Monday, February 16, 2009

An Insider's Look: Jan Arnold of Creative Nail Design

Jan Arnold, CND, Creative Nail Design, nails, nail polish, Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

How thrilled was I when I had the chance to interview Jan Arnold, the Co-Founder of Creative Nail Design, backstage at the Barbie show during Fall 2009 Fashion Week? Let's just say I was so excited, I almost screamed with glee. Jan founded CND in 1979 with her brother and father and has since taken the company to soaring heights. Seen backstage at over 70 shows during the current New York Fashion Week alone, the company is responsible for creating some of the most innovative nail designs and colors seen anywhere. And when I saw Jan at Barbie, you'd better believe her nails were rockin'! She was sporting a gorgeous manicure with custom-blended midnight blue tips accented by an incredible silver foiled design. Read on to discover more about the fabulous Jan Arnold of Creative Nail Design.

Where did you get your love of fashion?
I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I got my degree in art and then I went to the Fashion Institute. After my first patternmaking class, I decided, I am gonna be no good at this. Because I hated the patternmaking part, I hated the burning of the fibers, identtfying what fiber you’re smelling. All I really wanted to do was to be creative and to see the total picture, not the architecture or the mechanics of fashion but the total look.

Jan Arnold, CND, Creative Nail Design, nails, nail polish, Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Then my dad had this idea to start CND. And my brother and I joined forces with him and launched. We realized that in every fashion publication you would see fabulous makeup, great hair, fantastic clothing, and the nails were not to be found! And so we called ... it was Nicole Miller, she was one of our first designers 10 years ago. We called her and we said, "How come you don’t do nails on your show?" And she said, "Oh, I never really thought about it." So we said, "Let us come in and we’ll do your show." Then we went to Cynthia Rowley, we did her show. And then I thought, that was too easy. Let’s call Oscar. So we called Oscar de la Renta and he said, "Yes, I would love for you to do my show."

And so we filled a niche of a fashion accessory in the form of nails that designers didn’t really even have a consciousness of. And now today they can’t do a show without them. There are so many good things happening with nails now in fashion, it’s so exciting. You know, it’s become sort of an indispensable ... like, for some designers, nails are like the alter ego of the girl they’re dressing. So it could be a very sweet, innocent Betsey Johnson outfit. But the nails, if they’re pointy and red with red lips, all of a sudden she turns into a different girl. So it’s been really exciting to be able to kind of implement a new element that the designer now really appreciates and asks us back season after season.

Jan Arnold, CND, Creative Nail Design, nails, nail polish, Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
With Jan Arnold backstage at Fashion Week!

Are there any designers that you just love going back to season after season?
We do 75 shows here in new york alone!

On the classic side, Carolina Herrera has been amazing to us, because you know ... she’s a designer of perfect polish and intricate detail. So we appreciate her from that point of view.

Karen Walker. I try never to miss her show because she always uses nails in kind of a fun and quirky way. Always a custom blend, always kind of the downtown girl.

We love The Blonds. They totally get nails.

We love Diego Binetti. He’s from Argentina and we did his first show when he was with GenArt. Isabel Dupre from Elle is styling his show. She is so amazing. We’re doing sort of weapon nails, like medieval, gothic, fantastic kind of deconstructed finishes, heavy metal.

Do designers look to you with an idea of what they want or is it sort of each designer is different, sometimes you have the idea, sometimes it’s collaborative?
I would say way back when, when we first started, every time we would have a new relationship we would say, "So what do you think it should be, what are you thinking?" And they always go, "Umm, we think nude would be, like, amazing!" And we’re like, "Okay, that’s a start!" And then we’d steer them into something a little more interesting.

This Fashion Week more than ever, our girls are going to the beauty tests and more and more designers are saying -- like classic designers who would usually go clear or beige -- are saying, "You know, we want to go with a purple mixed with a wine." They’re getting a little more creative, because I think they trust our team, they know that what they envision, we can do whatever they envision. And that’s taken a few years to gain that trust.

BCBG went with dark. We did a custom blend of a really dark midnight blue for them. We were so excited. The collection was sort of downtown, edgy, kind of badass collection. And had they gone clear, it would have been a bad call, so they made the right call.

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