You compose and name all the nail lacquer shades for the locally based but British-bent company Butter London. It sounds like the ultimate dream job. When I was designing the original range I sat with a color wheel, notes from London Fashion Week, a million sample paints to mix with, and a large glass of white wine. I decided on the basic elements—neutrals, reds, dark, etc.—then narrowed the choices by seeing which colors suited the most skin types but were still fashionable, unique, and wearable. Then I held the final palette up against current fashion. Did they resonate? Many colors had to be redesigned for being too trendy, or too far-out. We want the range to be high fashion, but never intimidating.
You got your start working as a set manicurist in London and you still work on shoots for glossy mags and MTV. Does Kate Moss have dirty fingernails? Are Snoop’s cuticles really gross? I can tell you that Snoop is actually the mellowest, nicest guy. I threatened to cut all his nails off but he was like “Nooooo baby, I like ’em loooong.”
Speaking of Snoop, nail color for men: for or against? I love men who can rock a manicure. My husband is a grubby old skateboarder but will happily wear blue glitter toenails to the Yacht Club to annoy my parents.
Your look today is really British; the Vivienne Westwood boots and the Union Jack coat. I go back about once every five weeks. It sounds mad, but it’s incredibly important if Butter London is going to be “Brit fashion” in more than just name. I like to take expensive, glamorous things and then punk them out a bit. An example: My mother lent me her diamond brooch for a party. I gathered up my skirt, slipped on a vintage lace slip, and pinned the thing to my butt like a bustle. My butt, not my face, made it into the society pages. Fabulous! Whatever I wear, I want to wear it “wrong.”
Whose nails would you love to do? I’d love to get my hands on Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth. That would be the ultimate! I’d do Frilly Knickers, a pastel glitter—infused cream, although I suspect she is more of a Nothing Hill girl, clear with a vague hint of pink.
I’m obsessed with your Fash Pack, which is the color of a field mouse crossed with an overripe eggplant as seen through Seattle drizzle. That shade is based on an interior wall color by Farrow and Ball from my London flat. I love the idea of taking a color that is beautiful in one context, yet ugly in another and challenging people to let go of preconceptions. One of my most conservative clients swears that black toenails saved her 15-year marriage. Enough said!
If the mayor asked you to create the official Seattle nail color, what would it be? I’d do Queen City Slicker: sheer, dove gray with a touch of pale lavender glitter that’s only visible in certain light.