Meet the Manicure Pro Behind CR 8


It used to be that the photographer was the only one to receive credit for an editorial fashion story. Now, anyone who follows fashion understands that there’s an entire team of visionaries behind every photographer’s lens. A typical photoshoot for CR is no different, especially when it comes to Carine’s brilliant glam squad of hair, makeup, and nail artists that are redefining fashion’s connection to beauty.

For CR Fashion Book’s newly released Issue 8, Mei Kawajiri’s manicures and inventive nail art took center stage. As you scroll through highlights of her best work, you’ll find classic nails mixed with hand painting that transcend traditional ideas of nail art.

For Mei, putting her artistic talent to use was a dream that she didn’t think would become a reality. When she arrived in New York from Japan in 2011, she was explicitly told to put her nail art tools away. “I went to visit a Japanese man in a lower east side salon. I showed him pictures of my nail art and I said, ‘I think it’s going to be a big thing. What do you think?’ He told me that New York loves Paris and that nail art would never catch on. He told me to move back to Japan or to LA,” Mei laughs. No more than one year later, we beared witness to how wrong he was. Nail art became an explosive, long lasting trend that—thanks to artists like Kawajiri—is still taking new twists and turns as we speak.

Carine might take the same stance as the Japanese nail salon owner when it comes to her own nails, but she doesn’t shy away from Mei’s big ideas on set. “My ideas are so different and I’ve never been allowed to do this kind of work a magazine. Carine has so many ideas too. She’ll pull a flower from a vase and says, ‘let’s do something like this.” Mei does her best to riff off Carine and makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench. Without much direction, they work by trying to anticipate the other’s vision. “We don’t talk about it much, but I have an idea of how she’s going to do the makeup,” Kawajiri says. “Sometimes after the hair and the makeup is done, the clothing will change completely. But it’s funny because at the shoot, everything doesn’t always go according to plan. Things are always changing and there’s very little time, but it’s important to stick to an idea.” What they all have in common is an eye for a dark, sick, humorous twist—a style that the rest of the industry doesn’t quite have a handle on. This is what makes the work stand out, best exemplified by a series of painted hands starting on page 102 of Issue 8.

Mei aims to carry that vision over to other realms of fashion and entertainment. “Even if you can’t see the nails, they’re a big part of a fashion show. I really want designers to focus on the nail as a part of clothing, style, and self expression.” She partnered with designer Nicola Formichetti to produce a chipped nail look at his Fall 2016 presentation. It’s her dream to work with bigger houses and in film with directors like Tim Burton (there’s that dark twist again.) “I would love to work on a Calvin Klein campaign—I envision just one CK on the thumb.”

As our conversation with Mei winded down, we talked about her interest in men’s nails, namely her dream celebrity client: Snoop Dogg. “I’m interested in men’s nails, but for men it’s not about color. I like more of a tattoo style. I would give Snoop Dogg portraits of the many faces of Snoop Dogg. Or I would paint his lyrics in the style of movie subtiles.” Ain’t nothin’ but a g thang, baby.

Nails Mei Kawajiri, Makeup Isamaya Ffrench, Hair Didier Malige


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