Tips: nails are the trendiest accessory this season

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“God, my thumb looks boring,” I thought as I scrolled through Instagram late one recent winter evening, disappearing down a rabbit hole of nail art. For years I had been faithful to the same polish, a shade so neutral it blends into my skin like foundation, and yet, pushed back in (and driven mad) by Omicron, I found myself suddenly found herself coveting photos of costume designer Miyako Bellizzi’s shaded greenhouses. They were ultra-long and coffin-shaped – not to be confused with the almond spikes or “tapered squares” I discovered while scanning captions elsewhere. I might as well have been on Duolingo; I was learning a whole new language. Going back to Bellizzi’s feed, I wondered: can she order an Uber with these things? How does she floss? And also: do I dare? I didn’t dare, not at first.

WINNING HAND: Here’s how to play a striking deck of cards with embellished claws. On the Adut Akech model: Catsuit, belt, shoes, earrings; all SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO. Mini bag, GIVENCHY. Rings, CARTIER. Manicure: Natalie Pavloski

Instead, I dreamed of outrageous nails – the ones London artist Sylvie Macmillan imagined for Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2022 show, mimicking the collection’s fabric on elongated fingertips; the anime-inspired, jewel-embellished stiletto-shaped spikes that Los Angeles-based Coca Michelle creates for Megan Thee Stallion. I watched nail art tutorials on TikTok. I devoured the news about couture runway nails—the Dracula-inspired claws dangling from models’ hands at Viktor & Rolf, and the flesh-colored daggers on display at Glenn Martens’ Jean Paul Gaultier debut. Venturing outside, I was struck by the number of New York storefronts that had been emptied during the pandemic and were now filled with salons offering Japanese-style nail art.

Apparently, I’m far from the only one gravitating towards nails as an adornment du jour. For Brooklyn nail pioneer Honey, they were never a thing. “Daughter, I grew up going to the nail salon,” she tells me with a shrug as she rummages through jars of glitter in her tiny, walk-in studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. As she points out, for many women of color, long, ornate nails are nothing new. Years before she was recognized as one of the fashion industry’s most innovative nail technicians, Honey accompanied her mother on her weekly pilgrimages to their local salon in East Flatbush. “That’s where all the ladies in the neighborhood used to hang out to do their sets. And just, talk about everything,” she recalled. “What we see today is the cross-pollination of several developments,” says Suzanne E. Shapiro, New York-based fashion historian and author of Nails: The Story Of The Modern Manicure. “On the one hand, no pun intended, is the continued integration of hip-hop aesthetics and the rise of celebrity culture, with the likes of Cardi B emerging as ambassadors for the maximum nail. And on the other, there are these huge innovations in nail technology, mainly from Asia,” Shapiro continues, which has made the process of getting elongated, beautified nails like the ones Flo-Jo has easier. made world famous at the 1988 Olympics.

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