Nails used to come in three colours. Red, red and red. Oh, and let’s not forget french tips. Over the past few years, however, nail art has exploded, and has become a fully-fledged industry within the fashion world, as subject to seasonal trends as dress silhouettes and heel shapes. From tacky to quirky, nails have transformed into yet another area where we can explore personal style as well as try our hands (sorry) at something that we might feel is a bit too ‘out there’ for an entire look.
Whereas previously the latest hot patterns and prints were confined to the catwalk or your handbag, now it’s just as cool to have them lacquered at your fingertips. Increasingly, nail art has become a thrifty and creative way to pay homage to your favorite designers by taking inspiration from their most visually famous pieces and translating them via nailbrush and buffer. Leopard spots, aztec inspired prints, even the galaxy – thanks to Christopher Kane – is no longer out of reach for those of us who want to have a little more authenticity than a fast fashion knockoff.
Wah Nails have been the biggest influence on how nail art has taken off in the UK. Whilst the Kawaii craze has been going on for years in Asia, it wasn’t until 2009 in London when Sharmadean Reid opened the doors of her nail salon and opened up peoples’ eyes to the possibilities that nail paint can bring. Born from a hip-hop community with feminist values at its core, Wah Nails revolutionised the way in which the fashion world thought about nails, forcing it to acknowledge its potential and the creativity that can be fostered within it.
Now the company has a branch at Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street, and its influence can be seen everywhere from the runway to celebrities like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, and to the products that companies such as Barry M and Model’s Own now create. New technology is being explored such as shatter effect and marbled nail paint; matte colours are gaining popularity, as opposed to the classic shine. It’s also becoming easier and easier to learn how to do the effects yourself, with online tutorials teaching us how to use everyday items such as cocktail sticks and sponges to achieve that high-fashion look.
Where once spiky red talons were de rigueur, the world is now your oyster (although as we speak, spikes are making a terrifying comeback – see Amber Rose and Rihanna). It might seem intimidating and difficult at first, so start out simple. Try a nude, or ‘greige’ shade which will complement most outfits. If you’re feeling a bit more daring, opt for pastels or brights, and always remember a base and top coat so as to stop discolouring and protect your varnish from chips and scratches that result from daily wear and tear. Remember, nail art is about having fun first and foremost!