From The Runway: Spring’s Top Nail Trends

spring nail trends runway

By Karie Frost

The runways continue to awaken backstage manicurists’ creativity, assuring you an abundance of nail art inspiration, from metallic twists to dangle-dependent designs. Now it’s up to you to deliver these trends to your clients and make them your own!

Trend #1: Zero Sum

Blank spaces continue to dominate nail artistry, and it’s no surprise why: No matter their complexity or simplicity, the optical illusion of negative space designs looks supremely chic on tiny canvases. At Nicole Miller, Zoya nail lead Holly Falcone painted a color-clashing cross that mimics the Panamanian textile mola, using Zoya Ireland and Arizona for the design details and leaving the rest of the nail bed naked. Desire a little less structure? China Glaze nail lead Honey painted freehand abstract shapes, like an S or 2, on naked nails at Proenza Schouler. “That’s what abstract is—it’s something quick; it’s nothing to think about,” she says of the shape-shifting design.

[Images: Courtesy of JINsoon; Creative Age Staff Member; Coutesy of (C)MatthewCarasella/]

Trend #2: Nouveau French

While certain swaths of nailistas label the French manicure DOA these days, backstage manicurists continue to bring it back to life in chic new ways. Case in point: the beige-and-white stiletto nails models bared backstage at Cushnie et Ochs. Inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Scarface character Elvira, Christian Louboutin Beauté nail lead Alicia Torello modernized the typical French design by “adding an angle gradation from pinky to thumb.” The effect of the thick, diagonal white free edge shrinking as it slashed across each finger provided a unique visual on this old-school nail design staple.

[Images: Creative Age Staff Member; Carissa Lancaster for Dermalect ME; Creative Age Staff Member; Courtesy of OPI; Courtesy of Essie]

Trend #3: Float On

You may not have much real estate to work with on nails, but backstage manicurists proved that these 10 tiny canvases support a range of floating objects, from one grand dot (at Jeremy Scott) to a mass of sweet hearts (at Rachel Antonoff). “No two nails are the same, which I love,” says Morgan Taylor nail lead Gina Edwards of the buoyant matte pastel arcs she polished across beds at Tanya Taylor. At Rachel Antonoff, squiggly hearts float on a white tip like scribbled love notes. “When it comes to the hearts, the messier, the better!” says China Glaze nail lead Miss Pop, who created the random squiggles with a striping brush and various shades of pink and red polish. For the heart outlines, Miss Pop pulled out a true nail art hack: an ultra-fine-point Sharpie pen. “Before you reach for your pen, make sure your polish is 100-percent dry,” she advises.

[Images: Courtesy of OPI; Courtesy of (C)MatthewCarasella/; Courtesy of Morgan Taylor]

Trend #4: Bit of Whimsy

Clients who elect for fanciful designs need look no further than these lighthearted creations. Perhaps most day-dreamy of them all: palm fronds that seemed to waft and ripple around the edges of nails at Alice + Olivia. “The idea is that foliage is being formed,” says CND Design Lab team member Amanda Fontanarrosa, adding, “This took hours to create, but the design is so serene that it was really a calming process!” To craft the palm fronds, she dropped seven beads of green polish along the border of the nail, and then lightly dragged and swooped each bead toward the middle. “Depending on the size of the nail, you may need more or fewer beads,” she says.

[Images: Luzena Adams for KISS; Courtesy of CND; Courtesy of (C)MatthewCarasella/]

Trend #5: Supreme Opacity

Sheers took a backseat to full-coverage color, and no hue seemed off-limits despite spring’s typical gravitation toward sunny shades. In the season’s one-coat color orbit were bold cobalt (DKNY), zesty tangerine (Tibi) and rich red (Kate Spade and Rag & Bone).

[Images: Courtesy of JINsoon; Courtesy of Essie; Keith Morrison for Deborah Lippmann; Courtesy of JINsoon]

Trend #6: Dangle If You Dare

Kitsch had its place in the ’90s; the frequency of manicures studded with dangling charms outnumbered that of today, to be sure. But that didn’t stop nail artists from calling back to that era, punching holes into tips and hanging everything from mini tassels (at Libertine) to large letters (at KYE US) from nails. “I had originally thought about making the design 3-D, but I didn’t want to cover the fishnet base I painted,” nail lead Mei Kawajiri says of the ’90s-inspired nail design she crafted for KYE US. “When the models move you can see the charms move. It’s more fun!”

[Images: Courtesy of CND; Courtesy of CND; Creative Age Staff; Courtesy of CND]

Trend #7: Metallic Taste

Hyper-reflective finishes certainly have a home on nails (witness the chrome and unicorn powders craze)—and this season, they even took up residence on cuticles. “I’m calling it a ‘gold chain detail,’” says Morgan Taylor nail lead Tracylee of the stunning design she created for Rodarte. “It’s gold glitter polish (Morgan Taylor Glitter & Gold) around the nail along the cuticle.” Of course, she notes, polish on skin won’t last long—maybe a day or two at best—but she offered this tip to make it wear as long as possible: “Clean the skin with rubbing alcohol first to rid it of any oils and dirt.”

[Images: Courtesy of Morgan Taylor; Luca Connonieri for MAC; Courtesy of Morgan Taylor; Courtesy of Essie; Courtesy of Morgan Taylor; Creative Age Staff; Creative Age Staff]

Trend #8: Line By Line

There’s a lot of love for lines of every kind this season: straight, squiggled, thick and thin. Loopy lines, like the punk graffiti design by CND at Libertine, can be executed with your eyes closed (sort of), yet straight edges, like those at Opening Ceremony, require a steady hand. Or not: China Glaze nail lead Naomi Yasuda utilized Scotch tape to tidy up her straight-edged color-block nail art at Opening Ceremony (one of two designs she created for the runway show). “You paint the Scotch tape [with your preferred polish], let it dry, cut it into small lines, and then press,” she instructs. “It makes it so much easier this way.” To smooth any ridges the tape may create, she recommends floating a layer of top coat over your design. 

[Images: Courtesy of (C)MatthewCarasella/; Courtesy of (C)MatthewCarasella/; Diane Bondereff for KISS; Courtesy of CND]

Karie Frost is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City.

What do you think of these runway nail trends? Let us know in the comments below and then check out nail art inspired by runway looks.

This story was originally published in the April 2017 issue of NAILPRO.

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