Nails hit the runway

Nails have replaced the statement necklace, earrings and “it” bag as the accessory du jour. Whether it’s a striped metallic or textural “deconstructed” look, the trends in bold nail color and design take a cue directly from designer runways.

A California company, Creative Nail Design, is leading the way, conceptualizing and executing some of the most eye-popping nail looks for runway shows in New York, London and Paris by drawing inspiration from a designer’s overall vision, color palette and collection. Co-founder Jan Arnold and her Vista-based team research trends in fabric, color and even home design to predict the direction nail color and shape will take in the coming season.

For fall 2009, Creative Nail worked on 103 runway shows and took away these top trends, which are trickling down from the catwalk to the street.


New moon

For the Ruffian show, Arnold flipped through designers Brian Wolk and Claude Morais’ collection of Vogue magazines from the 1930s for inspiration. “Nails back then were highly and richly lacquered, and there was usually something going on in the moon of the nail,” Arnold says. “We left the moon bare and polished the rest of the nail in a red color called Blood Line. It was Hollywood glamour juxtaposed with the cutting edge of the clothing.”

The nails at Thakoon also played up the moon. “We did a retro ‘40s look, by putting an ink black color called Black Jack on the moon against an opaque nude called Putty,” Arnold says.

Night shadow

Earthy shades painted onto almond-shaped nails, to elongate the fingers, were ubiquitous on the runways.

But jewel tones are also a hot trend for fall and Arnold predicts they will carry into the holiday season. “At the Herve Leger show, we layered black under a coat of dark ruby and finished with an amethyst sparkle. It’s dark and mysterious but not flat; it’s got depth,” she says.

Custom and ‘deconstructed’ nails

“Custom nails are a huge trend now, because customization lets people bring out their creativity and personality,” Arnold says. She describes a technique to get a marbleized effect on the nail that involves dripping several colors of nail polish into a bowl of water, dipping the finger under the water and up through the lacquer floating on the water’s surface. The polish sticks to the top of the nail in a swirly, marble pattern.

Another way to customize nails this season is by giving them a “deconstructed” look, which involves playing around with color and effect until you’ve achieved a result so bold the nails become a conversation piece. The deconstructed nails that showed up on Behnaz Sarafpour’s runway blended right into the black and gray heavy collection, and the look is easily achieved at home.

“Start with one coat of black on each nail; let that dry, then swipe on one coat of silver,” Arnold says. “Before the silver dries, take a makeup sponge and tap the surface of the silver so flecks of black are revealed from beneath. . . . For more texture, put a silver-chrome color over that and tap the sponge again. Seal it with a topcoat if you want it a shiny result. Or let it dry as is and the result will be more rough and textural.”