A Shout-Out to our NAILERATTI as Fashion Trailblazers

Posted by Sharon Esche Irving under Consumer Editorial, Editorial Insights, General, Ramblings

The ‘Naileratti’

With New York Fashion Week (Feb. 7-11) upon us, and nail fashion coverage sharing the media spotlight, what better time to pay tribute to our talented nail peers and pioneers. They are the Naileratti (my term) … those who have turned the heads and earned the respect of the world’s leading fashion designers and media.

It all happened for one very good reason; nail artists began to regard themselves first as fashion ‘designers’ … and then, skilled nail ‘technicians’. They were on top of the trends as well as the technology and never let us forget either side of their artistry.

Fashion acceptance and recognition on the retail runway for any pro beauty category filters right down to service demand at the salon level. Just take a look at hair color and extensions!  Once they finally caught on with fashion designers on the runway and red carpet, all our fashion-aware clients ‘wanted it’.

This is a lesson we can all learn from: No matter what our role in the salon or spa, we are all ‘fashion designers’ at the end of the day!

Consumer Nail Editorial Has Come A Long Way!

New York Times Nail ArticleNails have gone from a non-factor to the hottest fashion accessory on the runway. Knowing how much pavement-pounding the ‘Naileratti’ had to do to make this a reality, it does my heart good to see Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Lucky,  Elle, NY Times, etc. so often talking up the fashion of nails … right there with the news on the season’s new cuts/styles, hair color trends, make-up tips and complexion care.

From nail color, art, care, shape, texture and type to technology and techniques, consumer nail editorial coverage has come a long way from reading those scary ‘fungus-related’ nail stories of yesteryear … to making nails all about fashion and an integral part of the total look on runways and red carpets!

This is the stuff that sends clients into your salon.  This is the stuff of brilliant strategic marketing – building the category toward the one goal that would increase the demand and revenue of the nail artist, the salon, the service and the category:  Fashion designer endorsement.

Jan Arnold, CND Style DirectorWho Led the Way?

Who had all these thoughts first?  Who first took the nail category by storm with early and tireless leg work and lab work that propelled ‘nail fashion’ into ‘total ‘fashion’.  It was Jan Arnold (photo at right: beautylish.com) .

There was a time (the 1980’s) when nails were even less than an after-thought in fashion — much less an accessory. They really weren’t thought of at all — until artist, entrepreneur, and educator Jan Arnold as head of Creative Nail Design came along to turn the nail category upside down and inside out!

She did it with a drive, a spirit and a passion about nail artists, nail products, nail education and yes, the fashion and fun of nails that no editor or educator she reached out to could ignore.  She pounded the global pavement until finally, the fashion designers listened and launched their collections with nails in mind … specifically with Creative Nail Design’s acrylic nails and shades that sculpted the  fashion category to what it is today from the nails perspective. Jan…always the champion of the nail artist…has paved the golden way for the ‘Naileratti’.

A Long Process

It took some heavy PR lifting before the fashion recognition actually began to show itself.  But designer by designer… celebrity by celebrity… magazine by magazine — it did all happen — and the rest is nail fashion PR history!

Jan’s Creative Nail Design company (now branded as CND) was at the techno-cutting edge of nail product innovation, but Jan’s strategic celebrity and fashion positioning for the professional nail category as well as her brand deserves a  huge ‘shout out’ from artists in all industry categories.

Her PR solution

Jan consistently met with leading consumer magazine editors to help them learn more about the fashion, ease and yes, safety of having beautiful nails. While she worked incredibly hard around the world to educate and enlighten nail artists and our own industry media, she worked just as hard educate the consumer media — so they could educate their readers … your salon clients. Her laser-focused marketing and PR outreach to fashion designers bore fruit … and nails started coming down the runway in designer collections.

Jan has received many awards and had amazing editorial coverage over the years, but I’m not sure many realize her particular role as the nail industry’s ‘designer original’ who ended the nail fashion disconnect with haute couture as we view it today.

In so doing, she has paved the way for all of us who followed – and put another category and craft on the map. In my humble opinion, Jan Arnold is to nail couture what Vidal Sassoon is to hair design … Leslie Blanchard is to hair color … Yves St. Laurent to pure couture … Avril Lavigne to music and Anna Wintour to Vogue.

The Ultimate Compliment to Nails as Fashion – The Fashion Designers Own Signature Lines!

lalaque Nail Polish - Yves St. LaurentYou knew, of course that Yves St. Laurent has a La Lacque nail lacquer line … and that Avril Lavigne has created a range of edgy nail appliques for the Sally Hansen nail company.


Designer Tom Ford's Nail LacquersIt’s also interesting to note that designer Tom Ford markets a nail line under Tom Ford Beauty Nail Lacquer.



And designers like Donna Karan and countless others are now having nail colors custom-formulated for their collections.   Nail fashion has evolved to this incredible designer ‘statement’ level.

Check out the incredibly popular nail fashion colors of Priti NYC … or the inspirations of nail industry dynamo Deborah Lippmann who works with fashion designers and also custom-creates signature nail lacquer shades  ‘with’ celebrities like Cher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mary J. Blige and supermodels like Drew Hemingway and Lara Stone.

Mariah Carey Collection by OPIAnd, as we all know, other industry nail leaders like fashion-influential OPI are incredible ‘strategic marketers’ of showcasing nails and nail artists as part of fashion. Their color collections are often globally-inspired and their iconic celebrity affiliations with their products help to shine that media and fashion spotlight right on the professional nail category.  Have you seen the ‘8 Chart-Smashing Shades’ from ‘Maria Carey by OPI’?

Essie NailsOther fashion-forward nail companies like Essie among others in our industry picked up the ball and now share a key role in making nail news ‘fashion news’ on the runway.What industry are you really in?  Think about it.  Own it. It will influence all that you do – including your PR efforts — in this wonderful and fashionable New Year!


For Your Own PR and Clients, Remember:

  • PR is a process – develop your strategy and stay with it.
  • Think like a fashion designer … you are first, designers and artists in the total fashion business and are ‘finally’ being better recognized (and needed) for what you bring to the newest ‘looks’.
  • Don’t just follow Fashion Week anymore … .you ‘are’ Fashion Week’, working in context and cohesion with those fabulous couturiers who now welcome you.
  • Be consistent in your message to your target audiences.
  • Be a fashion authority within your field; create news that is in context with fashion whenever possible.
  • Be well read and prepared to be a valuable information, education and trend resource within your field of expertise.
  • Be well-versed in and on top of current and coming fashion trends. Relate your skills and service to these trends with clients, media, and your influential contacts.

Remember, when you’re in the business of beauty, you are in the business of fashion.

Sharon Note: As a columnist, author, and now blogger in the beauty/ fashion industry, I’m long overdue in crediting the nail industry for turning the heads of the most respected fashion designers — and now a vital part of their runway collections … part of the trendsetting.

The nail artist has become the new darling of Fashion Week’s designer collections.  One look at the media coverage tells you that nail artists, colors and companies are sharing the trendsetting headlines with the fashion designer.  We read about the clothes, the hair, the make-up, and FINALLY, the nails trends debuting on the runway.  It took time, but we can all now thank our nail industry counterparts for also helping to pave the way for all of we ‘creators of pure couture’.

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