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My Two Cents: The Nail Art Takeover Is Making Me Sad

mama nails

Nail art used to be like a secret society – there were those ladies in the know of the only spot in town that did airbrushing or had that coveted Nike stencil. Most people didn’t understand and thought that you were crazy for having designs painted or airbrushed on your nails or for even having more than one color on your nails. Having your nails did was a way to set you apart from the rest and gave your look a unique finishing look.

Flash forward six years and nail art is everywhere. PBS is covering it (see the video below), you can buy a variety of colors and nail wraps at your local drug store and every cosmetics line is coming out with a rainbow of nail polish colors. In the past few months alone M·A·C has released a line of press-on nails and a permanent collection of 31 nail colors.  Even mass market cosmetics companies like Maybelline – who used to just offer your basic pink, red, coral and neutrals just launched Color Show – a line of nail lacquers that take inspiration from the color wheel.

I remember when Chanel would come out with a new Le Vernis nail lacquer and it was the only company to offer that must-have color of the season.  Now, things move so fast that within a month or two of Chanel debuting the nail color of the season on the runway there are knockoffs at your local Walgreens.

I love nail art.  If you’ve followed my work, then you know that I’ve long been a proponent of nail art.  I launched Mama, a premier women’s street wear line with an ad featuring nothing more than a nameplate necklace and my nails did.  Back in 2007 I collaborated with Juicy Cosmetics to create “Juicy Mama” a line of custom nail colors to match your kicks, M.I.S.S. collaborated with Mr. Frames for a Nails Did t-shirt and M.I.S.S. was a pioneer in the nail art editorial and broke ground with our Nails Did calendars (2008, 2009 and 2012).  So please consider all of that when I say this:  I’m starting to get annoyed with all of this nail art everywhere.  Yeah, I said it.

miss nails did

I guess I’m like those annoying kids that stop liking a band once it gets mainstream.  Nail art used to be special, it used to be for those of us in the know.  Now, it’s showing up on the Paris runways of the Chanel Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2012/13 show.  People used to think my nails were “ghetto” (I hate that expression but that’s what people would say) and now, because a fashion magazine said it’s cool, girls are tripping over themselves to get their nails done.  I’m all for girls getting their nails did and expressing themselves through their nails.  I think it’s awesome.  I just think the whole nail art game is getting a little bastardized is all.  I feel like know it’s going to be a “trend” that passes in the wind rather than a mainstay of street glamour.  I guess I’ll have to go on to the next… I may just go to the other extreme and just get my nails buffed.

Watch Idea Channel: The World of Nail Art on PBS. See more from Idea Channel.

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9 Responses to “My Two Cents: The Nail Art Takeover Is Making Me Sad”

  1. Goldenyardy says:

    In many forms I feel you. I don’t know how old you are but i’m 35, grew up in the BX, I’ve also been into nails and nail design for a long time. Just recently someone asked me about buying the Konad nail stamp thingy and I told them that I felt like stamping took away from the art of design. I felt like it made it too easy to have fly designs. I like hand drawing, I feel like it made it mine because I took the effort to do it and if it didn’t come out perfect then it was even more of originality. The same with sneakers, I think I expressed to you on your Reebok post that the model “Freestyle Hi” started my sneaker collection, but now that it has become such a battle to get sneakers because of the hype people make it and to get it at a decent price it’s like my drive for having them is gone!! I totally understand but I don’t think I’ve officially given it up… definetely not nail designs!!

  2. Tam says:

    Keep at it if you like it, a great read :)

  3. Lila Robles says:

    AGREE AGREE! You totally say this better :) I’m with you on this one even if I am a nail artist myself, I feel this club is letting everyone in and im tired of it just a lil

  4. Gabriella Gabriella says:

    Hi ladies,
    Aw, thanks for the support.

    Goldenyardy, I can relate on all fronts – I’m 37 so we grew up around the same time :)

  5. i agree these “new” designs i see half the time i look and laugh like i had that 7yrs ago lol it is def not the same anymore and its more harder to be unique smh

  6. Gabriella Gabriella says:

    Hi Miss Jessa Hezyel,
    Yes, I know. What a lot people think is new has been done before – a long time ago!

  7. Pink Eye says:

    I agree. its the same in all realms. Even with Sneakers, Fashion and all. I guess if you truly love it, you just do. Even if its mainstream. As a nail art lover coming back to life (lol) mostly because of my art I use acetone so I can never really get my nails done but I used to all the time, I’ve recently taken a more personal love back into nail art. I truly understand what its like though loving sneakers was a underground type things and know its all out of hype. The true lovers stand strong through the fads and all. :)

  8. Amber says:

    I agree! While I love nail art its been around for a while and now it is getting kind of annoying. I remember going to a ‘nail art event’ at the end of last year in NYC….everyone was rude, bourgeois, and had this idea that somehow they were onto something new pssshh please yeah right! I’m a Brooklyn girl hardcore and I used to have dope acrylic nails fresh from the Korean spots with airbrushing, basic lil graphics, french tips you name it! When I worked in Manhattan it was considered ‘ghetto’ but I didn’t care and I still don’t. I just do me. Its sad to see cool things run to the ground. I FEEL YA 100!

  9. Daze says:

    I agree in many ways, but at the same time I’m actually pretty happy with the current nail art fad. Yes, sometimes it seems like they call nail “art” just about anything these days but it drives me to step up my game and show people what a true Nail Art lover can do. When the fad passes, my love for it will stay the same, and the same can be said for many people. There’s also a lot of people who just weren’t really introduced to nail art or knew what it was, but are just as talented and passionate as those of us who have been there since the beginning. All in all I do see it as an art form so any sort of barriers placed on it just seems kinda wrong to me.


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