On The Border
Runways saw a revival of the tacky (or is it?). Angel Sanchez updated the French mani with contrasting textures: matte pink with slashes of glossy lilac. But the most popular way to spruce edges was also the simplest: a naked nail bed bordered by an eye-popping shade such as royal blue (Issey Miyake), mustard yellow (Jenni Kayne) or orange (Richard Nicoll). “It’s the negative space manicure—having part of the nail with no colour at all,” says TracyLee Percival, Sally Hansen nail ambassador. Shine and shape were also used to decorate perimeters, with nails given glitter at Behnaz Sarafpour, diagonal red corners at Roland Mouret and reverse V tips at Alexis Mabille.
Shape of the Season: Longer, rounded almond nails give fingers a flattering new silhouette, “like a boob job for your hands,” says M.A.C nail pro Keri Blair.
FLARE pick: CND Colour in Blueberry Whip, $14.
Nails joined in on spring fashion’s pattern play. At Kate Spade, polka dots and gingham matched the ’80s-inspired preppy wear, while David Koma’s “tennis net” manicures suited the models’ Wimbledon whites. Among the trickiest: Rodarte’s textured, tone-on-tone basket weave—a 200-hour job. “I painted wax paper, cut it into strips and hand-wove it onto nails,” says CND education ambassador Michelle Huynh. But at home? “Patterns can be super-easy if you have a stencil or stickers.”
FLARE pick: Nail Rock Designer Nail Wraps in Seeing Spots Yellow, $7.
“It’s the idea of taking something as small as a nail and giving it the full impact of an accessory,” says M.A.C senior artist Keri Blair of the graphic mani movement, which draws on street-style graffiti and comic strips. The Blonds’ cheeky white “shark bites” chomped off a black backdrop, while blue and red Sharpies were used to scribble names over a white base at Rachel Antonoff, and psychedelic slashes covered fuchsia polish at PPQ. At Prabal Gurung, Percival used a new oxblood lacquer (Angel Bite) to create blood drips—inspired not by Twilight fandom, but the work of contemporary artist Anish Kapoor.
FLARE pick: M.A.C Nail Lacquer in Fiestaware, $19.
“The nails become the jewellery,” says Huynh of embellished tips, which showed up everywhere from Vivienne Westwood (rhinestones) to Joy Cioci (pearls) to Meadham Kirchhoff (Day-Glo “jewels”). One of the most intricate effects was at Ruffian, where Blair shaped and glued delicate gold filigree onto the ring and pinky fingers; a similar accent decorated index digits at Dsquared2. Best suited for runway, not reality, Diego Binetti’s unwieldy triple-tiered manicures resembled oyster shells, complete with a mini pearl sandwiched between each layer.
FLARE pick: Essie Sleek Stick in Stickers and Stones, $14.
Beyond The Pale
Macaroon shades are packing more punch this season. “We’re calling them pastel brights,” says Percival. “They’re not as traditional or soft, and the variety of colours has increased.” Case in point: buttercream yellow (Holly Fulton), periwinkle blue (Jonathan Saunders) and melon (Fendi). These aren’t Easter egg clichés: “They have a little more wearability,” says Blair. “They’re a bit dirty, with an almost translucent quality, which makes them more interesting.”
FLARE pick: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Angel Bite (available in June), $9.
If you painted your teenage tips with Wite Out, this monotone mani will seem old school. But the incarnation of the season is far more sophisticated. Rag & Bone and Honor chose saturated, high-gloss white for a clean yet graphic look, while Moschino’s chalkier texture tied in with the collection’s mod moment. The milky glow of a sheerer, matte topcoat at Karen Walker suited the designer’s space-age theme, while Monique Lhuillier’s custom-mixed opal mimicked the inside of an oyster shell. “The effect [of white] is the same as highlighting the cheekbones or the inner corners of the eyes,” says Blair. “It brings light to the hands.”
FLARE pick: Kit Nail Colour in Lady in White, $6.