Chanel and nail art have never mixed before, but the dual-toned mani at the fashion house’s recent couture show may start a movement
In the current mani-crazed climate, a new nail-art design is nothing to write home about. But when Chanel does nail art at its 2012-13 Fall Winter Haute Couture show, it’s a turning point for the movement. The house known for its fashion-forward lacquers had never before shown two shades on the same nail before early July when they presented their punchy pink May on top of a discontinued chrome. “It’s a really big deal,” says Chanel celebrity manicurist Ashlie Johnson. In the past, “you only saw kids in the street wearing [nail art] and the classy, reserved people looked down on it. But being on the Chanel runway really legitimizes the look as not just a young fad.”
As for the inspiration behind the chic metallic and glossy pairing, Chanel creative director of makeup Peter Philips said it was Karl Lagerfeld’s call. “When we were playing around with the idea of doing a nail polish, Karl evoked the idea of using two shades on one nail,” says Philips. “Instead of doing a classic French manicure, I painted the whole outline of the nail in [Silver] and used May to cover both the center and tip.” Johnson, who works with Kristen Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwen Stefani and Rachel Bilson, thinks this new take on the French and half-moon mani—and the combination of textures—will blow up just like Chanel’s “unbelievable colors that turn into frenzies.”
“The way the metallic reflects the light and the color absorbs the light, they really complement each other when you layer them,” says Johnson. “It just does something nice for the eyes and you can’t stop looking at it.” She advises letting your imagination run wild when it comes to pairing polishes. Color trends seem to be going the way of less glitter, more liquid metal-looking formulas, paired with high-gloss, high-impact colors like magenta (Chanel’s fall Suspicious) and pool-blue (Dior’s Lagoon). But anything goes as the seasons and shades change.
Metallics (like Chanel’s bronze-y Delight and pale golden Diwali, and Penny Talk and No Place Like Chrome from Essie’s new Mirror Metallics collection) are best on the bottom because flat formulas cover up shiny better than the reverse. Thankfully, the application process is actually very easy. Paint two coats of the metallic on the full nail, then after it’s dry, add the pop of color “in three strokes: one down the middle, then following the shape of the cuticle for the other two strokes on the sides.” And of course, seal with a topcoat (Chanel Extreme Shine Nail Lacquer) to “marry the two colors together so it won’t be a shelf.”
Johnson prefers this look—and metallics in general—on a slightly shorter nail, just past the fingertip, adding that a too-long or almond-shaped nail might take away from its classiness. But she sees no age restriction: “One of the biggest points of this being on the Chanel runway is it runs the gamut—anybody can wear it.”