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Jen Kao’s Hands-On Approach

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When designer Jen Kao isn’t honing her fine tailoring skills, nail art keeps her hands busy. “I’ve been gluing things to my nails since I was 13,” she divulged when we inquired about the origins of her obsession after getting a tip that the Kansas native likes to dabble in Calgel overlays, and, er, ornamentation. That is indeed a black animal-print motif at left with glitter stars and rhinestones embedded for added flair. A devotee of manicurist Naoko Ichiman, whom she met at Sakura Nail and Spa on the Upper East Side—one of the only salons in New York to offer Calgels, which are huge in Asia and parts of Europe—Kao had Ichiman create a ten-finger salute to her favorite anime characters for her Spring 2009 presentation last year, which makes us extremely curious about what she’s planning for her Fall show next week. “I used a lot of broken mirror for inspiration this season,” Kao says, which we can only assume is an indication that all signs point to sparkle. Stay tuned.

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