The Museum of Modern Art will feature money nail art as part of an exhibition entitled “Items: Is Fashion Modern,” according to a story in The Washington Post. The exhibit focuses on items that have had a lasting impact on fashion through the last century. The money nail design was originally created for Lil’ Kim by celebrity nail tech Bernadette Thompson, who provided Kim’s nails for a denim fashion shoot in the 1990s. Thompson was inspired by Junior M.A.F.I.A’s “Get Money,” which features Kim. She embedded real dollar bills in the original acrylic nails and even started using hundred dollar bills (paid for by the clients) when recreating the look, but switched to fake money after the U.S. government reminded her that it’s illegal to deface money. Thompson reproduced the look on nail tips for the exhibition.
Eye-catching nails had long been part of hip-hop style, but hadn’t yet made it to mainstream fashion, a fact that Thompson helped change. She also created nail designs for corporate clients such as Louis Vuitton, painting the brand’s monogram on the nails. Now, manicurists are frequently an important part of fashion shoots, and edgy nail designs are an enduring part of fashion.