The Five Perfect Nail Shades, by Jenna Lyons
Written by Nicola Moulton
17 Jun 2022
Superstar fashion insider Jenna Lyons has history with nail polish. In 2011, while at the helm of American fashion empire J Crew, she was pictured in the brand’s catalogue, casually painting her four year old son’s toenails pink - a moment the New Yorker described as “an innocuous slice-of-motherhood moment that wound up becoming a subject of debate on national television.”
“It was known as ‘Toemaggedon,’ she says, because it just went nuts. But while a handful of people in the media were saying ‘what was she thinking, painting her son’s toenails?’ - everyone with kids of their own was saying ‘are you kidding me? All boys and girls want to do what their parents are doing, I paint my son’s toenails all the time.’
But while you’d think a nail polish-induced global media backlash might have put her off a love of a great manicure, in fact the opposite is true. “I LOVE having great nails,” she says. “But I have a really purist approach to the shades I wear, so I wanted to create a collection that had the absolute best version of all my favorite colors.”
Her go-to shades? “I will either do a clean, buff nail with nothing on; or I’ll do a soft nude - neutral colors that look good on my skin, or other people’s skin; a classic red, or a hot neon for summer. And that’s kind of it. I love it when I see other people wearing grey or yellow or blue on their nails, but I never do it myself. So I wanted a collection that reflected my own sense of style.”
The Jenna Lyons Collection
And here it is: fresh for summer, the global style icon has brought her spot-on sense of NY style to five new juicy, joyful and always ‘just right’ nail shades, in our flexible, coconut oil-infused, chip-resistant nail polish formula. Glossy, fast-drying and breathable - we’ve got a feeling you might just need them all. There’s Ipanema, a juicy raspberry, Sunlight, a shimmering soft pink, Nude Beach, the perfect pinky-nude, Neon Kiss, an electric orange and Sangria, a great deep red.
How to Wear the New Shades
As well as being pretty exacting about the shades she wanted, Jenna has designs on how we’ll wear them, too. “I’m very strict about the colors I’ll apply on my fingers and toes!” she says. “As far as I’m concerned, they should either match, or one has nothing and the other has color. I guess I think about it as a whole ‘look,’ and I don’t want to tell a different story on my feet than I do on my hands! That may sound a little bit strange, but I guess I’m kind of a purist in that way.”
So how will she be wearing them for summer? “I pretty much exclusively love a gold sandal, or sometimes a natural tan leather one. And with those I really love to wear a really bright orange on my toes, like the Neon Kiss one we’ve created - or else a classic pink like Sunlight. Or of course, sparkly sandals… I’ll wear a sparkle any day of the week, any time, any day. If there’s a crystal on it…I will buy it. I do not care! I could be going to drop off the garbage at the dump and I’ll wear them! And in that case, I’ll go for a nude color on my toes, like the Nude Beach shade.”
Jenna's Go-To Shades
It’s hard, says Jenna, to choose a favorite from the collection - but Nude Beach is definitely up there. “The reason we made it is because I’ve been wanting this shade for ever and I just couldn’t find it anywhere. And this came out so beautifully, it’s exactly what I wanted. It’s a great nude, but it doesn’t disappear - it still has something that gives you that little bit of polish.” And although it’s designed to be ‘nude,’ it’s something that will suit everyone, which was also very important.
“I’m really careful with the word nude, because my nude is different from someone else’s nude,” says Jenna. “But I tried the Nude Beach shade on a woman in my team who has darker skin than me, and she loved it - and that to me is always a sign that you’ve got it right. That’s how I used to feel at J Crew - when I did something well, it was when it worked on multiple people - it wasn’t just one singular idea. When something stops being just about what you like, and resonates with multiple people, then you know you’ve got something.”
Another color Jenna loves is Sunlight - which is pink with a hint of gold sparkle. ”I’m never shy about the sparkles!” she says. “Give me a diamond or two and I’m happy. So many of those polishes that say they’re just going to make your nails look clean and natural end up looking too white, which I don’t love - whereas we created this with an undertone of pink so that it looks much more natural, almost like a wash of color - just a little kiss of something. But then if you apply multiple coats, you see more of the pink and the gleam, and that looks so pretty too.”
Jenna Talks Through The Collection
I wanted a polish that could be really sheer with a tiny, tiny hint of sparkle. With this one I really like to just do one coat, to just give that freshness, almost one up from just having your nails buffed. If i had to put a mood board together for this, it would be the inside of a conch shell, sun-kissed sand and a gold sandal. It’s summery, lightweight with a sheerness to it.
This makes me think of the very first time I went to the south of France. To me a nude beach is like that bronzed, sunny, warm glow in somewhere like St Tropez.
I grew up in California, and one of my favorite things that I’ve always loved is that a lot of the surfer boys all had these neon surf suits - and so those super-bright colors really remind me of summer. It’s not neon in a sporty way, it’s neon in a sunny way, which I’ve always really really loved. So my mood board for this would basically be surfsuits on cute hot boys!
This to me is the classic red. I have always loved a classic red. On my mood board would be that classic picture of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy with her beautiful bare face and these bright red lips. When I was growing up, red lips were really meant for older women, it didn’t feel youthful. But when I saw that picture of her, with her long blonde hair, it felt really fresh and made her look so beautiful and bright and really connected me to that youthful beauty of red lips.
When I was young, I hated the color pink for a really long time, and it wasn’t until I started getting into interiors, and furniture, and I noticed that I was liking all these pink things. Years ago, I fell in love with this pink velvet George Sherlock couch that Mick Jagger owned. “I was obsessed with it!” It was exactly this color pink; it was a pink that felt so elegant to me. And that was basically the inspiration for this shade.
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