Lights, Color, Action! The Polish Picture

Early 1991 color launches are soft and sexy and high fashion.

Whether you look to Milan, Paris, or California for your fashion inspiration, this year the message is color. Italian designers are planning a dazzling spring and summer with vibrant, spectacular, look-at-me colors. Word from Paris is more demure, emphasizing prints and floral color combinations – very pretty and very feminine. Not to be left out, California designers are marching out a soft and sexy look for spring 1991, with lots of linen, crocheted fabrics, and chiffon.

What a woman wears on her back doesn’t necessarily dictate what colors she wears on her nails (in fact, sometimes the more color in her clothing, the less color on her nails). But this year nail polish manufacturers have got the color spectrum covered, whether your clients want nails that are muted and demure, matching and catchy, bright and dazzling, or painted and bejeweled.

The spring and summer ready-to-wear lines from Italian designers such as Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana are nothing if not lively. The Los Angeles Times calls the collections “sizzling … far-out … flamboyant …” Gianni Versace says this year’s basics will be lively, sexy, scorching. Sixties-inspired styles such as micro-miniskirts, catsuits, mini-shifts, stretch pants, and hot-pants fill out his own collection as well those of several other designers. Versace is vibrant, incorporating circus reds and blues, neon greens and yellows, and disco purples and pinks.

We are seeing colors inspired by the circus, Rio de Janeiro’s Carnivale, the Fauve landscape, the funny pages, the crayon box, the 60s psychedelic, the produce stand, the candy store and the old soda fountain, and from Mother Earth herself.


For those clients who favor Versace and are unafraid to be so bold, look at The Carnival Collection from OPI Products. Susan Weiss gives a nod to the Italian designers and says, “This spring and summer will be wild with color. Clothing fashion trends are leaning to bright reds, oranges, yellows, lime greens, and purples.” The Carnival Collection mirrors the festiveness of the fashion world. Don’t go too far astray, though, she warns, for there is a balance to strike between the bright colors and the milder colors. She admonishes all not to forget an alternate palette of muted tones such as white, cream, and ivory.

Also in the color parade is Creative Nail Design. Jan Bragulla says, “Goodbye black and white; hello, color. 1991 will see the end of the black-and-white or the all-black color statement as women become more independent, expressive, and comfortable with themselves.” This self-assured woman is making her statement in a very bold way, says

We’re seeing colors inspired b y the circus, the funny pages, and the ’60s psychedelic …

Bragulla, by using vivid, exciting, tantalizing colors. “Color is risky … it is expression and freedom. It’s a sky full of bright color balloons drilling overhead.”

Creative’s dramatic and splashy spring/summer line leads off with the newest colors, called Candy. These self-proclaimed “sweet tasting colors” are “finger-licking reds, fattening pinks, decadent violets, racy oranges, and a few other colorful surprises to complete the spectrum.”

Trends-spotters trying to divine what the coming seasons will bring look to the world political situation, the U.S. economy, the pressing issues of contemporary society. While the outlook on those fronts seem bleak, Harriet Rose of Forsythe Cosmetics reminds us of the old wives’ tale that says people wear bright colors on rainy days. Speaking metaphorically, she says, if clients are having a “rainy day” themselves, color may be even more important. She alerts nail technicians to be particularly sensitive to clients during these trying times. And to lift clients out of the doldrums, Rose says. “Forsythe will continue to provide a wide array – an explosion – of colors to satisfy every need. We have 400 shades, and we will continue to develop and provide innovative and high fashion shades to nail technicians.”

OPI’s Weiss has more to say on the matter of color “From Europe … the mood is ultra-feminine, but is accented with bright, almost ‘60s-type colors, some bordering on being day-glo. With these colors there will be an abundance of prints. We will see florals, African motifs, stripes, abstracts, almost anything you can imagine. And with these prints will be a fantastic mix of bright colors that can be mixed and matched. Also influencing fashion will be regional trends from North Africa and China, with attention to deep, rich fabric textures. At OPI , our Carnival Collection promises to be a little more eclectic than usual. Besides reds that radiate, we will be incorporating some rather vivid colors: oranges, pinks, and purples that pulse with combinations of frosted shades and natural pearlescence. While lime greens and yellows will be popular with clothing designers, these shades are still too transitional to be incorporated into the mainstream nail fashions. Where they probably will find a niche is in their continued applications with nail art styles.”

Look for 40 new colors from Miss Professional Nail Products this year. Renee Andres is following fashion trends closely and showing even bolder colors this year.

Forget trends, says Columbia Cosmetics. Rachel Rendel says, “We’ll always have the hottest and most illuminating colors around … from reds to pinks, from corals to topazes, bold or soft, cream or pearl.” Columbia’s seasonal offerings will show matching lipsticks and polishes with such mouthwatering names as Shrimp Blush, Bing Cherry, Cherry Tomato, and Sugar Pink. Columbia also offers fluorescent nail art colors for those interested in lots of pizzazz: Maui (melon), St. Tropez (hot pink), Cancun (red), Jamaica (fuchsia), Nassau (very pink), Acapulco (flame), and Rio (orange/red).

Not to be left out of the fun, European Secrets will be bringing out six bright, carnival-inspired colors in its Festival of Colors line.

Charisse Solomon says. “The theme is fun, and these new colors will enhance the current line of 48 shades.” The line-up starts with Phantom Pink, Carnivale Coral, Rue de la Rose, Jubilee Pack, Majestic Marnier, and Ragtime Red.

Janae Boster of Peau Corp. says that colors will stay bright and bold in the spring and summer. She foretells of a return to the looks of the ‘60s. “Oranges, reds, and hot pink will be the hit. Nail art will be bold prints, stripes, and polka dots.”

Essie Weingarten of Essie Cosmetics says today’s businesswoman wants a dramatic, high-fashion look in the evenings to contrast with her professional, low-key daytime look. To tie in with the deep rich colors of ready-to-wear, Essie is offering Jelly Apple; Earth, Wind & Fire; Rich, Red & Famous; Pruneface; Purple Rain; Crimson & Clover; Gypsy Rose Lee; and Outredgeous.

Snails Italian Nail Jewelry maintains that the nail art rage will continue and it is offering 12 new colors. New to its line this spring and summer will be three new spring colors – light blue, yellow, and lavender – packaged in a small lucite tray for use with the rest of Snails’ line. Says Marlene Sortino, “Nail art is big and getting even bigger this year.”


Some people look in their crystal balls and see rainbows of color, explosions of color, eruptions of color; and there are those who see something softer, something rosier, something simpler … muted landscape colors, ultra-sheer feminine colors, whispers of color. That softness was revealed in the spring and summer collections of California’s ready-to-wear designers last October. These fashion forward designers unveiled a very feminine, soft spring and summer line, with a heavy emphasis on such ultra feminine accoutrements as bustiers, strappy sandals, chiffon skirts, and linen jackets.

California designer Bonnie Strauss brought out chiffon wrap blouses, Jon Murrough a banana colored pleated mini-dress, Gene Ewing a coral sequined dress worn under a dark patterned jacket, and Linda Lewis’ collection featured a gorgeous taupe and white linen dress. Madonna’s sartorial influence has yet to wane, as this season is heavy on the lacy, leggy, lingerie look she has made her trademark.

Flossie Diamond Nail Products foresees a dominance of the transparent colors continuing through the spring and summer seasons. Says Nate Fisher, “Natural is in. The French manicure will continue to be popular, and so will the light, shiny colors.” To keep up with the demand for these lights, Flossie will add a transparent beige to its light line.

Gar Laboratories also forecasts a dominance of light colors. “There seems to be a trend,” says Gino Forlin, “toward the pinks, pink/beiges, the pretty spring colors. The translucents are very popular.” Gar’s Amoresse line will include many of these “high-viscosity” colors. Forlin says the new light colors will be deeper, not just flat enamels. Amoresse’s March/April offering will focus on colors for ethnic skin tones, because, as Forlin says, “Natural isn’t just one color. There is a whole range of natural colors for deeper skin tones and the expanding ethnic base.”

Lighter, indeed, says American Manicure, who looks for lots of light, bare shades this year. The company has introduced a new Peach Natural nail polish system to complement its original natural look system. The system is designed to allow nail technicians flexibility when matching the natural look color with a client’s skin tone. Says Donn Bearman, “Peach Natural is for people with tanned, brown, auburn, or related warm skin tones. In contrast to the painted look and stark white tips common to French manicures, the original formula in Peach Natural creates a clean and natural look of a perfectly healthy bare nail, wearing only a clear top coat.”

Develop 10 finds itself in the color game this year as well. Lee Spelling says Develop 10 will make its foray into color with Develop 10 Beautiful Colors. “Women want a groomed, natural appearance. They want lighter, cleaner, clearer colors,” he says. The French manicure will continue to enjoy its extraordinary popularity, as will light, natural shades of nail color. He sees a trend in the nail industry that follows the fashion industry for soft, muted, earthy colors. This trend, says Spelling, will become even more apparent as 1981 wears on.

Essie Cosmetics has its hand on the pulse of the working woman, who, says Essie, wants to look professional and business-like during the day. To that end, Essie will be offering its Nude and Naughty transparencies that have just a hint of color. Included in the line are such “bare” essentials as Parisian Pink, Tickled Pink, Baby’s Breath, Winter Wonderland, Marshmallow, Birthday Suit, Barely There, Little Sachet, Cream Puff, Cotton Candy, Cantaloupe, and Shrimp. Essie says when a woman is at work, she wants a natural, nude look on her hands.

OPI’s Weiss concurs with the forecast for understated colors later in the year. Says Weiss, “Fall and winter 1991 promise to be more understated than spring and summer. We will see a dramatic choice in the shades in which to polish a French tip. With the brighter colors of spring and summer, nail technicians can polish a French tip that has more color than perhaps what has been traditional. Rather than a white free edge, the free edge can be ivory or even a pastel of a muted earth tone, while the rest of the nail, instead of a sheer neutral, can be pinker and more flamboyant. And with the availability of more frosted and pearlescent colors, we can expect to see some startling French tip combinations.”


If we were hypersensitive to environmental issues in 1990 it’s because our excesses and carelessness has forced us to take a long, hard look at what we were doing to the planet. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of Earth Day last April faced with the sudden acknowledgment that we were not invincible. Now, as we face a new century, concern for the environment is matter-of-fact. All this attention on mother Earth has inspired a new awareness, but also new designs, new fashion, and new colors as well – colors like warm corals and earthy brown, says Four Nails of Minnesota’s Gail Rosenker. Mother Earth has been the source of inspiration for several manufacturers.

Star Nail Products keeps up the theme of environmental awareness. Says Tony Cuccio, “There has never been more emphasis on nature and environment since Earth Day. Since then we have been inspired by our environment: we have been repairing, recycling Mother Earth. Colors are a direct reflection of this movement. Color for 1991 will be warm, weathered colors, earth tones, with hues of reds and greens. Gold will be a hot color, but just a hint of color. Nails will follow the path of hair and go with colors that are warm and earth-toned. The byword for 1991 is environment, and the colors for 1991 are a direct reflection of this.”

Jessica Vartoughian of Jessica Cosmetics sees a return of a natural and holistic approach to health and fashion, as career women develop a sense of adventure combined with earthiness. She says, “Fashion trends will be easy and unconstructed with colors that reflect the brilliance and pastels of modern art.”

Jessica’s spring/summer collection is inspired by nature, the new ease in fashion and the artist’s brush. Jessica says to look forward to “a sophisticated, romantic rose; a gleaming, powdery, antique pink; a luscious melon; a passionate, vibrant fuchsia; a silky salmon; and a refined, elegant mauve.”

Worldwide Colors’ Jay Factor says, “1991 will be the ‘Year of the Nails.’ As winter winds down, we still see an emphasis on natural earth tones, oranges, and traditional reds. But spring portends to be light and bright, with pastels having the most emphasis in our line. Light misty mauves, creamsicles, peaches, nudes, and a wide variety of French manicure colors, such as Marshmallow, Violet Ice, Peach Parfait, and Pink-Gold joining the traditional pink, beige, and sheer over-colors.” Come summer look for the colors to turn hot and vibrant.

“Nails will say everything your lips and eyes are afraid to say. Too much is not enough. From neon pink to tangerine orange to fire engine red. Nails tell a story. Mood will be expressed with nail color.”

Even though our world seems to be shrinking and former foes are now friends, there are still regional differences that are the spice of life. Lisa Modiano of Calvert International says there are trends in regional color preferences. “Obviously California salons see the lighter colors year round and eastern states see a more marked use of darker colors in fall and winter.”

Anna Macek of Annastasia offers pale and pretty for spring and summer: rose, pink, peaches, pastels, and corals; and rich and deep for fall and winter: deep pinks, fuchsias, deep mauves. Of course, she says, red is a year round color, although it is especially popular around holiday time (not just Christmas). Macek notes regional variations on this color theme. For example, in the cooler states, where people begin layering clothing in the fall, women will go for deeper, darker colors. But on the West Coast, where they sometimes don’t even notice it’s winter, the paler colors stay popular year-round.

There’s a surprise in store for nail technicians this summer, says Lynn Hayes of Orly, who would only give us the clue that the new collection, to be unveiled at the BBSI distributor show, would be “very unusual.” She sees the continued popularity of reds, mauves, and pinks, which will probably always be popular. Orly’s à la mode collection will be expanded by four new colors, a red, a mauve, a pink, and a pink/coral that is “very different” and can go with either reds or pinks.

Brucci looks for a continuation of last year’s themes – pastels and lighter shades through spring and summer, and darker, earth tones in the fall and winter. Murray Bober concurs with the regional delineation. States like Florida and California that enjoy warm weather year-round also keep pastels and light shades popular year-round. Brucci introduced six new lipstick and polish shades in the end of 1990.

Despite a downturn in the national economy, Brucci says, business is still good.


Better dead than red? No way, says just about everyone in the nail industry. “The staple of nail colors,” says Develop 10’s Lee Spelling. “A perennial,” says Lisa Modiano from Calvert. “Always popular,” pipes in Anna Macek form Annastasia. “Always in,” says Orly’s Lynn Hayes.

“It goes without saying that clients will always want reds. And a whole range of reds from warm to bright to blueish reds, to deep, dark, sexy reds,” says Spelling.

Private Label Cosmetics advises sticking with the bsaics: reds, oranges, yellows. “There will be neons, and in the summer colors will be brighter and even more fun, almost cartoon colors,” says Sheila Rothberg. Private Label offers 100 new shades for spring and summer.

China Glaze will add five new colors each season as well as offer a new display rack. “The year will not change the nice array of colors. China Glaze is sticking with what it thinks is a winner,” says a China Glaze spokesperson.

And this year, anyone with a sense of fun or fashion is a winner.

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