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Brief Published: 24 Feb 2016

DIY Nails: A/W 16/17 Catwalks

Clockwise from left: A/W 16/17 Vivienne Westwood, VFiles, Desigual, Libertine, Delpozo, Opening Ceremony, Hood By Air, Vivienne Westwood

Nails are a key focus for seasonal catwalk presentations. With avant-garde ideas and playful experimentation, the latest offerings from New York and London Fashion Week will inspire both consumers and brands.

The most talked-about creation so far has been Libertine’s tufted faux fur nails. Created by Jan Morgan of California-based Creative Nail Design, white and fawn-coloured fur was teamed with intricate beaded evil eyes inspired by French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle. The look has already spawned a rush of imitations on social media, with at-home fur now available. There was more tactile, 3D action at Desigual, where matt silver acrylics were embellished with scraps of scarlet, cobalt and plum embroidery thread.

At Vivienne Westwood, we saw an extreme use of the Future Nails: Spray-Can Polish application innovation – with silver, black and gold paint crudely airbrushed onto both nails and fingers. Occasional gold and silver mirrored acrylic nails and strips of bent metal were haphazardly applied to the cuticle and along the finger. Continuing the metallic theme, VFiles’ manicure evoked fingers dipped in a pot of glitter, while at Opening Ceremony, nail artist Naomi Yasuda applied thick daubs of tacky silver polish to the cuticles, as if the colour were seeping out from within.

What’s interesting about these designs is how imperfect they look – it’s a real DIY aesthetic. “While some fashion trends can feel out of reach, everyone can recreate nail art looks they see on the runways,” Caitlin Heikkila, social media manager at New York magazine Allure, told Fashion and Beauty Monitor. “Unlike hairstyles that only work on certain hair types, or make-up looks that don’t work on every face, everyone can pull off nail art.”

Reinforcing this theme, Delpozo went for a minimal look, with bare nails adorned with clumsy white vertical stripes, almost like Tipp-Ex. Pushing the boundaries even further, Hood By Air’s “nasty nail” appeared to be caked in dirt and grime. Manicurist Dawn Sterling wiped a dark Chanel polish over the nail to create the effect. "We're doing a nasty nail – there's no other way to describe it,” she told The Cut. “It’s for the person draped in HBA, who is all about fashion, fishing and gardening, but doesn't really give a f*** what anybody else thinks.”

With all this inspiration on offer, we look forward to seeing what Milan and Paris Fashion Week have to offer. As nail artist Chelsea King told Stylus: “We will continue to see nail embellishments, more textures in polish and nail styles inspired by the seasons’ fashion.” For more on the nail art phenomenon, see Nail Art: Colourful Currency.