Why have nails become the fashion world's lastest canvas?
Gone are black-tinted polishes and square-tipped fingernails. In their place are longer, almond-shaped stiletto nails accented with vibrant tones, 3-D embellishments, even custom artwork.
"The cool thing with nail art and why it took off and kind of exploded, is that it's a fun way for people to express their personality," said celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik.
The nail art boom led E! to created a special camera just to capture celebrity manicures at awards shows. The Mani Cam, a miniature booth complete with to-scale red carpet and backdrop, was introduced by E! for the 2012 Emmys.
Gary Snegaroff, executive producer of the "Live From the Red Carpet" shows for E!, said that his team "spent so much time talking about nails at one of our internal brainstorming meetings, we finally said, 'let's just dedicate a camera to celebrity manicures.' "
Bachik has crafted manicures for stars like Anne Hathaway, who sported "featured nails" — her paternal and maternal grandmothers' initials on each ring finger — for this year's Oscars, as well as "New Girl" star Zooey Deschanel, whose nails were painted with mini film strips and TVs for the 2013 Golden Globes.
"The whole 'featured nail' thing does a couple of things," Bachik said. "It allows the people who were afraid or intimidated to wear nail art, to do that because it's simple and not ostentatious."
His other top mani trends?
Bright, look-at-me polish: "Right now in the whole economic turndown, having a pop of color makes people feel happier," he said. "Where we are now, people are wanting to feel happy and energized and excited and I think color helps do that and the whole trend."
All-over nude nails to elongate the fingers: "The full-coverage nudes were everywhere on the red carpet and its going to continue," he said. "It's kind of like our new French manicure."
So how can you get a designer look worthy of the ManiCam without flying to LA for a session with Bachik? We asked him for tips to craft your own awe-inspiring look (at left).
Emily Wright can be reached at