Sharmadean Reid, the founder of London's WAH nails boutique, can take some responsibility for nail art's current popularity and mainstream acceptance. Reid, a Central Saint Martins grad and trend consultant/stylist, was irritated that she couldn't get the nail art designs she wanted at her local London nail salons. So in 2009 she opened WAH nails.
Already the founder of a popular urban lifestyle fanzine also call WAH, she had a following of like-minded cool girls. The success of her first east London salon led to her work getting featured in Vogue, Elle, and the New York Times--and on countless catwalks at London fashion week. WAH then did a pop-up salon in Selfridges, and in 2010 found a permanent home in the flagship Topshop store on Oxford Street in London. And now, with nail art at the height of its popularity, Reid is releasing a book.
Reid says in the book's intro:
Before we opened, "Nail art" was a dirty word within beauty circles, something a bit tacky and ghetto--but I knew it could be more. Nail artists like Marian Newman, Sophy Robson and Jenny Longworth had been pioneering fashion-forward nail art in magazines for a while, but no one was bringing it to the mainstream. And that's where we came in.
And the book is a perfect reflection of her "nail art for the masses" message. Unlike artsier nail art books that have come before it (like Chicago artist Dzine's tome tracing the history of nail art), this one is like a cookbook for nail art. Want to learn how to do leopard nails or some graphic stripes? The book lists step-by-step how to do dozens of different nail art designes. The Wah Nails Book of Nail Art (Hardie Grant Books) will be available later this month at both the W London and W Union Square then more widely available in July.
Last week I hit a WAH nails pop up at the newly renovated W in Union Square here in NYC, where I got to meet Sharmadean and her merry band of nail artists--and I left with some very springlike pastel, candy-striped nails. Sharmadean was there holding court and painting nails (I witnessed her do 10 fingers worth of leopard print in three minutes flat). Now a mother, she told me that she doesn't have time to change her nail polish everyday, though she used to religiously. And what about opening up a shop in New York? Please? She was coy, saying, "Maybe. Everyone says I should go to Williamsburg!" Well, until that happens, you can use your WAH book to get some of their signature motifs.
Click through for a preview of the book--and for some seriously inspiring nail art (and how-tos!).
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