Last year Park Eun Kyung became an Instagram sensation. In just a few months, the visually arresting feed of her shattered glass nails went viral, and Park became an idol for the insatiable mass of manicure lovers all over the world. The 33-year-old maverick Korean artist’s notoriety now stretches far beyond the walls of Unistella, her Seoul based salon. Here, she talks to FAB Beauty about the key nail art trends to look out for in 2016.
When a manicure becomes art
Park Eun Kyung shot to fame in Korea at the tender age of twenty creating impressively intricate nail art – most notably negative-space manicures – which just about every celebrity in Seoul came knocking for. Recognition of her talent was swift to follow: barely three years after leaving beauty school, she went back to lead her alma mater’s workshops and conferences.
But it was a letter sent to Vogue Korea in 2009 that catapulted her into the world of high fashion and social media: in it she offered up her services to design nail art for the magazine’s photo shoots. Today nails and fashion editorial are synonymous with boundary-breaking designs, but seven years ago Park’s enthusiasm was well ahead of her time. Ever since, she has been invited to collaborate at every single Seoul Fashion Week, such as the Autumn 2015 for the launch of Steve J and Yoni P’s 2016 Spring/Summer collection where her most inventive work shines.
Just like all great contemporary artists, Park Eun Kyung finds her inspiration in the most unexpected places. Always keen to experiment in order to bring life to her creations, she gave birth to the #glassnail manicure, a global phenomenon which consists of styling nails to look like broken glass. Adopted by K-Pop starts like Lee Hyori and Asian super models like Irene Kim and Song Kyung Ah, the trend took Instagram by storm in a mere few weeks.
#glassnails : how to launch a trend
When we talk to Park Eun Kyung about the international success of the broken glass effect manicure, she claims to be as surprised as anyone by how viral the trend became. Nevertheless she explains that, “it’s always difficult to predict what will work and what won’t, but as for the glass nail, the reason is pretty simple. It’s an eye-catching look and beautifully easy to wear, whatever the occasion.’’ It was Park’s fascination for iridescent colours that helped her to develop the necessary techniques for creating her broken glass nail art. ‘‘I tried lots of different things, but one day I saw a sweet wrapper and it just clicked.’’ After a few more attempts in her salon, #glassnails were born.
Park Eun Kyung takes pride in making sure she spends two hours with each client, but for those of us not lucky enough to see her in person, she’s made her designs into stickers that are easily positioned on the nail and then sealed with a top-coat.
Park Eun Kyung‘s predictions: asian nail trends
According to Park Eun Kyung, the designs which will trending in 2016 will all have to fulfil the same requirements. ‘‘Although casual enough to be worn at the office, these looks will have an element of surprise.’’ As such, she plans to develop contrasting designs that mix the ubiquitous negative-space manicure with vibrant geometric shapes of rainbow colour. Park thinks there will be lots of different texture too, like marblenail and auroranail, visually arresting finishes that make nails look akin to precious stones.
She also believes artists will style each nail in it’s own unique way, often as a variation around a common theme. ‘‘This was a key trend at last October’s KoNail Fair,’’ according to Park, where every finger becomes its own canvas on which you can let your creativity run free. “Aficionados of Californian manicures will be excited by the arrival of 3D accessories that can be applied to enhance a normal nail varnish design.” “They’ll also be able to try out nail art printing, an innovation which let’s you print-out your chosen motif at home to make your own nail stickers.”
Above all, Park wants to encourage us continuing being bold in our creative choices and evolving like her; she’s currently in the middle of working out how to produce nail-art styled on gif animated images. Although it’s difficult to predict trends before they happen, one thing is sure – the prize of a runaway hashtag belongs to the inventive and audacious.
Translated by James DAVIES