Designer: Baby Phat
Striding down the red lacquered catwalk and leaving behind a massive mural of Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral, supermodel Alek Wek is no babushka; she’s a czarina of the most stylish variety! Upping the style quotient: a stunning fingernail fashioned to appear like an 18th century Russian coat of arms. Wek is Russian regal to the nth degree, but as far from Moscow’s Red Square as one can get. Rather, she’s opening Kimora Lee Simmons’ fall Baby Phat show in downtown Manhattan.
Who better to handcraft supremely detailed nail tips than art-deft CND (formerly Creative Nail Design)? Simmons called CND co-founder Jan Arnold for a meeting of the minds. “I had the perfect fit for her From Russia With Love theme,” says Arnold. Just months prior, Siberian nail tech Pchelina Nadezhda sent Arnold awe-inspiring nail tips made in the likeness of Russian heraldic emblems. Each labor-intensive enhancement—made from CND’s versatile Brisa gel, liquid and powder, as well as featuring hand-painted imagery—took a week to make.
With the intent of inspiring the designer, Arnold emailed Simmons a story from the November/December 2006 issue of Launchpad that featured the haute heraldic emblems. Rather than simply finding inspiration, however, Simmons wanted exact replicas of the tips. “I was surprised when she said, ‘I want them all!’” laughs Arnold. Eventually, Simmons picked 7 of the 12 tips for the runway—much to the relief of CND.
CND’s Team Red members hustled to make the tips from scratch, churning out the Russian-regal emblems in addition to intricate crosses. The sweat and chaos paid off: When each model debuted the majestic nail art on the catwalk, onlookers were transported to Moscow’s Red Square—minus the mind-numbing cost of a plane.