This past Spring ’24 Fashion Week proved that one beauty trend was not to be ignored—long and short manicures with standout nail art. And this is nothing new. Last year, designer Christian Coward wowed the front row and fashion press for sending models out wearing super long pastel talons designed by nail artist Juan Alvear.
But no matter how you look at it, nail artists always draw inspiration from one place: Hip-hop.
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Female rappers have been a source of inspiration for the fashion industry thanks to their unapologetic individuality when it comes to style, and of course, their nails. The length and shapes of the bold nail designs displayed by female artists to express their distinct personalities and creativity and to encapsulate their free spirit have also become wildly popular sources of inspiration to pop artists.
Their exaggerated lengths and extravagant nail designs, often adorned with gems, Swarovski crystals, pearls, metallic stones, and other luxurious embellishments, showcase their attention to detail and this level of sophistication has become mainstream.
Cardi B is undoubtedly one of the pioneers who brought long nails to the forefront. The Bronx-born beauty revived the trend of the 90s that was introduced to hip-hop by Lil’ Kim. Lil’ Kim wore extravagant nails at a time when most female rappers wore baggy clothes in an attempt to be respected by their male peers. One nail set worn by Kim featured $100 bills, green rhinestones, and golden spikes in her 1993 “Get Money” music video. It was such a standout it went on exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 2017. Yeah, they’re that great at trendsetting.
Celebs we know and love, like Dua Lipa, Lizzo, and Jennifer Lopez, are often showing off new nail designs on Instagram. Nail art has become so mainstream it’s also totally normal to spot male artists wearing nail art and colored manicures on the red carpet.
And speaking of celebs, nail artists such Alvear, have become celebrities themselves, often booked for fashion runway shows and editorial shoots for luxury magazines Vogue, W and V.
Nail art extends female rappers’ unique style and personal brand. Each new set reflects their personas and encourages women to embrace their unique selves without hesitation. Nail art combines strength and femininity, making it an ideal accessory that projects power, confidence, and a commanding presence.
Influential Artists Who Embrace the Trend
Several influential female rappers have become synonymous with the long acrylic nail trend. Let’s take a moment to celebrate their bold and beautiful nail game.