, triangular claws elongating the tips of their fingers. But it’s not just a musician thing. Nina Werman, co-owner of Soho’s ultra popular, trend-defining Valley nail salon, says, “it’s a hot look—it’s something we always did, but in the last two years we’ve been getting more requests for the stiletto.” Explains Werman, the stiletto “is a customized filing to shape the nails to come to a long narrow point—it can give a kind of talon effect.” How pronounced—read: dangerously sharp—the manicurist files the Cruella De Vil-inspired point, however, is totally up to the owner of the nails.

Although she’s not aware of any historical iconic references for this trend, Werman notes it’s frequently women who have a more “costume-y look” who wear it. “I’m sure Grace Jones probably had them at some point—that wouldn’t surprise me. Women depicted in storybooks, media and entertainment that are powerful and dominant are where I think the look is really derived from.” But the style doesn’t have to have an “evil”  or “deviant” connotation, although Werman does say that many choose to paint their stilettos pitch black, matte shades or with a reverse French manicure. Rarely does nail art or embellishments come into play—the shape is an accessory in itself.

Stiletto nails are for someone “who’s comfortable making bold fashion statements, because even if you’re wearing a very toned-down outfit, if your nails are that extreme it’s definitely a declarative statement,” says Werman. “It’s for ladies of leisure, I guess”—not for those around children or those who perform tasks such as typing, as the pressure can cause pointed nails to bend and round, requiring re-filing after just days. As for the shape’s staying power, she offers, “many think it’s something that will continue to be popular—it won’t go out of style. It’s never going to be sharply in focus—a fad—because it’s not something everyone would do, but it will always be around. Like a reverse French manicure, it’s classic in an extreme way.”