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Meet the Korean Nail Artist Behind the Shattered Glass Manicure Trend
On a small, crooked side street in Seoul, just off of Cheongdam’s main drag, there is a sleek black jewel box of a salon, where, as the frenzy of Seoul Fashion Weekfinally begins to ebb, the city’s top nail artist remains hard at work. Park Eun Kyung, the 33-year old maverick whose Unistella by E.K. Lab is home base for boundary-breaking manicures, has taken Instagram by storm of late.
Those shattered glass nails that went viral last week? That was Park. And those experimental designs were only the beginning. “The nails I do are uniquely designed, but simple and minimalist,” says Park, seated on a velvet couch inside her one-year-old space on a recent Friday as she speaks about her impactful but wearable approach to nail art.
While Keith Ape’s K-rap booms in the background, she walks over to the salon’s front table, where a selection of her acrylic and gel designs are proudly displayed: Snoopy and Woodstock throwing their heads back in laughter, a set of golden arches and a Big Mac. “I draw them all myself,” she says of doodling a handful of different ideas each week, while experimenting with new mediums (look for Haribo jellies next).
Photographed by Alex Finch
Though her madcap designs—a glassy burgundy nail with a gold chain rim, black and white swirled marble—reveal the precision and control of a skilled hand, Park insists she works only by experimenting freely. Those shattered glass nails, for instance, she dreamt up five months ago, after finding an abalone shell on the beach. First, she tried to replicate its mirrored sheen with cellophane candy wrappers, which she cut up and applied to nails—“too stiff.” She shows me a small glass jar filled with a thin roll of holographic film from Japan, which yielded a better result for her early versions. “At first, I took that paper and spent a long time cutting it with scissors, arranging it individually on each nail, and painted a gel coat on top,” she says. “Now we’ve made them into stickers, so it’s a little bit easier to do.”
That’s right: Those shattered glass nails are a special effect done with stickers, now sold at Aritaum, layered one over the other to create a textured glass effect so hyperrealistic that Internet rumors have swirled about the potential dangers of breaking them. Worn by Park’s famous fans—models like Irene Kim and Song Kyung Ah, K-pop stars like Lee Hyori—they went viral online, and the rest is nail art history.
Twice a year, her most inventive work shines at Seoul Fashion Week, too: At Steve J & Yoni P’s Spring show last week, she created a half-cut nail with a clear top and cherry red base. “Here,” she says, pointing at the cuticle rim, “you could put a bright color or a fun design, like a little pocketball drawing. That’s what I’ve been thinking about.” Another favorite of Park’s is her negative-space nail: bold pops of color with clear negative space at the tip or center, filled out in abstract shapes.
What’s up next for Park? “I think the idea of GIFs”—GIFs!—“are fun,” she says with a laugh of setting out in search of a special effect that would create a moving animation on the nail. “It sounds difficult, but whatever I want to try, I find a way.” Hello, Internet—prepare to be broken.
from link: www.vogue.com
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