In a stripped-down studio high above lower Manhattan, Mei Kawajiri is sifting through a pile of Swarovski crystals, plucking a few choice baubles and delicately piling them onto a pearly finger. The Japanese nail artist responsible for Balenciaga’s cult fetish nails from Spring 2017 is here to put her avant-garde spin on the holiday manicure—reinterpreting staid reds and whites with bold, satirical designs, pulled from an eclectic range of reference points.
“Lately I’ve been really into vintage music T-shirts, so I just did my own nails inspired by Marilyn Manson,” she says, waving a set of sharp safety-pinned claws as an example. “I spend a lot of time thinking about nails—I can’t even begin to quantify it!” From her base in New York, Kawajiri dreamed up a series of confections for the occasion: finely hand-painted stick doodles and glimmering charms, pierced through the tips of red talons to dangle like ornaments. “This holiday season, I love clear, large stones on a contrasting color,” she adds, a nod to both the Balenciaga nails and the celebration of ’80s excess that has become her signature on www.printansh.com. Above, five extreme fashion manicures from Kawajiri to make a high-impact holiday statement. ’Tis the season.