It is often the case at fashion week that nail design assumes the position of support act to the hair and make-up, and of course the clothes. But that was definitely not the case at the spring/summer 2020 shows. On many runways it was the nails, not the hair or make-up, which drew the most attention (and ergo received the most likes on social media).
Here’s a round up of our four favourite spring/summer 2020 nail trends to brighten up the colder months and see you through until spring.
Oscar de la Renta
Obviously, the ’90s are back in a big way. From Friends re-runs and Netflix reintroducing us to Cruel Intentions, to brown lipstick (see Rimmel London’s Coffee Shimmer), The Matrix-esque sunglasses and bum bags. When it comes to nails, this means the French manicure has experienced a long-overdue revival, but its latest guise is nothing like the almost brash, elongated square nails of old.
“I see folks everywhere wearing bike shorts, fanny packs and power blazers, so it’s only natural one of the ’90s’ biggest nail-art trends has made a return too,” says New York-based nail artist Miss Pop, who was responsible for the nail designs at Oscar de la Renta, Prabal Gurung and Jeremy Scott’s spring/summer 2020 shows. “This new wave of design is nothing like the classic pink-and-white, thick-stacked French manicure we’re used to. [Instead,] it’s an extension of the negative space trend – and you can forget about using one flat colour, the nail is a canvas upon which paint can take any shape.”
Miss Pop’s creation for Prabal Gurung was about as close as the new spin gets to the ‘traditional’ French tip. “I took the classic French and made it modern with negative space. Using Zoya Naked Manicure, I brought out the blush tones of the nail bed and then painted an ultra thin and curvaceous white that covered the natural nail whites and elongated the nail bed,” she explains.
From there, things became bolder. At Oscar de la Renta, Miss Pop took inspiration from the Caribbean-themed collection, creating a bright French ombré by using Zoya Nail Polish in Arizona, Sawyer and Laurel, where you would traditionally apply white. “I call this look the Cuban French, because it is a very popular manicure in my hometown of Miami,” she says.
Yes, months after its release we’re still obsessed with the hit HBO series Euphoria. The show’s effusive personality could be felt in the bold and playful make-up looks at the spring/summer 2020 shows, but it was on nails that we really saw cause and effect. This translates as rhinestones, bright colours, glitter and nail art. At Roland Mouret, world renowned nail artist Marian Newman recreated the marble pattern of the collection’s oversized jewellery on nails; while at Julien Macdonald she engineered a reflective, metallic effect. At House of Holland, nail artist Jenni Draper mirrored the glitter eye make-up in the show with a full sparkling glaze across nails, using OPI polish. And, to see out New York Fashion Week in a frenzy of elaborate design, manicurist Mei Kawajiri used rhinestones and painted hearts, butterflies and tartan motifs on nails.
“When people ask me what colour nail polish would look good on them, I tell them to wear the colour they are most drawn to and enjoy it,” says Miss Pop. “After all, nail polish is not a tattoo, it only lasts a week or two.”
As long as there is a desire for ‘no make-up make-up’, there will also be demand for shiny, healthy, happy nails. The look created by nail artist Rita Remark at Kate Spade spring/summer 2020 is what every woman turns to when she wants to feel put together. Nails were kept short and rounded, with just a touch of the white of the nail showing, and nothing but a coat of Essie’s legendary Mademoiselle polish, base and topcoat. Mademoiselle has been a fashion week staple for years and it’s still the most flattering neutral on any skin tone. Remark created a similarly uncomplicated feel – albeit on a longer, more retro nail shape – at Veronica Beard, where she used a combination of pinky toned nudes. Simone Rocha’s impossibly elegant, almost-nude nails tick all of our boxes – created by London-based session manicurist Ama Quashie, nails were kept short, painted with Kure Bazaar nail polish in French Rose, and adorned with a simple tiny pearl. That pearl takes groomed nails to a whole new level.
To pull off this immaculate look, as much care goes into the prep as it does the finish. “The nails and skin must be kept hydrated with cuticle oil. It’s a strengthener and it staves off hangnails. I always apply a little cuticle oil before an important meeting, so it looks like I have just stepped out of the salon with a fresh mani,” says Miss Pop.
While nail designs this season encompassed all kinds of experimentation with colour, art and finishes, there was one constant: length, and lots of it. From the berry lacquered nails (using Essie polish) at Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya by Naomi Yasuda, to the stiletto-shaped talons at Tom Ford by Mei Kawajiri, the ideal effect is so long as to be wildly impractical (but ultimately worth any inconvenience).
“I think there is beauty and an opportunity for a chic design with every nail length,” says Miss Pop. “But, personally I prefer an oval that stretches beyond the fingertip. I find this shape to be the best at elongating the fingers.” Long nails won’t limit your nail colour or design choices; the bright tips at Oscar de la Renta, psychedelic patterns at Jeremy Scott and transparent lengths at Halpern prove that. The easiest way to achieve longer nails without resorting to extensions is to have regular gel manicures, as the gel hardens your natural nail, making it less likely to break and split.
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