“Jackie O Loved A Classic Nude Nail:” Spring’s Neutral Manicure Gets Another Endorsement
Ever since nails morphed from a beauty statement into a fashion accessory, the right polish, effects, and even manicurist have become topic of conversation; lest you’ve forgotten, E! Entertainment, arbiter of style that it is, even had a “mani-cam” covering the red carpet at the 2012 Emmy Awards to ensure that they didn’t miss a single flick of the finger. We’ve come a long way since the days of ballet slipper pink dominance (some would argue we’ve moved too far away from it), but change is all part of the nail cycle, according to Kristina Konarski—and she would know. The Privé Salon monolith has logged an impressive 30 years in the industry, finger-painting the likes of Yoko Ono and Jackie Onassis, who saw Konarski for regular appointments. On a recent visit, we chatted up the industry veteran on the state of nails and what direction they’re headed—which, according to the manicurist with the mostest, is right back where they began.
So how did you get into the nail game, anyway?
“I’m from Czechoslovakia, and originally I studied nails because I wanted to escape and move to America. The place I studied in Budapest was more technical, it was almost a podiatry school, and you learned about feet and the health of the nail. It wasn’t like now, where you can do a quick course and say you’re a manicurist. After studying, I got a license that allowed you to open your own business, which is what I wanted to do. Not long after finishing I moved to America.”
How did you come to meet Jackie Onassis?
“I’m so old I can’t stand it! It was around 1983 or 1984 and I was working in the most glamorous salon, the place to be, called Ilona of Hungary. I was painting Jackie O’s nails and Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. Jackie O always loved a classic nude nail—everyone did. People still do, it’s the most timeless, beautiful look.”
And it’s making a comeback, according to the Spring runways. Why do you think we’ve returned to an embrace of the nude manicure?
“I think everything in fashion and beauty comes in cycles. A beautiful nude nail will always be ‘in’ and the cycle is bringing us back to that. We started with that, and then crazy nail art become popular, and now it’s coming back to nude.”
What are your opinions on the changing nail landscape and how have recent trends influenced the way you approach your craft?
“Don’t get me wrong, I think nail art is great and fun and we all have to express ourselves, but it would take me five days to paint all those designs! It’s glitzy and glamorous, but it looks a bit like a Barbie doll to me. It’s having a moment now, but it will pass. Things come and go, but you’ll always end up with a classic nail. I do a lot of work for Italian Vogue with Steven Meisel, and we always do—and always have done—a nude or red, which is why veterans like me are still around and, I think, more important than ever.
What makes a “good” manicure these days?
“Proper training and learning how to take care of the nail is what’s important. I think gels and all those things are great but they dry out the nail. For me, the most important thing is a healthy beautiful nail. It’s like skin: you need a good canvas and base to work on. Then the important thing is choosing which color suits your skin type. That is where expertise comes in, and it’s something I think is dying. Nothing can beat a good job.”
Privé Salon, 310 West Broadway, NYC, (212) 274-8888; www.privesalon.com.