Fashion designers are taking hands-on approach to the manicure.
Nail art, once associated with cheesy decals, has become nail fashion — and no designer would think of sending a model down the runway without a signature polish, specially coordinated to complement the colors and theme of a collection.
"Nails are the ulimate accessory," said Candice Manacchio, a nail and fashion expert from CND Nails. "They’re just as important as your hair, your makeup, your iPhone case and your shoes for putting together a coordinated look."
Some designers choose to keep it simple — others demand mini-masterpieces.
One particularly gasp-worthy example? The “woven” nails at Rodarte, which wowed its attendees with its “Modern Medieval” theme on Tuesday at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
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A model shows off her nails for Angel Sanchez Spring 2013 Collection; Woven art: The intricate designs made by CND for the Rodarte Spring 2013 Collection.
In order to create the “basket-weave” look, ten CND nail stylists hand painted each nail tip. Next, they painted pieces of wax paper a subtly different color and then sliced them into slivers.
Using tweezers, they wove the strips into a lattice.
Each set has 22 nail tips, to accommodate the varying nail size of each model.
"There were so many left over," said Manacchio. "It was a little heartbreaking after so much work."
Her team spent over 200 hours creating 30 complete sets of nails. That’s 15 minutes per nail.
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Caviar dreams (and nails!) at Joy Cioci Spring 2013 fashion show presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
A model poses during the Rachel Antonoff Spring/Summer 2013 Collection held at Drive In Studios during New York Fashion Week in New York City.
Designers work with companies like CND, Essie, OPI, Deborah Lippmann and Dashing Diva to create eye-popping manicures with contrasting colors, patterns, textures and dimensions.
Still, doesn’t it seem like a lot of work? After all, aren’t people looking at the clothes, not the makeup?
“The nails are becoming more and more important,” said CND rep Hannah Longman. “The photos of the manicure will be appearing online and in magazines for months. And besides, it’s a piece of the collection that fashion fans can actually imitate at home — for a very small cost.”
The best thing about nail fashion is that you can be as creative or detailed as you want to create a runway look.
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Goth nails at the Nicole Miller Spring 2013 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
While it may look like Manacchio used an expensive paintbrush to create the black and silver nails for Nicole Miller, the truth was much more budget-friendly.
"I dipped the edge of a makeup sponge in polish after creating the diamond pattern," she said. "That’s all."
A great place to start? A colorful take on the simple French manicure.
"Seafoam green was huge on the runway," she said. "Why not paint the nail while and create a green tip? Or vice versa?"
Some designers stepped away from nail art this season, choosing to stick with simple grey pinks and rose shades.
Victoria Beckham, Christian Siriano, Donna Karan and Elie Tahari chose to stick with pale pink and nearly nude polishes.
The nail brand Zoya teamed up with Peter Som, delivering soft shades of pink, lilac, silver, sea green and this season’s signature color: tangerine.