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April 20 2014

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2 posts tagged "Bahama Mama"

The 411: Gaia Venuti of Milan’s Bahama Mama

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A good nail salon is hard to find—especially in Milan, where an emerging mani-pedi culture has made them few and far between—but Bahama Mama certainly fits the bill. The beautifully outfitted enclave is more than just a destination for a polish refresh. “I wanted to open a place where you can take care of yourself and, at the same time, buy some new vintage pieces, get something to eat, and drink freshly extracted juices while reading a fashion magazine,” explains owner Gaia Venuti. The non-traditional nail salon/spa/vintage store/juice bar format somehow works, and that has everything to do with Venuti’s impeccable taste (she moonlights as a vintage dealer, so the clothing selection is, in a word, outstanding) and the attention to detail she extends to every facet of the space. Think of Bahama Mama (it’s named after Venuti’s favorite Essie lacquer) as a one-stop shop for an pro manicure (the polish variety is vast and includes Chanel Lacquers and more standard colors from OPI), a wax or beauty treatment (using natural products by Dr. Vranjes), a fresh carrot-apple juice and appetizer plate, and a new-to-you vintage Miu Miu blouse. While she’s fortunate to have most of her beauty and style necessities right at her fingertips, Venuti still has plenty of other favorites to share, just in time for MFW.



The Lips and Tips: MAC and Essie
“All red, all the time. I love MAC Satin Lipstick in Ruby Woo and Essie’s polish in Bordeaux or Really Red—it’s shiny and really sexy.”
Available at www.maccosmetics.com and www.essie.com.

The Hair Heroes: Mason Pearson and Elnett
“I think every woman should have a Mason Pearson hairbrush. It’s an absolute essential. And for product, I think Elnett Satin Hairspray is simply the best.”
Available at www.nordstrom.com and www.ulta.com.

The Best in Balayage: Gianluigi Gargaro at Aldo Coppola
“For my hair, I’ve been going to Aldo Coppola on Corso Vercelli for a while. My personal stylist is Gianluigi Gargaro, and I think he’s the best in town! His color is simple but chic.”
For more information, visit www.aldocoppola.it.

The Signature Scent: Chanel
“Chanel No. 5. Just one drop and I’m done.”
Available at www.chanel.com.

The Skin Saver: Sisley
“Every morning I use Gel Nettoyant Gommant Pour Le Visage by Sisley, which makes my skin bright and soft. Then, at night, I cleanse with Giorgio Armani’s Velvety Cleansing Milk—it’s smooth and has a lovely scent.”
Available at www.nordstrom.com.

The Workout Routine: Dance, Dance, Dance
“I opened a dance school and studio two months ago called Black Mama, for adults and children, and it’s where I go myself to exercise. We offer all kinds of classes, and I take a lot of them. In my second life, I want to be Beyoncé!”
For more information, visit www.blackmama.it.

The Vintage Advantage: Flea Markets
“I’ve been selling and collecting vintage stuff for more than ten years—I look for a lot of eighties and nineties pieces, but really anything that captures my attention. I find everything at flea markets, but I can’t ever say where; that’s the first law of vintage shopping.”

Photo: Courtesy of Bahama Mama

Contemplating The Third Coat

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While I was in Milan for the shows, I did something I’ve never done before in Italy: I got a manicure. On a friend’s recommendation, I made an appointment at Bahama Mama (read: I had the concierge at the Principe make me an appointment to overcome a serious language barrier) and went to the vintage store-meets-mani/pedi destination with high hopes. I was not disappointed. The well-curated space had select pieces of mid-nineties Miu Miu and old Sportsmax as well as a vast collection of Sade DVDs, which I happily watched while a pretty Milanese girl impressively groomed and shaped my nails. It was when she started in on that third coat of Essie Bourdeaux that we came to an impasse. “Too much polish,” I protested as the rich, burgundy lacquer began to build into a thick film and visions of sitting there, watching Sade for hours waiting for my fingers to even begin to dry, filled my head. My aesthetician seemed confused by my objections, and after it became clear that it would be easier to just let her finish than continue to explain—in English—why I’d prefer a normal, two-coat manicure, I let it go. When she was done, I sat there in discontent for about 30 minutes waiting for the OK to get out from under the dryer and then left in a rush. But a few hours later, I noticed something: My nails looked amazing. After just one smudging incident, the polish hardened and resembled a flawless, deep gel rather than a more temporary varnish. As the shows went on I got a wealth of compliments on the color, too—well into Paris, where it persisted, fully intact, until I got back to New York last week, at which point it finally started to show signs of wear. But a polish job that lasts almost two weeks is an incredible feat, which got me to thinking: Should I always ask for a third coat?

No, according to CND education ambassador Roxanne Valinoti. “If you are using a high-quality professional brand, three coats is not ever necessary,” the backstage regular explains. “Most professional nail polishes are developed and designed for two-coat coverage for the best, most even color and dry time. The first coat allows for outline of application and the second coat is to perfect and for coverage.” The biggest drawback to piling on the extra polish, according to the nail artist, is the potential for increased dry time, which should be minimal if you apply two very thin layers of lacquer and two alone. “Less is best,” she says. If you’re feeling up to a triple-coat test drive, however, Valinoti has a few time-tested application tips to make sure you can still be in and out of the salon in the time it takes to watch, say, one Sade DVD:

Step 1: Wipe the brush on the neck of the bottle several times, to prevent too much polish from building up on the brush.

Step 2: Angle your brush parallel with the nail—”like a squeegee,” she says—for the thinnest layers.

Step 3: Always finish with a high-shine top coat, like CND Air Dry top coat, to increase the longevity of the manicure, as well as a fast-dry spray, like CND SolarSpeed Spray, to speed up dry time.

Photo: Giuseppe Graziano