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Deborah Lippmann celebrates 15 years of beautiful nails

Deborah Lippmann celebrates 15 years of beautiful nails
Deborah Lippmann sings when she isn't creating new nail polishes. (Mark Schafer)

"The Lady Is a Tramp," "Constant Craving" and "Drunk in Love" are all famous song titles as well as attention-grabbing names adorning the bottles of celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann's nail polish bottles.

Coincidence? No.

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Lippmann, who celebrates the 15-year anniversary of her niche nail polish and nail-care brand this month, is a classically trained singer who was a successful performer before what she calls her "waitressing" job made her the beauty industry icon she is today.

"I always loved beauty," says Lippmann, who grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., and considered the cosmetics counters at her local department store to be the epitome of glamour. So as she was breaking into the music field, she enrolled in cosmetology school to learn a skill that would pay the bills in lieu of going the typical starving artist route of waiting tables. She took to nails because of the intimacy of holding a client's hand.

When she moved to New York to expand her singing career, Lippmann was thrust into the center of fashion and beauty, working at Frederic Fekkai's first salon in the early 1990s and becoming the go-to manicurist for Vogue, Allure and Harper's Bazaar as a favorite of fashion editors. Her celebrity clients included Martha Stewart, makeup artist Bobbi Brown and Cher, who helped Lippmann choose the nail polish bottle that still remains in the line today.

Eventually she became passionate about nail care education and the perfect "no manicure-manicure" — still a signature look that keeps her in demand with fashion magazines and celebrities.

Launched in 1999, the Deborah Lippmann line of nail polish bridged the gap between drugstore and high-end nail care and today sits in boutique nail salons and on the shelves of high-end retailers including Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's. Sarah Jessica Parker, Cher, Renee Zellweger, Mary J. Blige and Kelly Clarkson have all created colors for the line, and Lippmann  has also done brand collaborations with HBO's "True Blood" and the Broadway play "Wicked."

To commemorate her 15th anniversary, Lippmann has created a limited-edition collector's box containing 15 exclusive nail colors. True to her singing background, the container is a music box that plays a song Lippmann and her best friend wrote and performed, "Until Your Dreams Come True."

The colors are named for song titles, including "Looks Like We've Made it," "The Climb" and "It's a Hard Days Night."

"All of the color names reflect something to do with the brand and where we've been," says Lippmann. "They talk about places in the journey."

The box, priced at $195, is available on Lippmann's website and everywhere the line is sold. Each of the 500 boxes comes numbered and with a note hand-signed by Lippmann.

Though her star in the beauty world shines brightly, the performer in her won't let Lippmann stop singing. She does regular gigs at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills and occasionally sings the national anthem at New York Knicks games.

"I am still a singer, but my place in the beauty industry is cemented," she says. "My waitressing job became hugely successful and I truly love doing both. Our hearts are big and we can love more than one thing."

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